Homeland Security

TSA Misses Loaded GunKevin Quinn reports for ABC KTRK-TV:

HOUSTON (KTRK) — TSA checkpoints at airports are at the front lines of preventing terrorism. When you go through security, you expect to be scanned and searched. And you expect TSA to prevent contraband from getting on planes, but as we’ve learned, that doesn’t always happen.

Houston businessman Farid Seif says it was a startling discovery. He didn’t intend to bring a loaded gun on a flight out of Houston and can’t understand how TSA screeners didn’t catch it.

Nearing the height of last year’s Christmas travel season, TSA screeners at Bush Intercontinental Airport somehow missed a loaded pistol, one that was tucked away inside a carry-on computer bag. “I mean, this is not a small gun,” Seif said. “It’s a .40 caliber gun.”


Peter King

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

According to a recent New York Times article, Representative Peter King, incoming head of the House Homeland Security Committee, will open a Congressional inquiry into the “radicalization” of America’s Muslim community.

As Justin Elliott at Salon points out, King himself gave material support (fundraising), a crime that can land any American citizen in Gitmo, to the IRA back in the 80’s. In fact, he only broke ties with the organization back in 2005.

I wonder then, if part of King’s investigation will concern other prominent U.S. citizens who helped other Foreign Terrorist Organizations, such as those who worked on Operation Cyclone, the CIA operation which armed and trained the mujahideen (two splinter groups are currently designated FTO’s) during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, many members of which went on to join Al-Qaeda.


C’mon, it’s obvious why she was questioned … she’s a frakin’ Cylon! Jesus Diaz writes on Gizmodo:

This bombshell wearing just black lace, a pearl necklace and a white dog is Tammy Banovac, a retired surgeon in a wheelchair. She got down to her lingerie while going through airport security and still got a pat down. (Update: Turns out that Tammy Banovac posed naked for Playboy in 1997, when she was a dental surgeon in Oklahoma, under her maiden name Tammy Lynn Brewer.)

Dr. Banovac always refuses to go through the metal detector. She has to use a metal wheelchair and that means that she always gets a pat down no matter what. Lately, she says she feels violated because the pat downs have become increasingly invasive during the last few months. “If it happened anywhere else, it would have been sexual assault,” she declared to a local newspaper.




Who could possibly want to squelch the anti-fracking movie Gasland? Hmmm, let me think …. while considering this story from SFGate (submitted by ‘Rainer’ – thanks!):

Actor Mark Ruffalo has been placed on a terror advisory list by U.S. officials after organizing screenings for a new documentary about natural gas drilling.

The “Zodiac” actor arranged showings for “GasLand” earlier this year and voiced his concerns about the practice in relation to the national water supplies…




Well here it is, “Top Secret America,” the Washington Post‘s much-hyped critique of an out-of-control public and private intelligence disaster happening in the United States. Here’s the intro, but there’s a whole lot more at the Post‘s special report pages:

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight…


WTF America? This poll was taken at the end of April. It’s interesting how many of these poll-takers believe immigration (in itself — legal or illegal — according to this poll) hurts the United States. Would have liked to see the question asked how many of these people are still concerned about terrorism, but I guess since Wall Street managed to destroy our economy (including millions of jobs and people’s life savings) economic concerns are overriding security ones. Reports UPI:

Seven in 10 U.S. adults support arresting people who can’t prove they’re in the United States legally, a poll about Arizona’s new immigration law indicated.

The Angus Reid Public Opinion poll of 1,002 American adults asked respondents if they’d want four guidelines in Arizona’s immigration law enacted in their own state.

Constitution Free ZoneFeel free to add the entire state of Arizona to this map. Source: ACLU

The law, the nation’s toughest, seeks to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants and gives police broad powers to stop people on suspicion of being in the United States illegally.

Seventy-one percent of poll respondents said they’d support requiring their own police to determine people’s U.S. status if there was “reasonable suspicion” the people were illegal immigrants, the poll found.



A new bill quietly introduced by Congress last week is causing quite a stir among civil liberties groups. The brainchild of senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, the bill would give the United States government the power to indefinitely detain terror suspects without charge or trial. It would also allow the government to interrogate them for the intelligence value and it doesn’t make a distinction between U.S. citizens and non-citizens.




Daniel Rubin writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

In the tense new world of air travel, we’re stripped of shoes, told not to take too much shampoo on board, frowned on if we crack a smile. The last thing we expect is a joke from a Transportation Security Administration screener — particularly one this stupid.

Rebecca Solomon is 22 and a student at the University of Michigan, and on Jan. 5 she was flying back to school after holiday break. She made sure she arrived at Philadelphia International Airport 90 minutes before takeoff, given the new regulations.

She would be flying into Detroit on Northwest Airlines, the same city and carrier involved in the attempted bombing on Christmas, just 10 days before. She was tense. What happened to her lasted only 20 seconds, but she says they were the longest 20 seconds of her life.





So as the court system starts to regulate more and more the use of tasers by police, I have a feeling these “non-lethal” options will come into more widespread use. Here’s a video from some folks who made of a version of the Dazzler. The clip from the Homeland Security conference is pretty astounding:

Our first open source Homeland Security non-lethal weapon project — The “THE BEDAZZLER: A Do-it-yourself Handheld LED-Incapacitator”. After attending a conference where the $1 million “sea-sick flashlight” (named “THE DAZZLER”) was demonstrated by the US Dept. of Homeland Security, we decided to create our own version. For under $250, you can build your own dazzler…

Yes this project does indeed cause: Nausea, dizziness, headache, flashblindness, eye pain and (occasional?) vomiting! So don’t use it on your friends or pets…


Security expert Bruce Schneier argues that checking photo IDs at the airport is a waste of time. “If you think about it, everybody has a photo ID. All the 9/11 terrorists had…


From News Junkie Post:

KPRC news in Houston recently filmed a secret experiment by law enforcement agencies including the Dept. of Homeland Security of a drone intended to spy on Americans.

The drone uncovered during this investigation are not like the large, expensive models used by the military for targeted strikes on militants half a world away. These are manufactured by Insitu out of Bingen, Washington (corporate offices located in Australia), only weigh about 40 pounds (18.1 kg) before monitoring equipment is installed. This model has the capacity to stay airborne for up to a day.
The Houston Police Department responded with the following statement, “Potential public safety applications include mobility, evacuations, homeland security, search and rescue, as well as tactical.”…





Playboy doing what it does best: publishing stories that more respectable publications won’t touch: The weeks before Christmas brought no hint of terror. But by the afternoon of December 21, 2003, police…