Schneier on Security

Old Aug 3, 07, 1:43 pm
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Originally Posted by exerda View Post
But we have people throughout the administration already trumpeting that same fact all the time, and from reactions to recent tragedies where so many people admit to first thinking an act of terrorism had occurred, I'd be pretty sure the airlines wouldn't be scaring off pax by saying they'd caught potential terrorists. I could be wrong, but that's my thought, anyway.
I can see both sides to this -- even within different branches of DHS itself -- if Kippie elaborated on his claim of:
We do not publicize how often the no-fly system stops people you would not want on your flight. Several times a week would low-ball it.

The TSA has the toughest spin job. They have to balance maintaining a level of fear in the public (in order to do what bureaucracies do best -- perpetuate themselves) with keeping the airlines as solvent as possible. Maintenance of the fear level goes a long way to justifying their budget, tactics, and activities such as the FAMs. They don't ever have to admit they caught a real terrorist in order to keep the fear level up. "Close calls" or "A lot" are good enough. Announcing that you caught "bad guys" such as casual pot smokers, illegal immigrants, deadbeat dads helps in the "feel good" department and helps social engineer the public into compliance with your tactics. Leaving out the fact that the murderer the SPOT team caught had never been charged 10 years ago is the classic deception art of "ommission" -- leaving out key facts in order to tell a different story.

On the other hand, being more specific would lend credibility of the no-fly list, which is sorely in need of credibility. It would make sense that they would announce specifics to counter the Edward Kennedys, David Nelsons, and Cat Stevens -- assuming there are any.

In areas of DHS responsibility outside airports, they can be much more specific because there isn't a direct affect on a nationally-important industry. As a result, they fear level can be set higher than at airports. For example, we must have killed the "#2 in Al Qaeda" at least 7 or 8 times, and, we keep detecting all these "sleeper cells."
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Old Aug 3, 07, 2:33 pm
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Originally Posted by law dawg View Post
Some have been that I know of, whether or not they all add up to the levels portrayed here. Others are suspicious but don't do anything actionable. They commit no crime, but are still not acting normally.
If there is nothing actionable that the person has done, then it strikes me as unfair if not bordering on illegal to deny them the ability to travel by air by placing their name on said list.

Furthermore, wouldn't finding out they can't fly because their name is on the list tip off those suspects to the fact that they are being watched by the government, or else direct them to other options (booking tickets with their middle names, using initials to book, using a fake ID, etc.), which not only does nothing to really prevent them from flying, but also lets them know we might be after them?

Some might claim "letting them know Big Brother is watching" would be a deterrent to their potential terrorist activity, but I'm not so sure.

Now, there may be "undesirables" on the list, people the US doesn't want to fly into (or around) our country, but other than a border control issue preventing them from entering in the first place, I wonder why they'd be on the no-fly list domestically yet not detained for their acts when detected.
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Old Aug 3, 07, 3:36 pm
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Originally Posted by exerda View Post
If there is nothing actionable that the person has done, then it strikes me as unfair if not bordering on illegal to deny them the ability to travel by air by placing their name on said list.
Ah, we are miscommunicating. It's my fault. I misunderstood and was talking about not just watch lists but also the so-called "dry runs" and "probes." I cry your pardon gunslinger. My bad.
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Old Aug 5, 07, 7:23 am
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Bruce spoke at Defcon this week and mentioned some things about TSA & ID, etc.
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