The Politics of Prohibition & the AR-15

All the unreasoned hoopla about the AR-15 brought on by the Orlando shooting is driven by treacherous pantywaists, commies, and crooks of all stripes. Their primary tool for gaining a prohibition of owning this rifle is the ignorance of urban voters. For the most part, these voters know nothing about existing gun laws, firearms, self-defence, hunting, or military service.

Partisan politics plays a large role in this. Gay and Muslim voters form a significant constituency for the left of centre political parties. This demands that these parties cannot acknowledge that religion or culture forms the foundation for many such atrocities. Therefore, the politicians cannot blame Muslim culture for creating this mass murderer. Certainly, they cannot blame the gay victims for not being manly enough to fight for their lives.

The Orlando shooter was a state licenced armed security guard and a poster child for gun control. He underwent two extensive background checks and a medical exam that determined that he had no condition that precluded preforming armed duties. He was fingerprinted and all his identity papers were examined. He completed 60 hours of firearms training. He was required to renew his armed guard licence each year. The FBI investigated the shooter on two occasions and, it appears, actually removed him from the terror watch list. They cannot blame the FBI, Florida state bureaucrats, or the shooters employer, a government contractor, for lax or inept enforcement of laws or company policy.

Nor can politicians blame the police for not following the lessons learned from other mass shootings like the ecole polytechnique shooting in Montreal. They can’t blame the tragically delayed and disorganised police response that caused more deaths. That only leaves one whipping boy, the AR-15—never mind that the Orlando shooter didn’t use an AR-15 but an Sig Sauer MCX.

What else could have been done–ban guns outright? When another terrorist attacks what then—ban homosexuality so the terrorists won’t hate us so much? The simple truth is, we can’t ban our way to safety, however, we can overreact and turn our society as dangerously totalitarian as anything ISIS can imagine.

The Edwardian Terrorist Redux

The Beltway Sniper, the Mumbai attacks, Charlie Hebdo, the Paris attacks. This is a hideous trend. We no longer face terrorists just planting bombs or shooting dignitaries with a pistol–they now come in gangs armed with military weapons and suicide vests. They attack whole cities. This is their version of strategic bombing.

This modus operandi is not new to anyone who reads. Edwardian fiction is replete with characters dreaming of mass destruction. Like Joseph Conrad’s archetypal terrorist, the professor in The Secret Agent, today’s Muslim terrorist’s thwarted ambitions have crystalized into a delusion of moral superiority and a desire to destroy modernity.

The Muslim terrorists want to change our religion and our liberal ways. Like the professor, they want a crackdown on suspected terrorists to destroy our individual liberties and to motivate potential recruits. They want the exigencies of our counter-terrorism efforts to serve these perverse objectives.

This terrorist strategy is not new, nor is our current response to it. From 1881 to 1901, two U.S. Presidents, a French President, a Spanish Prime Minister, and an Italian King fell to anarchist terrorists. In Paris, they hurled bombs onto the floor to the Bourse and bombed theatres and cafes. In the early years of the twentieth century, newspapers printed daily lists of political assassinations and bombings. Arguably, a terrorist started the Great War.

While the political plots and conspiracies of the Islamic world seem irrational to us, they are real in the minds of the people who commit the violence these plots demand. To them, violent action bears testament to their sincerity. Today’s cult of the suicide bomber is not new. One only has to read Conrad’s The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes to see today’s Muslim terrorist.

Under Western Eyes was written in 1911, yet it tells us clearly that despotism breeds terrorism and the tolerant west that shelters refugees becomes a laboratory for terrorists to perfect their paranoias and grievances along with murderous weapons created from modern western technology.

Anarchist Assassinations & Bombings

  • 1881: the assassination of Russian Tsar Alexander II, by the group Narodnaya Volya
  • 1894: the assassination of the French president Marie-Francois Sadi Carnot
  • 1894: Bombing of Greenwich Observatory in London
  • 1901: the assassination of American president William McKinley in September 1901, by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz.

