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Factor in the TSA/DHS’s ever-mounting paranoia, and you’ve got a recipe for a slew of false positives


The TSA is disappointed that so few Americans have opted out of its bottle-tossing, package-groping screenings by signing up for its PreCheck program. For a few years now, the TSA has been selling travelers’ civil liberties back to them, most recently for $85 a head, but it’s now making a serious push to increase participation. The TSA can’t do it alone, so it’s accepting bids on its PreCheck expansion proposal. (h/t to Amy Alkon)

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is seeking vendors for TSA Pre√® Application Expansion initiative to develop, deliver, and deploy private sector application capabilities expanding the public’s enrollment opportunities for TSA Pre✓® through an Other Transactional Agreement (OTA) awarded by TSA. The Government plans to award an OTA to multiple vendors. The Government will evaluate the proposed ready-to-market solutions’ application capabilities against this TSA Pre√® Expansion Initiative Solicitation and Statement of Work.

This will involve a new pre-screening process to weed out terrorists by looking through a variety of “commercial data” sources. The proposal [pdf link] is very vague on the details of what “commercial data” will be used by these third parties.

Contractors may use commercial data to conduct an eligibility evaluation (also known as pre-screening) of potential applicants. The eligibility evaluation shall include, at a minimum, validating identity and performing a criminal history records check to ensure that applicants do not have disqualifying convictions in conjunction with the TSA Pre✓® disqualifying offenses…

The proposal goes on to say something that sounds like the TSA safeguarding PreCheck applicants’ privacy by standing between them and any crazy ideas third party contractors might have about “commercial data.”

As a second component to the eligibility evaluation, TSA may also consider approving an option to use additional private sector processes to conduct a provisional risk assessment (based on an algorithm developed by the Contractor) for the purposes of assisting in identifying those individuals believed to pose a low risk to transportation security. TSA must approve any commercial data inputs proposed for use by contractors to include those which validate identity and determine provisional low-risk status.
More protections here:

Risk assessments may not be based on race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, financial status (e.g., credit ratings/scores, liens, bankruptcies, foreclosures, annual income), health records, constitutionally protected activity, or other records reflecting an individual’s socio-economic status.
So far, so good. But while the TSA has pointed out a few examples of what won’t be permitted to be used to separate the threats from the travelers, it really never goes on to detail what will be permitted… at least not in the proposal itself. Those sources (and there are several) are tucked away inside the agreement boilerplate [pdf link] to be signed by winning contractors.

Here’s everything that’s open to inspection by PreCheck applicant screeners.

For purposes of this private sector enrollment initiative for the TSA Pre√® Application Program, “commercial data” includes: public record data, such as criminal history and real estate records produced by federal, state, and local governments; other publicly available information, such as directories, press reports, location data and information that individuals post on blogs and social media sites; and wide ranging data such as purchase information, customer lists from registration websites, and self-reported information provided by consumers that is obtained by commercial data sources such as data brokers.
So, the TSA is authorizing contractors to use social media posts in the screening process — which, yes, are by default public but tend to generate more noise than signal when it comes to spotting the terrorists in PreCheck approval queue.

[And I suppose my Facebook page — containing pictures I added a few months ago — will put me in the “questionable” group.]

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The TSA is looking to hire on third-party haystackers in order to pre-profile travelers. There’s a lot of “public/commercial data” out there, and very little of it has any relevance to the “threat level” of potential flyers. And the part about “purchase information” is particularly disturbing, considering the DHS would really like to have access to that data.

    Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said his department will be issuing new guidance to retailers this week giving them pointers on how to spot potential terrorists among their customers by looking at what they’re buying.

    While saying the government cannot prohibit sales of some everyday materials, Mr. Johnson said retailers should be trained to look for anyone who buys a lot from what he described as a “long list of materials that could be used as explosive precursors.”

    He said it was an extension of the “If you see something, say something” campaign launched by his predecessor, former Secretary Janet Napolitano, which tries to enlist average Americans to be aware of their immediate environment.

Couple Johnson’s statements with this proposal sentence (which immediately follows the “Risk assessments may not be based on…” sentence from the paragraph above), and you get an idea where this PreCheck database is headed.

Any algorithm used must receive DHS approval, which will be based upon a DHS evaluation requiring testing and review of commercial data inputs during that process.
Whatever data the contractors grab will be viewed by the DHS first, before it makes its decision to keep or discard it. And this will be in addition to the huge amount of data these two agencies already dip into to determine how many “S’s” to print on your boarding pass. The TSA’s role in the PreCheck program will be mainly limited to waving successful applicants through. (Something it has previously done to alleviate congestion with no apparent concern about PreCheck approval and all of its “safeguards”.) So, this is really the DHS’s program, one that allows it partake of third-party data hoovering and add anything it deems relevant to its databases.

