I see the report where Senate minority leader Reid has suffered a mild stroke. I certainly hope he’s OK and I wish him well for a full recovery. It sounds like he thinks he’s all right and that’s a good thing.
I read this story yesterday about a plan to bring several African species to live on the plains here in the United States. I think it’s a categorically stupid idea. Here’s another story today that highlights just one of the reasons why.
Touching on 3 issues near and dear to my heart comes this story on the US Customs Service’s computer systems being shut down due to a virus:
|::::::::||A virus caused the U.S. Customs computer system used to process passengers arriving on international flights to shut down for several hours Thursday, leaving long lines of impatient travelers, officials said.
Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said the virus impacted computer systems at a number of airports, including those in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas and Laredo, Texas.
The worst delays appeared to be at Miami International Airport, where as many as 2,000 people waited to clear immigration, airport spokesman Marc Henderson said.
At New York’s airports, customs officials processed passengers by hand during the shutdown. In Los Angeles, they used backup computer systems to keep passengers moving.
The computer problem originated in database systems located in Virginia and lasted from around 6 p.m. until about 11:30 p.m., said Zachary Mann, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in southern Florida.
“Unfortunately with technology you have periods where things happen,” he said.
Oh, sure. These things happen. Multi-billion dollar government systems housing critical-to-national-security information are completely exposed to viral infection, get compromised, and go completely off-line for hours at a stretch all the time. As a professional network designer and engineer, let me say right now: bullshit. I have personally designed and implemented networks and systems where this kind of event is not only planned for, it’s expected. Both in policy and design they are redundant and protected from being completely compromised. The term “mission critical” has a meaning beyond looking great on a marketing slick – it means that the information system in question does not simply go down. Ever. It is never not available because if it is, the “mission” fails. That’s what “mission critical” means. My apologies, but I think that if a system going dark translates into a couple of thousand people not being able to move in our transit system, then the system qualifies as being mission critical. That such a system can be designed in such a way that it’s 1) even exposed to a virus at all and 2) not redundant so as to provide capability even in the event of a compromise like this is just unbelievable to me, personally. Sounds we need a design review over there, and fast.
…but only when something else justifies the ends. In the aftermath of the 7/7 and 7/21 attacks in the UK subway or underground, the news came that the police there had shot to death a man who made all the wrong moves. He ran from police. He jumped a turnstile. He was wearing a heavy padded coat in July. And he ignored the repeated orders of police to stop and surrender. Faced with a seconds-to-live choice, the bobbies made the call and opened fire. Tragically, the man wasn’t a bomber but an immigrant who was on his way to work. A very sad story, but unavoidable given the facts as stated by the police.
Only, it now appears they were lying. Have a look at the UK Telegraph story I’ve linked and look closely at the picture of the body of Jean Charles de Meneze. (Work-safe, so go ahead.) Even in the tiny, little thumbnail photo on that page does that even remotely resemble a “heavy padded coat?” My eyes are about 75% as good as they were 15 years ago and I can still clearly see that it’s a denim jacket – hardly the kind of clothing that would be out of place for a man who grew up in a hot, humid climate now living in a place like London, England. The bobbies couldn’t have known that, of course, but it’s far more likely than a parka in Washington, DC.
If that were all, I’d still side with the bobbies. Hell, if the guy’d been wearing a sleeveless T-shirt and running shorts and acted the way he did, I’d side with the bobbies. Only, he didn’t act like they say he did.
|::::::::|| Documents and photographs leaked to ITV News also confirmed that Mr de Menezes did not run from the police, as had been reported, had used his Tube pass to enter the station, rather than vault the barrier, and had taken a seat on the train before being grabbed by an officer.
He was wearing a light denim jacket and not as previously reported a padded coat which could have concealed explosives.
Now wait a minute. He did not “jump the gate”, he walked through after using his pass? He then did not run toward the platform, ignoring the orders of police to stop? No, he walked to the train and took a seat before being physically grabbed by an officer. The bobbies actually had grappled with this guy and then shot him 7 times in the head? They shot him even though he was considered sufficiently controllable to approach and physically detain. This is nowhere near how this incident was reported and it occurred 3 weeks ago. I know an investigation is in progress, but they sure had no trouble dumping the originally reported details to the press in less than 3 weeks, what’s the problem here?
Whether it’s actually a cover-up or not is immaterial. It looks like one and that’s the impression that’s going to be left with everyone. The actions of these officers and the subsequent acts of their superiors will do nothing but damage the war effort. Through sloppy police work and poor management they’ve handed a major political and propaganda coup to the terrorists, they’ve weakened or destroyed the public’s confidence in homeland security, and – oh, yes – they’ve killed a man. An innocent man who was just trying to get to work that day.
The ends may, in fact, justify the means. Using this as policy however, demands a zero-fault performance in the process used. That’s not what we’re seeing here and these mistakes are going to cost dearly in the months to come.