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GAO Slams DHS Over BioWatch Biological Defense System

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the your-taxes-at-work dept.

Biotech 88

Mansing writes "Citizens need to evaluate if they are indeed safer for all the 'security precautions' put into place. 'The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has rushed to acquire a new, multibillion-dollar version of the BioWatch system for detecting biological attacks without establishing whether it was needed or would work, according to a new report by a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress. ... The existing system's repeated false alarms have triggered tense, high-stakes deliberations over whether to order mass evacuations, distribute emergency medicines or shut down major venues.' Is this just more money funneled to U.S. companies, or is this really keeping the U.S. safer? Are the same types of 'security precautions' being instituted in Spain and the UK? Or is this preying on fear a uniquely U.S. phenomenon?"

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All you need to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41311455)

"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has rushed to acquire a new, multibillion-dollar"

As always with government, follow the money. Every single thing government does can be explained by following the money.

Re:All you need to know (5, Insightful)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about 2 years ago | (#41311633)

Generally, yes. But the prospect of having an "objective" computer giving out false positives all the time to keep the terror alive is the fulfillment of at least part of the DHS mission statement.

Re:All you need to know (2)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 2 years ago | (#41312941)

the fulfillment of at least part of the DHS mission statement.

.. which is to keep the fear level up so you can justify multi-billion dollar purchases in the name of security... it's just one big snake eating it's tail.

Re:All you need to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41314171)

Who's the big backer that stands to profit handsomely from this? Which congress-critter and/or his/her cronies?

Re:All you need to know (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#41316355)

Actually I'd say its even worse than that, its a combo of kickbacks and CYA because they can now say "See we are doing something!" even if that "something" doesn't actually fucking work or make anything except some defense contractors better off.

Sadly we see this time and time again, where the government trips all over itself to do "something" without the slightest thought to whether the something is effective, functional, or if it even makes things worse. All that matters to the politicians is they can point at the black box and say "But we did something!" and the corps of course don't give a rat's ass if the politicians point fingers or not, not as long as the checks clear.

In the end its classic security theater, it gives the politicians a way to bring home the bacon and/or get some more kickbacks, it lets them say "We did something!" as a CYA move if the excrement hits the bladed cooling device down the line, and it gives them another bullet point to show the public how they are "keeping them all safe" which is never questioned. And since it isn't the politician's money anyway as far as they are concerned? No downsides.

America is being had... (5, Insightful)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | about 2 years ago | (#41311485)

I'm really looking forward to the day when America stops treating terrorists like terrorists and just treats them as common criminals. Then maybe this whole terrorist boogie man boondoggle can go away finally. It'd sure kill the romance of a terrorist as being something more then a common thug or crook.

Re:America is being had... (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41311517)

Don't hold your breath.

Re:America is being had... (0, Flamebait)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#41311601)

Sure, right after all muslims move to Mars.

Re:America is being had... (0, Troll)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41311647)

Sure, right after all muslims move to Mars.

Isn't it funny how they always say "you shouldn't judge Islam on the action of a few tens of thousands", but then do a Muzzie when a couple of people make a film that accurately depicts Muhammad as a paedophile warlord.

Re:America is being had... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41311783)

Isn't it funny how they always say "you shouldn't judge Islam on the action of a few tens of thousands", but then do a Muzzie when a couple of people make a film that accurately depicts Muhammad as a paedophile warlord.

Indeed ... if the Muslims want to start rioting and killing random people over the actions of a few Americans, then it's time to start bombing the fuck out of them in retaliation.

It's not a religion of peace as it's practiced. It's a bunch of stone aged goat herders who get butt-hurt over something and go crazy.

I say they should bomb a significant portion of Libya even further back into the stone age. It's not like we have any more control over Terry Jones than they do radical Imams.

The Prophet Mohammed only taught violence, intolerance and stupidity apparently. And he was just as false of a prophet as every other crackpot who claimed God personally spoke to him.

Re:America is being had... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41311837)

Indeed ... if the Muslims want to start rioting and killing random people over the actions of a few Americans, then it's time to start bombing the fuck out of them in retaliation.

Right, because the actions of others justify our own.

Re:America is being had... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312133)

Right, because the actions of others justify our own.

What is the point of taking the moral high ground with an irrational mob?

If in their mind the entire West needs to suffer for what some Westerners do ... well, then it should be fair to turn that on them.

Fuck Islam. Fuck Mohammed. Fuck being nice to these assholes.

If they want to have histrionics and violence, bomb them into dust. If Islam wants to be batshit crazy and violent, fine. But let's not pretend they're anything but that.

Re:America is being had... (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41312503)

If they want to have histrionics and violence, bomb them into dust. If [they] wants to be batshit crazy and violent, fine. But let's not pretend they're anything but that.

Yea, fuck those damn fundamentalist Christians!

Seriously, though, how in reason's name can anyone capable of cogent thought even entertain the idea that the actions of a small handful of people represent the entire demographic? A better question, how can someone make such a generalization without realizing that they're exhibiting the exact same behavior of those their criticizing? What, you think the difference between what you believe and what they believe somehow makes you a better person? It doesn't - hate is hate is hate.

You're just as big a douche as the people you're accusing of being douches, and in the exact same way.

Re:America is being had... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312855)

how in reason's name can anyone capable of cogent thought even entertain the idea that the actions of a small handful of people represent the entire demographic?

