Little Air Marshall Coverage of US Flights – Does it Matter?

From CNN:

Of the 28,000 commercial airline flights that take to the skies on an average day in the United States, fewer than 1 percent are protected by on-board, armed federal air marshals, a nationwide CNN investigation has found.

But does that matter? A CNN blog commenter rightly pointed out:

Is this really a big deal? The post 9/11 threat is no longer hijacking. The reinforced doors and the passengers would not let a similar incident occur. More focus should be on securing cargo and the nation’s ports.

I agree.

I would also suggest these cost effective measures:

  • Increase funding the training of pilots to be the last resort armed response
  • Create a cadre of local non-federal law enforcement to act as a reserve or air marshal surge force if a situation warrants it.

Terrorist Dry Run on Flight to Milwaukee?

LGF links to an article at the The Aviation Nation that quotes TSA Incident Report #177 re a flight from Washington DC to Milwaukee:

(U//FOUO) Suspicious Activity Onboard Flight to Milwaukee

(U//FOUO) On 24 October 2007, crewmembers aboard a Reagan-Washington National to Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport flight reported to a Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) flying in non-mission status that they noticed suspicious behavior by four passengers.

One of the subjects entered and exited the rear aircraft lavatory three times and failed to comply with crewmembers’ verbal instructions. The FFDO seated himself near this subject to observe his behavior. Shortly afterward, two more of the subjects moved into the aisles and entered both lavatories. After one of the subjects vacated the rear left lavatory, the FFDO searched it, noting that the mirror above the sink was not properly latched.

He exited the lavatory and a fourth subject was waiting second in line with a passenger in front of him. The FFDO offered the fourth subject access to the right lavatory, but the subject declined, claiming the right lavatory was dirty.The FFDO noted the right lavatory was clean, and the subject reluctantly entered the right lavatory and remained there for an extended period of time. (TSA/SD-10-3849-07)

(U//FOUO) TSA Office of Intelligence Comment: Although there is no information that the aircraft was being specifically targeted for a future terrorist attack, the actions of the four passengers are highly suspicious. FFDO confirmation of possible tampering of the lavatory mirror in one of the lavatories could be indicative of an attempt to locate concealment areas for smuggling criminal contraband or terrorist materials. In this case, it appears the left lavatory was the sole area of interest for the passengers. One subject’s excuse that the right lavatory was dirty when it was confirmed to be clean shows the four passengers had a specific, operational objective. Although unconfirmed at this time, this incident has many of the elements of pre-operational terrorist planning.

Source: TSA Suspicious Incidents Report #177

The site also ask an interesting question:

…one wonders when TSA Suspicious Incident Reports #1-#176 occurred — and what information they contain?

DHS Sucks, Part 42


“The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s No. 2 official apologized Friday for leading a staged news conference Tuesday in which FEMA employees posed as reporters. All the while, real reporters listened on a telephone conference line and were barred from asking questions. In the briefing, Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson Jr., FEMA’s deputy administrator, called on questioners who did not disclose that they were FEMA employees, and gave replies emphasizing that his agency’s response to this week’s California wildfires was far better than its response to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.” [link]

Break up DHS. Start over.

“Science Fiction in the National Interest”

Excellent news!

Unites States Secret Service as expanded Domestic Security Intelligence Agency? [Updated]

I would be okay if my idea for a DSIA, was actually an expanded and reinvented United States Secret Service. Since it has a history/story, it might be better for organizational cohesion.

What is the DSIA?

DSIA – Domestic Security Intelligence Agency

  • MI5-like
  • counter-intel activity
  • counter-terrorist activity
  • intelligence activity
  • network in with local law enforcement & contractors
  • US Secret Service / Executive Protection activity
  • fold in TSA Intell
  • Embed DSIA/IC cells in all relevant agencies
  • full spectrum profiling by covert security officers
  • (include members of that agency in the cell)
  • Other posts: here

Update: Related from Judge Posner:

The FBI is a detective bureau. Its business is not to prevent crime but to catch criminals. The Justice Department, of which the FBI is a part, knows only one way of dealing with terrorism, and that is prosecution. (Mr. Mueller is a former prosecutor.)

