TSA Staffer Hires Buddies To Build Insecure Website For Folks Falsely On Watch List

from the well-that-makes-me-feel-safe dept

We've had so many stories of government computer systems or websites that have terrible security or are just useless (but expensive!) that it shouldn't surprise us to hear of another one. Yet, there's always someone who can go a step further. Witness the news that the TSA's website for individuals who find themselves incorrectly on the security watchlist has been found to be insecure, with hundreds of falsely accused travelers exposing personal details by using the site. Even better, it turns out that the company that was hired to build the site got the job in a no-bid contract (meaning there wasn't any competition -- it was just chosen) and the guy responsible for figuring out who to hire just so happened to have been a former employee at that company. So, basically, what happened was that a guy who had taken a job at the TSA hired his former coworkers, with no competition for the job and apparently little oversight, to just build a website that turned out to be insecure. And, of course, without any oversight, it took months before anyone even noticed the site was insecure. And, remember, that this is the TSA we're talking about here -- an organization who's main concern is supposed to be security. I feel safer already.

Filed Under: security, tsa, watch list


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  1. identicon
    Dave S, 15 Jan 2008 @ 10:01am

    Re:

    Nobody has said that the entire list is innocent, just as nobody has said that everyone held in Gitmo is innocent.

    However...

    A couple years back when EU nations started openly pressuring the US to shut down Guantanamo, Bush sent a spokesman out to make a statement saying that we can't do that because we'd released about 200 people from Gitmo and 10% of them were later found engaging in terrorist acts. Right there, the Bush administration admitted that 180 former inmates were not known to be currently involved in terrorism. (And I'm sure they're all under heavy surveillance, so it's unlikely that they would be so much as picking their noses without the CIA noticing.)

    But perhaps some of those 180 were terrorists when they went in, then the Gitmo staff helpfully counselled them and convinced them to become upstanding, America-loving citizens of the world. Let's be generous and assume that, of the 200 released, 15% had been reformed in addition to the 10% who continued in their terrorist ways. That still leaves 75% - 150 people - who were innocent when they went in.

    From there, I did a little digging and, near as I could determine, there were about 500 people in Guantanmo at the time and another 100 had been transferred elsewhere. Plus the 200 who had been released, that makes a total of 800 people who had been sent there. Of those 800, at least 150 (as derived above, based on the Bush administration's own publically-announced numbers) were innocent of any terrorist activity. Thats roughly 1 in 5, even if we assume that every single innocent person sent in had already been released.

    So, while you're right that not everyone in Guantanamo is a "fine, upstanding human being", neither are they all actual terrorists. Far from it, in fact.

    You're also right that "You get on that list for a reason." I've heard of several documented cases of people being put on the no-fly list for reasons such as having the same initials as a potential terrorist suspect. There have also been multiple highly-publicized cases of members of Congress appearing on the list. Innocent people clearly do get put on the list for no good reason and need a way to get off of it without having to grant the entire world access to their personal information.

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