Friday, September 30, 2011

Another Dumb Terror Plot Foiled

Massachusetts Man Charged in Plot to Bomb Pentagon Using Model Airplane...

You'd think our domestic jihadi wannabes would have learned by now that anyone who encourages them to pursue their stupid plan and offers them all the cash they need to do so, a pile of C4 explosive, and a mess of AK47 assault rifles is almost certainly an FBI informant.  Oh well, best they lock up this fellow before he begins running with scissors or refusing to wash his hands after visiting the restroom.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Don't Shoot!

Another book for the reading list...

Don't Shoot: One Man, a Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America By David M. Kennedy is generating some serious pre-publication buzz.  I look forward to learning more because most everything we've tried so far isn't working very well.  Thanks to Safegrowth blog for the heads up. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Sky Continues To Fall

By the way, Bill Whitmore has a new book out...

From Security Info Watch by way of ASIS Security Management Daily:

"AlliedBarton chairman looks at how to stem tide of workplace violence

by Steve Lasky, Editor-in-Chief, Security Technology Executive magazine

Sept. 21, 2011, Orlando, Fla. -- Distraught employees are injuring or killing co-workers and supervisors at an alarming rate. Customer rage is at an all-time high. Domestic violence has spilled over into the workplace. And it’s not that these incidents are getting more media coverage – the Center for Disease Control has officially classified workplace violence as a national epidemic."

My reply (to the comments section and in an email):

But Workplace Homicide Is At An All Time Low


I'm not sure which BLS report you or Mr. Whitmore read but according to workplace homicide numbers are at the lowest point since they were first tracked in 1992. Even if they weren't your unusually lurid opening paragraph fails to mention that fully 75% of all homicides at work are perpetrated by outsiders during robberies of retail and service establishments.  Death at the hands of coworkers (and former coworkers), clients (including patients), and family and friends (especially including estranged abusers) represents the remaining 25% of the 542 workplace murders in 2009. Is that too many? Absolutely. There are certainly many important issues to resolve. Robbery prevention and survival training, cab driver safety, assault prevention in healthcare and social services settings, humane management practices, prohibitions against horseplay, zero tolerance for bullying and all other forms of harassment, quality mental health benefits, screening and treatment for depression, and suicide prevention are elements an organization may draw upon to create a workplace violence prevention and response program that meets its business needs. Hyperbole and hysteria have no place in the security professional’s approach to this important issue.

UPDATE: By the way, I'd appreciate it if someone would show me precisely where the CDC has "officially classified workplace violence as a national epidemic."

All that said, while I disdain fear-based marketing, I do look forward to seeing what Potential: Workplace Violence Prevention and Your Organizational Success has to say, especially if our C-level bosses and clients are going to be reading it.

REUPDATE: My review of Potential will be published in the April 2012 issue of The Workplace Violence Prevention eReport

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Maslow's Hammer

"When all you have is a hammer all your problems look like nails..."

I've discussed the sales of security hardware before.  Here's an excellent little essay on the balanced use of surveillance cameras.  The author not only "gets it," he puts it right through the X-ring.

"Assume your organization is more interested in prevention than apprehension.

This is the private sector security model as contrasted with the public safety model. The latter has a societal objective of chasing down offenders to capture and punish them and, by doing so, demonstrate to society at large that crime does not pay.

[Incidentally, this public safety bias limits the ability of most police to operate surveillance cameras solely for prevention. Their invariable tendency is to use them more for investigation. Also, because they hired on to chase malefactors, watching cameras or defending assets are unattractive to cops in their prime.]

In the context of running a business or even a public institution, however, few organizations can afford the resources for this hunt. Instead, their security functions earn their keep by preventing losses – which cost significantly less in time and staffing than trying to shadow the responsibilities of a police force without the same powers of arrest or investigation."

Be sure to read the entire essay by Nick Catrantzos, Adjunct Professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, who also writes at his All Secure blog and No Dark Corners website.  His Master's thesis, No Dark Corners:  Defending Against Insider Threats to Critical Infrastructure (not free) was published as a CRISP report (free) by ASIS International.  Nick seems to be a very interesting fellow.

