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Posts Tagged ‘SECURITY THEATER’

REAL ID DOESN’T MAKE FOR REAL SECURITY

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Self-Help, Social commentary on April 29, 2019 at 12:04 am

More than two million Californians got a rude Christmas gift in 2018. 

The Department of Homeland Security informed the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that the driver’s licenses and identity cards it had issued were worthless.    

The DMV had been issuing ID cards and driver’s licenses that didn’t comply with the Federal Government’s standards. So if you’ve received such a card, you won’t be allowed to board an airplane or enter a Federal Building after October, 2020.

The Federal Government is requiring all states to upgrade to the so-called Real ID cards, which are supposedly harder to forge. The “enhancements” were ordered into place after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

In 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act as a counter-terrorism measure. Its goal was to set security standards for government-issued IDs.

The Act started to be introduced in late 2013. Now in the last phase of its implementation, its enforcers have decided that licenses issued by some states don’t contain enough identifying information to pass muster with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

One of those states is California.

The others:

  • Alaska
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Missouri
  • Montana 
  • New Jersey
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island 

So where did the California DMV go wrong? 

Instead of requiring two documents to prove residency, the DMV was only asking for one document from Real ID applicants. The department would then mail the ID card to the applicant’s address, which they believed constituted a second method of verifying the person’s residency.

And how are residents of states like California supposed to cope? 

The Federal Government is advising them to get a passport.

And this, in turn, carries an illogic all its own.

As one soon-to-be affected traveler outlined: “To get a passport I’ll first need to get a certified copy of my birth certificate. And to get a copy of my birth certificate I need only to submit a copy of my driver’s license.

“A copy, no face-to-face, is-that-really you?  So a New York driver’s license isn’t good enough for flying but it is good enough to get a birth certificate, which gets me a passport, which allows me to fly.”

Related image

Sample state ID card that’s acceptable under the Real ID Act

So much of what passes for security is actually security theater.  It doesn’t actually make us safer, but it makes us feel safer.  

And it makes us feel the government is keeping us safe, even when it isn’t.

For example: In the months after 9/11, National Guard troops were stationed in American airports. They certainly looked impressive.  

But passengers would have felt far less reassured had they known the assault rifles they carried had no bullets.

Or take the checking of photo IDs that has become routine to enter State and Federal office buildings.

What exactly does this tell the security guard?

If you’re John Dillinger or Osama bin Laden, it tells him: “This is a very wanted man.”  

But if you’re John Q. Public, who’s not notorious as a bank robber or terrorist, showing him your ID tells him nothing.

But people watching the guard performing this ritual assume: “The security guard must know what he’s looking for. So we have to be safer for his checking those IDs.”

In fact, most security guards have little training and even less experience. Many of them don’t carry firearms and lack self-defense skills.

According to Salary.com: The median annual Security Guard salary is $29,204, as of July 29, 2016, with a range usually between $25,857 and $33,522.  

Repeated showings of security theater can be seen every weekday at any Federal Building.

To enter, you must show a driver’s license or State ID card.

Then you must remove

  • Your belt;
  • Your shoes;
  • Your watch;
  • Your wallet;
  • All other objects from your pants pockets;
  • Any jacket you’re wearing;
  • Any cell phone you’re carrying.

All of these must be placed in one or more large plastic containers, which are run through an x-ray scanner.

Finally, assuming you avoid setting off any alarm system, you’re allowed to enter.

If you want to report a crime to a field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), here’s the procedure.

You take an elevator to the floor its offices are on. You tell a secretary why you want to speak with an agent. She requires you to pass her your driver’s license or State ID card. Then she makes a xerox of this and hands the card back.

Then you must list, on a single-page form, your:

  • Name;
  • Address;
  • Phone number;
  • Social Security umber;
  • The reason you want to speak to an agent.

You can refuse to fill out the form. But then the secretary will refuse to let you speak with an agent.

The FBI has always encouraged Americans to report anything they consider a threat to national security or a violation of Federal law.