Because it's not a small handful of people! The bulk of them haven't got past the "kill the apostate/heathen/infidel" stage yet. A few interpret Islam more peacefully (sometimes disingenuously) but a very large number are clearly very willing to follow the few who use the the more violent interpretations of Islam. And the majority condone the extremists because they are AFRAID, and they are not sure if the extremists are wrong - because the extremist can use the verses of the Quran to justify their actions. There is also little room for religious debate in most muslim countries, name me a single muslim country where you can televise a muslim vs muslim religious debate talking about rights of women, homosexuals, apostates and not have participants be in serious mortal danger after that.

Go look at what happened because of those cartoons of muhammad.

The christians have their wacko abortion clinic bombers, but their kill rate is still magnitudes lower. Compare with the various muslim countries. Go look at the various Sunni vs Shia wars. Look at the muslim countries even not at war.

If someone talks about Buddhists being terrorists, everyone won't believe him (except those in Sri Lanka ;) ). Go figure why. The crazy buddhists monks are more likely to burn themselves than to blow up a church/mosque.

Re:America is being had... (0)

toriver (11308) | about 2 years ago | (#41313643)

Yeah, and the Catholic Church is really a pedophile ring in disguise, only a few handful treat children with respect.

Then ask the victims of a multitude of bombings whether the IRA and ETA were a peaceful bunch of flower-power Christians.

Re:America is being had... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41314023)

Yea, fuck those damn fundamentalist Christians!

Yes. Absolutely. Am I supposed to respect someone who refuses to believe the world around them in favor of how his fairy tale tells the story? They're some of the most bigoted and intolerant people I've encountered.

What, you think the difference between what you believe and what they believe somehow makes you a better person? It doesn't - hate is hate is hate.

Not all of us believe in god, and get tired of listening to people whining about how we need to change our lives because their imaginary friend says we should. They bring the hate to me, I'll bring it right back to them.

But Muslim justice calls for an eye for an eye and all of that old-school retribution ... if they want to kill innocent people because someone else did something offensive to them, then by their own model of justice they should find it perfectly just. Because clearly they have nothing but blind rage and have decided that killing innocent people is valid.

This is the natural conclusion of their belief system, which from what I can tell mostly says "if you hurt our feelings we will kill you". Well, since I'm under no illusions that turning the other cheek is the solution, then I fail to see why we don't retaliate in kind.

Or do you believe that it is moral and just for them to kill people who have nothing at all to do with their issue just because they're nearby? If Islam wants to be a religion of violence and intolerance then answer them on their own terms.

Never mind the fact that these people were also "people of the book" and that the Muslims are clearly ignoring their own faith. It has become the official religion of the ignorant masses, and they seem to act that way.

Re:America is being had... (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | about 2 years ago | (#41318685)

I have a question for you:
  You say you don't believe in God, but then you talk about what is moral and just.
What is the source of your morality if not god, and what makes your morality any better than someone else's if there is no absolute "godly morality" to compare to?
This seems inconsistent to me....

Re:America is being had... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41318245)

Yeah, check the research done by Time magazine a month ago. Muslim against Christian violence involving death/murder has increased over three hundred percent in the last few years alone. There's a very real problem starting here. But the problem on the American end isn't fundamental Christians, it's President Obama:

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2012/08/28/USS-Stennis-Strike-Group-On-Way-To-Persian-Gulf

Do you think he ordered them over there for snarks and giggles? How many times has he threatened Iran with war in the last year alone? Push anybody enough and they will respond.

Re:America is being had... (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#41316995)

Be cautious with generalizations, lest you look as moronic as the people pretending all American's created the movie they are protesting. Many very exceptional people have admitted speaking with God, though a majority of them don't become religious thugs in the process. Socrates is a prime example.

Oh, and a preemptive STFU on your citation, go read some of Plato's Dialogues for your evidence. It's easiest to find in "Apology" but is mentioned in I believe every dialogue (I'm not 100% sure about "Meno" at the moment.), and the education would probably be healthy for you.

Re:America is being had... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41311967)

Just watch what happens when the anti-Jesus movie comes out.

I guarantee you'll see violence from Christians.

Re:America is being had... (3, Informative)

lexsird (1208192) | about 2 years ago | (#41312127)

There's been plenty of them come out, and sorry to disappoint your goofy ass, there wasn't any violence over them.

Re:America is being had... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312239)

Can't say you named any, huh?

Would that be because we'd look them up and see the reaction isn't as peachy as you want us to believe?

My local paper printed a cartoon that was less than kind to Christians. There were weeks worth of letters complaining about it, and demanding they sack the artist.

And before you say "Well, that's not even threatening violence" ask yourself if they'd publish such letters.

Re:America is being had... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312397)

This is not even close to the same. You're a fucking idiot.

Re:America is being had... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312511)

You're a lying idiot trying to ignore how close your own precious Christians are to the Muslims you despise.

I know you don't want to believe how easy anybody can be incited to violence, but they can be.

Re:America is being had... (1, Troll)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41312631)

My local paper printed a cartoon that was less than kind to Christians. There were weeks worth of letters complaining about it, and demanding they sack the artist.

You're a lying idiot trying to ignore how close your own precious Christians are to the Muslims you despise.

I know you don't want to believe how easy anybody can be incited to violence, but they can be.

If you think that writing nasty letters to the editor is equivalent of murdering the US Ambassador and other consulate staff [reuters.com] then you must be a Muslim.