For prosecutors and detectives, success is measured by arrests, convictions and sentences. That is fine when the object is merely to keep the crime rate within tolerable limits. But the object of counterterrorism is prevention. Terrorist attacks are too calamitous for the punishment of the terrorists who survive the attack to be an adequate substitute for prevention.

Detecting terrorist plots in advance so that they can be thwarted is the business of intelligence agencies. The FBI is not an intelligence agency, and has a truncated conception of intelligence: gathering information that can be used to obtain a conviction. A crime is committed, having a definite time and place and usually witnesses and often physical evidence and even suspects. This enables a criminal investigation to be tightly focused. Prevention, in contrast, requires casting a very wide investigative net, chasing down ambiguous clues, and assembling tiny bits of information (hence the importance of information technology, which plays a limited role in criminal investigations).

The bureau lacks the tradition, the skills, the patience, the incentive structures, the recruitment criteria, the training methods, the languages, the cultural sensitivities and the career paths that national-security intelligence requires. All the bureau’s intelligence operations officers undergo the full special-agent training. That training emphasizes firearms skills, arrest techniques and self-defense, and the legal rules governing criminal investigations. None of these proficiencies are germane to national-security intelligence. What could be more perverse than to train new employees for one kind of work and assign them to another for which they have not been trained?

Every major nation (and many minor ones), except the United States, concluded long ago that domestic intelligence should be separated from its counterpart to the FBI. Britain’s MI5 is merely the best-known example. These nations realize that if you bury a domestic intelligence service in an agency devoted to criminal law enforcement, you end up with “intelligence-led policing,” which means orienting intelligence collection and analysis not to preventing terrorist attacks but to assisting in law enforcement.

MI5 and its counterparts in other nations are not law-enforcement agencies and do not have arrest powers. Their single-minded focus is on discovering plots against the nation. Knowing that arrest and prosecution should be postponed until a terrorist network has been fully traced and its methods, affiliates, financiers, suppliers and camp followers identified, they do not make the mistake that the FBI made last year in arresting seven Muslims in Miami on suspicion of plotting to blow up buildings there, along with the Sears Tower in Chicago.

Update: Related from John Yoo:

It makes less and less sense for one agency, the FBI, to be grappling with Internet-savvy Al Qaeda terrorists while also dealing with drug trafficking, insider trading on Wall Street, copyright violations and industrial espionage.


The FBI’s current organizational culture is fundamentally incompatible with foreign intelligence and with war. For instance, the FBI rates and promotes agents based on the number of cases opened and solved. This makes sense if the bureau’s sole mission is solving crimes that have already occurred — but not if the mission is gathering intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks.

The inherent inflexibility of the FBI bureaucracy conflicts with the very heart of the intelligence mission. Intelligence officers must be imaginative to intuit patterns that might signal an unconventional attack on the order of 9/11. They need to act more quickly and decisively than traditional law enforcement officers. The FBI moves slowly, managing its employees by command and control. Criminal prosecution is the FBI’s preferred tool to handle terrorism. It doesn’t think first of double agents, blackmail, bribery or misinformation — all valuable tools in combating terrorism.

Break Apart The Department of Homeland Security – One Possibility [Updated Again]

I have written before (and here) that DHS is a mess and should be re-worked or broken apart.

I wasn’t really sure what to do.

Thomas Barnett had written somewhere something to the effect that he didn’t like DHS because he would like to have seen alot of it in his SysAdmin function. I wasn’t sure what he meant, or what this would look like. I think maybe I do now.

Here is an idea I have kicking around for awhile for breaking apart DHS. I hope it doesn’t have a rearrange-the-deck-chairs-on-the-titanic feel to it.

I will follow up in a few days in another related organizational post entitled “Department of War, Department of Peace”.

