Enzo Titolo

Politics, Paranoispiricies, neologisms, diary, creative, ruminations

Saturday, June 17, 2006

NeoLogism - Simcurity

Here's a new word invented by someone else - Simcurity.

Simcurity is a public show of simulated security rituals meant to demonstrate to the public by authorities that 'something' is being done 'against terrorism' that inconveniences many, but simcurity doesn't actually provide any or much actual security, just a show of force and authority to convey a feeling of security.

Ironically, or perhaps not so, these ritual shows that we often must comply with foster an ongoing underlying sense of insecurity (due to prolonging the after-effects of terrorism), and simcurity also conditions the public to comply with authorities' demands such as lining up, taking off our shoes, answering questions, and presenting identification when we've done nothing wrong (while terrorist supporters and terrorists go free).

It is sort of a shell game in which the public is distracted and terrorized by authorities, while the terrorists and their financiers do their things. At the very least it is difficult and dangerous to find and confront terrorists and their networks. Nonetheless, Johnny Walker Lindh the teenage Marin convert was able to meet Osama and choose an assignment as a terrorist or a Taliban member. However, despite the dangers and difficulties infiltrating terror networks (look at what happened to Danny Pearl), there may be other internal circumstances which further complicate such activities and policies, such as industries' ties with oil producers that may not want those networks blatantly confronted.

This is reminiscent of the recent-post-World-War-2 era in which Nazi agents were recruited into the US to provide anti-Soviet information, which these Germans did quite well. They provided plenty of information and some interesting stories, exaggerating the capabilities of the USSR, which made these agents seem more valuable to the US, causing us to build an arms race against the USSR with whom we were allied with against the Germans, and in so doing enabled the USSR to justify its own arms build-up against the US. Meanwhile the populations of both nations were terrorized by the prospect of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). This situation continued for forty years, scleroticizing both nations, but greatly benefiting the 'security' apparatuses of both nations at a cost of several trillion dollars, freedoms, and lives during that Cold War Era. Our military-security state still hasn't been able to adapt to the post Soviet war as we continue ordering the development and manufacture of multi-billion dollar weapons systems and classes of ships, planes, and tanks to fight the USSR which dissolved in the early 1990s.

This 'save the Nazi spies' operation was recently elucidated with the revelations that the US enabled Adolf Eichman to escape from Germany and then shielded him from prosecution or justice for fifteen years until Israeli agents managed to capture him in South America. I believe that this paralleled or was part of Operation Paperclip, in which the US actively recruited and integrated the Nazi spy/intelligence network into its intelligence ranks or as consultants.

But back to the present, pasted below for our public debate and information is an article about a security expert who thinks that much of today's security rituals are a huge waste of time and money, and feed into a strengthened police state in the U.S.A.

A state of security should not be confused with a budding Security State, which is built on Simcurity, a false feeling of security which breeds insecurity leading to loss of liberty.

Tales from the Cryptographer
Security guru Bruce Schneier busts the myths of post-9/11 safety measures

by Ken Picard (06/07/06).

Bruce Schneier has little patience for pointless security measures. As an internationally acclaimed cryptographer and security expert who travels extensively for work, he encounters them every day. Most airline passengers probably have wondered whether taking off their shoes for airport screeners accomplishes anything. Schneier not only understands why it doesn't, he can explain why it actually make us less secure. As he puts it, "If we're relying on airport screeners to prevent terrorism, it's already too late. After all, we can't keep weapons out of prisons. How can we ever hope to keep them out of airports?"

Schneier, 43, has the same assessment of the National Security Agency's controversial program of eavesdropping on American citizens. While advocates of so-called "data-mining" projects claim they can help foil future terrorist plots, Schneier contends that they're not just costly, time-consuming and an invasion of privacy; they're also ineffective at catching terrorists. He argues that when it comes to defending homeland security, the real choice we need to make isn't between security and privacy. It's between liberty and a police state.

