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December 28, 2009

Bruce Schneier on Rachel Maddow
Posted by Teresa at 08:53 PM *

If the listing I’m looking at is correct, he’s going to be on—or rather, the show is going to start—seven minutes from now.

9:24 EST: Okay, that was cool. Bruce was on for about five minutes, and talked a great deal of sense.

Comments on Bruce Schneier on Rachel Maddow:
#1 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 09:42 PM:

The internet is not immediately turning up video, although I suppose demanding video of a show that isn't over yet is a bit unreasonable. Does anyone know how quickly the Rachel Maddow show gets posted online?

Can Obama please hire Bruce Schneier to be in charge of the TSA? I would like that very much.

#2 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 10:35 PM:

You should be able to view the video here.

#3 ::: Chris Sullins ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 11:23 PM:

Schneier comes on around 2:30 of the second segment (at the link provided by Sundre @2).

Caroline @1: He'd work better as an advisor if they'd actually listen to him. It would probably be a waste of his time to actually oversee the implementation of his suggestions. Wouldn't surprise me if he wasn't the managerial type.

I bet he gets tired of reiterating what he's been saying for years: We shouldn't defend against specific prior attacks; instead, we should use intelligence to catch them before their attempt. Really, there's almost nothing in that video that hasn't appeared in his blog (which is really worth following).

Though it is interesting that he thinks the business class might stop putting up with these ridiculous "security" measures and begin pressuring the airlines. Let's hope he's right.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 12:11 AM:

Bruce not a managerial type? He ran Counterpane, his own very successful computer security firm, for years. I don't know how many employees he had, but my impression was that he had quite a few of them. He sold Counterpane a while back, and now has a high-level position with British Telecom.

#5 ::: Beth Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 12:53 AM:

Teresa @4:

Not disagreeing with your conclusion, but you're actually mixing up two different Counterpanes. The one he ran for years, Counterpane Systems, was primarily a consulting firm, and had a handful or so of employees. That one is still extant.

Counterpane Internet Security, Inc., the first real-time managed security company, maxed out at well over 100 employees, but while Bruce was one of the founders, he never ran the company himself. Instead, he found good talent to do so. That's the company that was sold to BT a few years ago.

I muttered a few times about the unwisdom of having two unconnected companies with essentially identical names, but it went ahead anyway. And now BT has pretty much killed off their use of the Counterpane name, so there's less of an issue with Bruce using Counterpane Systems for his personal consulting practice.

However, Bruce has said several times that he would not be good as cybersecurity czar because he doesn't have the political connections, and I assume that goes for the TSA job as well.

#6 ::: Chris Sullins ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 01:19 AM:

Sorry, Teresa, didn't mean to imply knowledge that I don't have. Just speculating. I think of people with formidable technical skills as more likely to coordinate the tech than to do normal management. Guess it may have been a silly generalization. I still wonder what his actual duties are....

#7 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 02:06 AM:

He's also said that he doesn't think he'd be good as cybersecurity cyberczar because it's an inherently unworkable job, one with responsibility but no authority. The implication is that nobody can be good at that job, with the possible exception of someone with enough clout to change the rules and turn it into a fundamentally different job.

#8 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 03:45 AM:

The Blitz, and the Battle of Britain, are British National Myths, and more founded in truth than most. And both were the second time around. There was bombing of London, and valiant fighter pilots defending England, in the First World War.

The equivalent myths in the USA seem to involve fighting wars somewhere else. Yes, we had our imperialist jingoism, but it has been overlaid by being on the receiving end of terror bombing.

My mother lived three miles from a USAAF fighter base, where new pilots got that bit of in-theatre polish on their skills, flying in European weather. They didn't have the same fears as they might have in Afghanistan or Iraq today, but she was part of that "somewhere else".

Over-paid, over-sexed, and over here.

The IRA is my generation's equivalent, and maybe it still influences things. I remember there was a certain watchfulness over unattended luggage at railway stations. Did it ever stop a bombing? I don't know, but I have recollections of embarrassed travellers having their underwear scattered by a "controlled explosion". And it was something that everyone could be aware of, without it being intrusive.

This American-led aberration: it's all about governments imposing their will on others. It's taking away power from the people, not enabling them. It is, I suggest, fundamentally incapable of generating a political solution.

#9 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 04:23 AM:

#8:  Not only unattended luggage, but also (unattended) litter:  all litter bins were removed from British railway stations in case the IRA put bombs in them (they really did put a bomb in a litter bin somewhere).  Aha, thought the station management, we don’t have to hire people to empty litter bins any more!  So, though the danger is long gone – ex-IRA leaders are in the Northern Ireland government now – to this day, there are no litter bins at British railway stations.

#10 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 04:40 AM:

Dave Bell #8: This American-led aberration: it's all about governments imposing their will on others. It's taking away power from the people, not enabling them. It is, I suggest, fundamentally incapable of generating a political solution.

It's generating a political solution to the problem of really efficient crowd control. Not just in the States, either.

#11 ::: Cirret ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 06:28 AM:

@#9: the litter bins come and go at UK stations - at least the local stations I am more likely to visit - depending, one assumes, on the prevailing politics of security.

#12 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 06:49 AM:

> we don’t have to hire people to empty litter bins any more

Though I recently saw a poster at a railway station explaining that there were no bins for security reasons, so please take your litter away with you or give it to a member of staff.

