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Paul Rosenzweig
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OK. It really =is= a little incestuous. I was Stewart's Deputy when he was at Homeland Security. I helped him write the book. He gives me a nice acknowledgment in the introduction. And long ago he even gave me posting privileges on his web site (though I think he probably has forgotten that). So, naturally, if I tell you that I really like Stewart's book, you'll take it with a healthy grain of salt. As well you should. But maybe if I tell you why I like the book -- and what is particularly appealing about it -- that will convince on the merits, despite my obvious (and openly declared) bias. So... why =do= I like it? That requires a bit of explanation. I've been reading Washington insider books for years. Heck, I am one, so I just love the genre. And, in the end, I've decided that they typically fall into two categories (often, a single book contains both types of memoir): The first, and most prevalent, is of the form "How I Was Brilliant and Saved the World." It recount all of the wonders and good deeds of the author and his (or her) remarkable ability to foresee... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2010 at Skating on Stilts
Earlier this month the Washington Post reported that TSA had caved in to industry objections and scaled back its plan to regulate the use of General Aviation aircraft (that is, small private airplanes). The crucial part of that determination was a May 2009 report by the DHS Inspector General which called the security threat from small planes, "limited and mostly hypothetical." I don't think that Joseph Stack got the message and I'm sure that the IRS employees in Austin are taking comfort in the hypothetical nature of the attack on them yesterday. All too often our security responses are condemned as "too reactive." We are always protecting against the last attack and never looking forward enough. The IG report is an almost tragic example of the opposite trend -- when someone makes the effort to think constructively and proactively about as-yet-unrealized threats they are accused of fear mongering and engaging in "hypotheticals." Well, the hypothetical became reality yesterday. One only hopes it is enough to shame the general aviation industry into forgoing its opposition to helpful security measures and to embolden TSA to do the right thing. Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2010 at Skating on Stilts
In a letter to Congress today, a coalition of privacy advocates have called on Congress to investigate the DHS Privacy Office. The gravamen of their complaint is that the Privacy Office is insufficiently independent from the Department and isn't protecting privacy. Proof of this, they say, lies in the Privacy Office's approval of Privacy Impact Assessments for several programs (e.g. Whole Body Imaging) that allegedly erode privacy interests. Talk about shooting the messenger. It's not as if the current Privacy Officer has a long-history of anti-privacy activity. Quite to the contrary. One has to wonder exactly what the privacy advocates are expecting from the Privacy Office? Do they really expect the creation of a system where the Privacy Officer can substitute his or her judgment on security necessity for that of the Secretary of Homeland Security (or the President, for that matter)? While that might be something the advocates hope for, its not likely in the cards anytime soon. And as for their call for independence, the history of independence, at least here in the United States, is less than comforting. We are, after all, still waiting for the appointment of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (first called... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2009 at Skating on Stilts
Anon -- Can you explain more. I'm intersted in this technology. Do you have a good reference for the imprecision of geolocation tech? Thanks. -- Paul
Here's an interesting link to someone who mostly thinks this analysis is correct.