Schneier should know. As founder and chief technology officer of Counterpane Internet Security, a global Internet security firm, he is considered an authority on emerging security threats. Schneier has appeared in such media outlets as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, USA Today, Wired and The Economist. He's been interviewed on National Public Radio and CNN, and publishes a free monthly newsletter called "Crypto-Gram," which has more than 100,000 subscribers. He has also testified before Congress on national security issues. Schneier's book, Applied Cryptography, is considered such a seminal work in the field of secret codes that author Dan Brown used him as a "realistic background detail" in The DaVinci Code.

Schneier's latest book, Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World, explains to the non-expert many of the overarching principles of security, from securing ATM machines to safeguarding nuclear secrets. Next week, he is a featured speaker at a daylong seminar in Montpelier, entitled "Privacy: How Much Is Left?" It is sponsored by the ACLU-Vermont.

Seven Days interviewed Schneier by phone during a recent layover at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.

SEVEN DAYS: You began your career as a cryptographer. How did you become an expert on security in general?
BRUCE SCHNEIER: A lot of the methodology and formal ways of thinking we develop for computer security have a lot of applicability to real-world security -- to airplanes, ID cards. Everything involves a computer these days.

SD: It seems as though understanding security is less about understanding the technology than the human psychology it's predicated on.
BS: I think the human factors are much more important. Knowing what technology can and can't do is vital, but too often people believe that technology can solve the human problem. It can't. Burglaries are a great example. Burglaries have been a problem for 5000 years. We use technology to control it, but we don't solve the problem.

SD: You're in an airport right now. Of all the security measures implemented since 9/11, what's the most absurd?
BS: The ID checks. There have been exactly two things that have improved airport security since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door and teaching passengers that they have to fight back. This whole ID check everywhere is ridiculous. Everybody has an ID. So what? Osama bin Laden has an ID. All the 9/11 hijackers had IDs. You can fly under a fake name and a fake ID really easily. It's pure security theater.

SD: What's the focus of your presentation in Vermont?
BS: I'm going to try to paint a picture of the future of privacy. In the modern technological world, what are the logical extensions of today's technology that we're likely to see? How many years will it be before a "life recorder" is a reasonable thing to carry? That's something that you'll wear on your lapel that'll audio-record everything that happens to you. That's probably only five or six years away. Nobody will mug you because you have your life recorder as evidence. Surveillance technologies come about because more of our transactions are being done by computers, and computers make records. Instead of putting a quarter into a tollbooth, we use an EZ Pass. Instead of paying cash, we pay with credit cards. Records are generated, and as the storage [cost] drops to free, and the processing [cost] drops to free, more records are saved.

SD: What's wrong with this enormous aggregation of data?
BS: It's very troubling because it goes to the heart of liberty and individuality. The right to do things while not being watched is very fundamental to humanity, whether we sing in the shower or have private conversations with friends. If we are constantly under gaze, we can't experiment as human beings. When we know we're being watched, our lives are altered, even if we're doing nothing wrong . . . Amazon can collect my data -- actually, I like it when they present me with books I might want to buy -- and we gladly trade data for convenience. What we don't like is when we lose control over it, when it goes into the hands of data brokers and is used for things we're not aware of.

SD: What's the biggest threat to our privacy?
BS: The confluence of corporate and government interests. Right now, data that is illegal for the government to collect they buy from corporations. And, data that corporations can't possibly get they buy from the government. So there's this confluence. And it's not because someone is being malicious. It's because that's where technology is leading us. Corporations are not public charities. They will do whatever will make them the most profit that's legal.

SD: Have we already fallen too far down the rabbit hole?
BS: We're living in a very unique time. The cameras are everywhere, yet you can still see them. ID checks are ubiquitous and you know they're going on. Ten years from now, you won't see the cameras. All the ID checks will be RFID [radio frequency identification] or face recognition, and will happen without your knowledge. Surveillance will just fade into the background of society.

SD: Is data mining useful?
BS: It depends. Data mining's great success story is credit-card fraud. Data mining systems comb through all of our transactions looking for patterns of credit-card thieves. And they catch them. Why does that work? A bunch of reasons. First, there's a reasonable percentage of credit cards stolen each year, so the number of bad guys you're looking for is high. Second, credit-card thieves follow pretty regular patterns you can look for. They have standard profiles. Third, the cost of a false negative isn't that great. If you catch 25 percent of the credit-card thieves with this system, that's fantastic. If you miss 75 percent, so what? The business is still profitable. Four, the cost of a false positive is very low. You get a call from a credit-card company saying, "Did you buy a big-screen television in Omaha today?" You say yes, and life goes on.