#13 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 08:06 AM:

The video is up on MSNBC.

#14 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 09:32 AM:

Washington, D.C.'s subway system lost its litter bins shortly after 9/11, but redesigned bins were installed thereafter. I don't know how the new ones are supposed to be safer than the old ones. But I'd rather not ask searching security questions, lest someone decide they aren't that safe after all and take them away again.

#15 ::: martyn44 ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 11:10 AM:

Dave Bell #8, John Stanning #9 - it was Victoria Station in London where they ripped the doors off the stable after the horse had bolted in the form of an IRA bombing (funny how they were never terr'r attacks to many Americans).

My station has transparent waste paper bags in which to deposit fissile material, but they have taken away the benches.

#16 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 11:33 AM:

Dan Hoey:

I strongly suspect the new trash cans' main advantage is that some well-connected company was selling them, with some special "anti-bomb" security built in.


Bruce has been the boss of a smallish company, and the CTO of a startup that got moderately big, but I don't think he's ever been a management type in a large organization. (Maybe he'll post and clear this up, but I'm pretty sure.)

#17 ::: Adam Ek ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 11:33 AM:

The new "safe" trash bins are designed to shape or direct any explosion upwards. It may blow a hole in the roof, but they should minimize shrapnel that spreads horizontally.

#18 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 11:54 AM:

17: That's one type; however, the most popular trash cans seem to be the type that were designed (if I may use such a verb) to be vaporized by any amount of explosive energy. These "cans" certainly aren't sturdy.

#19 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 12:34 PM:

The problem with the "unattended luggage" meme.

Note that this happened less than a year ago.

#20 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 12:52 PM:

Auggghh! Horrific. I feel a jag of outrage fatigue coming on....

#21 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 02:59 PM:

Six or seven years ago I lived near a largish city park in Portland where people picniced, walked their dogs, jogged, and played soccer and baseball. A lot of trash was generated, especially over weekends, so there were trash cans at strategic points. One night someone blew up all the trash cans, with what the police said was at least half a stick of dynamite per can. I saw one of the cans the next day; it looked like a giant had stomped it flat. All cans were removed from the parks to prevent further such incidents, and have not been replaced since. I suspect it was more a monetary than a security decision; they'd already had to chain the cans down and put inside large concrete blocks to prevent them from being stolen, and they just couldn't afford to keep replacing them. It's funny though, no one called it a terrorist act.

#22 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 07:11 PM:

...although, one Barack Obama you might've heard of only had small-scale executive experience before starting his presidential campaign, as had his beanstalk predecessor from IL, Lincoln. So, small seems to be OK for executive experience.

But, he's right about .*czars. They seem to be our era's way to pretend you're doing something more effective than what you're actually doing. When I was a kid, it was blue-ribbon panels.

#23 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 10:55 AM:


This is a reasonable observation, but what does it have to do with Bruce's appearance on Maddow, or the underpants bomber? Is someone planning to appoint an underpants czar to prevent future attacks?

#24 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 01:37 PM:

@#9: After 9/11/01, the bathrooms in the San Francisco underground were closed with a sign saying they're "temporarily closed for security reasons." The bathrooms are still closed and the signs are still up. It was an easy way to reduce staff.

#25 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 07:20 AM:

I'm just fed up with the repeated announcements to keep you luggage with you at all times in case it gets mistaken for a bomb and the station is shut down whilst they blow up your laptop or something. Is there any evidence at all that such announcements work or is it just the usual security theatre?

Such as at the Science museum - they do baq searches now, for no readily apparent reason. Queues for bag searches would be easy places to blow up bombs, and the searchers would be easily shot first. So the security theatre continues in London.

#26 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 04:58 AM:

martyn44 @15:
I'm reminded of a discussion in rec.arts.drwho (I think) shortly after the Atlanta Olympic bomber did his thing, when a visiting Briton said something about going over to the (still in progress) Olympics, a hyperventilating American said "nononooooo!!! there are bombs!!! fear terror!!!" — and was promptly laughed out of the conversation, to the accompaniment of various personal stories of IRA near-misses.

#27 ::: ryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:32 PM:

who helps us, when katrina hit did we have a nother country help, when r towers were blown up did some one help, if we were hit by a bomb would any one help no, my house burnt down, no I'm a single dad liven in a tent and my own country don't help, yet they can help every one else, yea I'm happy 2 b a amercan that don't give a heck about us let's help every one else, yet fuc ur own people

#28 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:01 PM:

Actually, quite a few nations offered help to the United States both after the 9/11 attack and after Katrina.

#29 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:35 PM:

Summer Storms, #28: Yes, they did. And Bush TURNED IT DOWN. America was "strong" and "didn't need" assistance from other countries.

#30 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 12:05 AM:

Lee, I know that. Doesn't change the fact that those other nations offered. Had someone other than Bush been in charge then, we might have accepted. Or not. Hard to say.

#31 ::: Dave Luckett sees something nasty in the woodshed ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 09:41 AM:

Clean up needed this aisle

#32 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 10:16 AM:

Dave Luckett et al @32 - Oh, indeed. I knew when I saw the username that this one would be up to no good. Hopefully the Disemvowellator or the even more fearsome Post Eradicator is fired up and ready to go.

#34 ::: Serge sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2011, 01:30 PM:


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