Meet the new BOSS, short for Biometric Optical Surveillance System, a crowd-scanning technology under development for the Last week saw the release of documents describing DHS's latest efforts in "facial profiling." The agency has awarded a
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports on the expansion of a DHS initiative that's bringing roving squads of armed
Random stops, bag searches, and interrogations are among the services TSA provides with its "Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response" program. Clearly, somebody in the TSA brass thought it would be really cool to call these units "VIPR" squads.
Some might find it unsettling to learn that the federal agency in charge of crotch-groping aspires to strike with the speed and ruthlessness of a venomous snake -- but I'm all for truth in advertising.
These militaristic monikers show us how the permanent security bureaucracy sees the relationship between the rulers and the ruled: They believe they are the BOSS of you.
At the top of the executive branch,
But further down the administrative ladder, the language sometimes gets admirably blunt.
And DHS has even expressed interest in "Gorgon Stare," a drone- mounted camera array under development by the
It began "as an effort to help the military detect potential suicide bombers and other terrorists overseas ... but in 2010, the effort was transferred to the
As Ars Technica's
The dangers of "mission creep" are apparent with the VIPR teams as well. VIPR got an unwelcome dose of public scrutiny back in 2011, when agents witlessly set up a checkpoint for
"TSA officials would not say if the VIPR teams had ever foiled a terrorist plot or thwarted any major threat to public safety," the Times reports, "the information is classified."
Still, it's generated some arrests for "minor drug possession" and outstanding warrants. "Did we need to have TSA in here for a couple of minor busts?" asked a
There's little to admire -- and a lot to worry about -- in intrusive homeland security programs like BOSS and VIPR--but at least they've got good, honest names.
Meet the new BOSS, short for Biometric Optical Surveillance System, a crowd-scanning technology under development for the
Last week saw the release of documents describing DHS's latest efforts in "facial profiling." The agency has awarded a