Homeland Security Watch knocks another one out of the park.

Photo credit, Sam Magraby at the ever excellent

Monday, September 19, 2011

From Field to Fork

aka Pasture to Plate...

"Food Defense" is an important issue and will only grow more so as the planet becomes warmer and more crowded. I know several security professionals who protect the food supply at different points in the chain.  The chain's links form an interrelated web which includes finance, environmental concerns - land, air, and water, energy, preventing the spread of plant and animal diseases, harvest, transportation, preparation, logistics, and consumption.

"Food and Agriculture" is a DHS Critical Infrastructure.  Otherwise, in the US the FDA and the USDA "share" jurisdiction.  Our very own University of Minnesota hosts the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD).

Different entities have staked claims to several terms which are no longer synonymous. "Food Security" is applied to the certainty of regular access to nutrition. "Food Safety" has to do with preventing unintended contamination or spoilage of food from field to fork.

NOTE: This was my reply in a LinkedIn thread started by a peer from India.  It's also letting me move Michelle's wild-eyed visage down the page.

Interesting development:  The OP on the LinkedIn thread is interested in the impact of Food Security as it is currently used - equitable and reliable distribution of nutrition - as a security issue.  My comment:

If you are in fact talking about the impact of food security - the reliable and equitable distribution of food to all persons - or the lack of it, as a contributor to social order or disorder then you are operating at a very thoughtful level indeed.  We can see the role corrupt governments and local warlords play in leveraging the impact of of drought and famine to their own purposes.  We can see the effects of NGOs attempting to serve those in need despite massive hurdles.  In the long term there are land use, water supply, air quality, investment, environmental, and technological concerns for governments as well.  Most of these issues are addressed at the level of transnational, regional, and national governments.  Are you raising awareness of a future opportunity or challenge for private sector interests or proposing a positive role for private security professionals?  Please tell us more.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's Official!

Michelle Bachmann is also an anti-vax loon...

The Newsweek cover is regarded by many as a cheap shot, but mounting evidence suggests Michelle may actually think the way she looks.

An embarrassment to thoughtful discourse for years now, our 6th District Representative, Tea Bagger, and very scary Presidential candidate, Michelle Bachmann, has finally let her Pseudo-Science Anti-Vax freak flag fly.  Innocent little girls?  CHECK.  Government injections?  CHECK.  The vaccine is unsafe?  CHECK.  The vaccine causes mental retardation?  CHECK.  Move over, Jenny McCarthy, there's a new anti-vax mommy in town.

It's not just Michelle though; the HPV vaccine is some sort of special problem for conservatives, both political and religious.  What is it about vaccinating our daughters against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) - and the venereal warts and labial, vaginal, and cervical cancers it causes - that gets the right wing all freaked out?  Perhaps it's using words like "venereal," "labia," "vagina," and "cervix" in the same sentence as "daughter?"  Who knows?

When asked by Sean Hannity about her reckless comment Bachmann backpedaled, "I am not a doctor. I am not a scientist. I'm not a physician."  Yeah, but you're doing fine job as a arch-conservative presidential candidate, Michelle.  Even Rush is shaking his dittoheads.  On behalf of my fellow Minnesotan's let me say this to the rest of the country, "Our bad."

UPDATE: I was intrigued so I did a little more Google Fu.  The religious right is against the HPV vaccine because they believe that if both partners practice ("Remember, practice makes perfect!") abstinence until marriage and remain perfectly faithful for a lifetime then there is no reason to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease.  I so wish that changed everything...

REUPDATE: Here's an excellent article by author Susan Jacoby.  Thanks to Why Evolution Is True for the heads up.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New OSHA Workplace Violence Investigation and Enforcement Guidance

Yes, this is what we talk about, and the way we talk about it, at work...

