Sunday, April 29, 2012

Insurgents Attack Governor’s Office in Southern Afghanistan -

Insurgents Attack Governor’s Office in Southern Afghanistan -

There is so much to be learned from this incident,

I am not a big proponent of  the whole body imager,, but my problem is more in the way they use it, by they I mean the TSA.  It can miss things, but it can also find things the walk thru metal can not.  So I do not find the breach all that surprising, many in the industry know we can beat the unit.  But I also have to say, I can beat a walk thru metal detector as well. 

With all that said, two old Secret Service adages come to mind.  One never have just one layer of defense, any system can fail, have multiple layers.  Two, screening does not mean everyone is without a weapon or ability to hurt someone, screening just means we probably have more fire power that the other guys.

Multiple layers of defense come from as far back as ancient China, Sun Tzu, writings brought down thru the years, has spoken of this.    TSA and the security community as a whole I think realize this very well.  If you look behind the scenes, you will see a multi path system of security being constantly developed for our safety.  Too often we look at one part of the system and say it is not working, but please remember it is but one part of the system. 

When we analyze security, a screening check point is one of the stronger points, insider threats are still our biggest vulnerability. 

The key is still multiple layers, and not to ever think 100% secure.  During my first divorce, the Govt. took me off active work where I could cause a problem, and let my colleague's assess how I was handling it.  After a week, it was determined by the colleague's, the people that knew my best, that I was not a threat, and I was put back on active duty.  Now days actions like that are considered not politically correct.   But it still is the best way to get to insider threats.  When we see something out of hand or a friend or colleague not acting like they normally do, we too often do not speak up about them.  This makes us vulnerable to work place violence issues more, as well as any insider threat issue. 

We need to be more humanistic in our security, not a big brother state, in an Orwellian way, but more of we are all in this together.

There is even more to learn from this incident, so I will use it again.  Like always having an escape route, a plan for using them.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Airport Travelers Urged To Keep Eye On Items At Security Checkpoint - Pittsburgh News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh

Airport Travelers Urged To Keep Eye On Items At Security Checkpoint - Pittsburgh News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh

This type of scam has been around for years, DFW has a video of a team of these folks stealing bags from people as they go thru screening.  The have hand and arm signals, the team is usually 3 to 5 people.

They have look outs that pick the right people to hit, then they start the play.  The deal is to get two people in line in front of you.  One goes thru, and then stall waiting for his bag, the other waits till you put you bag on the x-ray belt, they may even help you.  Others watch for TSA folks keep to close an eye on things, and will call off a play if they think they may get caught.  Once you bag is going thru, the 2nd guy in front of you will have a problem getting thru, and delay you, the 1st guy in line will wait for your bag and grab it as it comes thru.

They normally stuff computers in bags, then just walk off, but they also have special bags they carry that will fit over your whole bag and take it all.  Most of the time they will get on a plane to a nearby location immediately, or simply go back out the exit lane - the key is to not get caught.

Dallas and Houston had teams that would fly and steal from one airport to the other,  the teams are often from South American countries, and use the language barrier to help confuse things.  They have even used it to claim a mistake if caught. One man or woman teams are also out there, and they are just looking for an opportunity, if it takes a few times that is fine. The key is to not draw attention, so they can wait all day if needed.

What you want to do is not let your bag go into the x-ray until you're next in line if possible, if not keep an eye out for a delay team. 

Like always, awareness training is a great way to reduce the chance of this happening.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What Cocktail Parties Teach Us -

What Cocktail Parties Teach Us -

There are about 5 studies mentioned here, all had a great effect on how researchers have focused on our ability to both filter things out, and focus things in.