Violence by anarchists was historically directed at political figures, not civilians, as in the current eruption of terrorist violence. However, the reasons for Islamic terrorism now and anarchism then are similar. Muslims worldwide are being united by a growing sense of fear and hatred of the West due to propaganda that Islam itself is in danger. This is fertile ground for a fanatical minority who are using terrorism to gain power in the Muslim world.

Propaganda War

Shooting down a passenger jet has exposed some good old-fashioned Soviet-style propaganda. It’s not as good as some of Putin’s efforts, but it’s interesting to watch.

The Wayback Machine has captured some very interesting evidence that Russian-backed terrorists shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. In a post by Igor Girkin on Vkontakte, Russia’s Facebook clone, the Ukrainian terrorist leader who is also known as Strelkov, claimed his forces downed what he thought was a Ukrainian military transport plane.

The Russian-backed terrorist claims he shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was caught by the Wayback Machine and publicized on their Twitter account, @InternetArchive (https://twitter.com/internetarchive/status/490302564240334848). See The Christian Science Monitor article that translates the content and provides a timeline of the attempts by the terrorists to hide this and blame the Ukraine government.

Meanwhile over at Wikipedia, the Twitter account @RuGovEdits monitors Wikipedia edits by the Russian government. It reveals Russia’s efforts to shift the blame to the Ukrainian government. Putin’s office and Russian media outlets made multiple edits to the page for the murder of the MH17 passengers to blame the “Ukrainian military”. @RuGovEdits should be trustworthy as the Wiki-twitterbot code is widely available on Github.

Getting Out of Google

Google and other search engines are wonderful things for gathering information, we all know that, but what if people with evil intent are gathering information about you?

Getting out of Street View

Google Street View provides a great deal of data that can be used to plan an attack on a facility, a person, or to conduct a kidnapping. Google offers an easy, free, and effective way to restrict access to this data.

At a client’s home, I found that his car licence plate was legible. This usually occurs when the car is parked inside a garage or car port. At the client’s workplace, several security measures were clearly visible as were other features of the facility that raised concerns.

Google’s solution is to place an opaque digital wall around your house or facility. To get out of Google Street View, first search for the street address. Once the property is visible, you will find a small box at the bottom right of the image that says “Report a problem”. Click on this to select a reason for blurring the image of the property. I usually select Other: This image presents security concerns. Add some discriptive data to help Google identify the property and complete the CAPTCHA (an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”) thing that takes me several tries to get right. In 2 or 3 days a blurred wall should appear around the property.

Brains Versus Brawn

Far too often, security relies on brawn alone — uniformed guards, guns, alarms, locks, armoured vehicles, blast and ballistic resisent engineering. Unfortunately, force can be defeated by guile and superior force.

An example of brawn’s failure is that of Alfred Herrhausen, the Deutsche Bank Chief who was murdered by the Red Army Faction in 1989.

He knew that he was a target. He had a thirty-man security detail and armored vehicles. His murderers had work clothes, a city works vehicle, and explosives. Posing as city workers, his murderers engaged in their own construction project to mine the road that their victim frequently used.

Brawn thrice failed. The first failure was to notice the initial surveillance that led to the terrorists identifing the attack site. Second, brawn failed to recognize and regularly inspect an obivous attack location. Finally, the terrorists were engaged in their construction project for about one month and the security detail didn’t call the city to confirm that the construction activity was legitimate.

The brain would have had a surveillance detection detail. The brain would conduct a route survey to identify likely attack locations. The brain would assign the surveillance detection detail to observe possible attack locations to look for unusual activity. The brain would have called the city about the construction activity.

The brain’s greatest enemy is the budget wala. Brawn is tangible, surveillance detection isn’t. Surveillance detection is like insurance — an expense for something you probably won’t use. Budget walas want proof that surveillance detection is worth the cost because when they spend money on brawn they get something tangible.

Contingency Planning

Recently, I wrote about the dangers of government action when preparing for adverse conditions. While conducting some research on this topic for a planning document I came across a couple of interesting examples.

In the old Soviet Union during the Chernobyl reactor catastrophe, it became illegal for an ordinary citizen to possess any type of radiation meter.  I came across reports that Japanese police confiscated radiation meters from citizens who were taking their own measurements after the Fukushima disaster.