Re:America is being had... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312947)

Ah yes, that's right, find a reason to dismiss my words.

Sorry, but I'm no Muslim, and no, I don't believe that they're the same.

What I believe is that the quality and character of those letters indicate is that given the opportunity, many more of those "Christians" would turn to the same level of violence you condemn in Libya. In other words, I believe the people are the same around the world. Just here, we're not quite allowing them free reign. So we don't have the same violent acts as much.

A very few still do, but most are prudent enough to recognize that they'd never get away with it with our current system of law enforcement.

Don't delude yourself into believing they wouldn't change that in a heartbeat if they could.

But keep blinding yourself to it.

Christian Identity doesn't exist. Nor Hutaree. Or the KKK. We'll just tell the FBI to stop concerning itself with right-wing religious terrorism at all.

Re:America is being had... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41315385)

I a Jew you insensitive clod!

Re:America is being had... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312475)

Can't say you named any, huh? Would that be because we'd look them up and see the reaction isn't as peachy as you want us to believe?

Bill Mahar's Religulous is one. Don't recall any theaters being burned down or theater owners being murdered. A lot of movies mock Christianity.

My local paper printed a cartoon that was less than kind to Christians. There were weeks worth of letters complaining about it, and demanding they sack the artist.

And how many people were killed and buildings burned down? You say it was just offended people exercising *their* freedom of expression in response? Oh, the horrors.

And before you say "Well, that's not even threatening violence" ask yourself if they'd publish such letters.

No, I'd say comparing your little newspaper example to what happened in Libya is to operate on a zero level of brain function, but it's typical of you geeks who get your world views and morals from comic books and cartoons.

BTW, I'm an atheist. I just think you're a complete and utter tool.

Re:America is being had... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312663)

>BTW, I'm an atheist. I just think you're a complete and utter tool.

He's a Muslim - no wait its the same thing.

Re:America is being had... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312883)

That's cute, claiming to be an atheist in order to build credibility as to your complete and utter toolishness in ignoring Christian violence.

See you don't want to admit that people are easily inspired to violence, or that the nature of what happened in regards to my newspaper could be just as easily writ large, and that being Christian or Muslim doesn't matter. And no, it wasn't simply an expression of dislike. The outraged tone of it was quite apparent, and far more strident than you'll ever admit. And as I said, that was what they published. What threats and screeds did they withhold?

You think the outraged Christians didn't go into violence because of any personal virtue? Try again, it was the secular state that stood in their way, they knew they'd be caught and punished, and aside from a few especially fanatical martyrs, they recognize how they wouldn't prevail yet. They know that the courts won't let them get away with it.

But plenty of "Christians" in the US really do want to get rid of that interfering court system that's getting in their way. And yes, somebody did apparently try to create a terrorist situation regarding Religulous:

http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2008/10/bill_maher_receiving_death_thr.php

Huh.

There are others. I guess you don't want to admit those either.

You'd rather pretend that Christians are fine folk, it's only those Muslims who get into Violence.

Re:America is being had... (2)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#41317369)

You are very ignorant. Two fundamental teachings in Christianity are 1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and 2. When someone strikes you, you need to turn the other cheek. Since these were the teachings of Jesus, they are considered the most important teachings in any Christian Religion. (The first having the name "The Golden Rule")

Understand that the IRA was not acting out because their Religion told them too, it was because their Religion was being oppressed by the Government and that they were being persecuted by the "State" Religion.

You should really try and understand that the fundamental difference between Islam and Christianity is that Islam teaches aggression toward anyone that is not a follower of Islam. Christians are taught to teach, not strike. I'm guessing that you will pretend not to see the difference to continue your ignorant speech but perhaps you will prove me wrong.

The majority of Christians are pacifist. This is why people can opt to be not bound to combat roles in the Military (and have been able to do so for a very long time, at least WW II but perhaps even WW I. The crusades ended quite a while ago. Since then, there have been faults for sure, but Christianity in general has not pushed for dominance by violence since. A very small sect, perhaps but by no means is it a majority.

Re:America is being had... (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#41312677)

Nope, judging them based on what their own religious text says. You know, about treating women, what to do about people who insult Muhammed, etc.

Re:America is being had... (3, Insightful)

Urza9814 (883915) | about 2 years ago | (#41314283)

There's plenty of things in Christian bibles as well about women being good little slaves for their husbands and killing all the non-believers...

The problem isn't any specific religion; the problem is people who place religion above morality. And you'll find plenty of those in any religion. The world's certainly seen its share of Christian terrorists, for example...

(And before you say it -- no, I'm not assuming you're Christian, that's just what I'm most familiar with. Of course, Christian/Muslim/Jewish are all sects of the same religion anyway IIRC so it makes sense they'd all encourage the same terrorist ideals. But I suspect other religions would as well. Though maybe not something like Buddhism...)

Re:America is being had... (2)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about 2 years ago | (#41311665)

Unfortunately, that will never happen. The reason for this is that our anti-terrorist watchdog gets more money and more power whenever it can convince the public at large that there is a terrorist around every corner willing to hurt or kill us. The DHS doesn't even have to ask for it - the public throws money at them and willingly sacrifices freedoms, all while screaming out "please keep us safe!"

Re:America is being had... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41311791)

You poor deluded chump.

The whole "terrorist" bit is being used by the US government to control the US population.

Read this quote several times until the truth finally sinks into your tiny little brain :

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." - Hermann Goering

.