SD: Why doesn't this work for national security?
BS: When you apply this to terrorism, you get completely different answers. First, terrorists are extremely rare. Two, terrorists don't have defining patterns you can search for . . . How many of us change jobs each year? Change friends? Changing your baseline is normal. Terrorists are like any other group of people planning an operation, whether it be a surprise birthday party or a bank robbery. The only difference is that their operation is illegal.

SD: What else?
BS: The cost of false negatives is very high. Security is a tradeoff, and if you build a system that misses 75 to 90 percent, it's ineffective. Lastly, the cost of false positives is very high. It's a two-week FBI investigation. We saw this in the first NSA eavesdropping scandal. The New York Times reported that there were about 1000 people that this system had the FBI investigate. Every one of them was a false alarm. That's completely wasted time and effort.

SD: Is there a fundamental security flaw the government is missing?
BS: It's not a flaw. If you look at what they're doing, it makes sense [to them]. If you were a government official, you want to err on the side of more visible security . . . There's a propensity for things that are visible, so spending money on Arabic translators is not as good as fingerprinting foreigners. It looks like you're doing something.

SD: So, we ask people to take their shoes off in the airport because there was one shoe bomber.
BS: You just have to be thankful he wasn't an underwear bomber.

SD: Is profiling the answer?
BS: We all profile. The difference is smart profiling versus dumb profiling. If you see a guy running at you with a bloody knife, you profile. Maybe he's a butcher chasing a woman who forgot her change. Maybe he's not. But you have to profile the right things. Racial and sexual profiling don't work because you're inviting the bad guys to not meet the profile. When you fall back on stereotypes, that's when you fall blind to the real threats.

SD: Is it possible for people to cover their digital footprints?
BS: Probably not . . . Think about trying to live your life without getting into a computer. Buying things with cash is suspicious. You can't rent a car, you can't get on an airplane. Throughout our day we leave digital footprints. If you're the bad guy, you take solace in the fact that everybody does. If you're watching everybody, you're watching nobody.

SD: What can we do?
BS: I don't have any tips. We're screwed. The data about us is not controlled by us. The only tip is to get involved politically. It isn't something you solve with "10 easy tips to keeping your privacy." We need legislation, because technology is working against us.

SD: What keeps you awake at night?
BS: The biggest thing to worry about is the alliance of industry and government because it's making things possible that weren't before. There's a great quote from [George] Orwell from the 1940s, which says that basically, police states have been kept in check because they're so inefficient. They're not inefficient anymore. The dream of a dossier on everybody in the country was realized already. ChoicePoint [the credit verification company] has a dossier on everybody in the country because it's their business. A massive police state -- knowing who talks to whom, especially as more of our communication goes on the Internet -- becomes easy. And you don't have to be malicious to do it. You just need to be providing good customer service.

From Seven Days, Vermont's Alternative Weekly.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

NeoLogism - Inclusive Education

I was thinking about how tired and negative the term Special Ed is. It sounds so smarmy and falsely affirmative. Like having a challenge or disorder is good, making you 'special.' I actually kind of love my ADD, but I don't think it makes me special. I make me special.

It also reminds me of that 1980s SNL Dana Carvey skit with the church lady: "isn't that special?" There was even a character on Comedy Central's Crank Yankers named Special Ed.

Special Education sounds like the students are all retarded, yet retarded people don't like being called retarded because it means stupid, weird, dirty, and frightening. Parents want their kids to succeed and to be special for themselves, not because of their challenges, disabilities, or disorders. They want their kids to cope but to thrive and to do it included in mainstream America, not segregated into a second class class out of site.

I think it is long overdue to rename Special Education. I suggest: Inclusive Education.

Inclusion is a good thing, especially in public education. Also, inclusion appreciates diversity of learning styles.

I am smart, but I need help with organizing and dealing with social situations. If Inclusive Education were available to me in college and graduate school I could have learned and succeeded much more, and gained more skills for the work-world. I'd be more included in school and in work.

