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Tinmen

There isn’t a brain to be found anywhere in the world of “Homeland Security”.

Ellroon at Rants from the Rookery excerpts an article about coming through US Customs, which has become a degrading process as you are treated like a criminal. The process is supposed to be to “protect” the US, but no one really knows from what or whom.

Fallenmonk has a piece, Incompetence Cubed, that is concerned with a major problem for the entire system: the IT infrastructure that is supposed to be used to amass all of the data collected and to provide information about possible threats doesn’t work, and is unlikely to be of any use in the near future, if ever. Another failed Federal computer system.

They keep hoovering up all of this data on everyone, and they have no way of putting it in a retrievable format, they are just piling it up.

Avedon Carol at Sideshow points to a report by Britain’s security people, MI5 report challenges views on terrorism in Britain, that essentially says the whole thing is a waste of time and money because there is no way of determining who is a terrorist until they commit a terrorist act.

Essentially they were looking at creating a profile of a terrorist that could be used to determine who was a potential terrorist by looking at the data stored about people by the government.  They looked at all of the demographics of the people who have been arrested for terrorism looking for some common pattern that they share, and there isn’t one.  The whole data collection concept is worthless, because they are looking for something that doesn’t exist.  All kinds of people decide to become terrorists for their own individual reasons, and there is no way of predicting who they are.

These people have bought into the myth of datamining, that if you have enough data your questions will be magically answered.  The only reason it works in marketing is because the process was worked out manually years ago and the criteria are established and well known.  The process is identical to doing it manually, the computers are just speeding it up.  The sample sizes used to develop the process are in the millions over the years, which is still no more that a few percent of the US population.

There is no process or criteria for determining who is a terrorist before they act, so you can’t program a computer to do it.  Statistically, the sample size is too small to produce meanful results.  You would need to identify many times more terrorists than anyone thinks actually exist to develop a reasonable guess.  There are too many people and too few terrorists for datamining to produce meanful results.

10 comments

1 fallenmonk { 08.25.08 at 7:06 am }

Good point about the sample size. The small number of “actual” terrorists that they have captured is statistically insignificant if compared to the population being analyzed. Right now the profile basically points to an Muslim(see 9/11) or a WASP (see Oklahoma City) but you can’t rule out orientals since you have the Tibet thing. In other words, everybody is a suspect until proven innocent.

2 Kryten42 { 08.25.08 at 8:41 am }

“the whole thing is a waste of time and money because there is no way of determining who is a terrorist until they commit a terrorist act.

Well well! Intelligence from an *intelligence* agency! What a novel concept! LOL Who’da thunk it??

So, Bryan… as an ex copper etc, and given that far more murders are committed than so-called *acts of terrorism*… Do you think you could give an accurate profile of a *Murderer*? 😉 And I know it’s been tried, many times, and I know it’s failed, many times. 🙂 So… what made ANYONE with at least a single working brain cell think that creating a working profile of a *Terrorist* would even be possible, let alone work?

And yes, I know… it had nothing to do with actually stopping *Terrorism*. Duh! 😉

I still think that light at the end of the tunnel growing brighter is an oncoming express train. Gonna be a real bitch when it hits.

3 John B. { 08.25.08 at 9:09 am }

Take off your shoes and socks before you criticize the Government, Bryan, or it’s Guantanamo for you! Anyway, aren’t you supposed to confine your outbursts to the “Free Speech Zone”? That’s in the Constitution somewhere, I just know it is….

4 ellroon { 08.25.08 at 10:11 am }

And the way they are going with the treatment of innocent people, they are making more terrorists by the minute. Or at least those who will support the terrorist in his (her) acts. Way to piss people off, DHS!

And btw, Obama needs to flush the ridiculous ‘Department der Homeland Sekurity” and reinstate a cabinet post. That and the even more bizarre ‘War Czar’ which was redundant with … you know… the Commander in Chief. (Sorry… the Deciderer)

5 Bryan { 08.25.08 at 3:28 pm }

There are a billion adherents to the Muslim faith from almost every ethnic group on the planet and that makes it an impossible task from the get-go.

Real intel, based on real clues, and real possibilities is the only way you ever catch anyone, as we both know, Kryten. If there was a pattern, it would have been found in the 1970s and ’80s was there were a hell of a lot more people involved.

Murders, btw are easy to profile: more than 95% of all murders in the US are committed by someone known to the victim. The perception of the press and public than murders go unsolved is based on the fact that the only murders they have the time to concentrate on, are the remaining small group. Even drive-bys could be solved if the police had any trust in the neighborhoods where they happen.

