Schneier on 60 Minutes

I'll be on 60 Minutes this Sunday. I honestly don't know how it will look; it wasn't my best interview.

EDITED TO ADD (12/23): Here's the segment.

Posted on December 18, 2008 at 2:21 PM • 44 Comments

Comments

Chris FinchDecember 18, 2008 3:07 PM

Careful Bruce, the FBI might flag you as a potential terrorist for talking about airports.

Bruce SchneierDecember 18, 2008 3:53 PM

"In what sense?"

My answers weren't as crisp as they could have been. In particular, I didn't think I did a good job with the "aren't you helping the terrorists by pointing out all these security flaws?" question. I don't know if they're going to air that particular exchange, but I wasn't happy with it.

Joe schmoeDecember 18, 2008 4:31 PM

"...it's why the TSA was created: to never forget," Hawley tells Stahl.

Great, so the TSA was created to have a good memory. That doesn't mean their actions keep us safe.

HeddaDecember 18, 2008 4:41 PM

Oh, you worry too much, darling. You always know how to say the right thing. And I am sure you will look absolutely *mahvelous* in your interview. As always, of course.

GeorgeDecember 18, 2008 5:08 PM

Based on the linked writeup, it looks like Kippie is answering your charges with the standard Bush administration approach: "We're at WAR, so you need to be very very afraid. So ignore the whining bearded liberal, since he hates America and wants to aid the enemy."

I look forward to seeing the actual segment.

Brandioch ConnerDecember 18, 2008 6:21 PM

Hawley is still an idiot.

"Knives and guns do not present a big problem for us now. We have to continue to work to get at even the smallest pieces of an IED."

That would be a cell phone.

Yet I bring two of them on the plane with me every time I fly.

"People may be inconvenienced, but, says Hawley, "These people are trying to kill us. They got on the planes on September 11, 2001, killed 3,000 people," he says. "We understand the American public doesn't have 9/11 in the front of their mind. But it's why the TSA was created: to never forget," he tells Stahl."

How about we focus on "learning" instead of "to never forget"? Can we do that?

All Hawley is doing is helping the terrorists by constantly reminding people that the TERRORISTS are out there ... waiting ... plotting ... to KILL YOU!!!

But then, his job kind of depends upon the public continuing to be afraid of "terrorists".

And not on actually doing anything to reduce the threat.

Roxanne December 18, 2008 7:16 PM

The most telling line is the last one: "But it's why the TSA was created: to never forget," he tells Stahl."

That is: TSA is there to keep us afraid.

It's not clear whether they're improving our safety or not; their mission is to make us fearful. The second step - they hope - is for us to put our trust in them, blindly obeying out of fear.

Who are you going to trust? Whose side are they on?

counter painDecember 18, 2008 9:33 PM

I'm sure the moderators will pounce all over the political comments.

Wait, they only do that when it is a defense of Bush or a criticism of a democrat. Silly me.

RogerDecember 18, 2008 10:18 PM

Stupid sound bites like the one Kip Hawley made sound good on teaser segments. The unfortunate part is that he probably really believes that what the TSA is doing is the best use of the resources they control. It's unfortunate, and apparently a condition of a culture spread by poor leadership at the top.

Not that it will make anyone feel better but here is a pretty good summary of a study that explains why some people "just don't get it."

http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=406

http://www.apa.org/journals/features/...

dogDecember 19, 2008 3:45 AM

"I didn't think I did a good job with the "aren't you helping the terrorists by pointing out all these security flaws?" question."

Such a question would have just merited a laugh and an invite to the interviewer to study the last 15 years of security basics!

I said 15 years... probably I should have said last 3000 years, as even the old ones knew "the greatest danger is the danger you don't know", debunking the mith of security through obscurity before it was born...

CGomezDecember 19, 2008 7:14 AM

Many average folks think that when the details of a clever crime or how it was foiled are air that it has prepared the next wave of criminals.

These people are simply not trained in how security works.

Unfortunately, these people also elect our leaders, who reflect the same lack of training in their decisions... and reflect that lack of training onto the bureaucrats they hire to run whatever... including the TSA.

Kip Hawley has to keep taking people's shoes off at tha airport, or at the next Congressional hearing an 89 year old moron will say, "Mr. Hawley, someone tried to blow up their shoes once. It didn't come close to working and probably could never work, but you better start checking people's shoes or else!"

Hawley: "Yes Senator"

Senator to aide: "Make sure that video gets to the local news. I'm tough on security!"