Those who oppose or fear Inclusive Education are exclusive, keeping people out.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Pentagon Explosion Footage Official May 2006 Release Part 1

Prison Planet has had Pentagon explosion footage for a while.

A couple of weeks ago, to a bit of ballyhoo that we hadn't heard about for a long time, the Pentagon released, officially, its parking lot footage of the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11/01...

Well, let's go to the video itself: first there's smoke coming from the Pentagon, then we see a 'whoosh' approach the Pentagon fast and low with a contrail after it and then we see a huge explosion.

I don't see how an airplane can go so low without damaging poles or the lawn. I don't know if planes even leave contrails at so low an altitude. What was that puff of smoke in the first frame?

It is so funny/strange/sad/scary how the newscasters framed this video: Telling what we were supposed to be seeing and thinking, like hypnotists! And the hype, too. I've seen this video on the web before. I think it was on [URL=http://www.prisonplanet.com]http://www.prisonplanet.org[/URL] .com at least months ago, and it is there to prove that it was a missile hitting the building. This video, at the least, is a public Rorshack test.

[What was going on that week (mid May 2006) in the news? The immigrants/aliens? Karl Rove or Cheney maybe getting involved with the Libby imbroglio? Bush' approval going below 30% to Nixon/Carter/Bush41 levels? Was this after the week that Ray McGovern argued Rumsfeld into the ground, calling him a liar about Iraq? Was this around the time New Orleans was electing its Mayor, with the city still in ruins and population scattered even as the next hurricane season was brewing? Was this the week that USAToday revealed that the NSA has conspired with phone companies and a database company, Choicepoint, to create a massive database of every American phone call for use in datamining connected with our voter registrations, license plates, medical records? Explosive implications and revelations in the face of previous lies.

Was this explosive video's release some sort of stimulus to make us fearful and united, like the old color coded warnings that were lated revealed to be politically manipulative?

Really, I don't see how the timing of its release, blamed on Moussaoui's trial being over, a month after the Moussaoui trial ended, was linked to that trial, or even how it was relevant to it in the first place... The lies just keep on coming with this administration. Do they ever tell the truth?]

Then there's other surveillance videos that we know about, like from the (Sheraton?) hotel and the (Citgo?) gas station, still unreleased, but seized by the FBI on the day of the attacks. And there's the other ones we don't know about, since we can reasonably assume that the Pentagon probably has more video footage of what's going on around the building than the one from a crappy parking lot camera. I've seen better Predator surveillance footage of a distant battlefield from the 1990s. And doesn't the Pentagon have second-to-second satellite pictures on Washington DC?

25 years of a missile standoff against the USSR, and the Pentagon isn't protected against missiles?? Aren't missiles smaller and faster than large commercial airliners? The Pentagon doesn't have anti-aircraft working?

According to a local paper in Florida in mid September 2001, see [URL=http://www.cooperativeresearch.org]http://www.cooperativeresearch.org[/URL] Cooperative Research's section, An Interesting Day for the link, Bush' Sarasota resort had anti-aircraft installed on the roof of his resort on 9/10/01. What, they took it off from the Pentagon?? Only one anti-aircraft battery for the east coast? The Pentagon needs to hold a bake sale or something!

It seems weird that we'd protect Tokyo, Tapei, Seoul, Ankhara, and Berlin better than we'd protect Washington DC and NYC. Especially since we've spent TRILLION$ on defense since WW2 and sacrificed universal healthcare for this advanced protection, which doesn't even work for us the one day we really needed it.

Then, what was the Chain of Command doing that morning, hours after multiple hijackings, allowing our capitol's military headquarters to go unprotected?! So many people stepped off duty during that period, and then there's all the folks kind of missing or out of town that day, including the Prez, VP, Chief of Staff. And there's Minetta and Cheney's conflicting accounts of their whereabouts and schedules and who was doing and saying what....

Then, what about no fighter planes defending the skies during multiple hijackings that have been going on for hours? I don't see how Payne Stewart's jet can get escorted in 1999, but the Pentagon and NYC go unprotected, and when they are finally protected after it is too late, it is from more distant bases hundreds of miles away?

