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.

October 06, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Afghanistan, the Terrible War: Money for Nothing
Mike Whitney
How Putin will Win in Syria
Paul Street
Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class
Paul Craig Roberts
American Vice
W. T. Whitney
Why is the US Government Persecuting IFCO/Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?
Kathy Kelly
Bombing Hospitals: 22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
Ron Jacobs
Patti Smith and the Beauty of Memory
David Macaray
Coal Executive Finally Brought Up on Criminal Charges
Norman Pollack
Cold War Rhetoric: The Kept Intelligentsia
Cecil Brown
The Firing This Time: School Shootings and James Baldwin’s Final Message
Roger Annis
The Canadian Election and the Global Climate Crisis
Jesse Jackson
Alabama’s New Jim Crow Far From Subtle
Joe Ramsey
After Umpqua: Does America Have a Gun Problem….or a Dying Capitalist Empire Problem?
Murray Dobbin
Rise Up, Precariat! Cheap Labour is Over
October 05, 2015
Michael Hudson
Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism
Patrick Cockburn
Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War
Kristine Mattis
GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science
Heidi Morrison
Well-Intentioned Islamophobia
Ralph Nader
Monsanto and Its Promoters vs. Freedom of Information
Arturo Desimone
Retro-Colonialism: the Exportation of Austerity as War By Other Means
Robert M. Nelson
Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster
Matt Peppe
Misrepresentation of the Colombian Conflict
Barbara Dorris
Pope Sympathizes More with Bishops, Less with Victims
Clancy Sigal
I’m Not a Scientologist, But I Wish TV Shrinks Would Just Shut Up
Chris Zinda
Get Outta’ Dodge: the State of the Constitution Down in Dixie
Eileen Applebaum
Family and Medical Leave Insurance, Not Tax Credits, Will Help Families
Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure
“Boxing on Paper” for the Nation of Islam, Black Nationalism, and the Black Athlete: a Review of “The Complete Muhammad Ali” by Ishmael Reed
Lawrence Ware
Michael Vick and the Hypocrisy of NFL Fans
Gary Corseri - Charles Orloski
Poets’ Talk: Pope Francis, Masilo, Marc Beaudin, et. al.
Weekend Edition
October 2-4, 2015
Henry Giroux
Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria
Jennifer Loewenstein
Heading Toward a Collision: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Regional Proxy Wars
John Pilger
Wikileaks vs. the Empire: the Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth
Gary Leupp
A Useful Prep-Sheet on Syria for Media Propagandists
Jeffrey St. Clair
Pesticides, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Acceptable Death
Joshua Frank
The Need to Oppose All Foreign Intervention in Syria
Lawrence Ware – Paul Buhle
Insurrectional Black Power: CLR James on Race and Class
Oliver Tickell
Jeremy Corbyn’s Heroic Refusal to be a Nuclear Mass Murderer
Helen Yaffe
Che’s Economist: Remembering Jorge Risquet
Mark Hand
‘Rape Rooms’: How West Virginia Women Paid Off Coal Company Debts
Michael Welton
Junior Partner of Empire: Why Canada’s Foreign Policy Isn’t What You Think
Yves Engler
War Crimes in the Dark: Inside Canada’s Special Forces
Arno J. Mayer
Israel: the Wages of Hubris and Violence
W. T. Whitney
Cuban Government Describes Devastating Effects of U. S. Economic Blockade
Brian Cloughley
The US-NATO Alliance Destroyed Libya, Where Next?