Re:America is being had... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41316021)

The whole "terrorist" bit is being used by the US government to control the US population.

Quibble, so who knocked down the Twin Towers? Aliens?

However I only disagree with the first part of your statement, there are terrorists out there.

I'd simply rephrase it to say, "The exaggerated fear of terrorists is being used by the US government to control the US population."

Re:America is being had... (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#41317523)

If you search for building 7, research the questions being asked by ae911.org, you may start to wonder. If they lie to you once, what prevents them from being liars more often? Research the start of Vietnam, it was a set up. There are questions regarding how much the Government knew regarding the start of WW II. At least in the case of WW II we can claim the morality was right, but to base our entrance on a lie and at a great cost of US life? Research how the CIA has used drugs and propaganda since it's inception against the US public.

Keep your panties on, I'm not saying that the Government blew up WTC. I'm saying that they lied about what happened (reports are complete fabrications, no mention of Building 7 in any report, Building 7 not reported by media passed the initial report that it was going down(which was before it went down), etc..). If what they released was a lie, we should be investigating what else is a lie. And until they can answer what really happened they are suspect as well.

Things that make one go hmmmmm (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | about 2 years ago | (#41314789)

I'm really looking forward to the day when America stops treating terrorists like terrorists...

You are joking, right? Don't tell me you are one of those Americans who still believes FoxFiction to be an authentic news station (after they won their two legal cases, allowing them to forever fictionalize their "news")? Or that Americans aren't all hopeless, given that hardly a one of them understands who owns JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, ExxonMobil, BP, GE, AT&T, et al.?

Please tell me you aren't one of those incredibly simpleminded, gullible types who believes that USCoC (US Chamber of Commerce) meme about voting for Obama for future SCOTUS choices --- as if that matters after Bush, then Obama, has criminalized dissent in America with their preemptive arrests?

Where do I sign up? (4, Funny)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about 2 years ago | (#41311499)

I want to provide DHS with multibillion dollar systems too.

Re:Where do I sign up? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41311557)

Pork, it's what's for dinner.

I think it works like this. You develop some technology and then you find a way to market it to the government and then you hire a lobbyist and send him to Washington with a checkbook. Once it becomes clear that a percentage of the profits will find their way back into certain pockets your victory is assured. Once you do this once, it's probably a lot easier to do it again.

If you have some technology useful to the military or paramilitary lying around...

Re:Where do I sign up? (1)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | about 2 years ago | (#41311699)

It doesn't really have to be useful to do what you're describing. That's just gravy.

Re:Where do I sign up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41315603)

Yup, IIRC there was one guy who sold dowsing rods and marketed them as IED detectors to the US for a brief time before they figured out it was just a hoax.

quick google search came up with this NY Times report, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/world/middleeast/04sensors.html?_r=1

So,
Step 1: invent useless item for 'anti-terror' purpose.
Step 2: Market to government using lobbyist.
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Profit!

DHS (2)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 years ago | (#41311523)

Typical of the DHS. A bureau of people who don't know what they are doing, and doing it loudly and expensively. DHs is constantly fighting with DoD and NSA for control of the cybersecurity initiatives, from the only people in gov't who know anything about or have experience in that area. And when they didn't get what they wanted, they decided to make redundant and less efficient/useful groups than the DoD.

DHS is analogous to a two year old. "I don't wanna share! Mommy but I want a new toy! My daddy can beat up your daddy!" And the rest of gov't has to put up with it.

DHS is here to stay (2)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#41311527)

DHS exists because It's a great way to dump US tax dollars into privatized money machines. It's hear to stay, voting or not.

Re:DHS is here to stay (4, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#41311765)

DHS exists because It's a great way to dump US tax dollars into privatized money machines. It's hear to stay, voting or not.

That doesn't sound like the thinking of a good citizen. We may have to look into your background, finances, social network activity, phone records, etc. Wrong thinking is punishable, you know. Besides, it's unpatriotic to question the Department of Fatherland..., erm, Homeland Security.

UK Bio Security? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41311551)

Wow, I thought are policy was:

Are people dying? Yes
Its probably the weather (too hot or cold)

Are people exploding? Yes
Just a flesh wound

Are people turning purple?
Food additives

Are people becoming zombie hordes?
Just one of those flash mob things

Yes, I know we have enviro sniffers around the capital, but you could plague Manchester and no one would notice for weeks.

bad handling but bad situation (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#41311617)

I'm the first one to say the gov is wasting money, especially the military or the DHS but if your system is constantly going off and causing that much of a nightmare and it's that far beyond totally not working, they have to do something and immediately. If there was a better alternative immediately available, they would have chosen it. If you want some heads to roll, find out who bought and tested the first system.

Re:bad handling but bad situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312435)

tested

You're adorable.

Damage is already done... (1)

sinij (911942) | about 2 years ago | (#41311629)

Damage is already done, now decision makers will have bias toward expecting false positives and would not trust any system like this.

As to keeping people safe, I don't see how you could contain release of weaponized virulent infection even if you detect it early on. Fortunately, at least for now, such weapon is extremely rare and not something you could cook up in a third-world Jihadist lab.

Re:Damage is already done... (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41311897)

As to keeping people safe, I don't see how you could contain release of weaponized virulent infection even if you detect it early on.

