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Author Topic: Security, Executive Protection, Bodyguard, Surveillance issues  (Read 11930 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« on: June 18, 2009, 06:49:08 AM »

Security at Places of Worship: More Than a Matter of Faith
June 17, 2009




By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

In recent months, several high-profile incidents have raised awareness of the threat posed by individuals and small groups operating under the principles of leaderless resistance. These incidents have included lone wolf attacks against a doctor who performed abortions in Kansas, an armed forces recruitment center in Arkansas and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Additionally, a grassroots jihadist cell was arrested for attempting to bomb Jewish targets in the Bronx and planning to shoot down a military aircraft at an Air National Guard base in Newburgh, N.Y.

In addition to pointing out the threat posed by grassroots cells and lone wolf operatives, another common factor in all of these incidents is the threat of violence to houses of worship. The cell arrested in New York left what they thought to be active improvised explosive devices outside the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Community Center. Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed in the lobby of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita. Although Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad conducted his attacks against a Little Rock recruiting center, he had conducted preoperational surveillance and research on targets that included Jewish organizations and a Baptist church in places as far away as Atlanta and Philadelphia. And while James von Brunn attacked the Holocaust Museum, he had a list of other potential targets in his vehicle that included the National Cathedral.

In light of this common thread, it might be instructive to take a more detailed look at the issue of providing security for places of worship.

Awareness: The First Step
Until there is awareness of the threat, little can be done to counter it. In many parts of the world, such as Iraq, India and Pakistan, attacks against places of worship occur fairly frequently. It is not difficult for religious leaders and members of their congregations in such places to be acutely aware of the dangers facing them and to have measures already in place to deal with those perils. This is not always the case in the United States, however, where many people tend to have an “it can’t happen here” mindset, believing that violence in or directed against places of worship is something that happens only to other people elsewhere.

This mindset is particularly pervasive among predominantly white American Protestant and Roman Catholic congregations. Jews, Mormons, Muslims and black Christians, and others who have been targeted by violence in the past, tend to be far more aware of the threat and are far more likely to have security plans and measures in place to counter it. The Jewish community has very well-developed and professional organizations such as the Secure Community Network (SCN) and the Anti-Defamation League that are dedicated to monitoring threats and providing education about the threats and advice regarding security. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has taken on a similar role for the Muslim community and has produced a “Muslim community safety kit” for local mosques. (I have written to Stratfor complaining of the credibility it gives here to this nefarious organization-Marc)The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) also has a very organized and well-connected security department that provides information and security advice and assistance to LDS congregations worldwide.

There are no functional equivalents to the SCN or the LDS security departments in the larger Catholic, evangelical Protestant and mainline Protestant communities, though there are some organizations such as the recently established Christian Security Network that have been attempting to fill the void.

Following an incident, awareness of the threat seems to rise for a time, and some houses of worship will put some security measures in place, but for the most part such incidents are seen as events that take place elsewhere, and the security measures are abandoned after a short time.

Permanent security measures are usually not put in place until there has been an incident of some sort at a specific house of worship, and while the triggering incident is sometimes something that merely provides a good scare, other times it is a violent action that results in tragedy. Even when no one is hurt in the incident, the emotional damage caused to a community by an act of vandalism or arson at a house of worship can be devastating.

It is important to note here that not all threats to places of worship will emanate from external actors. In the midst of any given religious congregation, there are, by percentages, people suffering from serious mental illnesses, people engaged in bitter child-custody disputes, domestic violence situations and messy divorces. Internal disputes in the congregation can also lead to feuds and violence. Any of these situations can (and have) led to acts of violence inside houses of worship.

Security Means More than Alarms and Locks

An effective security program is more than just having physical security measures in place. Like any man-made constructs, physical security measures — closed-circuit television (CCTV), alarms, cipher locks and so forth — have finite utility. They serve a valuable purpose in institutional security programs, but an effective security program cannot be limited to these things. Devices cannot think or evaluate. They are static and can be observed, learned and even fooled. Also, because some systems frequently produce false alarms, warnings in real danger situations may be brushed aside. Given these shortcomings, it is quite possible for anyone planning an act of violence to map out, quantify and then defeat or bypass physical security devices. However, elaborate planning is not always necessary. Consider the common scenario of a heavy metal door with very good locks that is propped open with a trashcan or a door wedge. In such a scenario, an otherwise “secure” door is defeated by an internal security lapse.

However, even in situations where there is a high degree of threat awareness, there is a tendency to place too much trust in physical security measures, which can become a kind of crutch — and, ironically, an obstacle to effective security.

In fact, to be effective, physical security devices always require human interaction. An alarm is useless if no one responds to it, or if it is not turned on; a lock is ineffective if it is not engaged. CCTV cameras are used extensively in corporate office buildings and some houses of worship, but any competent security manager will tell you that, in reality, they are far more useful in terms of investigating a theft or act of violence after the fact than in preventing one (although physical security devices can sometimes cause an attacker to divert to an easier target).

No matter what kinds of physical security measures may be in place at a facility, they are far less likely to be effective if a potential assailant feels free to conduct preoperational surveillance, and is free to observe and map those physical security measures. The more at ease someone feels as they set about identifying and quantifying the physical security systems and procedures in place, the higher the odds they will find ways to beat the system.

A truly “hard” target is one that couples physical security measures with an aggressive, alert attitude and sense of awareness. An effective security program is proactive — looking outward to where most real threats are lurking — rather than inward, where the only choice is to react once an attack has begun to unfold. We refer to this process of proactively looking for threats as protective intelligence.

The human interaction required to make physical security measures effective, and to transform a security program into a proactive protective intelligence program, can come in the form of designated security personnel. In fact, many large houses of worship do utilize off-duty police officers, private security guards, volunteer security guards or even a dedicated security staff to provide this coverage. In smaller congregations, security personnel can be members of the congregation who have been provided some level of training.

However, even in cases where there are specially designated security personnel, such officers have only so many eyes and can only be in a limited number of places at any one time. Thus, proactive security programs should also work to foster a broad sense of security awareness among the members of the congregation and community, and use them as additional resources.

Unfortunately, in many cases, there is often a sense in the religious community that security is bad for the image of a particular institution, or that it will somehow scare people away from houses of worship. Because of this, security measures, if employed, are often hidden or concealed from the congregation. In such cases, security managers are deprived of many sets of eyes and ears. Certainly, there may be certain facets of a security plan that not everyone in the congregation needs to know about, but in general, an educated and aware congregation and community can be a very valuable security asset.

Training

In order for a congregation to maintain a sense of heightened awareness it must learn how to effectively do that. This training should not leave people scared or paranoid — just more observant. People need to be trained to look for individuals who are out of place, which can be somewhat counterintuitive. By nature, houses of worship are open to outsiders and seek to welcome strangers. They frequently have a steady turnover of new faces. This causes many to believe that, in houses of worship, there is a natural antagonism between security and openness, but this does not have to be the case. A house of worship can have both a steady stream of visitors and good security, especially if that security is based upon situational awareness.

At its heart, situational awareness is about studying people, and such scrutiny will allow an observer to pick up on demeanor mistakes that might indicate someone is conducting surveillance. Practicing awareness and paying attention to the people approaching or inside a house of worship can also open up a whole new world of ministry opportunities, as people “tune in” to others and begin to perceive things they would otherwise miss if they were self-absorbed or simply not paying attention. In other words, practicing situational awareness provides an excellent opportunity for the members of a congregation to focus on the needs and burdens of other people.

It is important to remember that every attack cycle follows the same general steps. All criminals — whether they are stalkers, thieves, lone wolves or terrorist groups — engage in preoperational surveillance (sometimes called “casing,” in the criminal lexicon). Perhaps the most crucial point to be made about preoperational surveillance is that it is the phase when someone with hostile intentions is most apt to be detected — and the point in the attack cycle when potential violence can be most easily disrupted or prevented.

The second most critical point to emphasize about surveillance is that most criminals are not that good at it. They often have terrible surveillance tradecraft and are frequently very obvious. Most often, the only reason they succeed in conducting surveillance without being detected is because nobody is looking for them. Because of this, even ordinary people, if properly instructed, can note surveillance activity.

It is also critically important to teach people — including security personnel and members of the congregation — what to do if they see something suspicious and whom to call to report it. Unfortunately, a lot of critical intelligence is missed because it is not reported in a timely manner — or not reported at all — mainly because untrained people have a habit of not trusting their judgment and dismissing unusual activity. People need to be encouraged to report what they see.

Additionally, people who have been threatened, are undergoing nasty child-custody disputes or have active restraining orders protecting them against potentially violent people need to be encouraged to report unusual activity to their appropriate points of contact.

As a part of their security training, houses of worship should also instruct their staff and congregation members on procedures to follow if a shooter enters the building and creates what is called an active-shooter situation. These “shooter” drills should be practiced regularly — just like fire, tornado or earthquake drills. The teachers of children’s classes and nursery workers must also be trained in how to react.

Liaison

One of the things the SCN and ADL do very well is foster security liaison among Jewish congregations within a community and between those congregations and local, state and federal law enforcement organizations. This is something that houses of worship from other faiths should attempt to duplicate as part of their security plans.

While having a local cop in a congregation is a benefit, contacting the local police department should be the first step. It is very important to establish this contact before there is a crisis in order to help expedite any law enforcement response. Some police departments even have dedicated community liaison officers, who are good points of initial contact. There are other specific points of contact that should also be cultivated within the local department, such as the SWAT team and the bomb squad.

Local SWAT teams often appreciate the chance to do a walk-through of a house of worship so that they can learn the layout of the building in case they are ever called to respond to an emergency there. They also like the opportunity to use different and challenging buildings for training exercises (something that can be conducted discreetly after hours). Congregations with gyms and weight rooms will often open them up for local police officers to exercise in, and some congregations will also offer police officers a cup of coffee and a desk where they can sit and type their reports during evening hours.

But the local police department is not the only agency with which liaison should be established. Depending on the location of the house of worship, the state police, state intelligence fusion center or local joint terrorism task force should also be contacted. By working through state and federal channels, houses of worship in specific locations may even be eligible for grants to help underwrite security through programs such as the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Areas Security Initiative Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

The world is a dangerous place and attacks against houses of worship will continue to occur. But there are proactive security measures that can be taken to identify attackers before they strike and help prevent attacks from happening or mitigate their effects when they do.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2012, 07:37:08 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Dog Robertlk808
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2009, 12:47:17 AM »

Quote
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) also has a very organized and well-connected security department that provides information and security advice and assistance to LDS congregations worldwide.