DSIA – Domestic Security Intelligence Agency

  • MI5-like
  • counter-intel activity
  • counter-terrorist activity
  • intelligence activity
  • network in with local law enforcement & contractors
  • US Secret Service / Executive Protection activity
  • fold in TSA Intell
  • Embed DSIA/IC cells in all relevant agencies
  • full spectrum profiling by covert security officers
  • (include members of that agency in the cell)
  • Other posts: here

National Infrastructure Security Authority

  • Critical infrastructure security program
  • Network in with local law enforcement & contractors
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
  • Covert Security Activity (includes FAMS function)
  • Contract out armed flight deck officer program
  • Full spectrum profiling by covert security officers
  • DSIA/IC Intell Cell

National Border Management Authority

  • Borders
  • maritime ports
  • Air ports
  • Customs
  • Create networks
  • use covert security agent/profilers who mingle + vegas-style eyes-in-the-sky for security as 3g preventive force
    uniformed checkpoint inspectors (private, working off economic incentives system)
  • Cargo entry control
  • Covert Security Activity
  • Contract out armed flight deck officer program
  • Full spectrum profiling by covert security officers
  • DSIA/IC Intell Cell

National Emergency Response Authority

  • National Police Reserve (can be individual reservists or state based pool assignents)
  • National Fire/Rescue/EMS Reserve
  • National Emergency Response Civilian Auxiliary
  • National Emergency Dentist Auxiliary Program (cross train Dentists as EMT/Nurse Practioners/Paramedics/Nurse)
  • Office of Aviation Support
  • Create networks for support
  • Temp shelters and command posts
  • Inside cargo containers
  • Military command vehicles
  • Emergency aviation assets
  • Emergency comm assets
  • Civel defense system
  • Ebay System For Disasters Prep
  • DSIA/IC Intell Cell

Federal Immigration Management Agency

  • Manage program who gets in
  • Tracks who is here
  • Create networks for enforcement
  • Out source to bail-bondsmen system
  • Financial incentives for local law enforcement
  • Backup with U.S. Marshalls Service contract
  • DSIA/IC Intell Cell

Homeland Security Support Agency

  • Homeland Security Strategic Planning Office
  • Homeland Security Research and Technology Support Office (included grant program)
  • Homeland Security Basic Program (outsourced program based on a model) Captains-level school
  • Homeland Security Advanced Program – perhaps funded/outsourced (Major-Lt. Col)
  • National Homeland Security College (advanced schools col-level) (M.A. Homeland Security Studies)
  • The above schools can be outsourced programs to university centers-of-excellence
  • A few Homeland Security ROTC slots (summer training/internships with a Federal Agency involved with Homeland Security Agency or Coast Guard or local/state police/fire/health/civil-defense)
  • Office of Communication Research and Support
  • HR (assignment federal, military,local, NGOs, private, overseas)
  • Homeland Security Fellows / Senior Fellows program
  • Homeland Security Officer Service
  • (should serve in federal defense and non-defense positions and local positions, some percentage of jobs should be reserved to them)
  • HR system
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center


  • Put Coast Guard back to Department of Transportation (or into a new Department of Armed Forces)
  • Special 4gw/counter-Terrorism Court System
  • Rico-ish statutes for Counter-4GW
  • Purge Military And Prison System Of Wahhabi Chaplains


I would be okay if the DSIA, was actually an expanded and reinvented United States Secret Service. Since it has a history/story, it might be better for organizational cohesion.

Update – Additional Ideas from an older post of mine:

  • Adopt Dominant Logistics suggestions like: create secure air and port zones, Use retiring ICBMs as launch vehicles for emergency satellites, Field a force of 400 aircraft specific to the mission of global security and support (firefighting, emergency communications hubs, material movement etc.)
  • Create a Volunteer Emergency Support Militia of US citizens with special training in firefighting, EMT support, rescue operations, mass disaster event logistics, HAZMAT, dog operations, anti-looting security, Communication technology, civil engineering, hygiene/sanitation operations, etc.
  • Geographically disperse Federal Agencies
  • create rapid replacement rules for the House and Supreme Court (the Senate is okay as is)
  • Create a Separate MI5-like Domestic Security Intelligence Service (DSIS)
  • Create Special 4GW/Terrorism Courts
  • Real Tradecraft for the Air Marshalls Service. Where should it go? Put it under the Justice Department or make it the Office of Air Security and Intelligence and put it under the DSIS

DHS / Coast Guard Story: 5GW or Incompetence?

Larry Dunbar suggests that a fiasco involving the new U.S. Coast Guard vessles is really a state 5GW action:

If you step back aways from this article, I have posted, it could read, in a 5GW way, the Singapore government sinks US Coast Guard fleet. You see, the Singapore government owns the US shipyards that actually built these ships.

It is an interesting idea.

I suspect DHS is just a screwed up bureaucracy.

I think it is time to start over with DHS.