Its VERY widely believed among the conspiracy theorist types that the cryptosporidium outbreak in Milwaukee a couple years (decades?) ago that contaminated drinking water and killed quite a few people by dehydration was a terrorist act, but the attack was suppressed because of military intelligence reasons, showing how incredibly vulnerable the US is in general to a bioattack. If it happened again, with a decent monitoring tool, we could save a lot of lives by issuing a water boil order quickly without having to worry about the military intelligence aspect of showing weakness.

Regardless if you believe the crypto outbreak was an attack or an accident, the fact still remains that you can create some kind of graph where every hour you wait to announce a boil order means 2.5 or 10 or whatever more deaths. It turns out that if you save a couple hundred lives it not only makes sense from a humanitarian perspective but also financial.

not something you could cook up in a third-world Jihadist lab

LOL brave words to make one feel better. But not overly realistic. Probably the same type that thinks garage chemists could never do fairly advanced organic chemisty to make meth, or ignorant savages could never learn to pilot a jetliner into a skyscraper. Or hackers don't exist on the internet.

Crony capitalism and security theatre (5, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41311709)

That's all the TSA is. Since the implementation of gate rape, more people have been driving instead of flying. Since driving is more dangerous than flying, this has lead to an increase in deaths on the road. Specifially, 1,200 deaths per year [ssrn.com] can be attributed to the TSA, and that was the estimate in 2005. I can only imagine it's gotten worse since then.

What this means, if you add up the numbers is that Janet Napolitano is responsible for more American deaths than Osama Bin Laden ever was. We are literally ruled by terrorists.

Re:Crony capitalism and security theatre (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#41312263)

"Security Theater", good way to put it. And I love how the people in charge of this fiasco continue regardless of the citizen outcry as though they really know what they are doing and we're all just clueless idiots.

Re:Crony capitalism and security theatre (2)

ColoradoAuthor (682295) | about 2 years ago | (#41312645)

No, according to the cited article, 1,200 deaths per year (initially, then declining year to year) occurred because of more people driving rather than flying "attributable to the effect of 9/11."

"Two primary reasons explain the 9/11 effect on road fatalities. First, the 9/11 effect may capture the fear of flying. ... Second, the 9/11 effect may be attributable to the inconvenience of flying post-9/11" [page 9 of the paper]. The authors were unable to measure these two factors independently. I think it would be reasonable to say that for most people, the choice to drive rather than fly was due primarily to a fear of terrorism (for which security theater might arguably be a solution). Only for a small but savvy minority was the choice to drive due to the TSA itself.

Re:Crony capitalism and security theatre (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41312735)

I think it would be reasonable to say that for most people, the choice to drive rather than fly was due primarily to a fear of terrorism (for which security theater might arguably be a solution).

I disagree. There's nothing reasonable about having an opinion without any evidence to support that opinion. We need to keep in mind, for example, that people who are scared of flying due to terrorists, would probably have found some other reason to be scared of flying, if terrorists weren't available.

And we also need to keep in mind that there really is a significant penalty to security theater. Not just the discomfort and uncertainty of the actual search, but also the fact that one has to show up an hour earlier in order to take a flight. Adding an hour to travel time changes the economics of air flight significantly. A lot of flights are rather short.

Re:Crony capitalism and security theatre (3, Insightful)

strength_of_10_men (967050) | about 2 years ago | (#41312791)

Specifially, 1,200 deaths per year can be attributed to the TSA

Sorry, but that's just sensationalism and spin, and it misstates what the paper concludes.

The paper you cite says that the 1,200 lives that were lost between 9/11/01 and 2003 "can be attributed solely to the reaction to 9/11," of which the TSA is only a part of, such as fear of flying, fear of terrorism, unemployment, airline ticket prices, and such.

I loathe the TSA as much as the next /.er but misrepresenting facts just weakens your arguments.

Sneaky... (3, Funny)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 years ago | (#41311737)

Is this just more money funneled to U.S. companies

This is a trick question, right? :)

It's the nature of government (3, Insightful)

camg188 (932324) | about 2 years ago | (#41311759)

Or is this preying on fear a uniquely U.S. phenomenon?"

I think this is a case of a government department trying to grow.
A business leader will try to grow their business by increasing profits through more sales or greater efficiency. That's the nature of business.
A government department will try to grow by increasing their budget or sphere of influence, which usually means regulations. That's just the nature of government.

Truly a shame (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41311823)

Biowatch is a fascinating scientific tool that should be funded, should be deployed, should be scientifically incredibly valuable, and could do enormous good for all mankind.

The disaster is using it as a FUD weapon to scare people into paying more taxes, giving up civil rights, creating a culture of fear, terrorizing our own people for fun and profit.

The disaster is much like what would happen is the Hubble were launched and instead of being used for cool science research, was used to keep the population terrified of an invasion from Mars. "We must watch mars intently, awaiting the day of invasion and the resulting destruction, (btw please send us money)"

Another analogy... like using a calculus textbook as a club to beat people to death... is that really the "best" use you have for it?

Its really quite sickening to see what could have been a cool scientific instrument being used as a brutal weapon of terror against our own innocent civilian population.

Surely your questions are rhetorical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41311839)

Why stop with one pork-barrel project? What sound premise is there for the existence of DHS to begin with, at all? None whatsover. It's purported functions can be handled quite well, better, in fact, by other Federal, State, local, and private instrumentalities, and individuals. (They just aren't allowed sometimes...well, basically all the time, the way I'm hearing it.) This, however, encourages all that unhealthy, dog-eat-dog competition such public benefactors as J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller warned us about. Can't have that.