Interesting article, I had no idea the LDS church had such a dept.
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"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
G M
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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2009, 10:20:36 PM »

The LDS have a large cadre of former/current  federal law enforcement/intel officers to draw from to protect church interests.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2009, 04:40:49 PM »

I question I ask myself:  How does a warrior live so that he naturally spots efforts to surveil his family or him?
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G M
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2009, 11:03:47 PM »

Cultivating awareness of one's surroundings. Noting patterns and any deviations from the standard patterns around your home/work.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2009, 11:40:52 PM »

Something that triggered awareness on my part was in the aftermath of a home invasion and robbery in my mom's place in southern Peru.   We had some suspects and I noted how our team set up a surveilance station and realized that my own practices would never have spotted it had I been the object of its attentions.  I also noted how the team spotted people watching us from a ridge overlooking the house and yard and that I had not. 

I grew up in Manhattan, NYC and compared to most I think I have above average environmental awareness-- but there are levels and there are levels.
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G M
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2009, 08:55:16 AM »

 I suggest everyone "red team" their home/business/lifestyle. Take a walk around your residence after dark and look for vulnerabilities. How constant are your patterns. How predictable are you?
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G M
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« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2010, 01:58:41 AM »

http://www.ignatius-piazza-front-sight.com/firearms120

An nice presentation on the Color Code of Mental Awareness.
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stilljames
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« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2010, 05:49:12 PM »

The color code level of awareness is a good starting point and training tool.  But like any basic set of guidelines and principles, there is a level beyond it. 

I can speak from personal experience that there are some problems of putting the 24/7 code yellow or better awareness into practice.  I often hear officers, trainers and the like talk about it.  Now, it is possible to do it for a limited time frame in the bush or up country in outer Boojalookastan.  But unless you're one of the 2 percent of genetically wired people that never burn out, there is a hard limit that varies from person to person on how long you maintain it.  180 days is the military's accepted average.  After that, people tend to reach states of hypervigilance that start to make them more dangerous to themselves and others.    Look at the experiences of some of the vets returning from the war on terror that can't turn it off.

Another point is that while you might or might not live a longer life by operating in the hypervigilant state, would you have a *better* life on a day to day basis?  The fact of the matter is that most of us are more likely to die from cancer, heart disease or a car accident than violent crime.  Hell, NSAIDs kill 7-8 thousand people a year in the US.

A point to consider is that one of the reasons an LEO or soldier can be more vigilant is that they is being paid to be so.  Most of us have the practical problem of doing our job well enough to keep it which tends to suffer if you are too paranoic.  If nothing else, you scare your boss and they fire you at the first infraction or work slow down.

I do recommend following the color guidelines for a month or two to start the foundation.  But then I advocate learning how to operate in a state of relaxes awareness.  This takes a lot longer to cultivate.  It boils down to working on a zen state without all the frills.    One learns to stop chattering inside one's own head constantly.  Once that internal noise goes away, it allows one to see and hear far more.  And then practice walking around on a daily basis in a state of just watching and listening without judging.  Not in a fearful away, looking for an attack.  And then one starts being able to notice little inconsistancies.  People who don't fit.  A strange bird.  Dogs acting abnormally.  The fact that a trash can is 3 inches from where it was that morning.  One notices beautiful things,too 

And I find that I have a lot more fun than when I walked around in a hypervigilant state.  And, guess what?  People tend to smile at me a lot more.  And fewer people take their anger out on me.  There's a lot more too it and it does take years to develop the state.  But once you figure it out,  it is absurdly easy.

It also helps if you can learn to think like an attacker or us robber and take basic precautions.
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G M
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2010, 01:32:57 PM »

Yellow is supposed to be relaxed, yet alert.
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stilljames
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« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2010, 01:36:56 PM »

Most of the people that I run into misinterpret Yellow and forget the relaxed bit. 

For myself, I don't generally bother with colors, anymore.  I am either engaging you or I'm not.  But I've been dealing with junk a long time so I don't recommend that attitude for inexperienced people.

I also highly suggest that most people do not rely on alertness.  My experience is that, sooner or later, we are all going to be surprised by something.  Experience helps ups deal with it, yes.  But I feel that everyone worried about self-protection of any sort should spend time developing a lot of *OH CRAP!* reactions so that even blind-drunk, flu-ridden or carrying 4 bags of groceries, people have options.
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Stickgrappler
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« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2010, 04:25:24 PM »

Woof G M, stilljames et al:

Not sure if there are any Senshido (Richard Dmitri's system) affiliates who read the DB forum and I'm not an affiliate, but Dmitri's/Senshido's take on the Color Codes is interesting to me. I have his book, IN TOTAL DEFENSE OF THE SELF, and their color code system is as such:

SENSHIDO'S COLOR CODED RISK EVALUATION GUIDE

Code Green:     In a safe, enclosed area with friends or family
Code Yellow:    Out of home with friend(s), familiar environment, daytime
Code Red:        Out Alone, unknown area, enclosed space, evening or night

~sg

« Last Edit: August 13, 2010, 04:28:00 PM by Stickgrappler » Logged

"A good stickgrappler has good stick skills, good grappling, and good stickgrappling and can keep track of all three simultaneously. This is a good trick and can be quite effective." - Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
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« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2010, 06:42:08 AM »

I don't play codes, I just raise and lower my attention levels depending on the situation.  That is SA, Situation Awareness and you end up doing everything you need to do as long as you remain aware of the situation.  Attention level is what kind of mindshare you are putting into any one item.  Cellphones mindshare for example can be a minor "be home in 5 minutes" to "what do you mean by dumping me and running away with the Akita"  one has zero mindshare the other one takes a huge chunk of mindshare.  Situation Awareness tells you where to spend that mindshare.  In the first situation, driving is no big deal, in the second you have probably already crashed.......

The same goes with security, SA helps you pick up cues for managing your mindshare. That is why police will kick people to the curb, they do not have space in their mindshare for that person AND whatever threat assesment they are doing right now.  so, at home most of your mindshare is on idle/ play/ safe space, but SA keeps you fairly capable when that nice salesman is just a "insider gambit" for the rest of the gang.  SA scan noticed a bunch or strangers watching the salesman.........you shift your mindshare into monitoring the sales pitch while trying to figure out why he is being watched........

SA is used by figther pilots, techs on a carrier deck, anybody working in an environment that has some sort of threat attached to it.  Construction workers should have it, but don't always...........
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2011, 10:41:36 AM »

Summary
Oliver Bernard Tschumi, a Swiss citizen, was confirmed kidnapped Jan. 18. Tschumi, a watch salesman and an importer of precious metals, disappeared while walking his dog; a group later demanded $300,000 for his release. The incident is a reminder of the need to practice situational awareness and to take other precautionary measures.

Analysis
The Swiss Embassy in Mexico City confirmed Jan. 18 that 50-year-old Swiss citizen Oliver Bernard Tschumi was kidnapped Dec. 19, 2010, in the city of Ahuatepec, Morelos state, while he was walking his dogs. The group holding Tschumi reportedly has demanded $300,000 for his return. An initial payment of $10,000 was made on an unspecified date by a business associate of Tschumi, who left a pair of duffel bags containing $5,000 each on an overpass in Ocotepec, Morelos state. According to media reports, the kidnappers have given no proof that Tschumi is still alive.

Tschumi, a businessman, reportedly lived in the Cuernavaca area of Morelos for 20 years, selling Swiss watches throughout Latin America and importing gold and other precious metals. He has a 9-year-old daughter and was reportedly newly married after going through a divorce in 2004. The nature of Tschumi’s business already raised his profile among criminals in the area. That he dealt with jewelry and precious metals lead to the (likely correct) assumption that Tschumi was wealthy or at least had access to large amounts of money.

Media reports also indicate that Tschumi was set in his ways, with a fairly predictable routine — most notably a predetermined, frequently used dog-walking route (along which his eyeglasses were found after his disappearance). This type of behavior can make an individual or his or her family easy targets for enterprising criminals. With knowledge of a target’s route, criminals can analyze and plot particular points along that route where they can gain a quick tactical advantage against the target at predetermined choke points and channels where the victim has very limited options beyond compliance.

In Tschumi’s case, it is clear that his situational awareness was poor. Even amateur criminals conduct at least some form of preoperational surveillance before attacking a target, while professional kidnapping gangs in Mexico can be expected to make even more extensive preparations. A common purse-snatcher may only surveil a target for a few seconds, while kidnapping gangs have been known to surveil potential targets for several months. Tschumi’s daily routine, in particular his dog-walking route, proved to be the weak point his kidnappers chose to exploit, a weak point they determined via pre-operational surveillance.

Practicing proper situational awareness can help one detect criminal surveillance of oneself or one’s family, home or office. This does not mean being a constant state of paranoia, but rather simply being aware of one’s personal surroundings. By paying attention to one’s surroundings, one naturally notices abnormal behavior.

In a place like Mexico, where the risk of being targeted by criminals is much higher than most regions, steps should be taken to identify potential criminal surveillance and prevent becoming the victim of a crime. Part of this includes varying the times and routes used for daily activities such as daily dog walks and commutes to and from the office. Varying times and routes (along with conducting simple route analysis to identify potential choke points and attack sites) is one of several ways to help identify possible criminal pre-operational surveillance, giving one the ability to address potential issues long before any actual attempt and to mitigate future risk.

Kidnapping-for-ransom operations are a real threat to anyone living or working in Mexico, not just the very wealthy. Pressure applied to criminal groups by the Mexican government’s struggle against drug cartels has indirectly led to more and more drug gangs targeting civilians like Tschumi to supplement revenue lost in the government offensive. The general lack of law and order and the focus of security forces on drug-trafficking organizations also has created space for other criminals to operate.

Mexico has overtaken Colombia as the kidnapping capital of the world, with more than 8,000 reported cases in 2009. According some estimates, up to 70 percent of kidnappings never are reported to the authorities. Maintaining proper situational awareness and taking precautionary measures like varying daily routes can help individuals mitigate this risk.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2011, 02:23:53 PM »

Woof All:
   Those of you in the DBMA Association will recognize below in what Stratfor calls "the flyaway pack" what we call the BOB "the Bug Out Bag/Bin" and may remember the vid-clip wherein I show the contents of my BOB for my truck.  I have an everyday Bin in my truck which includes a serious trauma kit as well as a first aid kit, basic tools, rope, duct tape, baby powder (if you have ever been stuck in a stopped LA freeway for a few hours on a hot day you will understand) toothbrush and paste, turkey jerky, a siphon, etc.