But this demand for so much private information is almost certain to sharply decrease the number of people willing to report knowledge of a crime.

At a time when Federal law enforcement agencies need all the cooperation they can get, this is not a matter to be taken lightly.

“SECURITY THEATER” PROMOTES FAKE SECURITY

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on April 25, 2019 at 12:04 am

So you want to visit the Pentagon and see how America’s military works to protect you?  Fine.

Just be prepared to accept the requirements that go with “security theater.”

According to the Pentagon’s webpage: “Tours are available Monday through Thursday from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. and Friday from 12:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M., and normally last approximately 60 minutes.”

Here’s what you’ll need to take the tour:

  • Ages 12 and under – ID not required. 
  • Ages 13 to 17 – One form of photo ID or a parent/guardian to vouch for them.
  • Ages 18 and up – At least one form of proper identification, which must be current and contains a photograph.

The Pentagon

Let’s break all this down:

“Ages 12 and under – ID not required.”  Strapping bombs to children was a favorite tactic of the Viet Cong. And Al Qaeda has not hesitated to make use of the same weapon. It’s not comforting to learn that our military is still looking at children as “babes of innocence” rather than as possible “bombs of convenience.”

“Ages 13 to 17 – One form of photo ID or a parent/guardian to vouch for them.”  Great! So long as an adult says, “Yeah, he’s mine,” any teenager can gain entry to America’s most important military center. This includes those teens who resent the American military’s presence around the world.

“Ages 18 and up – One form of ID, which must be current and contains a photograph, such as a driver’s license or U.S. passport.

Related image

Knowing a person’s identity is useful—so long as you have a reliable database system to match it against.  An example of this is the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

Since 1967, the NCIC has been America’s central database for tracking crime-related information. It’s linked with such information repositories as:

  • Federal law enforcement agencies
  • State law enforcement agencies
  • Local law enforcement agencies
  • Federal and state motor vehicle registration/licensing agencies.

Image result for Images of National Crime Information Center

The NCIC makes available a variety of personal and property records for law enforcement and security purposes, covering:

Behind this lies a simple but highly effective formula, which was best-expressed in the classic 1973 movie, The Day of the Jackal. An anonymous professional killer has been hired to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle.

At a government meeting called to thwart the plot, a top security expert says: “The first task is to give this man a name. With a name, we get a face, with a face a passport, with a passport an arrest.”

But if you don’t have a reliable database system to match an ID against, forcing people to “show me your ID” is worthless. What does “John Smith” mean to the average ill-paid security guard?

Even if the person is a wanted criminal, just looking at his ID card is worthless. Unless, of course, the person is so notorious as a criminal that his name is known to almost everyone: “My God, it’s Osama bin Laden!”

That’s presuming that the person is not only notorious but stupid enough to flaunt it. There is, after all, such a thing as a falsified ID. Every teenager who’s ever wanted access to a can of beer knows that.

If it seems impossible that any security official could be so stupid, consider this:

In 2010 a friend of mine decided to rent a P.O. box at his local Postal Service office. He was promptly told he would have to provide two pieces of identification, such as:

  • A driver’s license or State ID card
  • A passport
  • A birth certificate
  • A bill from a utility company, such as for phone or electric service.

Now, consider:

  • He lived only a few blocks from the post office where he was applying for a P.O. box. 
  • He had lived at the same apartment building for 22 years.  
  • The Postal Service had been delivering his mail there that entire time—sometimes knocking at his door to do so. 
  • When he came to its counter to retrieve mail that was otherwise un-deliverable, his showing a State ID card had been entirely enough.

But, to rent a P.O. box at that very same post office, he had to prove he wasn’t a terrorist. And one of the ways he was to do this was to show a utility bill.

What does paying money to an electric or gas company prove about anyone?

Mohammed Atta faithfully paid all his utility bills on an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, where he planned the 9/11 attacks. He continued paying his utility bills during his stay in Venice, Florida—right up to the day he flew American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World trade Center. 

In short: Creating security theater is not the same as providing real security.