And then these guys who 'let it happen' all keep their jobs or get medals or promotions, and all the whistleblowers or folks trying to prevent the attacks either die, get fired, threatened, demoted, run out of town or the agency, told to shut up or step off...

It is mind boggling how little sense the official conspiracy story makes. The only thing that does make sense is a conspiracy to make those attacks happen, or to help them along. In a way, maybe they ostensibly screwed up Irag (so the military gets to stay there while the Iraqis kill each other), and we seemingly screwed up the Katrina response even though there were naval vessels with rescue supplies nearby (yet this miscommunication makes Lousiana more reliably Republican, since N.O.'s Democratic Blacks are scattered across the nation).

As a result, we believe that the country and the world is ungovernable, that government services are a waste of money, and that even if the military only works minimally well, it is the only thing that works at all, so throw more money and power at it. There's always force.

[Then, we are 'prepared' if the next big emergency happens, even bigger than the DC and NYC attacks of 2001, which after all the horror were just four planes and four buildings and three thousand people dead followed by the Anthrax attacks, killing less than a dozen and terrorizing the liberal media and congress.

What if something big happened? Like an epidemic in which millions are expected to die anyway, then the military gets to quarantine areas and people, move or save whom they want, and either let some undesireables die or facilitate the process... If the phones and news and Internet get cut off from that region, well, that's because all the people in the phone company 'died' or went into the quarantine holding area, or because there were 'rumors' that 'hurt/threatened public safety.'

The beauty of such a plan is that an epidemic kills people, but leaves property intact. Since such an attack is invisible and caused by germs, it is less traumatic than a war or terror attack, caused by people, yet we still have to rely on people in authority with special knowledge and equipment to save us.

Maybe the epidemic would be partially real, or maybe one is disemminated, like what the military did to SF, NYC, and St. Louis in the 1950s which got several people sick, and killed a few... Enough to make us take it seriously. But the disease gets trumped up, so everyone has to fall into line and co-operate or they will not get 'care' or 'help,' or those that are difficult might have to be executed to keep order or they just 'disappear' in the wake of the plague, or maybe some people get the good vaccine, some get placebos, and some get the diseased vaccine, depending on where you fit into in the database that has your political registration cross tabulated with your phone, email, and blog records... ]

I don't understand why so many obvious 9/11/01 questions aren't or weren't investigated or why folks don't seem to give a hoot. Shouldn't we all be on strike? Or constantly protesting in the streets? Those Korean students against the South Korean authoritarians in 1988 put us to shame. Those Russians in 1991 and the Chinese staring down tanks in 1989 put us to shame.

I feel like our country has been caught sleepwalking in a collective nightmare since November 2000. And it is spreading. Like a nightmare it just keeps going, getting worse, and going down stranger and scarier corridors.

People often say that dying in one's sleep is peaceful, but I don't think so. I think some nightmares get so bad that they kill you from the terror, and the terror kills you from your heart spasming in an attack. People glibly write off dying in one's sleep as 'a peaceful way to go,' because it is easier to go through life classifying dying that way to make it easier for the living, so we can 'move on,' 'get closure,' form a scab, 'heal,' and live our daily lives again in a routine as if we'll live forever.

I guess it is just hard enough to make a living and keep it together, rather than be outraged or thinking too much. Otherwise, you could be unemployed, without any health insurance, maybe homeless and hungry...

After all, what's the use thinking, worrying, or striking about it? Our country has cooked up wars since the mid 1840s to advance certain interests, and we've practically genocided the Native Americans and then enslaved blacks for hundreds of years, but life has gone on for those fortunate enough not to be in the line of fire or the prisons...

Why should I be surprised if these attacks were events to give certain people and institutions power and money, amd enough power to let these people kills hundreds of thousands of foreigners already, and maybe even kill millions of Americans in the near future should the military-security-industrial-corporate powers chose to abuse their power further so that they could 'thin the herd' and takes its property, like gathering chips on a poker table.

Psychologists say that the best way to take care of others you care about is to take care of one's self first.

What did Pink Floyd say in that song, Money? I'm alright, Jack; Keep your hands off my stack!

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