Forgive me the moment of advertising but in the coming months you will be seeing a major expansion of what we offer on our website in this regard.

TAC!
CD
========================================


Last week we saw the government collapse in Tunisia, and we’ve seen previous issues of a security nature, such as the earthquake in Haiti as well as the Israeli-Hezbollah war in Lebanon, and we thought it would be a good time to discuss the importance of ex-pats having a plan in the event of a country collapse.

As an ex-pat, when you arrive in the country, the first thing you should do is register with your respective foreign embassy. In essence, the U.S. has a system called the Warden program, which alerts you to local security issues as well as provides a communications network in times of trouble. The notification process for the Warden system is an umbrella notification from the local U.S. Embassy to specific people in the community known as wardens. If you think of this in concept of a spoke and a hub, where the notifications are pushed out to the local warden representative, who in turn makes a broadcast to those individuals that he or she are responsible for.

For emergency notification purposes from a communications standpoint, think about the use of message text capabilities that at times still operate when you’re unable to get a cellular connection, as well as satellite phones. It’s very important to have a flyaway kit or a backpack that you have prepared, that you can grab and go, that’s going to contain U.S. currency, local currency, food, water, a communications device such as a satellite phone, maps, and possibly even a weapon, depending upon your location. These items can be very hopeful in assisting you in getting out of the country.

One other aspect to think about is in event of the airports closing, which happens, you need to have other routes of travel to get out, such as boat, roads or trains perhaps, and that’s going to vary depending upon the geography and the nature of your country that you’re operating in as an ex-pat. At times, your local friends in the community may be able to help you either get out of the contrary or safe haven for periods of time, but again, that’s going to depend upon the country that you’re in and the risk that they may take by safe-having you. What I have seen historically over the years is individuals fail to make a plan and then there’ll be some sort of collapse of government or major terrorist attack, and at that point it’s too late. From your perspective as an ex-pat, you have to have some sort of gauge as to when you think it’s time to grab your kit and go.

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Stickgrappler
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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2011, 01:16:02 PM »

http://www.kvogt.com/autodialer/

Not sure if this is the appropriate thread, did a quick search on 'security' and this came up.
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"A good stickgrappler has good stick skills, good grappling, and good stickgrappling and can keep track of all three simultaneously. This is a good trick and can be quite effective." - Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
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« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2011, 09:29:11 PM »

GM turned me onto this thread just a couple of days ago.

I have some experience with this.

One of the most important things that you can do that I don´t (forgive the Spanish keyboard...I´m in Mexico), is to break up patterns.

Do not take the same way home everyday, even if driving by car.
Do not walk or do anything at the same time if one can help it.


Criminals (any kind) often rely on habits to help them. Breaking up habits and patterns as stated above is one of the best things that one can do to thwart a potential threat from becoming real. This is sound advice when traveling abroad or at home.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2011, 10:55:04 AM »

Stratfor Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton describes how U.S. operatives are kept safe during meetings with informants, and what happens when things go wrong.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

In this week’s “Above the Tearline,” we’re going to discuss how agents or informants are met in hostile countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Russia in response to many questions that have been posed by STRATFOR members.

Informants are met in hostile countries by an officer in a face-to-face meeting most of the time. And if you think about that, it sounds relatively simple, but it’s not. There are a lot of things that take place behind the scenes. Depending upon the city that you’re operating in, your meeting locations can be something as simple as a coffee shop, or a restaurant, or it could be an actual U.S. government safe-house, or a hotel. Large Western hotels are perfect stops for these kinds of meets.

In most cases a two-man security team is deployed (it can be larger), and their job is to do a recon of the location to make sure that the intelligence officer is not being set up by a double agent, or that the informant that’s coming to the meeting is not dragging surveillance to the location, and to make sure that that meeting location is not compromised by host government intelligence or terrorists who may be planning an attack. The security team is a laser focus looking for — for the most part — demeanor. For example they’re looking for individuals that appear out of place, or individuals that are talking on a cell phone when the informant shows up or the actual intelligence officer arrives at the meeting site. They’re looking for operational acts such as video or photography that’s taking place. It’s really a very unique skill set and the individuals that are performing this duty are highly trained and probably some of the most skilled operators we have in our tool kit. The actual intelligence officer that’s going to the meet is going to run what is called a surveillance detection route, or an SDR, to ensure that he is not being followed.

The difficulty with this kind of meeting in a hostile country is that when things go wrong, they really go wrong. Things tend to spiral out of control — you either have some sort of violent action take place, or the people involved with the meeting are arrested by the local authorities. Unlike in the movies, or in shows like “Mission: Impossible,” when these individuals are arrested they typically have diplomatic immunity and the individuals are very quietly whisked out of the country, while the intelligence heads of the U.S. and the local government come to meetings and all agree that this kind of action won’t take place again.

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« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2011, 04:25:16 PM »



http://www.stewartstand.com/pages/rfid-blocking
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« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2011, 08:18:15 AM »



Just type in a street name at the top of the form & your whole neighborhood map will pop up. Every place you see a red balloon or thumb tack is the home of a convicted felon. Just place your mouse over an icon & not only will the name come up, but also the crime they were convicted of. Know your neighbors.....

http://www.felonspy.com/search.html <http://www.felonspy.com/search.html>

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« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2011, 03:18:04 PM »

http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/35094/?p1=A6&a=f

Researchers show they can hack into cars wirelessly.
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« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2011, 07:35:52 AM »



$25 on line security/protection work in Mexico seminar tomorrow:

http://www.secforinternational.com/online-bodyguard-training.htm
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« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2011, 12:42:04 PM »

Most of the people that I run into misinterpret Yellow and forget the relaxed bit. 

For myself, I don't generally bother with colors, anymore.  I am either engaging you or I'm not.  But I've been dealing with junk a long time so I don't recommend that attitude for inexperienced people.

I also highly suggest that most people do not rely on alertness.  My experience is that, sooner or later, we are all going to be surprised by something.  Experience helps ups deal with it, yes.  But I feel that everyone worried about self-protection of any sort should spend time developing a lot of *OH CRAP!* reactions so that even blind-drunk, flu-ridden or carrying 4 bags of groceries, people have options.

In my book if you are yellow but not relaxed, then you are orange.
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« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2011, 03:23:15 PM »



$25 on line security/protection work in Mexico seminar tomorrow:

http://www.secforinternational.com/online-bodyguard-training.htm

What happened, did the price go up after you posted?  It says $35.00.
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« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2011, 05:20:35 PM »

Actually in my case it did not work and I waiting for the charge to show up on my cc so I can contest it.
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« Reply #25 on: May 27, 2011, 01:43:18 PM »



http://www.deathvalleymag.com/2010/02/19/civilian-contractors-the-greyman/
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« Reply #26 on: June 29, 2011, 11:34:56 AM »


In this week’s Above the Tearline, we’re going to look at the period of time when individuals running for President of the United States are not afforded U.S. Secret Service protection. In the protection business this is called either the “assassin’s window” or the “Robert F. Kennedy (or R.F.K) window.”

In 1968, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles by a Palestinian assassin by the name of Sirhan Sirhan. At the time of Kennedy’s murder, he was not afforded U.S. Secret Service protection. What most people don’t realize is U.S. Secret Service protection is afforded the leading candidate after that person is selected at the party convention. At that point in time, the U.S. Secret Service assumes responsibility for the candidate running for President of the United States. We are in a very interesting period of time which happens every four years at presidential election time in that you have numerous candidates running for President of the United States that have various levels of protection. For example, Congresswoman Bachmann, who announced her candidacy for presidency; She will have U.S. Capitol Police protection because of her official position as a U.S. congresswoman, and all members of Congress are afforded protection by the U.S. Capitol Police. On the other hand, former governor Romney and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich are private citizens and therefore do not have official government protection, so their campaigns will either have to hire off-duty police officers or utilize private executive protection security.

An interesting parallel is that Senator Obama was afforded U.S. Secret Service protection earlier than any other person running for presidential office based predominantly upon the white hate threat to him. The Above the Tearline aspect of this is as you look at this period of time in the assassin’s window where some candidates have protection 24 x 7 and other candidates do not. In some cases you will have the kind of individual — the stalker — that will take the path of least resistance and focus his energy and efforts towards those individuals that do not have protection.

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« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2011, 01:46:12 PM »

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43590932/ns/world_news-europe/?GT1=43001
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« Reply #28 on: July 01, 2011, 10:08:57 AM »

Here's the clip of it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S_Y_QH8bAw
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« Reply #29 on: July 13, 2011, 01:18:48 PM »


VIDEO: ABOVE THE TEARLINE: TRUSTED SECURITY PERSONNEL WHO KILL

Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton examines the assassination of Ahmed Wali
Karzai and the risks posed to VIPs from trusted security personnel.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology.
Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

In this week’s Above the Tearline, we are going to examine the risk posed by trusted
security personnel in the aftermath of the killing of Wali Karzai in Afghanistan.
 
President Karzai's half-brother Wali was shot and killed in Kandahar on July 12 by a
trusted security official known to the family by the name of Sardar Mohammed.
According to the police official investigating the case, the victim was shot once in
the chest with a second round in the head. The victim, Wali Karzai, is no stranger
to controversy. He was linked to the CIA in Afghanistan and also allegedly tied to
drug smuggling in the country. Although the Taliban has claimed credit for his
assassination, the investigating police officer said that he could not rule out a
foreign hand. Having said that, if Wali Karzai was engaged in the drug running
business there could be other motives in play which caused his death.
 
This killing in Kandahar shows how trusted security personnel can be utilized
because of their access, means and opportunity. One of the tremendous weaknesses in
this arena is the selection and vetting of personnel that you're going to place in
these positions of trust and confidence. The challenge exists in developing
countries like Afghanistan with your inability to have robust process and procedures
to identify candidates as well as an aggressive update process to make sure that
person has not been flipped by a terrorist organization.
 
There is a historical precedence for security personnel being engaged in
high-profile killings. Going back to the Lincoln assassination at Ford’s Theatre,
when the police officer had abandoned his post allowing John Wilkes Booth to come in
and shoot President Lincoln. You can also look in the international arena with the
1984 assassination and Indira Gandhi by one of her personal bodyguards.
 