Burglaries, on the other hand, are a PITA, because you have to follow them until you can gather enough evidence.

Criminals are male between 15 and 45 and normally of the same ethnic group and social class as the victim, but the media fixates on the outliers. Criminals are represented in the same proportion that is found in the population, but jail time for convictions is heavily skewed based on ethnicity and social class. It’s a lot of work getting the system to send a rich white guy away for some serious prison time; you really have to pound on the prosecutor.

We have the data to do some serious profiling on criminals but it isn’t done because the reality interferes with established prejudice. That prejudice is another factor making terrorist profiling impossible.

No one wants to hear that the leaders of all major terrorist groups are from wealthy families and well educated who began their search for religion in late night dorm sessions that involved mind altering substances. Show me the scion of a wealthy family who had drug problem and found religion, and I will show you a probable terrorist leader. Look at the major terrorists and tell me I’m wrong.

Actually, John, I am barefoot, but that’s because my shoes got wet feed cats at noon.

Ellroon, how can you say such things about an idea of Joe LIEberman. Actually, I was corresponding with my then Senator, Bill Graham, about consolidating functions to make them more efficient. One thing was returning the Coast Guard to its original purpose and giving them back the Customs and Immigration Service with total control of the ports and territorial waters, but the Republicans, despite what they keep telling people, always prefer a new bureaucracy with more patronage jobs for their cronies, and that has been the Republican pattern since Lincoln.

6 Kryten42 { 08.25.08 at 5:44 pm }

Ha! Bryan, you make my point. 😀 Yes, there is a *broad* statistical profile of an average *potential* murderer, but I don’t see anyone advocating that all males between 15 and 45 etc are rounded up and thrown in jail because they fit the profile (apart from rabid terrorist fembots anyway), or that everyone who knows someone should have them arrested as a potential murderer, rapist, whatever. Which *IS* what morons are advocating for the creation of a *terrorist profile*. Of course, in the USA, as it was in E. Germany, it has nothing to do with keeping citizens safe. It’s all about spying on said citizens because the average citizen will upset the wealthy feeding trough. 🙂

7 Bryan { 08.25.08 at 7:52 pm }

To make matters even stupider, we know that 19 out of 20 crimes are committed by 1 in 20 criminals, but the laws that are supposed to deal with that, the so-called “three strikes” laws, keep putting petty criminals in prison for life because of the poorly written language of the laws, and the ability of people with good lawyers to get records expunged or charges reduced on plea deals.

The system is broken.

Steal a loaf of bread, you go to prison. Steal $10 million and you get probation and a book deal.

8 Kryten42 { 08.25.08 at 9:01 pm }

Yes, the system is a real mess and has been for some time. It boggles the mind when one realizes that the USA has the highest percentage of the population in Prison in the Western World (And possibly the entire World), and yet the crime rate is also one of the highest and increasing! What’s wrong with this picture? 😉 Add also that the USA has a very high percentage of *social workers* and programs etc (which are also obviously broken), and any intelligent human must be confused. Either the USA is in fact the “Land of the Criminals”(tm), or there is something very wrong (or possibly both now).

OT: Didn’t know where else to put this… Came across this on a techy blog I visit now and then, an MSNBC news report on a new Nuclear battery using tritium which is said to last at least a decade. Thought you might be interested. 🙂 Apparently, it works kinda like an encapsulated solar cell.

Nuclear battery keeps going, and going …

9 Badtux { 08.26.08 at 7:47 pm }

I’m getting a sneaking suspicion that the long-term destination of the United States looks much like the long-term destination of Russia — an authoritarian and insular militaristic state in economic and demographic decline. The only reason the U.S. population is not declining right now is because of immigration. But the Department of Vaterland Security is putttng a stop to that…

10 Bryan { 08.26.08 at 8:52 pm }

They are also destroying the tourist and vacation industry with their asinine rules, Badtux.

The recent immigrants will have large families, but that will taper off beginning in the second generation. We have been dependent on immigration to fill up the bottom level of jobs, until out-sourcing began in earnest which really jacked up unemployment and forced people to lower their expectations.

The easiest way to stop “illegal immigration” is to eliminate opportunity, and this economy is certainly making an effort to do that.

One of the primary problems of US-Russian relations are all of the Cold Warriors who are still in important positions and refuse to let go. There was a period when things could have really improved bi-lateral relations, but it was thrown away. Both sides did it, but the US was supposed to be the good guys, and make a real effort.