What Do You Have to Do To Get Fired Here?

Ryan Singel has the scoop. The GAO report to Congress is also covered in the New York Times, “Flight Database Found to Violate Privacy Law:”

“Careless missteps such as this jeopardize the public trust and D.H.S.’ ability to deploy a much-needed, new system,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, wrote on Friday to Secretary Michael Chertoff of the Department of Homeland Security.

Three times is not ‘careless missteps,’ Senator. It’s TSA learning that they can get away with it. They’re the result of small violations going unpunished. So my question is not really “What do you have to do to get fired here,” but “How many laws do you need to break to get fired here?”

Consent, Submit, Forest, Trees

Kip Esquire has a good post, “On ‘Consenting’ versus ‘Submitting’ to a Search.” The upshot is:

If you happen to be stopped for a search such as this, you should not say “Yes I consent” or “Sure, go ahead.” Rather try saying something like “I consent to nothing, but if you are requiring me to submit to a search, then I will comply.” That may sound a little too “Borg drone,” but it should preserve your Fourth Amendment rights.

I got this wrong in a comment, and I want to discuss that a little.

I don’t believe that our Constitutional rights were intended to, or ought to, turn on a turn of phrase, or slip of tongue. They ought to be more robust than that. This brings to mind a good post at Prawfsblog, where Hillel Levin discusses missing the forest for the trees, and ends, “Missing the Quarter-Pounder for the French Fry,” which ends:

If this analysis sounds familiar to you, it is probably because I have applied the same reasoning in the past. Sometimes we lawyers are so locked into doctrinal minutia and the role of the court that we lose sight of the quarter-pounder for the french fry.

I think that Thomas’ comment in Kelo sums it up best: “Something has gone seriously awry with this court’s interpretation of the

Iowa State, 2037 SSNs and 2,379 CC, “Hacker”

The Iowa State University is sending out a warning to alumni Wednesday after a hacker had access to the alumnae association Web site.

A computer at Iowa State University’s Alumni Association was hacked into, allowing outside access to thousands of Social Security numbers and pages of credit card information.

By tapping into the computer, the hacker had access to 2,031 student and volunteer Social Security numbers and 2,379 credit card numbers.

Those who did not receive an e-mail from the association should be OK, NewsChannel 8 reported.

From The Iowa Channel, “Hacker Gets Access To ISU Alumni Information.”

New York to Randomly Beat People In Hopes of Beating Terrorists

Police will begin randomly beating people entering city subways, officials announced Thursday after a new series of bomb attacks in London.

“We just live in a world where, sadly, these kinds of security measures are necessary,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “Are they intrusive? Yes, a little bit. But we are trying to find that right balance.”

More seriously, they’re “only” abandoning the idea that the police can’t search you without a reason, and “only” as you enter the subway. (Try getting around New York without using the subway.) See “Police to Check Bags on NYC Subways,” or “Backpacks that Go Bloom(berg).” Apparently, you’ll be “free” to leave the subway and enter at another station, which means that you’ll either be followed, or the measure is not only unconstitutional, its entirely worthless as a security measure.

The right balance involves celebrating our values and our commitment to liberty. It may involve training people in New York how to distinguish between a suicide bomber and a ‘character.’ But it sure doesn’t involve random searches.

My readers have provided great commentary about profiling and security in the comments on Homegrown Bombers, ID Cards, Intelligence Activity, and Profiling,” and “‘Israeli Style Profiling’.”

“Not the Blitz”

So says SteveC, and he’s right: Its a relatively small group of criminals. At the same time, I can’t agree with his feeling that “These bombings occured in all probability because of our unprovoked invasion.” The United States was attacked before we invaded Iraq or Afghanistan. People who will kill civilians on the tube are evil, and will look for excuses for their evil. We ought to challenge those reasons, and not accept their evil, or the twisted logic they put forth to justify it.

[update: In a comment, Jim Horning pointed out that Iraq did not attack the United States. And while I could bobble and weave, I’ll simply say “thanks Jim!” and my apologies for the inaccuracy.]

Small Bits: Privacy for Infringers, IEEE Cipher, Oracle, Footnotes, and a Mug


  • Michael Geist continues to take the Privacy Commissioner’s office to task for protecting the privacy of infringers:

    Moreover, the Commissioner canvassed other banks and found that at least two others did allow their customers to opt-out of such marketing. Now if only the Commissioner would reveal which banks respected their customers’ privacy and which decided to fight its customer in order to continue to market to them against their wishes.

  • The Volubis Infosec News blog mentions that “The latest Cipher newsletter” (July) was just brought online.

  • At SecurityFocus, Rob Lemos has an article, “Oracle taken to task for time to fix vulnerabilities.” I think its clear that the threat of non-coordinated release of information is valuable, as it has made these extended periods between report and release rare.
  • Josh Gruber presents a view of footnotes on the web at “About the Footnotes.” Stefan Geens has another, which I think is gorgeous, and I look forward to re-designing my site so I can use his marginalia design. (That requires, I think, getting rid of all that sidebar stuff, which should be somewhere. I’d like that somewhere to be pop-open lists, but that seems to require Javascript. I prefer to design without Javascript, so I’m stuck until I have time to figure it out.)
  • Start the day off wrong: Drink from the Disappearing Civil Liberties Mug.

These cruel, wanton, indiscriminate bombings

With London being attacked again, I am heartened to see that the attacks were (apparently) less effective, and otherwise defer to the wisdom of Sir Winston Churchill:

These cruel, wanton, indiscriminate bombings of London are, of course, a part of Hitler’s invasion plans. He hopes by killing a large number of civilians, women and children, that he will terrorize and cow the people of this mighty imperial city and make them a burden and an anxiety to the government and thus distract our attention unduly from the ferocious onslaught he is preparing.

Little does he know the spirit of the British nation or tough fibre of the Londoners whose forebears played a leading part in the establishment of the parliamentary institutions and who have been bred to value freedom far above their lives.

This wicked man, the repository and embodiment of many forms of soul-destroying hatred, this monstrous product of former wrongs and shame, has now resolved to try to break our famous Island race by a process of indiscriminate slaughter and destruction.

What he has done is to kindle a fire in British hearts, here and all over the world, which will glow long after all traces of the conflagration he has caused in London have been removed.

He has lighted a fire which will burn with a steady and consuming flame until the last vestiges of Nazi tyranny have been burnt out of Europe, until the Old World – and the New – can join hands to rebuild the temples of man’s freedom and man’s honour, upon foundations which will not soon or easily be overthrown.

Winston Churchill, Sept 11, 1941

(The version above is taken from Mike Campbell.net, and is the most complete version I can find.)

Elizabeth Blodgett Hall, 1909-2005

Elizabeth Blodgett Hall, 95, founder of Simon’s Rock College, died July 18 at Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Canaan, Conn.

In 1964, with 200 acres of her family’s land and a grant of $3 million from the Margaret Kendrick Blodgett Foundation — a charitable educational trust established by her mother — she founded America’s first “early college.”

The idea for Simon’s Rock grew out of her conviction that the American secondary school was failing to adapt to the changing nature of adolescents, who were maturing earlier and who were anxious to accept academic and personal challenges and responsibilities that their high schools did not provide.

She believed that many bright young people can do college work before the normal age of high school graduation, and she defined the mission of her college as providing such students with the opportunity to begin college after the 10th or 11th grade. The college was chartered by the state in 1964.

(From the Berkshire Eagle obituary. In closely related news, Saturday’s New York Times had a story, “Students Say High Schools Let Them Down.”)