The Above the Tearline aspect with his video is: who watches the watchers? The fear
and vulnerability of this kind of threat exists in pretty much every protection
agency around the globe. You have individuals with guns that are placed in positions
of trust and confidence. The challenges of vetting these personnel abroad are always
going to be there. And at the end of the day, if someone is committed and willing to
die, in all probability he would be successful.
More Videos - http://www.stratfor.com/theme/video_dispatch
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« Reply #30 on: July 16, 2011, 04:59:22 PM »

It’s travel season in many parts of the world. In fact, our own Scott Stewart is traveling, so in lieu of this week’s regular Security Weekly, we bring you a valuable piece for anyone with an upcoming trip. Fred Burton, former special agent and STRATFOR’s VP of Intelligence, discusses tips on how to stay safe while traveling.

STRATFOR does not endorse or recommend any commercial products. The brands mentioned by name in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of STRATFOR.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Hi, I’m Fred Burton with STRATFOR. We get a lot of questions at STRATFOR regarding personal safety while traveling on vacation. We would like to address three specific points with this video. The first is vacation preparation, the second is how to choose and be safe in your hotel and the third is situational awareness.

I have laid out some items that I always pack whenever I’m going on vacation; the first is a surefire tactical flashlight. You can utilize this for a range of different emergencies. I like it to be used as a possible weapon where you can blind an assailant on the street in the event of a robbery at night. It’s also a great tool to help you get down emergency stairwells and exits in the event of emergency at your hotel. The other thing that I routinely carry with me on vacation is a very good knife, I like the Benchmade Griptilian Knife that has a locking blade. Paracord is wonderful with multiple uses to tie off anything that you want to utilize it for. It can also help you in the unfortunate event, in case you need to attempt to rappel off your balcony. Another item that’s wonderful, is a rescue belt, this one is by Bisons designs. I like it because you can wear it, and it’s always there. You could utilize this is as a tourniquet. Another thing to always remember is make sure you bring enough medicines with you, and any kind of specialty kind of medicine. In my case, I always carry an Epipen in the event of, or to help prevent anaphylactic shock. The last thing I would like to bring your attention is a company called Global Rescue, they will come to your aid anywhere around the world in the event of an emergency. They will help you get out of the country, they will medevac you, they’ll physically send people to help you.

Before your vacation, you need to research the specific area that you intend to travel to with an eye towards the hotel that you’re going to stay. Make sure that this is a low crime area where there hasn’t been any violence, such as robbery or terrorists plots or previous attacks. When traveling I always try to stay on the third floor. I pick a hotel room that’s on the interior of a property with a balcony. The balcony affords you the opportunity, if you needed to, in the case of a fire or another emergency, to rappel off, utilizing either your emergency belt, your paracord or even sheets from the bed.

After getting into your hotel room, the first thing I always do is make sure once the door shuts, that it has a very good locking mechanism that is going to work. If it doesn’t, you should request another hotel room. After checking the locks on the hotel door I always walk the emergency fire exit to show me where it’s going to go, with my flashlight so I have a good mental reference as to how things are going to look in the event of an emergency and I have to utilize the stairwell to get out. Another important factor to take a mental note of is whether or not you have sprinklers in your hotel room and in this case we do which is a very good thing. Situational awareness while on vacation is key. You want to stay observant and alert, don’t carry a lot of cash and I always carry a throw-down wallet. That’s a wallet that in the event of an unfortunate robbery on the street, you could give that to the bad guy and yet you have other cash in your pocket and credit cards. Whenever I venture out into the local economy or into a city, I’m always carrying my pocketknife, my flashlight as well as my paracord, just in case.

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« Reply #31 on: July 21, 2011, 09:28:33 AM »

As a follow-up to our video from last week on personal security while on vacation, I thought I would make some suggestions as to what you should do to secure your home before you go on vacation.

Situational awareness is key, whether you’re at home or traveling. You should take advantage of your neighborhood watch program so you understand the amount and scope of crime that’s happening in your neighborhood, as well as some wonderful online tools such as RAIDS online. They push out on a daily basis the volume and the scope and the kinds of crime that’s happening around you. That just makes you more aware of the trending of crime as it unfolds in the location where you live. I fully understand that a lot of this kind of online information is not available to many of our viewers outside of the United States, but that still doesn’t stop you from visiting with your local police to understand the amount of crime that’s happening in your area.

It is very important to have good dead bolt doors. Dead bolts are keyed from the outside and then latched from the inside. Your dead bolt lock should be pick resistant, and it’s also important to remember to lock your doors, for over one third of all burglaries happen when people simply forget to lock their doors.

It is also important to have a good alarm system and remember to turn it on before you go on vacation, and it’s important that you test that alarm system monthly. As you can see, this one has fire, rescue and police that you can also use in a panic mode.

Before you go away, make sure you tell a trusted neighbor about your itinerary and provide an emergency contact number for you. Also remember to cancel the newspaper and hold your mail if you’re going away for an extended period of time. It is also important to think about things like maintaining your yard, if you have a yard service, as well as to close your garage before you leave.

Lighting is very important whenever you are trying to protect a house, whether you’re on vacation or not. It’s critical that you have good perimeter lighting on the exterior of your residence and that you maintain that while you’re on vacation. Also, you want interior lights that come on via a timer, and you could stage those around the house, for example in a bathroom or bedroom. But what you’re trying to do is to give the appearance of normalcy while you’re away so people think that you’re at home.

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« Reply #32 on: August 03, 2011, 10:35:08 AM »

It sounds benign, tracking your child or dog, but.....

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/08/gps-device-tracks-wayward-pooch-or-children.html
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« Reply #33 on: August 03, 2011, 10:44:16 AM »


When it becomes a bit more common, kidnappers/abductors will be sure to search their victims for the devices and dump them. For every measure, there is a countermeasure.
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« Reply #34 on: August 03, 2011, 10:48:17 AM »

No doubt you are right.

But as it becomes more common, I was concerned about the inappropriate/illegal usage.  Will people track their wife?  Their girlfriend? Business contacts?
It seems like a form of stalking.
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« Reply #35 on: August 03, 2011, 10:51:18 AM »

Depending on the state statute, it can be. It's already happening. I know at least one case has been prosecuted.
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« Reply #36 on: August 03, 2011, 11:21:26 PM »

GM: Genuine question:  Is this not the natural evolution of what you advocate?  Or?
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« Reply #37 on: August 03, 2011, 11:26:46 PM »

Technology advances, no matter if we like it or not. Just as a gun can be used to protect the innocent or to commit a crime, tools and technology have no morality but what we give it. Like other technology, GPS can be used for good or bad.
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« Reply #38 on: August 17, 2011, 09:33:48 AM »

Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton examines the recent abduction of an American citizen in Pakistan and discusses ways expats can protect themselves while abroad.


Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

This week’s Above the Tearline, we thought we would examine the abduction of an American ex-pat in Lahore, Pakistan, with an eye towards ex-pat security.

Last weekend Warren Weinstein, an employee of JE Austin Company, a USAID contractor in Lahore, Pakistan, was abducted from his home at 3 o’clock in the morning. Motivation-wise we don’t know whether or not this was a criminal abduction or a hostage taking for the purposes of some sort of political statement. One of the fears you have in any kind of abduction would be the potential for the hostage to be sold to a terrorist organization.

The police are looking at the potential for some degree of complicity either with household staff or security guards hired to protect the residents. Having investigated many hostage takings overseas, there are two components that I want to bring to your attention. The first being: it’s important that you have trusted and vetted security as well as household staff that you’re bringing into your home to rule out the potential for an inside job or complicity.

The second thing that is critical is making sure that you have a good safe haven inside your apartment or house to retreat to. A safe haven would be a location that is hardened up. It has either hardened doors or a hardened frame that will enable you to lock the door and retreat to in the times of emergency. Ideally you would have a ability to communicate from that safe haven with an outside line or a cell phone that’s stored there so you can call for help.

In examining the video from the crime scene, I saw something that caught my eye that needs to be looked into. Whether or not this has anything to do with the case, it’s the kind of lead that you need to run down. I think it looks like the individual had personalized license plates or license plates that were issued to the car, which would make it very easy to identify the individual operating that vehicle. Case and point: in one of the investigations I worked involving Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Yousef and the informant that we subsequently worked that led to Yousef’s arrest walked around Islamabad, Pakistan, and was able to identify U.S. and British residents based on license plates that were parked in their driveway. And I’m wondering, in this case, whether or not the very unique license plates led to the individual’s location being identified to the criminal abductors or to the potential terrorist organization.

The Above the Tearline aspect of this video is: complacency had probably done Mr. Weinstein in. He’d been in and out of Pakistan for seven years — probably the last thing he’s thinking about is something happening to him. It’s important that long-term expats maintain a high degree of situational awareness and revisit their security posture.

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« Reply #39 on: October 26, 2011, 11:24:43 AM »

Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton discusses the process used by U.S. government agents to meet and debrief informants inside the United States.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

In this week’s Above the Tearline we’re going to discuss the process behind how U.S. government informants are debriefed inside the United States.

U.S. government informants are met and debriefed by special agents in various settings across country — from coffee shops to hotel rooms. Operationally the agent always selects the meeting site and venues are chosen based on the degree of trust one has placed in a confidential informant. Prior to the meeting with the informant the agent will conduct a surveillance detection route, known as an SDR, to look for surveillance. We have many pieces on our website discussing the purpose of intentions of the SDR and I would encourage you to read them if you have additional interest.

Depending upon the threat or risk to the agent or the informant at the meeting site, backup agents can also be used in a surveillance capacity to ensure the meeting site has not been compromised. For example the debriefing of a cartel source from Mexico and Laredo poses a different risk than a white-collar whistleblower from Wall Street. If a surveillance team is in use, a standard rule of thumb is for the team to be deployed at least one hour ahead of time at the meeting site. Their job is to look for hostile surveillance and provide security backup if needed.

Contrary to what you see in the movies, very rarely are the informant meetings recorded electronically by the agents. If money is going to be exchanged between the agent and the informant, there is usually another agent present as a witness to the transaction. The informant will also sign or initial a receipt and a codename after a white envelope of cash is passed. Process-wise, some agencies like the FBI dictate that informant meetings are always done by two agents. On the other hand, the CIA likes one-on-one meetings to better foster a relationship and trust.