On a quick first pass CPL 02-01-052 "Enforcement Procedures for Investigating or Inspecting Workplace Violence Incidents" confirms that it constitutes what OSHA regards as a "significant change," "the first instruction on the enforcement procedures for investigations and inspections that occur as a result of workplace violence incident(s)." It can be a useful document to those building or maintaining WPV prevention and response programs as one can reverse engineer OSHA instructions to refine the structure of the recordkeeping elements of a program. This directive specifically and correctly focuses on late night retail and healthcare & social service settings.

The document outlines OSHA's "criteria for initiating inspections."

a. Known risk factors to consider, listed by NIOSH in its report NIOSH Current Intelligence Bulletin #57: Violence in the Workplace: Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies (1996).

b. Evidence of employer and/or industry recognition of the potential for workplace violence in OSHA-identified high risk industries, such as healthcare and social service settings and late night retail (See Section X, C, 1 and 2.).

c. Feasible abatement methods exist to address the hazard(s). [Appendix B]

"Enforcement Procedures for Investigating or Inspecting Workplace Violence Incidents” offers several scenarios where investigation and enforcement are appropriate, notably in healthcare and late night retail settings. Strikingly, it describes a case of acquaintance on employee violence (Type IV) as not meeting any of the three criteria for enforcement. It also describes a shooting of employees at a financial services company as meeting some but not necessarily all of the enforcement criteria.

I think security practitioners need to be conversant with CPL 02-01-052 because it is the guidance OSHA inspectors will use to determine whether a company that experiences workplace violence injury or death should be subject to enforcement action. It provides some very interesting clarifications under which OSHA investigators might invoke the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1). It describes a specific obligation for employers in late night retail and healthcare & social service settings. It does not seem to create specific obligations for other industries, but it is an interesting change of which all security professionals should be aware.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Journey Revisited

Here are some slightly redacted extracts from my colloquium presentation...

...held Friday 9 September 2011 as I completed my Master of Arts in Human Development at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota School of Professional and Graduate Programs.  As I was presenting to an mixed audience, most of whom had not read my position paper, and since said paper was already approved, I took advantage of the option to review the course of my HD experience.  It turned out pretty well.

Not all days are good ones

I’ve been a warrior, sleuth, assassin, architect, teacher, friend, poet, foot soldier, lieutenant, harried executive, preventer, enabler, frustration, and inspiration. But the fates determine that companies and careers follow an arc, and some peak early. The last good fight a distant memory, I stand guard over the house-of-cards castles of bickering lords besotted by greed. Wearied by age, fatigue, and heartache, there is little to do but see that the men are fed, the horses groomed, and that the hounds – which have not hunted for far too long – are scratched behind the ears by someone who knows their plight. I fear I will never be more than a would-be warrior-poet to should-be philosopher-kings.

No locks on the doors

In the HD690 Process of Human Development seminar I decided to study the unethical use of fear to promote security agendas.  To do so I would focus on three areas.  These were Tools – the means to give voice to my learning, Self – efforts to discern my spiritual needs and see to them, and Team – coursework that increases my value to my work group, employer, profession, and society.

The Benedictine monastery where the seminar was held was also the residence of retired nuns.  There were no locks on the doors to our rooms.  I slept like a baby. 


Meditating on the labyrinth

The fellowship at the HD/PY 585 Meditation seminar led by Priscilla, the exercises, and the homework were even more beneficial than I’d hoped they could be.


In HD604 Telling Our Story: Memoir Kay Harvey reawakened an atrophied talent for writing and allowed me to examine the traumas – old and new – that shaped me.  A much lamented uncle, a car crash, my long dead grandmother, [...] and the death of my best friend came uninvited to clash with pleasant memories of an earlier, simpler life.  

Nothing positive about it

The short course HD693 Psychological Transformation and the Spiritual Journey allowed me to distill a sense of my place on a continuum between New Age “woo” and Christian orthodoxy.  I found myself most comfortable somewhere between Campbell’s power of myth and Jung’s archetypes. I didn’t care for Parker Palmer on the first pass.  I have grown wiser since. [...]

Which sport?