That’s a lot of info to turn over for shorter waits at the airport. Generally speaking, the government has little interest in your purchases and social media activities, but by applying for PreCheck, you give them the green light to go digging. Sure, most of what’s there isn’t necessarily private, but it’s still information most people wouldn’t assume the government would find to be relevant to airport security. Factor in the TSA/DHS’s ever-mounting paranoia, and you’ve got a recipe for a slew of false positives, especially when the latter considers photography of public buildings to be “suspicious activity.”


It’s not like the world stops. You’ve still got email. There’s still Facebook and Instagram. Angry Birds and WhatsApp beckon.

Education Editor

Have you heard about die-ins? They are all the rage in the aftermath of the Ferguson. Mo. riot, which occurred in response to a grand jury’s refusal to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black male.

At a die-in for any cause, protesters collectively get down on the ground and pretend to be dead. The tactic is a favorite of environmental activists, AIDS activists, gun control activists — the whole spectrum of leftist demonstrating, really.

But what’s a protester to do while dying in? It’s not like the world stops. You’ve still got email. There’s still Facebook and Instagram. Angry Birds and WhatsApp beckon.

And so it was that “dead” participants at a die-in this week at George Washington University stopped being dead periodically to check their mobile phones.

The demonstration also included chants of “No Justice, No Peace. No Racist Police” and a non-stirring rendition of “We Shall Overcome,” an essential anthem of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

Illegal Aliens and Activists on White House Facebook Page: ‘F*** All You White People,’ We Win

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by Jason DeWitt | Top Right News

Illegal aliens and their supporters are declaring victory on the White House’s Facebook page over Obama impending amnesty executive order. But more than simply whoopin’ it up over our Dear Leader’s latest tyrannical seizure of power, they are specifically calling out “White people”.

Remember that this is the official White House’s page, right under Obama’s announcement of the order, expected Thursday. And the White House is allowing clearly racist comments like the ones below.

As of this print, not a single one of these comments were removed. Racist comments by pro-illegal alien activists fill the page. Here are just some of them, as exposed by Aurelius of PunditPress:

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Over on Twitter, more Obama supporters showing that his amnesty decree has nothing to do with racial politics. Well…not exactly.

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Blacks too joining in on the race hate? Isn’t it wonderful that we elected a president who promised us a “post-racial America“?

James O’Keefe’s Facebook Page Shut Down


Political Reporter

Conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe’s personal Facebook account was shut down Friday.

O’Keefe was trending on Facebook Thursday after his group Project Veritas’ latest video captured Colorado-based Greenpeace official Christen Topping describing a “ghetto” neighborhood in Aurora where ballots could be found in garbage cans for use by those seeking to commit voter fraud. Greenpeace fired Topping Friday.

O’Keefe’s Facebook page was deactivated and inaccessible to him for approximately one hour Friday, according to Project Veritas. The group said it contacted Facebook but received no explanation for the deactivation.

“I was talking with a prominent national reporter about my account being shut down,” O’Keefe in a statement. “Within ninety seconds of that conversation, the account was mysteriously reactivated.”

Here’s an Astonishing List of What the Federal Government Funded INSTEAD of Developing an Ebola Vaccine…

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October 17, 2014 By Greg Campbell

As the world anxiously eyes the Ebola crisis and wonders if it is yet time to panic, Democrats have crusaded to try and not let the crisis go to waste by trying to create a correlation between Republican efforts to rein in unsustainable and out-of-control government spending and the absence of an Ebola vaccine or other prophylactic measures.

In an astonishing new report from The Washington Free Beacon, it seems that our government’s priorities have been out-of-whack for some time. While Ebola loomed, our government spent money that could be used to develop an Ebola vaccine to develop origami condoms and study obese lesbians.

In a tremendous bit of reporting, The Washington Free Beacon details the amazingly-absurd expenditures that took priority over developing a vaccine:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has spent more than $39 million on obese lesbians, origami condoms, texting drunks, and dozens of other projects that could have been scrapped in favor of developing an Ebola vaccine.

“Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready,” said NIH Director Francis Collins, blaming budget cuts for his agency’s failure to develop a vaccine for the deadly virus.

However, the Washington Free Beacon has uncovered $39,643,352 worth of NIH studies within the past several years that have gone to questionable research.

For instance, the agency has spent $2,873,440 trying to figure out why lesbians are obese, and$466,642 on why fat girls have a tough time getting dates. Another $2,075,611 was spent encouraging old people to join choirs.

Millions have gone to “text message interventions,” including a study where researchers sent texts to drunks at the bar to try to get them to stop drinking. The project received an additional grant this year, for a total of $674,590.

The NIH is also texting older African Americans with HIV ($372,460), HIV and drug users in rural areas ($693,000), HIV smokers ($763,519), pregnant smokers ($380,145), teen moms ($243,839), and meth addicts ($360,113). Text message interventions to try to get obese people to lose weight have cost $2,707,067.