What’s the Above the Tearline with this video? Informant meetings can be risky and dangerous. Steps are taken to not only ensure the safety of the agent, but also the informant. The compromise of informants in some gangs or terrorist organizations can lead to death, so confidentiality of the source is taken very seriously by the agents involved. Intelligence collection is a difficult business and can pose gaps that can only be filled by those with direct knowledge of the case or investigation. Those gaps can usually only be filled by human sources.
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« Reply #40 on: January 17, 2012, 09:43:51 AM »

http://www.rollcall.com/issues/57_79/lawmakers_evolve_attitudes_toward_security_gabrielle_giffords-211515-1.html?ET=rollcall:e11889:80133681a:&st=email&pos=eam

Lawmakers Evolve Attitudes Toward Security

    * By Emma Dumain
    * Roll Call Staff
    * Jan. 17, 2012, Midnight

Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images
A memorial in Tucson, Ariz., pays tribute to the six people who died in a shooting last year at an event hosted by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

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Related Content

    * FEC OKs Giffords’ Campaign Funds for Home Security
    * Cuts to Sergeant-at-Arms Raise Concerns for Some

In the year since Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was seriously wounded and an aide was killed in an attack at a constituent event in Tucson, Ariz., the Congressional community has changed the way it thinks about security at home and on the Hill.

But rather than putting up new security checkpoints and tightening rules for entrance into the Capitol, the approach of lawmakers, staff and law enforcement officials has been more attitudinal than tangible.

With little new money to spend on security upgrades, the Hill’s chief law enforcement officers say they have focused instead on streamlining communication among Capitol Police, FBI, Secret Service and local law enforcement.

Aides say they are quicker to report threats left on voice mails or in emails.

In general, watching a colleague narrowly dodge death has had a profound effect on how the Congressional community thinks about what it needs to do to stay safe.

“It’s always important to make sure complacency doesn’t creep in,” Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer warned. “We have to make a conscious effort to always think ‘security, security.’”

House Members were particularly proactive in the aftermath of the shooting, some acting as their own judges on how to protect themselves.

Collectively, in the first quarter of 2011, Members paid the Department of Homeland Security $73,000 for protection of district offices in federal buildings — $20,000 more than Members paid to every private security company combined.

Some have also subtly shifted their own office budgets to boost security in district offices.

Rep. Michael Grimm, a freshman Republican from New York who is a former Marine and FBI agent, appointed a “personal security assistant.” Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), an Army veteran, said he wanted to install bulletproof glass and a digital combination keypad lock at his district office. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) pondered drafting legislation to allow Members to carry guns in the District of Columbia.

In the months that followed, there were also broader trends in how House Members were changing their attitudes toward safety.

Many House offices quickly designated staffers as “law enforcement coordinators.” Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said the move has helped local and federal law enforcement agencies better coordinate when there are threats against Members.

More generally, Schneider said, she has seen in the past 12 months a greater awareness among Members and staffers in terms of reporting alarming incidents to law enforcement officials.

“People are more inclined to report their concerns to the USCP [and] are more vigilant and conscious about their personal security,” Schneider told Roll Call.

Schneider would not reveal the number of threats reported to Capitol Police, saying they were “maintained internally for threat assessment purposes.”

Gainer said that for the Senate, the number of cases reported represents a “slight uptick” from previous years.

He agreed with Schneider that there’s been a shift in attitude toward taking threats seriously and suggested that the increase in threats could correlate with a new appreciation for reporting incidents as they occur.

Since the Tucson attack, which left six dead, including Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, and 13 wounded, lawmakers have been consistently better at asking for security assistance before hosting large-scale constituent events.

“They now know how to prepare for events big and small and know what to look out for, who to touch base with if they need assistance,” Gainer said. “When planning for an event in the past, the planning, I don’t think, ever included a security component, and I believe it does now.”

Gainer is optimistic that a DVD on security tips that the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms’ office is releasing in the next couple of months will also have a long-lasting effect.

The intangible nature of many of the security steps taken in the past year is part choice — better coordination is a good idea in any circumstance — and part necessity.

In fiscal 2012, Capitol Police will be flat-funded at $340 million.

Some House appropriators had hoped to provide $1 million to the Capitol Police to implement a program to strengthen security in Members’ district offices, but the provision was not included in the fiscal 2012 omnibus spending bill because Capitol Police did not have the resources to make such a program possible, according to an Appropriations Committee aide.

The bill’s conference report does include language, though, that would instruct the House Sergeant-at-Arms and the Capitol Police to assist Members in selecting district office locations that “yield greater security with less cost.”

The House Chief Administrative Officer is charged with doing more outreach to help Members negotiate such leases.

While the House Sergeant-at-Arms received a small increase from the fiscal 2011 allocation, the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms budget was trimmed by 5 percent.

Gainer said finances haven’t been much of a problem for his team, though.

Earlier this year, he hired a new assistant Sergeant-at-Arms for intelligence and protective services to oversee security for dignitaries, intelligence operations and interaction with local and state law enforcement.

“We always wish we had more rubles to do things, but we’ve been able to prioritize,” he said.
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« Reply #41 on: March 15, 2012, 07:33:10 AM »

A Practical Guide to Situational Awareness
By Scott Stewart | March 15, 2012

 

For the past three weeks we have been running a series in the Security Weekly that focuses on some of the fundamentals of terrorism. First, we noted that terrorism is a tactic not exclusive to any one group and that the tactic would not end even if the jihadist threat were to disappear. We then discussed how actors planning terrorist attacks have to follow a planning process and noted that there are times during that process when such plots are vulnerable to detection.

Last week we discussed how one of the most important vulnerabilities during the terrorism planning process is surveillance, and we outlined what bad surveillance looks like and described some basic tools to help identify those conducting it. At the end of last week's Security Weekly we also discussed how living in a state of paranoia and looking for a terrorist behind every bush not only is dangerous to one's physical and mental health but also results in poor security. This brings us to this week, where we want to discuss the fundamentals of situational awareness and explain how people can practice the technique in a relaxed and sustainable way.

Situational awareness is very important, not just for personal security but as a fundamental building block in collective security. Because of this importance, Stratfor has written about situational awareness many times in the past. However, we believe it merits repeating again in order to share these concepts with our new readers as well as serve as a reminder for our longtime readers.

More Mindset than Skill

It is important to note that situational awareness -- being aware of one's surroundings and identifying potential threats and dangerous situations -- is more of a mindset than a hard skill. Because of this, situational awareness is not something that can be practiced only by highly trained government agents or specialized corporate security teams. Indeed, it can be exercised by anyone with the will and the discipline to do so. Situational awareness is not only important for recognizing terrorist threats, but it also serves to identify criminal behavior and other dangerous situations.

The primary element in establishing this mindset is first to recognize that threats exist. Ignorance or denial of a threat make a person's chances of quickly recognizing an emerging threat and avoiding it highly unlikely. Bad things do happen. Apathy, denial and complacency can be deadly.

A second important element of the proper mindset is understanding the need to take responsibility for one's own security. The resources of any government are finite and the authorities simply cannot be everywhere and cannot stop every potential terrorist attack or other criminal action. The same principle applies to private security at businesses or other institutions, like places of worship. Therefore, people need to look out for themselves and their neighbors.

Another important facet of this mindset is learning to trust your "gut" or intuition. Many times a person's subconscious can notice subtle signs of danger that the conscious mind has difficulty quantifying or articulating. I have interviewed many victims who experienced such feelings of danger prior to an incident but who chose to ignore them. Trusting your gut and avoiding a potentially dangerous situation may cause you a bit of inconvenience, but ignoring such feelings can lead to serious trouble.

The discipline part of practicing situational awareness refers to the conscious effort required to pay attention to gut feelings and to surrounding events even while you are busy and distracted. At such times even obvious hostile activity can go unnoticed, so individuals need to learn to be observant even while doing other things.

Levels of Awareness

People typically operate on five distinct levels of awareness. There are many ways to describe these levels ("Cooper's colors," for example, which is a system frequently used in law enforcement and military training), but perhaps the most effective way to illustrate the differences between the levels is to compare them to the different degrees of attention we practice while driving. For our purposes here we will refer to the five levels as "tuned out," "relaxed awareness," "focused awareness," "high alert" and "comatose."

The first level, tuned out, is similar to when you are driving in a very familiar environment or are engrossed in thought, a daydream, a song on the radio or even by the kids fighting in the backseat. Increasingly, cellphone calls and texting are also causing people to tune out while they drive. Have you ever arrived somewhere in your vehicle without even really thinking about your drive there? If so, then you've experienced being tuned out.

The second level of awareness, relaxed awareness, is like defensive driving. This is a state in which you are relaxed but are also watching the other cars on the road and are looking at the road ahead for potential hazards. For example, if you are approaching an intersection and another driver looks like he may not stop, you tap your brakes to slow your car in case he does not. Defensive driving does not make you weary, and you can drive this way for a long time if you have the discipline to keep yourself from slipping into tuned-out mode. If you are practicing defensive driving you can still enjoy the trip, look at the scenery and listen to the radio, but you cannot allow yourself to get so engrossed in those distractions that they exclude everything else. You are relaxed and enjoying your drive, but you are still watching for road hazards, maintaining a safe following distance and keeping an eye on the behavior of the drivers around you.

The next level of awareness, focused awareness, is like driving in hazardous road conditions. You need to practice this level of awareness when you are driving on icy or slushy roads -- or the pothole-infested roads populated by erratic drivers that exist in many developing countries. When you are driving in such an environment, you need to keep two hands on the wheel at all times and have your attention totally focused on the road and the other drivers around you. You don't dare take your eyes off the road or let your attention wander. There is no time for cellphone calls or other distractions. The level of concentration required for this type of driving makes it extremely tiring and stressful. A drive that you normally would not think twice about will totally exhaust you under these conditions because it demands prolonged and total concentration.

The fourth level of awareness is high alert. This is the level that induces an adrenaline rush, a prayer and a gasp for air all at the same time. This is what happens when that car you are watching at the intersection ahead doesn't stop at the stop sign and pulls out right in front of you. High alert can be scary, but at this level you are still able to function. You can hit your brakes and keep your car under control. In fact, the adrenaline rush you get at this stage can sometimes aid your reflexes.

The last level of awareness, comatose, is what happens when you literally freeze at the wheel and cannot respond to stimuli, either because you have fallen asleep or, at the other end of the spectrum, because you are petrified. It is this panic-induced paralysis that concerns us most in relation to situational awareness. The comatose level is where you go into shock, your brain ceases to process information and you simply cannot react to the reality of the situation. Many times when this happens, a person can go into denial, believing that "this can't be happening to me," or the person can feel as though he or she is observing the event rather than actually participating in it. Often, the passage of time will seem to grind to a halt. Crime victims frequently report experiencing this sensation and being unable to act during an unfolding crime.

