December 2nd, 2008


Raise your hand if you're surprised...

The rules put in place to "stop" terrorism have been exploited by thieves.

LAX Tops the Nation in Stolen/Missing Baggage.

Since one is no longer allowed to lock one's bag (unless one is possessed of a TSA approved, which is to say a lock for which they have a master key) the scheme is simple; someone who can see the contents of the bag as it passes through x-ray, informs a confederate; in handling, what the bag looks like, and what the contents worth stealing are.

The possibility of this is why my computer, and camera bag, always go onto the plane as carry on baggage. From the story:

Police say two baggage handlers did more than just carry your luggage. They allegedly helped themselves to what was inside.

LAPD officers recovered 272 stolen items, plus more than $10,000 in cash!

It was the biggest passenger theft bust in LAX's history. Police recovered dozens and dozens of purses, cameras, computers, designer sunglasses and currency from more than a dozen countries around the world!

The loot was recovered at the homes of Roman Jaime and Carlos Garcia.

We were there exclusively, as the two were arrested right on the tarmac at LAX on October 30th. Undercover LAPD officers were led to the pair because many of the flights they worked had reports of thefts from baggage.

Apparently the claims of stolen propery at LAX, sinc 2001, when the TSA was created, come to more than 300 million dollars.

Don't you feel safer now?
Pixel Stained

Oh, for fuck's sake....

The coroner's jury in the death of Jean de Menenzes is forbidden from considering a verdict of, "unlawful killing."

It's a fine distinction, to be sure... after all the cops were following orders, so the killing must have been lawful, right?

It's actually worse than that. If I understand the article the judge has decided, for the jury, that they coulnd't be sure a cop had commited a crime,"All interested persons agree that a verdict of unlawful killing could only be left to you if you could be sure that a specific officer had committed a very serious crime - murder or manslaughter."

I am sure some interested persons are of just such an opinion. SOme of them might even be sitting on that jury.

Just in case that little bit of directed whitewash wasn't enough, Sir Michael also warned jurors that they must not attach any criminal or civil fault to any individuals.

Maybe it's a quirk of the system, after all the people who pulled the trigger are known, but not by name... that's been kept secret, they are merely C2, and C12. So the person who shot him isn't really known, and so can't be named. Or something.

Jurors were also asked to consider which of a number of factors contributed to the Brazilian's death.

Among those were:

* The pressure on police after the 7 July London bombings
* A failure by police to ensure that Mr de Menezes was stopped before he reached the Underground
* The innocent behaviour of Mr de Menezes increasing suspicion
* Shortcomings in the communications system between various police teams involved in the operation

Well... no shit. All of those things contributed, but more to the point what contributed was the cops seem to have done damn all to actually treat de Menezes as if he were the sort of threat they said he was after the shooting. From the testimonies at the trial of the guy in charge (if it can be said anyone was really in charge of the thing), it seems to me that the call was made, as soon as he came out, to kill him. At none of the points in which they could have done something intelligent; like, you know, arrested him before he got on the tube, did they do anything but watch him head to places where the risk increased.

But the verdict said he bore no personal culpability, and this judge, Sir Micheal Wright, has decided that means no criminal, nor civil, blame can attach to anyone.

Here's hoping they leave it, "open".

Another voice in the choir

I've been saying, for a long time, that good questioning methods will get information from anyone who is going to talk. I've also been saying that torture (even under the sanitizing euphemism, "enhanced questioning techniques") is counter -productive.

Well, guess what? One more person, who's actually done the work, agrees with me.

I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they're listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of "ruses and trickery"). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.

He's wrong, his methods weren't unique. As he says, they are simply the application of the tried and true methods in the FM. The stuff we put together in the course of 60 years of applying the art. David Drake used them, I used them. "Chris Mackey" used them.

All of us adapted them to the situations before us. In "Matthew Alexander's" case one of the needed adaptations was to deal with his being in an environment which was more law enforcement, than war zone (which is the thing I've been saying about the "War on Terror" along with people more widely known, and respected, like Bruce Schneier). Because he was using the tools that work, he could adapt.

Torture is a hammer, and everything starts to look like a nail.

You meet him, buy him a drink for me, he's earned it.