THE REALITY OF REAL ID

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 5, 2018 at 12:11 am

Starting in 2016, traveling by air in the United States got more complicated. But not necessarily safer.

In 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act as a counter-terrorism measure. Its goal was to set security standards for government-issued IDs.

The Act started to be introduced in late 2013. Now in the last phase of its implementation, its enforcers have decided that some states haven’t complied with its requirements.

As a result, driver’s licenses from those states will no longer suffice to pass through airport security. And that includes domestic flights as well as international ones.

Those states:  New York, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Louisiana and American Samoa.

The reason: Licenses issued by those states don’t contain enough identifying information to pass muster with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

So how are residents of these states supposed to cope? The Federal Government is advising them to get a passport.

But, as one New York traveler outlined:

“To get a passport I’ll first need to get a certified copy of my birth certificate.

“And to get a copy of my birth certificate I need only to submit a copy of my driver’s license. A copy, no face-to-face, is-that-really you?

“So a New York driver’s license isn’t good enough for flying but it is good enough to get a birth certificate, which gets me a passport, which allows me to fly.”  

Related image

Sample state ID card that’s acceptable under the Real ID Act

So much of what passes for security is actually security theater.  It doesn’t actually make us safer, but it makes us feel safer. 

And it makes us feel the government is keeping us safe, even when it isn’t.

For example: In the months after 9/11, National Guard troops were stationed in American airports. They certainly looked impressive.  

What passengers didn’t know was that the Guardsmen carried unloaded assault rifles.

Consider this advice posted on the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles website:

“A valid California driver license or ID card can be used for federal purposes, including boarding a domestic flight and entering military bases or secure federal facilities, until October 1, 2020. After that date, only a REAL ID card or other federally approved documents will be accepted, such as a valid U.S. passport, passport card or military ID.”  

To apply for a REAL ID card:

  • Make an appointment (recommended) to visit a DMV field office.
  • Provide proof of identity, such as a certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, employment authorization document, permanent resident card or foreign passport with an approved form I-94.
  • Present proof of your Social Security number, such as an SSN card, W-2 or paystub with full SSN.
  • Show a California residency document, such as a rental or lease agreement, mortgage bill, utility bill or employment, medical or school document.
  • An original or certified copy of a name change document, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree, may be required.

How does showing a “utility bill” document prove your integrity? 

No doubt Mohammed Atta—the ringleader of the September 11, 2001 attacks—faithfully paid his utility bills—right up to the day when he highjacked American Airlines Flight 11 and crashed the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

And what does a “school document” reveal about the character of the person? 

That s/he attended school? So what? 

Theodore Bundy attended the University of Puget Sound and the University of Washington—before embarking on his career as a burglar, kidnapper, rapist and serial killer.

Or take the checking of photo IDs that has become routine to enter State and Federal office buildings.

What exactly does this tell the security guard?

If you’re John Dillinger or Osama bin Laden, it tells him: “This is a very wanted man.”  

But if you’re John Q. Public, who’s not notorious as a bank robber or terrorist, showing him your ID tells him nothing.

But people watching the guard performing this security theater ritual assume: “The guard must know what he’s looking for. So we have to be safer for his checking those IDs.”

In fact, most security guards have little training and even less experience. Many of them don’t carry firearms and lack self-defense skills.

According to Salary.com: The median annual Security Guard salary is $29,204, as of July 29, 2016, with a range usually between $25,857 and $33,522. 

Not exactly a salary geared to attract “the best and the brightest,” is it?

Or suppose you want to report a crime to a field office of the FBI. 

A secretary asks why you’ve come.

If she considers your reason legitimate, she requires you to show your driver’s license or State ID card. Then she makes a xerox of this and hands the card back.

Then you must fill out a single-page form, which requires you to provide your: 

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security Number
  • Reason to speak with an FBI agent

The FBI has always encouraged Americans to report anything they consider a threat to national security or a violation of Federal law.

But demanding so much private information just to report a crime will almost certainly decrease the number of people willing to do so.