Finding the Right Level

Now that we've discussed the different levels of awareness, let's focus on identifying what level is ideal at a given time. The body and mind both require rest, so we have to spend several hours each day at the comatose level while asleep. When we are sitting at our homes watching a movie or reading a book, it is perfectly fine to operate in the tuned-out mode. However, some people will attempt to maintain the tuned-out mode in decidedly inappropriate environments (e.g., when they are out on the street at night in a Third World barrio), or they will maintain a mindset wherein they deny that criminals can victimize them. "That couldn't happen to me, so there's no need to watch for it." This results in their being tuned out to any potential threats.

If you are tuned out while you are driving and something happens -- say, a child runs out into the road or a car stops quickly in front of you -- you will not see the problem coming. This usually means that you either do not see the hazard in time to avoid it and you hit it, or you totally panic, freeze and cannot react to it -- neither is good. These reactions (or lack of reactions) occur because it is very difficult to change mental states quickly, especially when the adjustment requires moving several steps, say, from tuned out to high alert. It is like trying to shift your car directly from first gear into fifth and it shudders and stalls. Many times, when people are forced to make this mental jump and they panic (and stall), they go into shock and will actually freeze and be unable to take any action -- they go comatose. This happens not only when driving but also when a criminal catches someone totally unaware and unprepared. While training does help people move up and down the alertness continuum, it is difficult for even highly trained individuals to transition from tuned out to high alert. This is why law enforcement and military personnel receive so much training on situational awareness.

It is critical to stress here that situational awareness does not mean being paranoid or obsessively concerned about security. In fact, people simply cannot operate in a state of focused awareness for extended periods, and high alert can be maintained only for very brief periods before exhaustion sets in. The "fight-or-flight" response can be very helpful if it can be controlled. When it gets out of control, however, a constant stream of adrenaline and stress is simply not healthy for the body and mind, and this also hampers security. Therefore, operating constantly in a state of high alert is not the answer, nor is operating for prolonged periods in a state of focused alert, which can also be demanding and completely enervating. The human body was simply not designed to operate under constant stress. All people, even highly skilled operators, require time to rest and recover.

Because of this, the basic level of situational awareness that should be practiced most of the time is relaxed awareness, a state of mind that can be maintained indefinitely without all the stress and fatigue associated with focused awareness or high alert. Relaxed awareness is not tiring, and it allows you to enjoy life while rewarding you with an effective level of personal security. When people are in an area where there is potential danger (which, in reality, is almost anywhere), they should go through most of the day in a state of relaxed awareness. Then if they spot something out of the ordinary that could be a threat, they can "dial up" to a state of focused awareness and take a careful look at that potential threat (and also look for others in the area). If the possible threat proves innocuous, or is simply a false alarm, they can dial back down into relaxed awareness and continue on their way. If, on the other hand, the potential threat becomes a probable threat, seeing it in advance allows a person to take actions to avoid it. In such a case they may never need to elevate to high alert, since they have avoided the problem at an early stage.

However, once a person is in a state of focused awareness they are far better prepared to handle the jump to high alert if the threat does change from potential to actual -- if the three guys lurking on the corner do start advancing and look as if they are reaching for weapons.

Of course, when a person knowingly ventures into an area that is very dangerous, it is only prudent to practice focused awareness while in that area. For example, if there is a specific section of highway where a lot of improvised explosive devices detonate and ambushes occur, or if there is a part of a city that is controlled (and patrolled) by criminal gangs -- and the area cannot be avoided for whatever reason -- it would be prudent to practice a heightened level of awareness when in those areas. An increased level of awareness is also prudent when engaging in common or everyday tasks, such as visiting an ATM or walking to the car in a dark parking lot. When the time of potential danger has passed, it is then easy to shift back to a state of relaxed awareness.

People can hone their situational awareness ability by practicing some simple drills. For example, you can consciously move your awareness level up to a focused state for short periods of time during the day. Some examples of this can include identifying all the exits when you enter a building, counting the number of people in a restaurant or subway car, or noting which cars take the same turns in traffic. One trick that many law enforcement officers are taught is to take a look at the people around them and attempt to figure out their stories, in other words, what they do for a living, their mood, what they are focused on and what it appears they are preparing to do that day, based merely on observation. Employing such simple focused-awareness drills will train a person's mind to be aware of these things almost subconsciously when the person is in a relaxed state of awareness.

This situational awareness process also demonstrates the importance of people being familiar with their environment and the dangers that are present there. Such awareness permits some threats to be avoided and others to be guarded against when you must venture into a dangerous area.

Not everyone is forced to live in the type of intense threat environment currently found in places like Mogadishu, Juarez or Kandahar. Nonetheless, average citizens all over the world face many different kinds of threats on a daily basis -- from common thieves and assailants to criminals and mentally disturbed individuals intending to conduct violent acts to militants wanting to carry out large-scale attacks.

As we noted two weeks ago, some of the steps required to conduct these attacks must be accomplished in a manner that makes the actions visible to the potential victim and outside observers -- if people are looking for such actions. It is at these junctures that people practicing situational awareness can detect these attack steps, avoid the danger themselves and alert the authorities to protect others.

As the jihadist threat continues to devolve from one based on al Qaeda the group to one based on grassroots cells and lone wolves, grassroots defenders -- ordinary citizens practicing good situational awareness -- become more important than ever before.
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« Reply #42 on: April 10, 2012, 03:07:19 AM »

Mistakes People Make that Lead to Security Breaches

The Five Worst Security Mistakes End Users Make

Failing to install anti-virus, keep its signatures up to date, and apply it to all files.

Opening unsolicited e-mail attachments without verifying their source and checking their content first, or executing games or screen savers or other programs from untrusted sources.

Failing to install security patches-especially for Microsoft Office, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Netscape.

Not making and testing backups.


Being connected to more than one network such as wireless and a physical Ethernet or using a modem while connected through a local area network.

http://www.sans.org/security-resources/mistakes.php?ref=3816
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"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
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« Reply #43 on: September 29, 2012, 07:37:40 AM »

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c0f_1348847536
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« Reply #44 on: October 29, 2012, 08:00:32 AM »

Pocket Litter: The Evidence That Criminals Carry
 

October 25, 2012 | 0900 GMT


Stratfor
 
By Scott Stewart
 
On Oct. 12, a pregnant medical doctor from Guadalajara, Mexico, attempted to enter the United States through the San Ysidro border crossing. The woman reportedly wanted to give birth in the United States so that her child would be a U.S. citizen. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested the woman, who has since been charged with visa fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
 
Ordinarily, the arrest of a Mexican national for document fraud at a border crossing would hardly be newsworthy. However, this case may be anything but ordinary: Authorities have identified the woman as Alejandrina Gisselle Guzman Salazar, who reportedly is the daughter of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, one of the world's most wanted men.
 
If Guzman is indeed the daughter of El Chapo, the arrest could provide much-needed intelligence to those pursuing the fugitive drug lord. Aside from the intelligence gathered during her interrogation, investigators could also learn much from the information she may have been inadvertently carrying on her person. In law enforcement and intelligence circles, the items of miscellaneous information an individual carries are called "pocket litter" and are carefully reviewed for intelligence value. But the concept of combing through pocket litter for critical information also carries with it some important implications for people who are not criminals.
 
Danger for Criminals
 
When law enforcement officers arrest someone, they conduct a thorough search of the suspect and his or her immediate possessions. This is referred to as a "search incident to arrest," and items discovered during this search are considered admissible as evidence in U.S. courts (and the courts of many other countries). During the search, officers are looking for items of evidentiary value to the case in question and for items that could endanger the officers -- weapons and handcuff keys, for example. But in addition to these items, a search incident to arrest also gives law enforcement officers an excellent chance to gather intelligence that could be used to identify other individuals involved in the criminal activity.
 
Of course, items found in pockets, purses or wallets -- business cards, slips of paper containing names, telephone numbers, addresses and email addresses, to name a few -- can provide intelligence leads. But even less obvious items, such as receipts and airline boarding passes, are likewise valuable. In narcotics cases, pocket litter frequently helps identify drug suppliers, and in cases of document fraud, pocket litter helps identify the document vendor.
 
Once these items of potential intelligence are collected, they are processed. This means determining who corresponds to a particular phone number, address or email account and then running them through local, state or federal law enforcement databases. Public records, the Internet and social media can also be searched for relevant information. Often this process will produce additional leads that can later be investigated.
 
In addition to its uses in fighting street crime, pocket litter is also important in counterterrorism and counterintelligence cases. It can help identify associates, weapons or explosives components purchases, the location of storage lockers used to house such materials, bombmaking recipes, fund transfers and information pertaining to targets the subject has surveilled.
 
Since the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. military has turned the collection and processing of pocket litter into a highly sophisticated and productive exercise. When the military captures a militant on the battlefield, or when special operations forces seize or kill a high-value target, his body and the surrounding area are immediately searched for pocket litter, which is then collected, categorized and sent to the appropriate intelligence unit for processing.
 
Document exploitation teams operating in Afghanistan (and later Iraq) created huge searchable databases containing data from militants. In many cases, these teams proved more successful in satisfying intelligence taskings than did interrogation teams working with captured individuals.
 
Notably, what we refer to as pocket litter has changed as technology has evolved. Originally denoting physical items like slips of paper, the term now includes electronic devices, such as iPods, smartphones, tablets and laptop computers, from which vast amounts of intelligence can be gleaned. These devices can contain photographs, Internet search histories, voice mails, call logs and text message archives. Many phones also have features that, if activated, can provide historical GPS data on their owners' locations.
 
How far a search incident to arrest can go in cases involving cellphones currently is a controversial subject in the United States because cellphones can contain vast amounts of information regarding their owners. Conflicting rulings in different U.S. circuit courts make it likely that the topic will be brought to the U.S. Supreme Court at some point. The fact that judges must often compare cellphones to diaries or locked containers while looking for comparable case law illustrates the challenges the new technology has presented to the judicial system.
 
Danger for Civilians
 
Pocket litter has been exploited as long as there have been criminals, law enforcement, pockets and writing. Yet despite hundreds of years of this practice, criminals continue to carry incriminating evidence on their persons. The reason for this is quite simple: human nature has not changed. Most people do not trust their memories, and they consider it safer and easier to jot down the information on a slip of paper and place it in a wallet or purse, or in modern times, store it in a cellphone or computer. The number of items jotted down or otherwise stored in this manner can become quite substantial as this practice continues over time.
 