One I think that is probably critical at this time is the one about driving, it is the attention span more that anything, cell phones on speaker, are just as bad as cell phones in a persons hand.  Now texting and such has proven to be more dangerous, because it takes more time and attention.  But if you go back to the 70' & 80's kids tuning radios where considered the cause of a great number of accidents, and folks wanted to ban them as well.  Get back to the key factor, our brains take in information from hearing, eyes, all senses, plus they go off on tangents of their own.  Sometimes called  road hypnosis, where the person arrives at the office or home, and has no real memory of the drive, they where thinking about vacations, or a spat they just had, something.

Yes, police are trained at keeping a wider focus, but it is training, that is backed by practice.  Sit in a patrol car sometime, the radio is turned low, lots of voices are being heard, yet the officer hears that one call for their number or code, or even event in the nearby area.  You did not hear it, thru all the background but they did.  It is the same with a mother that can hear her baby's crys over all the other noise in a room. 

The key is to open the the senses to see and hear more, yes if you consciously try and process it all it would drive you crazy very quickly.  That is why a lot of the filters are in place in our minds, to protect us from the onslaught of information our senses bring our mind.

But there is a middle ground, and we can work to make both that middle ground bigger, and make it work for us better.  It takes training, (probably didn't a million years ago) and practice, and and, wait for it.  trust.  We are going to have to learn to trust that pin prick of intuition that something is not right.  Then we need to train ourselves to come off focus, let more information in, and then let that cave man instinct buried deep in our brains look for dangers.  The filters will still protect us from going crazy from the input, we are just letting more in at a deeper level, (actually it already is coming in,we just don't recognize it because our filters block it), we are just trying to see, hear, & feel more.

The eyes are the easiest for me to deal with, and I think the quickest return on investment of time and practice.  Try this, close your eyes, very gently, don't slam them shut just gently, now think for a moment, when you open them, do not focus, let you eye's see everything from top to bottom of your vision, from left to right.  Ok, open your eyes gently, it will take some time to get the hang of it.  But as you get better at it, you will notice that you still notice things, the car that passed, the people getting out of a car, the bird landing on a tree.  All non threatening, so they just pass by, and we do not have to react.  But if something does go off course, like the people getting out of the car just staring at you, now focus, see what the issue is, ah they think you are staring at them, or they are looking behind you.  Once you can put it into a normal box, let you attention and focus widen again.  You will probably have to close your eyes, and start over for a while.

I will as I always do bring in the breathing, if you can take deep slow, rythmic breaths, you will calm down a lot of the brian activity, and the filters will settle a bit more, making it easier to notice danger.

I know this will help, and that it works, I hope you can get to the point it works for you.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Basics of Defensive Driving for Carjacking or kidnapping attacks:

Basics of Defensive Driving for Carjacking or kidnapping attacks:

When leaving a facility to your vehicle have your keys in your hand, and look around for anything suspect, if in any doubt if you can sound the emergency signals on the car, you can always apologize later.  Bad guys will be looking around to see who is watching, everyone else will be looking at your or your car.  By the way everything will look suspect the first time, but once you get into the habit, you will notice the suspect behavior.

When you get in lock all doors and start the car, put it in gear. Now look around again, get your car out at least two feet, that should give you enough room to jump the curb if you have to and give a person attacking a moving target.  If you have a front wheel drive car, the back makes a pretty safe battering ram, so any speed gives you an edge even over a heaver car.

One of the strangest things I have found over the years, that even in a life and death situations people do not like to damage their cars.  Get over it, that is what you have insurance for, if needed hit the other car, or newspaper stand, the key is to move.  In most situations the danger zone is a fairly small area, one expert just wrote in another blog about the X get off the X anyway you can.  Actually most ambush areas are around 30 to 60 feet, but if you can move the 64 feet you are out of the zone, and actually have the bad guys shooting into them selves in some cases to get to you.

When driving you always want to be able turn around the vehicle in front of you, a quick rule of thumb is that you need to be able to see the tires of the vehicle in front of you touch the road.  When you come to a stop, remember that the key is to be able to get around the vehicle, and as always be able to move your car even a few feet to shake off an attackers aim.