SECURITY VS. SECURITY THEATER

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 28, 2017 at 12:02 am

So you want to visit the Pentagon and see how America’s military works to protect you?  Fine.

Just be prepared to accept the requirements that go with “security theater.”

A memo from the Public Affairs Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, dated February 2, 2012, offers this gem:

The Pentagon

“Proper personal identification (ID) must be produced when requested by Pentagon Police prior to entering the Pentagon as follows.

  • Ages 12 and under – ID not required. 
  • Ages 13 to 17 – One form of photo ID or a parent/guardian to vouch for them.
  • Ages 18 and up – Two forms of ID: one form must be a government issued photo ID, the other may be a credit/debit card, U.S. passport, birth certificate, or another item with the individual’s name printed on it, excluding business cards.”

Let’s break all this down:

“Ages 12 and under – ID not required.”  Strapping bombs to children was a favorite tactic of the Viet Cong. And Al Qaeda has not hesitated to make use of the same weapon. It’s not comforting to learn that our military is still looking at children as “babes of innocence” rather than as possible “bombs of convenience.”

“Ages 13 to 17 – One form of photo ID or a parent/guardian to vouch for them.”  Great! So long as an adult says, “Yeah, he’s mine,” any teenager can gain entry to America’s most important military center. This includes those teens who resent the American military’s presence around the world.

“Ages 18 and up – Two forms of ID: one form must be a government issued photo ID, the other may be a credit/debit card, U.S. passport, birth certificate, or another item with the individual’s name printed on it.”

Related image

Knowing a person’s identity is useful—so long as you have a reliable database system to match it against.  An example of this is the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

Since 1967, the NCIC has been America’s central database for tracking crime-related information. It’s linked with such information repositories as:

  • Federal law enforcement agencies
  • State law enforcement agencies
  • Local law enforcement agencies
  • Federal and state motor vehicle registration/licensing agencies.

Image result for Images of National Crime Information Center

The NCIC makes available a variety of personal and property records for law enforcement and security purposes, covering:

Behind this lies a simple but highly effective formula, which was best-expressed in the classic 1973 movie, The Day of the Jackal. An anonymous professional killer has been hired to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle.

At a government meeting called to thwart the plot, a top security expert says: “The first task is to give this man a name. With a name, we get a face, with a face a passport, with a passport an arrest.”

But if you don’t have a reliable database system to match an ID against, forcing people to “show me your ID” is worthless. What does “John Smith” mean to the average ill-paid security guard?

Even if the person is a wanted criminal, just looking at his ID card is worthless. Unless, of course, the person is so notorious as a criminal that his name is known to almost everyone: “My God, it’s Osama bin Laden!”

That’s presuming that the person is not only notorious but stupid enough to flaunt it. There is, after all, such a thing as a falsified ID. Every teenager who’s ever wanted access to a can of beer knows that.

If it seems impossible that any security official could be so stupid, consider this:

In 2010 a friend of mine decided to rent a P.O. box at his local Postal Service office. He was promptly told he would have to provide two pieces of identification, such as:

  • A driver’s license or State ID card
  • A passport
  • A birth certificate
  • A bill from a utility company, such as for phone or electric service.

Now, consider:

  • He lived only a few blocks from the post office where he was applying for a P.O. box. 
  • He had lived at the same apartment building for 22 years.  
  • The Postal Service had been delivering his mail there that entire time—sometimes knocking at his door to do so. 
  • When he came to its counter to retrieve mail that was otherwise un-deliverable, his showing a State ID card had been entirely enough.

But, to rent a P.O. box at that very same post office, he had to prove he wasn’t a terrorist. And one of the ways he was to do this was to show a utility bill.

What does paying money to an electric or gas company prove about anyone? Osama bin Laden was paying for utilities in a Pakistani house—and the Pakistanis didn’t say: “Hey, we can’t supply electricity to you–you’re a terrorist.”