It's not about fear. Get a fucking grip. It's a dog-and-pony show about passing the buck(s), and saying what people have to posture at wanting or have to do to get their slice of the pie. And God forbid they should help make more, or make their own.

Re:Surely your questions are rhetorical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41311905)

Oh, yeah, and if the money is going to U.S. companies I'm not seeing any of it, that I know of. (cough, ahem. ;-)

Distant Early Warning parallel (2)

fotoguzzi (230256) | about 2 years ago | (#41311915)

This reminds me of the early days when nuclear strike warnings were really caused by signals bouncing off the moon. I think there were other false positives in those days, too.

Now, perhaps 1) things have improved and life is safer, or 2) there are just as many false positives as in the 1950s, or 3) they have just turned the system off and will wait for positive reports before deciding what to do. In fifty years, the above may be applicable to bio-terror monitoring.

Bioterrorism protection is a farce (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41311969)

How can bioterrorism threats be taken seriously when we are our own worst enemy? Munincipal waste systems are prime targets - this is the soft underbelly of america.

Imagine the scenario -
1) Flush biologically active agent that thrives in sewage treatment plant (i believe this can be engineered)
2) dewater, concentrate and truck to farm field - fling in rural area (area of few hospitals and less than average intelligence community)
3) innoculate residents
4) residents travel to urban areas, spreading disease

Possible? Plausible? I think so.

Look up what we do with the "residuals" from a sewage treatment plant - yes - we use it on farm fields as "fertilizer".

Yes - its biologically active (they dont pasturize it).

Sewage sludge is a money maker for some [synagro.com] and busy work for others [epa.gov] .

When you do some reasearch, you will find that we dump biologically active "sludge [wikipedia.org] " on farm fields - sludge that can "rebloom [foodwhistleblower.org] " and contains many of the hazards identified in bioterrorism response plans. [cdc.gov]

More info:
http://vimeo.com/24854061
http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/2/11/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHsIjMPP2M8
http://thewatchers.us/NCDENR.html
http://cwmi.css.cornell.edu/sewagesludge.htm

Re:Bioterrorism protection is a farce (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41314465)

I think your scenario is highly problematic. First off sewage plants exist specifically to DESTROY organisms. Sewage is oxygenated, UV'd and chlorinated until most harmful pathogens are dead or decimated by the time the process is completed, resulting in a stream of "Grey Water" out one side of the plant, and a pile of "solids" behind it. What happens to the "solids" afterwards is highly dependent on the plant in question, most in my area leave it in piles for months, sometimes years, before either disposing of it in a landfill or spreading it on a field (required to be a field with crops NOT destined for human consumption), in some cases I think the solids are interred indefinitely at the sewage plant. It is highly unlikely that a pathogen could survive all of this, and those that could, would probably be so specialized for the task that they would be unable to infect humans. There would be hundreds of easier and more effective ways of killing people.

A strange thing I noticed... (5, Interesting)

ravenlord_hun (2715033) | about 2 years ago | (#41311995)

When I was travelling to a conference in the States, I couldn't help but notice how... pervasive paranoia was. I was travelling with a Metra train to Chicago downtown, and there were stickers everywhere how you should report strange behaviour, announecements over speakers to "say if you see", help the dogs who are sniffing for explosives, and so on.

There is basically nothing like that in Europe. I wonder if it's just a different in mindset, or are the companies/government pushing that hard to make people feel afraid?

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (4, Informative)

n0tWorthy (796556) | about 2 years ago | (#41312445)

Yeah, I lived in England during the IRA bombings and they never reacted as scared as this. 9/11 is when America went from "Home of the Brave" to "Home of the afraid". It was used as a government power grab of our individual rights and freedoms in the name of security. It was the beginning of the "Forever War".

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (1)

mrbester (200927) | about 2 years ago | (#41313147)

I was in an office just along from the Lloyd's building when it was attacked. I was more annoyed at the inconvenience this caused (street closed so I had to take a different route to the Tube) than afraid.

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (1)

manaway (53637) | about 2 years ago | (#41315079)

It was the beginning of the "Forever War".

Just to add to your excellent post, the "Forever War" is more a continuation than the beginning. Before the "War on Terrorism" there was the "Cold War." Before that, the "Red Scare." And so on. Each an excuse to build up the military and grab political power by frightening the public with exaggerations. Quite effective, really. What would it be like, to make up an enemy that is whatever you say it is?

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (1)

ravenlord_hun (2715033) | about 2 years ago | (#41315443)

Heh, the odd feeling when even the government subscribes to the motto "don't fix what ain't broken". Quite the comfortable position for them because it allows more control, and if they made more sensible policies, the inevitable mishap would be blamed on those lax(er) rules.

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (1)

manaway (53637) | about 2 years ago | (#41317119)

Odd indeed. Or maybe not so odd... It's pretty easy to believe your own lie, especially if you tell it frequently. To believe your policies are the reason the world is mostly safe. Then like you say, "mishaps" occur because dissenters stopped you from implementing your full policies. Never suspecting that your policies are more the cause of than fix for mishaps. Well, almost never. Alan Greenspan finally saw one of his wrong presumptions, and some hawkish general (that I can't recall the name of, maybe Shoup?) after long reflection wrote a factual essay on political lies and the real causes and beneficiaries of war.