But these shortcomings exemplified by criminals also pertain to law-abiding citizens. Most people walk around with significant amounts of information on their person, and many cannot account for all their belongings. Some people are completely unaware of the treasure trove of information they carry in their cellphones, tablets and laptop computers. For most civilians, it is not intelligence exploitation by the government that is a concern, but exploitation by cunning criminals, who can use pocket litter to commit credit card, bank or identity fraud.
 
Therefore, it is imperative that people examine and carefully consider their pocket litter and attempt to reduce that litter to only those items that are absolutely necessary. This is especially true of people traveling in areas with high crime or intelligence threats, but the concept is universal. One can have a wallet, purse or cellphone stolen at a place of worship, the supermarket or the gym. It is also important to remember that pocket litter inadvertently tossed into the trash can be recovered and exploited by criminals.
 
Recovering from the theft of a purse or cellphone is difficult enough under the best of circumstances, but it is much more difficult if one does not know what information was compromised or if one unnecessarily exposed documents and information to theft. For example, many people needlessly carry their original social security cards or write their social security numbers and ATM pin numbers down rather than memorizing them. People should maintain a list of the credit cards they carry with them, along with contact numbers for those card companies in a separate place.
 
While there are many vulnerabilities associated with smartphones, locking them with passwords and using encrypted files for storing information such as account numbers and passwords are steps in the right direction. These measures may not save a terrorist suspect from the computing power of the U.S. National Security Agency, but they will likely prevent most thieves from accessing your important information.
.

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« Reply #45 on: March 26, 2013, 08:45:27 AM »

Detecting Terrorist Surveillance
March 7, 2012 | 1936 GMT
By Scott Stewart
 
As we noted last week, terrorist attacks do not materialize out of thin air. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Those planning terrorist attacks follow a discernable process referred to as the terrorist attack cycle. We also discussed last week how terrorism planners are vulnerable to detection at specific points during their attack cycle and how their poor surveillance tradecraft is one of these vulnerable junctures.
 
While surveillance is a necessary part of the planning process, the fact that it is a requirement does not necessarily mean that terrorist planners are very good at it. With this in mind, let's take a closer look at surveillance and discuss what bad surveillance looks like.
 
Eyes on a Potential Target
 
As noted above, surveillance is an integral part of the terrorist planning process for almost any type of attack, although there are a few exceptions to this rule, like letter-bomb attacks. The primary objective of surveillance is to assess a potential target for value, security measures and vulnerabilities. Some have argued that physical surveillance has been rendered obsolete by the Internet, but from an operational standpoint, there simply is no substitute for having eyes on the potential target -- even more so if a target is mobile. A planner is able to see the location of a building and its general shape on Google Earth, but Google Earth does not provide the planner with the ability to see what the building's access controls are like, the internal layout of the building or where the guards are located and what procedures they follow.
 
The amount of time devoted to the surveillance process will vary depending on the type of operation. A complex operation involving several targets and multiple teams, such as the 9/11 operation or the 2008 Mumbai attacks, will obviously require more planning (and more surveillance) than a rudimentary pipe-bomb attack against a stationary soft target. Such complex operations may require weeks or even months of surveillance, while a very simple operation may require only a few minutes. The amount of surveillance required for most attacks will fall somewhere between these two extremes. Regardless of the amount of time spent observing the target, almost all terrorist planners will conduct surveillance, and they are vulnerable to detection during this time.
 
Given that surveillance is so widely practiced, it is amazing that, in general, those conducting surveillance as part of a terrorist plot are usually terrible at it. There are some exceptions, of course. Many of the European Marxist terrorist groups trained by the KGB and Stasi practiced very good surveillance tradecraft, but such sophisticated surveillance is the exception rather than the rule.
 
The term "tradecraft" is often used in describing surveillance technique. Tradecraft is an espionage term that refers to techniques and procedures used in the field, but the term also implies that effectively practicing these techniques and procedures requires a bit of finesse. Tradecraft skills tend to be as much art as they are science, and surveillance tradecraft is no exception. As with any other art, you can be taught the fundamentals, but it takes time and practice to become a skilled surveillance practitioner. Most individuals involved in terrorist planning simply do not devote the time necessary to master the art of surveillance, and because of this, they display terrible technique, use sloppy procedures and generally lack finesse when they are conducting surveillance.
 
The main reason that people planning terrorist attacks are able to get by with such a poor level of surveillance tradecraft is because most victims simply are not looking for them. Most people do not practice situational awareness, something we are going to discuss in more detail next week. For those who do practice good situational awareness, the poor surveillance tradecraft exhibited by those planning terrorist attacks is good news. It provides them time to avoid an immediate threat and contact the authorities.
 
Keying on Demeanor
 
The behavior a person displays to those watching him or her is called demeanor. In order to master the art of surveillance tradecraft, one needs to master the ability to display appropriate demeanor for whatever situation one is in. Practicing good demeanor is not intuitive. In fact, the things one has to do to maintain good demeanor while conducting surveillance frequently run counter to human nature. Because of this, intelligence, law enforcement and security professionals assigned to work surveillance operations receive extensive training that includes many hours of heavily critiqued practical exercises, often followed by field training with a team of experienced surveillance professionals. This training teaches and reinforces good demeanor. Terrorist operatives typically do not receive this type of training -- especially those who are grassroots or lone wolf militants.
 
At its heart, surveillance is watching someone while attempting not to be caught doing so. As such, it is an unnatural activity, and a person doing it must deal with strong feelings of self-consciousness and of being out of place. People conducting surveillance frequently suffer from what is called "burn syndrome," the belief that the people they are watching have spotted them. Feeling "burned" will cause surveillants to do unnatural things, such as hiding their faces or suddenly ducking back into a doorway or turning around abruptly when they unexpectedly come face to face with the person they are watching.
 
People inexperienced in the art of surveillance find it difficult to control this natural reaction. A video that recently went viral on the Internet shows the husband of the president of Finland getting caught staring down the blouse of a Danish princess. The man's reaction to being caught by the princess was a textbook example of the burn syndrome. Even experienced surveillance operatives occasionally have the feeling of being burned; the difference is they have received a lot of training and they are better able to control their reaction and behave normally despite the feeling of being burned. They are able to maintain a normal-looking demeanor while their insides are screaming that the person they are watching has seen them.
 
In addition to doing something unnatural or stupid when feeling burned, another very common mistake made by amateurs when conducting surveillance is the failure to get into proper "character" for the job or, when in character, appearing in places or carrying out activities that are incongruent with the character's "costume." The terms used to describe these role-playing aspects of surveillance are "cover for status" and "cover for action." Cover for status is a person's purported identity -- his costume. A person can pretend to be a student, a businessman, a repairman, etc. Cover for action explains why the person is doing what he or she is doing -- why that guy has been standing on that street corner for half an hour.
 
The purpose of using good cover for action and cover for status is to make the presence of the person conducting the surveillance look routine and normal. When done right, the surveillance operative fits in with the mental snapshot subconsciously taken by the target as the target goes about his or her business. Inexperienced people who conduct surveillance frequently do not use proper (if any) cover for action or cover for status, and they can be easily detected.
 
An example of bad cover for status would be someone dressed as "a businessman" walking in the woods or at the beach. An example of bad cover for action is someone pretending to be sitting at a bus stop who remains at that bus stop even after several buses have passed. For the most part, however, inexperienced operatives conducting surveillance practice little or no cover for action or cover for status. They just lurk and look totally out of place. There is no apparent reason for them to be where they are or doing what they are doing.
 
In addition to plain old lurking, other giveaways include a person moving when the target moves, communicating when the target moves, avoiding eye contact with the target, making sudden turns or stops, or even using hand signals to communicate with other members of a surveillance team or criminal gang. Surveillants also can tip off the person they are watching by entering or leaving a building immediately after the person they are watching or simply by running in street clothes.
 
Sometimes, people who are experiencing the burn syndrome exhibit almost imperceptible behaviors that the target can sense more than observe. It may not be something that can be articulated, but the target just gets the gut feeling that there is something wrong or odd about the way a certain person is behaving toward them. Innocent bystanders who are not watching someone usually do not exhibit this behavior or trigger these feelings.
 
Principles of Surveillance Detection
 
The U.S. government often uses the acronym "TEDD" to illustrate the principles that can be used to identify surveillance conducted by counterintelligence agencies, but these same principles also can be used to identify terrorist surveillance. TEDD stands for time, environment, distance and demeanor. In other words, if a person sees someone repeatedly over time, in different environments and at a distance, or someone who displays poor surveillance demeanor, then that person can assume he or she is under surveillance.
 
However, for an individual, TEDD is really only relevant if you are being specifically targeted for an attack. In such an instance, you will likely be exposed to the time, environment and distance elements. However, if the target of the attack is a subway car or a building you work in rather than you as an individual, you likely will not have an opportunity to make environment and distance correlations, and perhaps not even time. You will likely only have the demeanor of the surveillant to key on. Therefore, when we are talking about recognizing surveillance, demeanor is the most critical of the four elements. Demeanor also works in tandem with all the other elements, and poor demeanor will often help the target spot the surveillant at a different time and place or in a different environment.
 
Time, environment and distance also have little bearing in an instance like the Fort Hood shooting, where the assailant is an insider, works at a facility and has solid cover for action and cover for status. In such instances, demeanor is also critical in identifying bad intent.
 
The fact that operatives conducting surveillance over an extended period can change their clothing and wear hats, wigs or other light disguises -- and use different vehicles or license plates -- also demonstrates why watching for mistakes in demeanor is critical. Because of a surveillant's ability to make superficial changes in appearance, it is important to focus on the things that cannot be changed as easily as clothing or hair, such as a person's facial features, build, mannerisms and gait. Additionally, while a surveillant can change the license plate on a car, it is not as easy to alter other aspects of the vehicle such as body damage (scratches and dents). Paying attention to small details can be the difference between a potential attacker being identified and the attacker going unnoticed.
 
One technique that can be helpful in looking for people conducting long-term surveillance is to identify places that provide optimal visibility of a critical place the surveillant would want to watch (for example, the front door of a potential target's residence or office, or a choke point on a route the potential target frequently travels). It is also important to look for places that provide optimal visibility, or "perches" in surveillance jargon. Elevated perches tend to be especially effective since surveillance targets rarely look up. Perches should be watched for signs of hostile surveillance, such as people who don't belong there, people lurking, or people making more subtle demeanor mistakes.
 
