Adam Serwer writes at Mother Jones about KSM's recent facial hair makeover. He grew a beard, but how did he get his hands on henna with which to dye it a ginger-red? Visiting friends? Home-brewed stain from materials inside the camp? No one knows, or if the camp guards do, it's a national security secret. Snip:
As for why KSM dyed his beard? Former State Department counterterrorism adviser Will McCants says that KSM is probably trying to emphasize his commitment to Islam. KSM grew his long, flowing beard only after he was imprisoned at Guantanamo—previous photographs show him with a trim beard or a thick mustache.
"KSM is following the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, who recommended dyeing a grey beard red," McCants says, calling it "a sign of devotion, particularly after looking like Ron Jeremy all those years." But how did KSM go from the porn-star look to more of a Gimli? Apparently, it would damage national security if we knew.
PHOTOS: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who claims to have organized the 9/11 attacks, shown at left in a Red Cross photo taken at Guantanamo Bay, and at right in a snapshot by US forces shortly after his 2003 capture. Read the rest
You probably thought we covered all possible scenarios of TSA stupidity in our recent round-up post.
You thought wrong.
Via MSNBC today, the story of Savannah Barry, a 16-year-old diabetic girl who says the TSA broke her insulin pump. Savannah was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four years ago, and her pump is a specialized medical device that can cost up to $10,000 to replace, according to MSNBC.
The Colorado teenager says TSA screeners forced her to go through a full-body scanner in Salt Lake City last week, breaking her $10,000 insulin pump in the process. According to Sandra Barry, Savannah’s mother, her daughter was coming home from a school trip when screeners required to her to go through a full-body scanner despite the fact that the girl had a doctor’s note describing her condition and stating that she should be given a pat-down rather than subjected to screening machines.
“Believe me, being 16 and female, she probably doesn’t want the pat-down but she knows that this is what’s required,” Sandra Barry told msnbc.com. “She tried to advocate for herself and they just shut her down.”
The scientist, Adlène Hicheur, 35, did not deny the exchange of messages, in which he suggested targets for terrorist strikes in France, but maintains that he never intended to act on his words. The trial has raised difficult questions about the possible excesses of French antiterrorism law, which in effect treats intent as a criminal act. A researcher at the Large Hadron Collider project at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Switzerland, Dr. Hicheur met his interlocutor on an Internet forum dedicated to radical Islam while on sick leave, nursing a herniated disk at his parents’ home in southeastern France.
Cue up the Yakity Sax! In case you missed it, there have been a number of Boing Boing posts of late documenting outrageous TSA incidents:
• A terminal in Newark airport was evacuated because the TSA forgot to screen a tiny baby. • TSA agents discovered an "anomaly in the crotchital area" of a 79-year-old woman. • TSA agents at JFK harassed the family of a 7-year-old girl with cerebral palsy and developmental disability. • TSA screeners in LA ran a drug ring and took bribes from drug dealers. • The TSA's anti-hugging squad caught a terrorist masquerading as a 4-year-old girl who loves her grandma. • A 95-year-old US Air Force veteran from World War II and his 85-year-old friend were humiliated, searched and robbed at a San Diego TSA checkpoint.
Did we miss anything else in the past week or so? Let us know in the comments.
Photo: Reuters. A man is screened with a backscatter x-ray machine at an LAX TSA checkpoint.
Four present and past security screeners at LAX took 22 payments of up to $2400 each to let large shipments of coke, meth, and pot slip through baggage X-ray machines. Oh, we are so very, very shocked.
In one incident detailed in the 40-page indictment (Link), screeners plotted to allow eight pounds of crystal meth to get through—then one of them ducked into an airport men's room where he was handed $600, the second payment for that delivery.
PHOTO: Snapshot by Lori Croft of her 4-year-old granddaughter Isabella Brademeyer, in Wichita, Kan., where she was a flower girl at her uncle’s wedding. The child was harassed by TSA goons on the way back from that family event, for the crime of hugging her granny.
Earlier this week on Boing Boing, Cory blogged about a 95-year-old Air Force veteran who was robbed of $300 at a TSA checkpoint. After picking on the elderly, today the TSA is bullying children. A 4-year-old girl who was upset during a TSA screening at the Wichita, KS airport was forced to undergo a manual pat-down after hugging her grandmother. Agents yelled at the child, and called her an uncooperative suspect.
Nope, we're not making this up.
The child's mom, Michelle Brademeyer of Montana, shared the incident in a public Facebook post last week, and the story has since spread widely.
