Security Expert Harrassed by Dept. of Homeland Security After Exposing Flaws in Security Around the Fleet Center in Boston


A term first coined by security technologist Bruce Schneier in his 2003 book “Beyond Fear” to describe what generally passes for “security” these days — namely presenting the appearance (and reassuring illusion) of security (or improved security) despite however ineffective in reality such postures really are to those who know what real security is all about. Also a favored approach to security by the United States government, even after September 11.

Below is an interesting thread about James Atkinson, a well-known TSCM specialist in Boston (www.tscm.com) — who, after publicizing the goofy nature of physical security in/around the Fleet Center in advance of this week’s Democratic National Convention, reports what he believes is harassment by the Department of Homeland Security and others, including the sudden and unannounced shutdown of his TSCM mailing list by Yahoo last week.

Apparently James was (unofficially) informed that “Yahoo was contacted by a “Federal Law Enforcement Agency” and asked to disable the TSCM list as it posed a national security threat. Also, his contact stated that on Friday afternoon Yahoo was served with a formal request by the US government for copies of all list members, and copies of the thousands of messages and postings that were made to the list, plus a history of everything he had ever subscribed to or posted.”

If the events listed below are true (and knowing James’ competence, I have no reason to think otherwise) and while DHS may view him as a “troublemaker” I think it’s a refreshing (and much-needed) situation to have an otherwise objective and competent security expert take a look at the state of “improved security post-911” and report publicly their findings without the usual watering-down, politicization, or classification of such matters by those responsible who seek to avoid embarrassment or accountability for their actions — or lack thereof.

We need more such disclosures, not less. Otherwise, we’re forced to accept the government’s word on things being “better, safer, or more secure” than they really are — a reality not overlooked by those who might seek to attack us, even absent such publicized disclosures like this one. Pretending vulnerabilities don’t exist doesn’t make anyone any safer and actions that perpetuate such a mindset are a concrete demonstration of security theater in action.

For your reference, the situation involving Atkinson can be found at the following links:


21 July – DHS Contacts Cryptome to Complain

23 July – Eyeballing the DNC Protest Pen (AKA “Free Speech Zone”)

25 July – What’s Wrong with Security at the DNC in Boston

25 July – Yahoo Shuts down TSCM Mailing List

25 July – DNC Radio Frequencies Discovered

25 July – Additional Comments about DNC Security Operations

A lesson our government has yet to learn — even after the renewed interest in security theory post-911 — is that security through obscurity does not work. Neither does saying “trust us, but don’t ask any questions.”

Sadly, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

RICHARD FORNO writes the information warrior blog.


November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”