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Obama administration

Report on Christmas Day bomber prompts intelligence director to step down


ASHINGTON—A Senate panel report, which outlined critical lapses in intelligence that allowed the alleged Christmas Day bomber to board a flight bound for Detroit, has led to the resignation of Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence.

He's 8 and on the watchlist. The TSA just can't win

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The TSA just can't get a break lately. It's been made very clear to the public by the President and Secretary Napolitano that there needs to be some major improvements to the government's system of gathering intelligence. But the media just can't let it go. Now ABC News is reporting that an 8-year-old boy is on the government's watchlist. Of course, the boy is not really on the watchlist, but rather someone who shares his name, but according to the kid's mom, he has had to undergo secondary screening since he was two.

I agree with the mother (and probably the majority of the American public) that this is pretty ridiculous. This child obviously poses no threat to aviation security and there's really no need to pat the little guy down. However, keep in mind the TSA is only following procedure. Individual screeners don't get to decide whether or not it makes sense to pat down an infant, they just have to do it.

But the system obviously needs tweaking. A TSA spokesman said that the agency is working on cross-checking names with birth dates and gender. We need to keep in mind that the list is long and the database is enormous - there are going to be flaws. But this one, is frankly not that worrisome and is actually a demonstration that the system worked - sort of. I'm sure glad my parents chose to go with the unusual name...

We're in a recession, crime has to be up, right? It just ain't so

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's a theme I heard over and over and over throughout 2009. Money is tight, people are desperate, so naturally crime is up. Right? Well, according to this preliminary report from the FBI, it just ain't so. As a matter of fact, the FBI is reporting that violent crimes appear to be down by 4.4 percent during the first six months of 2009.

And even more surprising:

The number of property crimes in the United States from January to June of 2009 decreased 6.1 percent when compared with data from the same time period in 2008. Property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.

The numbers that jumped out to me were in regards to motor vehicle theft. Check out this table. According to this report, car theft is down nearly 20 percent across the board. How is that possible? We were just sitting here in the SSN and SDN newsroom speculating about how this could be, especially during a time of reported hardship. (Check out Sam's blog for his take on this report.) Here's some of our brainstorming:

1. Has the worth of metal and parts fallen so much that it's no longer worth stealing cars to sell the parts?
2. Is the market for stolen cars/parts just oversaturated?
3. Have the security systems in cars gotten so sophisticated that it makes it really hard to steal a car anymore (I see a commercial for onStar and GPS tracking developing here).
4. Has border security tightened up so much that it makes shipping parts out difficult?

That's the one I'm going with, if nothing more than wishful thinking backing me up. Frankly, I really can't wrap my head around why there was such a huge reduction in auto theft (and crime in general), especially in the face of a recession. Can you come up with a better explanation?