In HD732 Principles of Spirituality and Human Development in Coaching and Team Building (Coaching, for short) Katie Cooney and I mapped a reservoir of experience and hard won insights that were given structure and reoriented toward a greater purpose…finding the strength in others.

When I answered the question “What class are you taking?”  the second question was always “Which sport?”

Father Notebaart

In MIB519 Global Religions and Belief Systems I met the priest I needed when I was still Catholic, a gleeful sage, a wise mentor, and friend. It was like drinking knowledge from a fire hose.  My final paper gave me a platform from which to examine issues related to the nature of spirituality, faith, religion, and the certainty that arises from them.

In the sweat lodge

I am immersed in earth smells, 
Pummeled by drums,
Flooded by the taste of sage and sweetgrass,
Lulled by rhythmic chants.
Other senses overfilled, my eyes beseech the darkness.
“Bring in Seven…”
In glowing orange orbs I witness
Newborn stars at the beginning of time.
In round river rocks cooling to red incandescence I see
The Earth before air or rain or green or life.
Black lines on luminous ancient stones draw for me
The thighs and belly of a Neolithic Venus.
Nearly hidden in the darkening pit appear
The dull red eyes of an angry black bull.
These fade and something in my center is stilled.
And, as ladles of cool water
Wash the last light from the rocks,
As we descend again into darkness,
The eyes of a tired but wise old dog
Open for a moment and then are closed. 
Mitakuye Oyasin. 

Leadership and decision making

Not everyone in a position of authority is a leader. Thanks to Connie Kotke in GM 625 Leadership and Decision Making I discovered servant leadership, I met Richard Leider, and I inverted my org chart.  Not since I first read Defensible Space in 1990 has a single idea made such a change in my life.  That February in 2009 I made a little placard that still sits on my desk.  It says, 


In GM643A Management Ethics and Issues I learned that this has all been done before, but that every generation has to learn it again.  This was my turn.  Lora Setter, who is also my boss in the Security Management program, made it fun.


HD/PY603 Therapeutic Use of Imagery for Psychological and Spiritual Growth, expanded on my learning in the Meditation and Psychological Transformation and the Spiritual Journey classes.  I found myself growing more comfortable opening the doors to long unused rooms.  I found more tools, and a few solutions. [...]

HDIS2 Neurotheology, Mysticism, and Spirituality

My papers tend to have long titles like Seeking the Divine Light: Four Medieval Mystics and feature one page of references for every page of text.  So, what on earth did neurology of the religious ecstasies of medieval mystics have to do with a Masters in Human Development concentrating on issues of Leadership, Team Building, and Decision-making?

The limits of my credulity

I met Janet Marinelli in the HD690 Process of Human Development seminar and decided I must study with her at least once. In HD730A Eastern Movement and Philosophy I reached the limits of my credulity.  Janet created a safe environment in which to map the boundary of what I believe and why.  Not all freethinkers are so kind.

Wendy Morris’ wonderful course (HD573 Creative Leadership Development)

Cracked open my right brain.

I like it in there.
Cognitive dissonance causes real pain
but it can be mastered.
I began to envision a future designed by me.
Thank you Wendy!


GM605 Creative Problem Solving

It was not the problem he was trying to solve but Rustin Wolfe made me a better instructor by setting a powerful yet simple example.

HD691 Ethics and Social Responsibility

What do I owe my profession? 
What do I owe my community? 
What do I owe my family? 
What do I owe myself?

Finding my voice

I started my Eclectic Breakfast, a blog where I offer up a deliberately wild skillet scramble made out of my opinions about anthropology, astronomy, blogging, civics, compassion, critical thinking, education, ethics, firearms, friends, humor, hunting, law, leadership, medicine, memoir, movies, natural history, outdoors, politics, reading, religion, risk, science, security, service, and skepticism.

Putting theory into practice 

I consulted with my personal board of directors, attended Minnesota Literacy Council ESL and ABE courses, and began tutoring with ISD191 Adult Education this summer.