If possible always try to be in a curb or center lane, so you can move to one side or the other to get away, remember jumping curbs is not something you want to do, but it can be done quickly, at worst you will lose the tire, and maybe a wheel, but it should climb the curb.  There is a lot of science on this but once again try and get a 20 degree turn into the curb to jump it, less and you may not make it, and even take the chance of folding a wheel over, by breaking the tie joints.  Sounds  like beeping the horn and if it work sounding the emergency from the key chain are still good, if it does not effect the bad guys it will at least get the attention of other drivers and people near by.  None of which is good for the bad guy.

Let's take a quick look at your route, look for areas where the bad guys can block you in the easiest, if you feel any threat, then make sure you do not use those routes if possible.   If you use Google maps, you can often see your route when you pin for instance your home and your office.  Google often will give you the option of a second route, even a third, take a look at all of them.  When US State Department teams go out and survey routes for employees in foreign countries this is what they are doing.  You look for choke points where it is easy to stop or block you in, or things like alleyways that allow for a blocking maneuver by having a car pull out in front of you.   This actually can take a lot of time and effort, but is well worth both.  I have spent hours on doing this for clients all over the world, it does take a little time, but in many cases I have known the attacker best choice before they did, and we caught them setting up surveillance at the point we picked out.

If Google does not automatically offer other route options, take the pin out of the home or office and move it over to a main street nearby, that should give you more options.  Now comes the work, you need to take these different options at times so you know them, and the bad guy has to guess what you will do. 

When we look at route we also look for two other things, one is a place we can go to that has police or other armed security, two is a place we can brush off folks following us.  In McAllen, Tx the airport has both, there are always police and federal officers there, and if you pull into the short term parking you can leave immediately with out having to pay.  The following car will either have to follow, or move at high speed thru the airport to catch back up to you.  If you had any suspicion this type of maneuver will make the bad guy show his hand.   Even driving thru a strip mall parking lot can be effective for a quick brush off, that will tell you your being followed.

It always looks good on the movies to see a high speed chase, with the one car trying to out run the other.  In any case I have ever seen, this is a bad move.  The key speeds are over 20 and under what ever you feel you can safely drive.  Remember at 110 miles an hour, if the other car is chasing you they often have an effective speed difference of 0 miles per hour. and they have more people in the car to take aim and shoot at you.  If you are going no faster than 50 miles per hour, then you can speed up or slow down changing the effective speed of the following car by well over 20 miles per hour.  I like to stay in the lead, but that does not mean you have to stay in the parade, turning off to another road, puts you back in the lead again, and as long as you have done your home work you know where you are going.

If you have been doing this type of awareness defensive driving for a while there is a very good chance you will pick up the surveillance long before they are actually ready to act.  In fact it is often reported to me by clients that they have pickup surveillance on another car before they did on their own.  There is a good reason for this, you have a chance to see the surveillance car as they are following, they are not looking for you, they are looking for someone else.

Other quick tips, keep the windows up, and at least a 1/4 tank of gas in the vehicle at all times.  Use your cell phone to call someone and talk to them in you feel something is not right.  If you can not reach anyone, call your voice mail and leave yourself a message, with descriptions and routes you are traveling, anything that will help us find you.

I practice saying the plate number of cars around me out loud, science tell us this helps remember things better, even writing a plate number on the palm of your hand with a finger, helps in memory recall.  

Awareness is like anything else it takes practice, and your life can often depend on it.  I have briefed many people over the years with high threat potential, and a few where attacks have been thwarted.  In every case if they practiced awareness, they had a step on the bad guys.  Cameras and other high tech devices can and will help, but you are the first and last line of defense for you and your family.