“They didn’t explain anything and she did not know what was going on,” the grandmother told the Associated Press. “She saw people grabbing at her and raising their voices. To her, someone was trying to kidnap her or harm her in some way.”
Think the TSA has apologized? Nah. The agency is defending its agents, despite promised changes in operational standards to "reduce pat-downs of children."
An NSA agent reacts to the new rules governing information acquired through domestic surveillance.
At the New York Times, a story by Charlie Savage on new guidelines signed into law Thursday by US Attorney General Eric H. Holder for the National Counterterrorism Center, created in 2004 to "improve intelligence sharing and serve as a terrorism threat clearinghouse."
The guidelines will lengthen to five years — from 180 days — the amount of time the center can retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism, intelligence officials said. The guidelines are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and “data mining them” using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat.
This can only be good for democracy and freedom!
An October, 2011 Department of Homeland Security memo on Occupy Wall Street warned of the potential for violence posed by the "leaderless resistance movement." (via @producermatthew).
Update: Looks like there's a larger Rolling Stone feature on this document:
As Occupy Wall Street spread across the nation last fall, sparking protests in more than 70 cities, the Department of Homeland Security began keeping tabs on the movement. An internal DHS report entitled “SPECIAL COVERAGE: Occupy Wall Street [PDF]," dated October of last year, opens with the observation that "mass gatherings associated with public protest movements can have disruptive effects on transportation, commercial, and government services, especially when staged in major metropolitan areas." While acknowledging the overwhelmingly peaceful nature of OWS, the report notes darkly that "large scale demonstrations also carry the potential for violence, presenting a significant challenge for law enforcement."
Two U.K. tourists landing in L.A. were detained and deported because of tweets joking about "diggin' up" Marilyn Monroe and "destroying" America.
According to DHS paperwork, Leigh Van Bryan was matched to a "One Day Lookout" list, placed under oath, and ultimately denied entry and put on a plane back to Europe.
"[He wrote] on his tweeter[sic] website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe," DHS officials wrote on his charge sheet. "Also on his tweeter[sic] account Mr. Bryan posted that he was coming to destroy America."
Interviewed by highly-respected British newspapers such as The Sun and The Daily Mail, Leigh Van Bryan says that the tweet — "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America" — referred merely to partying. Added a friend: "He would not hurt anyone. He is gay."
Bryan has now made his Twitter account private, thereby ending the DHS's ability to track his terror plans.
"Boing Boing correctly points out (via Alkon) that this is silly—but the reason we know this is silly is because you and I and Boing Boing are racially profiling."
We know the deportation is silly not because of Van Bryan's innocuous whiteness—that's in your head, Ted—but because the methodology is dumb. Read the rest
I am outraged that our blog once again failed to make it on to the list of websites the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's command center routinely monitors. The grandfather of all rogue leak sites, Cryptome, published a copy of the 2011 edition of the government document (PDF link to document copy). Apparently, there's a new 2012 version some have seen, on which a current round of news coverage is based.
A "privacy compliance review" issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a "Social Networking/Media Capability" which involves regular monitoring of "publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards." The purpose of the monitoring, says the government document, is to "collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture."
The document adds, using more plain language, that such monitoring is designed to help DHS and its numerous agencies, which include the U.S. Secret Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency, to manage government responses to such events as the 2010 earthquake and aftermath in Haiti and security and border control related to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
"This is a representative list of sites that the NOC will start to monitor in order to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture under this Initiative," the document reads.
Oh fine, so, the imminent Yeti invasion isn't something that needs to be monitored? Read the rest
On the TSA blog, a defense of the recent confiscation of a cupcake at Las Vegas International airport over concerns the tasty morsel was a terrorist threat. Cory blogged about the incident on Boing Boing, and pointed to a parody song about it here. The internet loves cupcakes and hates the TSA, so predictably, this one went very viral.
The federal agency's explanation for the incident focuses on the fact that the traveler's cupcake was transported in a jar:
I wanted to make it clear that this wasn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill cupcake. If you’re not familiar with it, we have a policy directly related to the UK liquid bomb plot of 2006 called 3-1-1 that limits the amount of liquids, gels and aerosols you can bring in your carry-on luggage. Icing falls under the “gel” category. As you can see from the picture, unlike a thin layer of icing that resides on the top of most cupcakes, this cupcake had a thick layer of icing inside a jar.
In general, cakes and pies are allowed in carry-on luggage, however, the officer in this case used their discretion on whether or not to allow the newfangled modern take on a cupcake per 3-1-1 guidelines. They chose not to let it go.
Read the rest here. It all makes perfect sense now.