Time for another independent study:

There were other courses

GM610 Information and Research 
HD635 Getting Published 
HD698 Process of Writing the Position Paper

And there were still more I would have taken if there were time enough and money.  My
advisor encouraged me to do more independent study...
A model for principled security leadership

Again, with the books,
And on-line experiences,
And discussions,
And debates.
Putting it out there, with my name on it


Arguing against using fear to promote a bunker mentality.

So here we are

I pursued a Master’s because Don Winger said I’d need one if I wanted to teach.  I joined the HD program because Priscilla Herbison told me I needed to. When I began the Human Development program it was hard to describe – even to interested people [...] Like I told Priscilla at the end of my first contract I am pleasantly surprised that the human being developed is me.

The way of sword and brush

“Early morning
I pick up my Sword and Brush
To practice my skills”

Thank you all!

Photo credits:, Wikimedia Commons,, Kenji Sekiguchi

Saturday, September 3, 2011

We've Always Been At War With Eastasia...

Welcome to the "Global War On Terror, Cyber Crime, Illegal Immigration, and Drugs, and In Favor of the Ballistic Missile Shield Military-Defense Contractor-Law Enforcement Complex."

Bruce Schneier reminds us that the Global War On Terror™ is too big to fail.  It's not so much a war as a cash cow upon which civil government administrators are more than happy to remain dependent on for funding.  Never mind that Al Qaeda has never been weaker, if you paint it olive drab or tactical black your community can civilianize the Global War On Terror™.

I'd love to see 9/11 come and go without a mention (except for selfless bravery of the passengers of Flight 93) but it's already way too late for that. Osama bin Laden is dead and buried but he's still reaping windfall profits from his $500,000 investment.  Two trillion dollars and counting, an economy in shambles, and an American people treating 9/11 like a national holiday...

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I had a hunch the inevitable 9/11 ten year retrospectives would piss me off.  I didn't have to wait long... 

The excellent Homeland Security Watch blog posted a link to Homeland Security Affairs who has published a collection of essays today in remembrance of the ten-year anniversary of September 11, 2001, titled Ten Years After: The 9/11 Essays.

I've only read a couple but Chertoff's 9/11: Before and After, was everything I expected it to be.

I am not surprised Chertoff expressed disdain for the rights of criminal suspects that are guaranteed by the Constitution.

I am not surprised he was uncomfortable with rules of evidence that make it challenging to prosecute accused criminals while upholding the law.

I am not surprised Chertoff resorted to aphorisms like “refashioning our legal tool set,” “streamline information requests,” “detaining operatives,” “incapacitating terrorists,” “failure to integrate warning information,” and “less than optimal.”

Actually I was a little surprised Chertoff bothered to argue that the FISA Act Amendments created the means to resolve legal issues related to electronic surveillance, but then he didn't bother to mention that the Bush administration frequently chose not to submit their domestic spying requests to the FISA courts anyway.

I am not surprised that, except to complain that criminal courts won’t accept evidence provided by the government in many terrorism cases, Chertoff utterly failed to mention issues arising from the torture of suspects, bizarre attempts to redefine torture, and the deaths of accused terrorists in US custody or that of countries to whom the US rendered them.

I am not surprised Chertoff failed to mention the concerns of air travelers subjected to ever more intrusive searches at TSA checkpoints. He mentioned nothing at all about the controversy surrounding the deployment of nude scanners at US airports, devices the sale of which enrich him personally.

I am not surprised that in his closing paragraphs, as though he’d run out of terrorism issues with which to be concerned, Chertoff turns his attention to cyber crime and hacktivism in the context of how difficult existing law makes it for the government to monitor the internet in real time.

No, I am not surprised, disappointed, but not surprised.  I remain fearful for the moral integrity and ethical center of our nation in the hands of unelected officials the likes of Michael Chertoff.

UPDATE: Here's a sobering article on claims by Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall that the Obama administration is operating under a secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act to spy on American citizens.  Al Qaeda sure got their money's worth...

REUPDATE: And for a more measured, less self-serving, viewpoint on the state of Al Qaeda these visit always interesting