This is Rich,  till next time stay safe

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Homeland Security's 'Pre-Crime' Screening Will Never Work - Alexander Furnas - Technology - The Atlantic

Homeland Security's 'Pre-Crime' Screening Will Never Work - Alexander Furnas - Technology - The Atlantic

If, and it is a major if, the program is only to help decide which people in the future, will be screened a little more intensely, perhaps even asked a few questions as they go thru screening, I think the system will work, and should be the future of screening.    The rub is that is not the way they intend to use it.   When the behavioral analysis teams where first conceived, they where just to give a heads up to the screeners to pay a bit more attention to this guy, or group, which is a great idea, and well within the skill set we can train people to at this point.  But no it got to a three tier system, that calls in cops to basically arrest people. 
As others have said, there is no technology that can tell us enough to arrest you on suspicion,  and this is where all these programs fail.  Use it correctly to provide a risk assessment as to who should be screened a little more thoroughly, and I will get behind both programs.  They also then will help provide a greater security for us all.
I can not end this without pointing to the fact that a random selection program, that pick people at random to be screened more thoroughly will strike more fear into would be terrorists than any of these programs.  Two collages have provided algorithms to airports to insure true randomness, this means the terrorist can never be sure he will not get a real through screening, and they have to rethink the approach.  Add this to any new program, and you will have better security.

Balance Training for EP professionals, but helps us all

As an EP practitioner you often  find yourself in a crowd being jostled and shoved as people try and get around your protectee.   When I first left the USSS, I was still a fairly thin little guy, and working in such small teams, and even alone at times, it left me getting moved off position at times.

We developed a balance training program, that just grew, as more legal issues became a problem.

Take a heavy bag - I used a 4 foot long 80 pounder - and mount it from the ceiling to where the bottom is around your knees.  Now start by just standing under the bag, so the chain would be coming down thru the center of your head.  Now just try turning and shifting your weight, yet retain your balance, and stay directly under the bag.  With a little practice your body will start making adjustments to handle the weight.  If you have others around you may want to ask them to gently pull the bag back and let it fall into your space.  This will help you take the weight, like a shove, and learn to regain balance quickly.

Now for the legal issues, it seems that when we get into legal trouble it is like getting a foul in basket ball.  When you open your arms to grab or shove people, that is the foul.  So try keeping your hands tucked in, you may want to start by grabbing your shirt, this prevents elbow throwing to a great extent, another foul, or in your case legal issue.  Practice standing your ground, then practice moving in and out of the bag's center area.

After a little time this also becomes more of a second nature, and you do not have to think about it, or go into some defensive stance. 


Monday, April 2, 2012

DHS Active Shooter Guide for all of us

Gunman kills at least 3 at Oakland college, others wounded | Reuters

Gunman kills at least 3 at Oakland college, others wounded | Reuters  

Like many situations, people on the edge, tend to act, when they see others acting out.  Just like when an attack on the President happens there is a period of time that a lot of threats will happen. Unfortunately the same is true when a suicide occurs, other near the edge tend to follow.

There are 9 people shot, up to 6 killed at this time,  in the Oakland college area., following the Ohio shooting, more can be expected.  It is to soon to know what the cause or weapon used is, but follow on reports will help clarify.  This is a mixed use area of businesses and the college, so the possibility of a workplace violence shooting has not been totally ruled out.

Having plans that include lock down of entrances to the college and even nearby businesses are the biggest mitigation factor in most of these situations.  Having places in rooms that can be fortified to minimize random shots from entering thru walls, windows, or doors are also very helpful.  Even putting desks on their sides and creating a safe space behind them is a workable solution.

At that point stay safe, and if you have communications contact the police, with information as to how many people are with you and your location.  They will ask questions, like does the shooter sound near, or moving away.  They will not want you to put yourself in danger, they just want your best idea of the situation.  The biggest help you can be to the rescuers at this point is to stay safe till they can get to you.

Things like descriptions are not as helpful in these situations as you would think, a more helpful piece of information is how rapidly are they shooting, or how often does it sound like they are reloading.  All this can be obtained by simply listening and not putting your self in any danger.

Rich for the Disguised Weapons video, and for other training videos.