The NIH’s research on obesity has led to spending $2,101,064 on wearable insoles and buttons that can track a person’s weight, and $374,670 to put on fruit and vegetable puppet shows for preschoolers.
A restaurant intervention to develop new children’s menus cost $275,227, and the NIH spent$430,608 for mother-daughter dancing outreach to fight obesity.

Sexual minorities have received a substantial amount from the NIH. The agency has now spent$105,066 following 16 schizophrenic LGBT Canadians around Toronto for a study on their community experiences.

The total for a project on why gay men get syphilis in Peru is now $692,697 after receiving additional $228,425 this year. The NIH is also concerned about postpartum depression in “invisible sexual minority women,” with a study that has cost $718,770.

Millions went to develop “origami condoms,” in male, female, and anal versions. The inventor Danny Resnic, who received $2,466,482 from the NIH, has been accused of massive fraud for using grant money for full-body plastic surgery in Costa Rica and parties at the Playboy mansion.

How transwomen use Facebook is the subject of another NIH study worth $194,788.

The agency has also committed $5 million to “mine and analyze” social media to study American’s attitudes toward drug abuse, and $306,900 to use Twitter for surveillance on depressed people.

The NIH has also spent $15,313,372 on cessation studies devoted to every kind of smoker imaginable. Current studies are targeted at American Indians ($2,899,954); Chinese and Vietnamese men ($424,875); postmenopausal women ($4,151,850); the homeless ($558,576);Korean youth ($94,580); young schizophrenics ($397,802); Brazilian women smokers ($955,368);Latino HIV-positive smokers($471,530); and the LGBT community ($2,364,521).

Yale University is studying how to get “Heavy Drinkers” to stop smoking at a cost of $571,799. Other projects seek to use Twitter to provide “social support to smokers” ($659,469), and yoga ($1,763,048) as a way to quit.

An NIH project studying sighs cost taxpayers $53,282.

On Tuesday, Health and Human Services (HHS) had to outsource efforts at an Ebola vaccine to the Baltimore-based Profectus BioSciences Inc. The company will receive $8.6 million to research and test their vaccine, a fraction of NIH funding that went to the above projects.
It’s pretty standard; whenever any crisis occurs, Democrats shrug and say, “If only we had had more money available…”

However, Republican and Tea Party efforts to try and stop the reckless government spending that has condemned our nation’s future to indebtedness has not been rooted in a hatred for all government spending, but rather an urging for prioritization.

For example: spending on stimulus packages to keep a virulent housing market afloat was a bad idea; spending on keeping the auto industry from having to deal with the consequences of four decades of bad business decisions and over-unionization was a bad idea.

Spending on defense to be able to adequately deal with the threat posed by the Muslim world is a good idea. Spending on vouchers to urge school choice and spending to finally secure the border and deport illegals are good ideas, too.

And yes, spending to develop a vaccine for this horrific virus would have been much better than funding any one of the aforementioned absurdities.

Facebook demands DEA stop using fake profiles in investigations

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Facebook has written a letter to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, demanding it stop operating fake profile pages and cease all agency activities on the social network that involve impersonation of others during ongoing DEA investigations.

“Requiring people to use their real identities on Facebook is the primary mechanism we have to protect millions of people every day, all around the world, from real harm,” wrote Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan in a letter to DEA administrator Michele Leonhart.

According to Sullivan, using Facebook to impersonate others “makes people feel less safe and secure when using [the] service.”

“Indeed, as we have observed at Facebook, such deceptive actions are often used to further harmful conduct, such as trolling, hate speech, scams, bullying, and even domestic violence. This impact is markedly different from undercover investigations conducted in the ‘real’ world.”

The social network demanded the DEA “immediately confirm that it has ceased all activities on Facebook that involve the impersonation of others or that otherwise violate our terms and policies.”

“We recently learned through media reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration created fake Facebook accounts and impersonated a Facebook user as part of its investigation of alleged criminal conduct unrelated to Facebook,”

DEA sued for setting up fake Facebook account for arrested woman

The letter is a response to a lawsuit fired by New York woman who claimed that the US Drug Enforcement Administration set up a fake Facebook account, with photos and other personal data from her cellphone.

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Sondra Arquiett was arrested in 2010 on charges of possessing cocaine and intent to supply, and the social network’s page was used to trick her associates into disclosing information.

The account showed Arquiett’s ‘status updates’ on missing her boyfriend, posing on the hood of a BMW, or with her son and niece. However, it was all the work of DEA Agent Timothy Sinnigen, according to Arquiett’s federal lawsuit.

In a suit filed in August, Arquiett is claiming $250,000 in compensation, saying she went through “fear and great emotional distress” and that Sinningen had put her life in danger by communicating through her fake identity with the “dangerous individuals he was investigating.”

The DEA does not dispute Arquiett’s essential allegations, says Sullivan in the letter.

But the DEA claims Arquiett ‘implicitly consented’ to the agency’s conduct “by granting access to the information stored in her cell phone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in an ongoing criminal investigation, Facebook is deeply troubled by the claims and legal position,” Sullivan adds.