SECURITY THEATER IS NOT SECURITY

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Self-Help, Social commentary on August 19, 2016 at 12:08 am

Starting in 2016, traveling by air in the United States got more complicated.  But not necessarily safer.

In 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act as a counter-terrorism measure. Its goal was to set security standards for government-issued IDs.

The Act started to be introduced in late 2013. Now in the last phase of its implementation, its enforcers have decided that some states haven’t complied with its requirements.

As a result, driver’s licenses from those states will no longer suffice to pass through airport security. And that includes domestic flights as well as international ones.

Those states:  New York, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Louisiana and American Samoa.

The reason: Licenses issued by those states don’t contain enough identifying information to pass muster with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

So how are residents of these states supposed to cope? The Federal Government is advising them to get a passport.

Your old New York driver’s license may make it harder for you to fly in 2016 | syracuse.com

And this, in turn, carries an illogic all its own. As one soon-to-be affected New York traveler outlined:

“To get a passport I’ll first need to get a certified copy of my birth certificate.

“And to get a copy of my birth certificate I need only to submit a copy of my driver’s license. A copy, no face-to-face, is-that-really you?

“So a New York driver’s license isn’t good enough for flying but it is good enough to get a birth certificate, which gets me a passport, which allows me to fly.”

Got all that?

Related image

Sample state ID card that’s acceptable under the Real ID Act

So much of what passes for security is actually security theater.  It doesn’t actually make us safer, but it makes us feel safer.  

And it makes us feel the government is keeping us safe, even when it isn’t.

For example: In the months after 9/11, National Guard troops were stationed in American airports. They certainly looked impressive.  

But passengers would have felt far less reassured had they known the assault rifles they carried had no bullets.

Or take the checking of photo IDs that has become routine to enter State and Federal office buildings.

What exactly does this tell the security guard?

If you’re John Dillinger or Osama bin Laden, it tells him: “This is a very wanted man.”  

But if you’re John Q. Public, who’s not notorious as a bank robber or terrorist, showing him your ID tells him nothing.

But people watching the guard performing this ritual assume: “The security guard must know what he’s looking for. So we have to be safer for his checking those IDs.”

In fact, most security guards have little training and even less experience. Many of them don’t carry firearms and lack self-defense skills.

According to Salary.com: The median annual Security Guard salary is $29,204, as of July 29, 2016, with a range usually between $25,857 and $33,522.  

Repeated showings of security theater can be seen every weekday at the San Francisco Federal Building, at 450 Golden Gate Avenue.

To enter, you must show a driver’s license or State ID card.

Then you must remove

  • Your belt;
  • Your shoes;
  • Your watch;
  • Your wallet;
  • All other objects from your pants pockets;
  • Any jacket you’re wearing;
  • Any cell phone you’re carrying.

All of these must be placed in one or more large plastic containers, which are run through an x-ray scanner.

Finally, assuming you avoid setting off any alarm system, you’re allowed to enter.

Now, suppose you want to report a crime to the San Francisco field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

You take an elevator to the 13th floor and walk into a large room filled with several comfortable chairs that sit close to the floor. You approach a window such as you find in a bank–made of thick, presumably bulletproof glass.

A secretary on the opposite side greets you, and asks why you’ve come.

You offer your reason for wanting to speak with an agent. Assuming the secretary thinks you have a legitimate reason, she says you must first show her your driver’s license or State ID card.

You slide these through the bottom part of the glass window. Then she makes a xerox of this and hands the card back.

Then, as if that isn’t enough, you have to fill out a single-page form, which requires you to provide your:

  • Name;
  • Address;
  • Phone number;
  • Social Security Number;
  • The reason you want to speak to an agent.

Of course, you can refuse to fill out the form. But then the secretary will refuse to let you meet with an FBI agent.

The FBI has always encouraged Americans to report anything they consider a threat to national security or a violation of Federal law.

But this demand for so much private information is almost certain to sharply decrease the number of people willing to report knowledge of a crime.

At a time when Federal law enforcement agencies need all the cooperation they can get, this is not a matter to be taken lightly.

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