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (1)

dcw3 (649211) | about 2 years ago | (#41325639)

Not sure how you can claim it to be a continuation when the the years between the cold war and 9/11 (approximately twelve years) showed steady decline in per capita defense spending.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/PerCapitaInflationAdjustedDefenseSpending.PNG [wikimedia.org]

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (1)

manaway (53637) | about 2 years ago | (#41328093)

Not a straight line continuation, as you noticed, but there are a lot of forces at work here.

We're talking about people and mass influence. It takes a while to shift from being afraid of the "Red Scare" to fearing a "Cold War," to worrying about the "War on Terror." You have to allow time for memories to fade, if you try to shift enemies too quickly the people might see through the lies. Also, slip in there a "War on Drugs" whose funds don't all show in military spending. There isn't a one to one correlation between "Forever War" and military spending, given the messiness that is people and policies, but perhaps this goes some way toward explaining the peaks and valleys, and generally upward trend, of the Defense Spending graph.

It's complicated, money and lobbying and jobs are part of this too. The "Forever War" presumption is just one of the strategies used by the military-industrial-government complex to justify spending. Necessary for war profiteers because of the lack of actual enemies, and the lack of attacks on the US.

Also, there's the effect of public influence. Which at times is strong enough to change government spending. As the 1970s dip shows, probably largely due to civilizing protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Then a jump in spending partly due to the laughable fear of Grenada, but mainly the manufactured justifications in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Central America generally. "They are just a three day march from the Texas border" was the rallying cry, which was baseless yet scary enough to justify huge spending increases. Oddly enough, baseless FUD is the basis of the "Forever War."

Then a dip when the Berlin Wall was symbolically removed, when USSR Cold War fears went poof. Followed by a slow build toward fearing Iraq, growing into fearing a violent strategy (i.e. terrorism). There's a lot going on here, and I'm summarizing decades in a few sentences, but maybe that's enough to be of some use.

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312557)

Yeah, yeah.... Europa, the utopia on the Earth. *snore* Don't worry. Your right wing is rising to flap once again due to anti-immigrant prejudice. Soon. Very soon. Don't wear a head scarf. Oh, wait, that was banned anyway.

I thought you guys collapsed or something? Still hanging in there, pretending you are relevant?

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (2)

ravenlord_hun (2715033) | about 2 years ago | (#41312787)

I certainly didn't say it's a utopia, we have our own set of issues. But you sound so butt-hurt I think we are doing something right. :)

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (2)

Urza9814 (883915) | about 2 years ago | (#41314693)

As an American -- I think it's partly a mindset thing, but mostly a government imposed fear thing. Conformity through fear. Makes the catt--err, people a lot easier to manage.

Of course, I also had to chuckle a bit while reading your post...because that's basically what I thought when I traveled to London a couple years back. Maybe not _paranoia_, but the surveillance was extremely unnerving for me. Always a couple cops in sight, coupled with clusters of security cameras on every street corner, and blanketing the tube stations, coupled with a constant blaring of muffled loudspeakers...felt like I'd stepped into 1984. I mean I dislike NYC because of the traffic and a rather heavy and brutal police presence, but I'd still pick that over London any day. NYC is just difficult; London was downright _creepy_. Of course, I'd rather just not be in a city...or maybe Pittsburgh or Providence....

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (2)

ravenlord_hun (2715033) | about 2 years ago | (#41315329)

That's quite interesting, thanks! I haven't been to London in 16 years. Didn't used to be so monitored back then. That said, when I went to Tianjin (China) this year, there were also policemen everywhere. I didn't quite mind - I mind my own business, they mind theirs - but the constant CCTV surveillance would make me uneasy. Kind of hoping that one remains another odd UK-only thing.

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | about 2 years ago | (#41315771)

Have you not seen the pictures? I think part of it may have been psychological -- I was aware of this long before going, so of course I noticed the cameras...and I admit that at times I was actively looking for them. But yea, if you're curious, just Google 'London CCTV'

The police were usually pretty friendly, moreso than US cops, but in my mind they were just one more piece of the surveillance..I also believe there were a number of 'report suspicious activity' signs around there as well, though I could be mistaken. It was around four years ago now.

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (1)

ravenlord_hun (2715033) | about 2 years ago | (#41315889)

I've heard they got EVERYTHING surveillance'd with the Olympics being there and whatnot, but I was never really sure how much of it is media hype and how much is really true. Never really believed they could truly monitor everything, maybe I'm being naive.

Re:A strange thing I noticed... (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | about 2 years ago | (#41316817)

Hah, I didn't even think about that -- my trip there was long before the Olympics. Of course, being a tourist and being there with my rather wealthy (now ex-)girlfriend we _were_ in areas you would probably expect to have a heavier police presence. Lots of very obnoxious people selling very expensive trash to people with far too much money to burn. Gotta protect the wealth!

Only 37 False Positives out of 7 Million (1)

ThinkWeak (958195) | about 2 years ago | (#41312001)

This is from the DHS website: Link [dhs.gov]

I'm all for jumping down the government's throat for wasteful spending, but let's keep things in perspective. I also didn't see a link to the GAO report in the sensational article at the top . Here's a link to a GAO report: GAO Report [gao.gov] I'm not sure if if is the one being described in the article, but this one came out in January.

Re:Only 37 False Positives out of 7 Million (1)

ThinkWeak (958195) | about 2 years ago | (#41312029)

Sorry, missed this part of the article - "The Times obtained a draft of the report, which has yet to be publicly released."