Paying attention to the details of what is happening around you (what we call practicing good situational awareness) does not mean being paranoid or obsessively concerned about security. Living in a state of paranoia and looking for a terrorist behind every bush not only is dangerous to one's physical and mental health but also results in poor security. We are going to talk more about practicing a healthy and sustainable level of situational awareness next week.
.

Read more: Detecting Terrorist Surveillance | Stratfor
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« Reply #46 on: April 04, 2013, 09:14:17 AM »



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl_ddd5_0zI
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« Reply #47 on: June 01, 2013, 08:56:12 AM »

Kidnapping: An Avoidable Danger
Security Weekly
THURSDAY, MAY 30, 2013 - 04:01 Print  - Text Size +
Stratfor
By Scott Stewart
Vice President of Analysis

During the afternoon of May 20, officers from the New York Police Department's Major Case Squad entered a warehouse in Long Island City, Queens, where they found Pedro Portugal in a makeshift apartment with his hands bound and his eyes covered. Portugal had been kidnapped April 18 on the street in front of his Jackson Heights, Queens, business -- in broad daylight -- and held by captors who demanded a $3 million ransom from his family in Ecuador. During his 32-day captivity, Portugal's captors threatened him, beat him to the point of losing teeth and burned him with acid. Lacking the money to pay the ransom, the family turned to U.S. and Ecuadorian authorities for help. An extensive investigation led to the location where Portugal was being held and his eventual rescue.

One of Portugal's captors was arrested as he attempted to flee the warehouse, and two others were arrested shortly thereafter. Three other suspects in the case remain at large, and at least one of them, the alleged ringleader, reportedly traveled to Ecuador shortly after the abduction.   

At the moment a kidnapping occurs, the abduction team usually has the element of surprise on its side and typically employs overwhelming force. To the unsuspecting victim, the abductors seemingly appear out of nowhere. But a careful examination shows that most kidnappings are the result of a long and carefully orchestrated process. Because of this, there are always some indications and warnings that the process is under way prior to the actual abduction, meaning that many, if not most, kidnappings are avoidable. The Portugal case provides us with an opportunity to take a more detailed look at kidnappings and how they can be avoided.

Types of Kidnappings

There are many different kinds of kidnappings. Most of them have nothing to do with money or political statements. Rather, they typically are the result of abductions associated with custody disputes, boyfriends who abduct younger girlfriends from their families or strangers who abduct a victim for sexual exploitation.

Even among financially motivated kidnappings, there are a number of different types. The stereotypical kidnapping of a high-value target comes most readily to mind, but there are also more spur-of-the-moment express kidnappings, in which a person is held until his bank account can be drained using an ATM card, and even virtual kidnappings, in which no kidnapping occurs but the victim is frightened by a claim that a loved one has been kidnapped and pays a ransom to the apparent abductors. There are also so-called "tiger kidnappings," in which the target's family is abducted in an effort to force him or her to comply with demands such as to open a bank vault or safe at the target's place of business.

Financially motivated kidnappings can be conducted by a variety of criminal elements. At the highest level are the highly trained professional kidnapping gangs that specialize in abducting wealthy individuals and frequently demand ransoms in the millions of dollars. Such groups often employ teams of specialists who carry out a variety of specific tasks such as collecting intelligence, conducting surveillance, snatching the target, negotiating with the victim's family and establishing and guarding the safe house where the victim is kept. Since kidnapping is such a broad topic, for the sake of this discussion, we will focus primarily on deliberate kidnappings of high-value targets.

At present, the kidnapping environment in the United States is very different from that of places like Venezuela, Guatemala or even Ecuador. In those countries, kidnapping is rampant and has become a well-developed industry with a substantial and well-established infrastructure. Police corruption and incompetence ensures that kidnappers are rarely caught or successfully prosecuted. In many cases the authorities are even complicit in kidnappings, causing families to hesitate to report kidnappings.

But in the United States, crime statistics demonstrate that motives such as sexual exploitation, custody disputes and short-term kidnapping for robbery far surpass the number of reported kidnappings conducted for ransom. The main reason for this difference is the advanced capabilities of law enforcement in the United States. Because of these capabilities, the overwhelming majority of criminals involved in kidnapping-for-ransom cases reported to police -- between 95 percent and 98 percent, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics -- are caught and convicted. Those convicted also face stiff state and federal penalties.

Since kidnapping is a crime that requires extended contact with the victims to negotiate and receive a ransom, the kidnappers are exposed for a long time. This is a great risk in places like the United States, where police possess sophisticated investigative and technical capabilities. This risk was clearly illustrated in the Portugal case, where the investigators were able to track down the kidnappers and rescue the victim. Because of this environment, and the high cost/benefit equation attached to kidnapping for ransom, it is a relatively rare crime in the United States.

Most kidnappings for ransom in the United States occur within immigrant communities. In these cases, the perpetrators and victims tend to belong to the same immigrant group (for example, Chinese Triad gangs kidnapping the families of Chinese businesspeople, or Mexican criminals kidnapping Mexican immigrants). This is exactly what happened in the Portugal case, with Ecuadorian criminals preying on a victim living in the United States and demanding a ransom from his family in Ecuador.

The Kidnapping Process

In a kidnapping for ransom like the Portugal case, the nature of the crime requires that abductors follow a process very similar to the terrorist attack cycle: target selection, planning, deployment, attack, escape and exploitation. In a kidnapping, this means the group must identify a victim; plan for the abduction, captivity and negotiation; conduct the abduction and secure the hostage; successfully leverage the life of the victim for a ransom; and then escape.

During some phases of this process, the kidnappers may not be visible to the target, but there are several points during the process when the kidnappers are forced to expose themselves to possible detection in order to accomplish their mission. Like the perpetrators of a terrorist attack, those planning a kidnapping are most vulnerable to detection by the victim while they are conducting pre-operational surveillance -- which is done well before they are ready to carry out the abduction. As we have noted in several past analyses, most criminals are not very good at conducting surveillance. The primary reason they succeed despite their poor surveillance tradecraft is that, for the most part, no one is looking for them.

Of course, kidnappers are also very easy to spot once they pull their weapons and grab the victim. By this time, however, it is usually too late to escape their attack. They will have selected their attack site and employed the forces they believe they need to overpower their victim and complete the operation. While the kidnappers could botch their operation and the target could escape unscathed, it is simply not practical to pin one's hopes on that possibility. It is clearly preferable to spot the kidnappers early and avoid their trap.

During the kidnapping planning process, kidnappers, like other criminals, look for patterns and vulnerabilities that they can exploit. They will study the potential victim's habits for patterns in an attempt to identify locations where the target will be at predictable times. They will then choose one of these predictable places and times for their abduction operation. Generally, they are looking for an ideal attack site -- a place where they can hide their abduction team, quickly gain control of the victim and then quickly escape.

According to the Queens district attorney, in the Portugal case, the victim was walking from his business to his car when he was approached by one of the suspects who called his name and flashed what appeared to be a New York Police Department badge. A second suspect then grabbed Portugal and forced him into a waiting sport utility vehicle at knifepoint. Once in the vehicle, Portugal was beaten into submission and a cap or hood was pulled over his face to obstruct his vision. As the abduction vehicle left the scene, it was followed by a minivan that contained what was likely a security element for the abduction team.

Interrupting the Process

The kidnappers' chances for success increase greatly if they are allowed to conduct surveillance at will and are given the opportunity to thoroughly assess the behavior of the target and the security measures (if any) the potential victim employs. In several cases in Mexico, the criminals even chose to attack despite precautions such as armored cars and armed guards. In such cases, criminals attack with adequate resources to overcome the security measures. For example, if there are protective agents, the attackers will plan to neutralize them first. If there is an armored vehicle, they will find ways to defeat the armor or grab the target when he or she is outside the vehicle. Because of this, criminals must not be allowed to conduct surveillance at will. Potential targets should practice a heightened but relaxed state of situational awareness that will help them spot hostile surveillance.

Potential targets should also conduct simple pattern and route analyses to determine where they are most predictable and vulnerable. This is really not as complicated as it may seem. While the ideal is to vary routes and times to avoid predictable locations, this is also difficult and disruptive and warranted only when the threat is extremely high. A more practical alternative is for potential targets to raise their situational awareness a notch as they travel through such areas at predictable times to look for signs of hostile surveillance.

The term I am using here, "potential targets," points to another very significant problem. Many kidnapping victims simply do not believe they are potential targets until after they have been kidnapped and therefore do not employ simple, common-sense security measures such as practicing situational awareness. Frequently, when such people are debriefed after their release from captivity, they are able to recall suspicious activity before their abduction that they did not take seriously because they did not consider themselves targets.

Potential targets do not have to institute security measures that will make them invulnerable to such crimes -- something that is very difficult and can be very expensive. Rather, the objective is to take measures that make them a harder target than other members of the specific class of individuals to which they belong. Groups conducting pre-operational surveillance prefer a target that is unaware and easy prey. Taking some basic security measures such as maintaining a healthy state of situational awareness will, in many cases, cause the criminals to choose another target who is less aware and therefore more vulnerable. Simply paying attention to anomalous events that could be a sign of hostile surveillance and altering one's behavior, or better yet, bringing suspicious behavior to the attention of the authorities, can interrupt the process and cause the kidnappers to target someone else. If such signs are not looked for, or ignored, the victim has very little chance of escape.

In retrospect, almost every person who is kidnapped has either missed or ignored indications of the impending danger. While brutal kidnappings like the Portugal case can be prolonged, traumatic and painful ordeals, they are also almost always avoidable.



Read more: Kidnapping: An Avoidable Danger | Stratfor
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #48 on: December 30, 2013, 11:35:37 AM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7pYHN9iC9I
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #49 on: January 21, 2014, 11:23:58 AM »

Patriot Post

Former Marine Corps cyberwarfare expert David Kennedy has been testing Healthcare.gov for some time, warning all along about its security vulnerabilities. Now that the administration has "fixed it," however, he says the site is "much worse off" than ever. As for no successful hacks to date, Kennedy warns, "They haven't detected any attacks on the website, because they don't have the capability to detect them." That's bad, but it gets worse. He says you don't even really have to "hack" the website because it's more akin to leaving your car doors wide open: "You can literally just open up your browser, go to this [query] and extract all this information." If you like your security, you can keep it.
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