Apr 22, 2011

A place to start saving money 

This morning I got an email (along with everyone else in my unit) from our Security Manager (the guy who oversees the handling of classified material and the physical security of our building). In it, he related how we all needed to be on the lookout and show extra vigilance because recently $32,000 worth of UPS uniforms were sold on eBay to some unknown entity. Virtually anyone in a UPS uniform, therefore - either delivering to you at home, or possibly at work - should bear extra scrutiny due to this possible threat.

Being as we work in the same area, I turned to him and asked where he got that information. He said it came in one of the regular email updates he gets from a wide swath of government security agencies. So, probing deeper, I asked "What'd they do? Add up all the UPS uniform sales on eBay? Does NSA have a whole desk devoted to watching what kind of crap people buy and sell on eBay - millions of transactions - every day? Or did somebody just sell 32 grand worth of uniforms in one shot and we're just 'lucky' enough to have stumbled across it?" The look I got in return was a bit like "why do you ask, and why do you doubt the man behind the curtain?" Of course, I got a different look when - less than five minutes later - I turned back to him and said, "Dude, you got took..."

You see, being a master of the interwebs, I vaguely recalled having heard this story before. Also, being a detector of BS, I detected... well... BS. With the simple Google search "ups uniforms ebay" I was routed to Snopes and, well, see for yourself. Took me only slightly longer than it took you to click that link to come to the conclusion this was bad information.

Ahhh, but the source. Where did it come from? Having now seen that he was handed a steaming pile, that he then took and passed along, our Security Manager was less than enthused. What @sshole passed that info? So, he finds the email, scrolls back down it to the point of origin and finds... Homeland Security. No joke. Couldn't make this up if I tried.

Yes, some chick at Homeland Security had blasted a bunch of military security specialists (at least Navy and Marine ones from what we could tell by the email) with a thousand times forwarded junkmail hoax... from 2003. Great oversight, there.

But what do you expect from a bureaucracy on top of other bureaucracies? That's what it is, after all. All the government did was take a bunch of other organizations and attempt - badly - to stick them together... and then put a massive unwieldy headquarters at the top. Imagine creating another HQ specifically to sit over the Pentagon. Call it... the Hexagon. Yeah... pass the Tylenol.

So, while I always thought the color coded terror alerts were kinda dumb, and am glad they are replacing it, I didn't think they were replacing it with "
imminent and elevated threat" warnings based on 8 year old spam email. But then this is the clown running the show, so what did I expect? And, as Mark Steyn reminds, the crowning jewel of Homeland Security is the TSA... which has yet to actually catch a terrorist. (Side note: though the Coasties got stuffed into the pile at Homeland Security, I have the utmost respect for those guys. They do more with less. WAY less. Same goes for Border Patrol, who are on their own master's shit list constantly for the very act of DOING THEIR JOB).

So, there ya go. No terrorists caught. No real threats recognized. Fake threats mass disseminated. Your tax dollars at work.

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