Re:Only 37 False Positives out of 7 Million (3, Insightful)

ravenlord_hun (2715033) | about 2 years ago | (#41313093)

The problem is, if a positive result can mean closing highways, evacuating people and alerting every emergency service to start whatever plan they have drafted up, even a single false result is unacceptable. The same way you wouldn't want NORAD to randomly order nukes launched at someone just because there was a one-in-a-million glitch...

bin Laden is winning (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312457)

What you folks aren't realizing is that even though he is dead, bin Laden is still winning this war.

His stated aim was never to be able to beat down the United States in a military or conventional war. Even he knew there was no force outside the United States that could do that. The only way to destroy the United States was to create a set of conditions where it would destroy itself and the best way to do that would be to create havoc in its economy. What's happened since the 9/11 attacks and a few other minor events? The US has taken part in a ongoing military action in several countries in the middle east that have cost it hundreds of billions. It's instituted internal measures to counter "terrorism" on its home soil that have cost more hundreds of billions. In an attempt to make everything seem all right, it fostered a false economic boom that finally crashed and put the country on shaky ground economically. Citizens are now encouraged to report each other if they seem to be acting in a suspicious or covert manner. (Could be they are planning to blow something up. Could be they are planning a surprise birthday party. It doesn't matter, it's all suspicious.) And, because the government doesn't learn from its mistakes, this process just keeps on growing. The US is facing yet another credit cap crisis that either hits the wall and reduces the government and the services it provides drastically or gets elevated again creating an even more likely worse event sometime in the future.

bin Laden is winning and you don't even know it. The measures to counter terrorism have already been mentioned earlier in this thread. Quit considering terrorists as some special class of criminal. Their actions are no different than any other kind of criminal and can be prosecuted under normal criminal law, murder of various degrees, illegal weapons use or movement, false accounting practices to fund their operations. All these things are just normal criminal activities if you remove the stigma of the label terrorist.

The most damning thing about the situation right now is the dichotomy between FEMA and the FBI. FEMA promotes emergency preparedness, stockpiling food, water, other supplies, cash (in case the electronic transaction system fails) while at the same time these actions are labeled by the FBI as indicators that someone is a potential terrorist.

You all best get ready to see the United States break apart into a smaller set of unions or independent countries. The larger entity is just about at the end of its rope. Of course, if you look back you might find that the founding fathers never really considered the United States as being a single country from sea to sea. There were plans to foster an independent sister (or brother, for the patriarchal minded among us) state on the west coast. In hindsight, it might have been a good idea; having someone about who could cuff your ears every once in a while when you start acting stupid.

Re:bin Laden is winning (2)

future assassin (639396) | about 2 years ago | (#41314429)

bin Laden is winning and you don't even know it. .

Actually a LOT of people know but they don't know how to fix it as the gov just doesn't listen to its citizens. The governments know that if the people are in debt not enough will take days off work a chance to protest as they can't afford to. Now you have a new generation of people who can't think about organizing a movement outside of social media.

Auto-imune disease (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41312903)

I suspect that what we are seeing here is analogous to what happens when children are raised in a "too clean" environment. The body's immune system needs to be kept occupied with low-level threats which happens when kids play outside in a real environment filled with various germs. When over protective parents keep children away from the outside world in a cleaner / protected environment, there is a much increased risk that their immune systems, evolved to attack something, will begin to attack the children's own bodies. Diseases such as asthma, where the immune system over reacts to non-threats are the result.

Similarly Homeland Security seems to be doing more damage the the American people than the threats it was ( allegedly ) created to defend against.

Re:Auto-imune disease (2)

ravenlord_hun (2715033) | about 2 years ago | (#41313203)

A good analogy, but I think the issue is more complex than just being used to safety (being "too clean"). The crux is that after decades of scientific and medical advances, there are massive sociological changes. I mean, consider: not so long ago, the families used to keep the dead in the house for a few days, holding vigil. Well, at least, where I live. Death wasn't such an exceptional happening, it was a way more common occourence. Nowdays the average lifespan is way longer, so death has become rare. People don't "experience" it happening around them, and they don't know how to handle it. Even talking about dying is often taboo as people try to avoid thinking about it. It has transformed into something almost incomprehensible.

This is why terrorists attacks result in higher and higher histeria in my opinion: the more uneasy death makes people, the greater impact the news of a deadly event will have on them, especially if they feel they could have been there. I blame this on our society's inability to mentally handle this issue.

For everything else there is the terrroist card (3, Funny)

toriver (11308) | about 2 years ago | (#41313719)

Buying hugely expensive gear without any reseach into actual need or competition for the contract: $billions
Costs to businesses and the public purse because of false alarms: $millions
Constructing post-facto justifications for the purchase and deployment: priceless.

There are some things tax money can buy. For everything else, there is "the terrorist card".

Focus where it belongs (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#41321989)

Moving an animal infectious disease lab from a remote coastal island to the campus of a midwestern university in the heart of beef country (and within sight of the sports stadia) is craven pork-barrel politics and its most insane.

Via Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plum_Island_Animal_Disease_Center [wikipedia.org] :

"On September 11, 2005, the United States Department of Homeland Security announced that the Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center will be replaced by a new federal facility. The location of the new high-security animal disease lab, to be called the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), has been recommended to be built in Manhattan, Kansas.[11] However, this plan has been called into question by a recent GAO study which states that claims by the DHS that the work performed on Plum Island can be performed safely on the mainland is not supported by evidence."
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