Perhaps I should have recommended that the client read Fuller’s The Day We Bombed Utah.

OPSEC and Business Continuity

Operational Security (OPSEC) is the first consideration when preparing for adverse conditions.

In Canada, I always advise clients to read the Emergencies Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 22 (4th Supp.)), Section 8  carefully before they take any action or commit to any preparations. The same applies to any individual preparations. Section 8 (1)(c) allows public officials carte blanche to loot your storehouse of supplies during a declared emergency. The provinces have similar legislation, for example, in Ontario it is the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.E.9. Politicians wrote all of these acts so that the government can always find a ‘legal’ way to do whatever it wants to do. This problem isn’t unique to Canada. During Hurricane Sandy, so called ‘First responders’ broke into Shore Army-Navy in Seaside Heights and looted it for supplies. During Hurricane Katrina, officials in New Orleans went further, and according to many accounts, committed armed robbery. In the face of armed troops or police, you will be helpless to prevent such looting. Of course, when government is the looter, they get a free pass from government lawyers and politicians.

Undertaking business continuity planning requires a very high degree of OPSEC given the propensity of governments, rioters, and criminals to take what they want. This leads to the question, what are the OPSEC requirements of business continuity planning?

I always advise that all business continuity (BC) assets be separated geographically, and in other ways, from the business they serve. Transfer ownership of BC assets to  obscure sole-purpose subsidiaries. For example, one entity owns the BC site while another buys the supplies and equipment. Yet another entity takes delivery of the supplies at an unrelated location. Execute all the BC planning and implementation on a strict need-to-know basis. The quick dissemination of the BC plan during an emergency must occur on a need-to-know basis. The employees only get the information they need to accomplish their part of the plan. Large-scale rehearsals should not reveal the actual location of the real BC site. To reveal the location of the BC site to all those involved in the rehearsal invites the looting of the site long before it is needed. Experience dictates the use a rented property in the general area of the real BC site for rehearsals.

These considerations are not irrational paranoia for any business located in an area subject to catastrophic disruptions such as riots, protests, natural disasters, or terrorist attack. Discontinuing business activity during such an upheaval is surrendering to these adverse forces.

Hazardous Material

The Emergency Response Guidebook published jointly by the Canadian Department of Transportation, Mexican Transportation agencies, and the USDOT lets you identify the hazardous contents of pipelines, trucks, or trains from the placards on the side of the tanker, rail car, or pipeline. The guide lists specific hazards and evacuation distances for spills or fires. However, it doesn’t provide any spill/fire/explosion protocols.

If you are around hazardous materials and their transport conveyances then you need this guidebook.

Profiling Circa 1921

How to Analyze People on Sight Through the Science of Human Analysis: The Five Human Types

This 1921 book represents a system of stereotyping people. This book, no doubt, sold to people striving to simplify their understanding others to nurture their biases. I’m sure this is as reliable as Phrenology and terrorist profiling.  (This is also a fine example of what one can find on the Internet if you have too much time on your hands.)

Disgruntled Employees Outdo Terrorists

Two articles on the Brand Killer Robots blog drew my attention. Not because the data offered anything new, but that Stephen Ryan was able to create a bot to clearly show that insiders, employees, and former employees are the most likely to launch cyber attacks.

Raps BOT : Predicts Insider Cyber Terrorism Threat HIGH

Raps Bot : Sniper Attack Methods – Number 1 Cyber Terrorism Threat

Hotel Security

U.S. Hotels

During a recent project I came across an interesting study about the vulnerability of hotels from Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research which finds that safety and security equipment in U.S. hotels varies dramatically by size, location, and overall hotel class.

Wi-Fi  Security

For more on hotel Wi-Fi security in hotels, check out Dan Lohrman’s blog post and Hotel Network Security: A Study of the Computer Networks in U.S. Hotels also from Cornell.

Terrorist Attack

An article entitled, Study: Terror attacks on hotels surge since 9/11, refers to a STRATFOR study entitled, Special Security Report: The Militant Threat to Hotels.