RobertDecember 19, 2008 7:31 AM

"I honestly don't know how it will look; it wasn't my best interview." Shame, you should have been prepared.
Same as the TSA?

billDecember 19, 2008 9:18 AM

If you are such an expert, why dont you get hold of Barak and ask for Kip's job, then everything will be safe! you bald headed hippocrite!

HJohnDecember 19, 2008 9:32 AM

@bill

Come on. I get in trouble here sometimes for defending people like Bush, Hawkley and the TSA against over the top criticism. Now I'm going to tell you that you are over the top and out of line.

It's fair to disagree with Bruce, but calling him names and insulting him personally is ignorant. I think Kip does a better job than he gets credit for. But bill, i would trust bruce over you with security any day.

ModeratorDecember 19, 2008 9:49 AM

Politics are not inherently off-topic. Bruce regularly comments on specific laws and policies; I can't ask people to pretend they all just fell out of the sky, or that we have no idea who appointed Kip Hawley.

It becomes a problem when people use threads as an excuse to drag in other political topics they want to talk about, which is thread derailment. This, for instance, is not a thread about Iraq.

ModeratorDecember 19, 2008 10:35 AM

@HJohn:
"I get in trouble here sometimes for defending people like Bush, Hawkley and the TSA against over the top criticism."

You got in trouble a couple of weeks ago for defending Bush against attacks *no one had actually made,* on a thread where they were off-topic. It is, of course, not a problem when you -- for example -- defend the TSA in threads about the TSA.

"But bill, i would trust bruce over you with security any day."

Which is unfortunate, since Bill is posting from a TSA IP address.

HJohnDecember 19, 2008 10:40 AM

@Moderator: "You got in trouble a couple of weeks ago for defending Bush against attacks *no one had actually made,* on a thread where they were off-topic. It is, of course, not a problem when you -- for example -- defend the TSA in threads about the TSA."

I want to clarify. I wasn't talking about when you appropriately got on my case for delving off topic. I, was talking about when I irritate other bloggers. I take no issue with the time you are referring to when you corrected me--you were entirely appropriate in doing so.

I just thought my point may have more credibility with bill if i emphasized that my issue was not with his position, it was with his insult.

Scary note about the TSA IP.

Merry Christmas. :)

HJohnDecember 19, 2008 10:46 AM

@Moderator: "Ah. Never mind then."

You're doing me a favor. I've come across in a way that I don't intend, and I need to be more careful. (Of course, if I would have refrained from correcting bill, and left that to the moderator I wouldn't have stuck my keyboard in my mouth). :)

Have a Merry Christmas.

Sergeant William J. Kulas USMCDecember 19, 2008 11:17 AM

Really Bruce, if you are such a security expert why not work with the TSA to shore up their system. I am sure they could benefit from your vast expertise.

And George, if you do not think we are at war then come with me in 20 days when I return to Afghanistan for my third tour.

Pat CahalanDecember 19, 2008 12:05 PM

@ Moderator

> Which is unfortunate, since Bill is posting from
> a TSA IP address.

That is too funny... too, too, too funny.

I would *love* to see a dump of this blog's log. The results would probably be hilarious.

ThunderbirdDecember 19, 2008 12:37 PM

I've asked this question on another thread of your blog - maybe here I'll get an answer.

Exactly what does a part-time kitchen worker do to earn the sobriquet "security guru". Apart from talk, exactly what is it you do? Say what you will about the people at TSA, at least they're working the problem.

Mr. Schneir, you are nothing more than the Paris Hilton of the security world. One of many, I might add.

You do nothing more than ridicule and back-bite, and add nothing of substance to the problem. At least the people at TSA are putting their efforts where it may do some good.

You do what, exactly?

Brandioch ConnerDecember 19, 2008 2:11 PM

I'm with Pat on seeing the log. :)

Here's an idea, how about a slight change to the forum software to include the IP address from which the post was posted?

AndrewDecember 19, 2008 2:16 PM

I'll tackle Thunderbird's angst. If one is on the government payroll, please realize that the taxpayers trust you to do your job right. Part of doing your job is to error-check yourself.

>> Exactly what does a part-time kitchen worker do to earn the sobriquet "security guru".

Earn the respect of security professionals and laypersons worldwide. Publish well regarded books. Have insightful ideas and share them freely. You're talking about Bruce, right?

>> Apart from talk, exactly what is it you do?

Academics do two things that irritate operational people. Academics have the perspective and leisure to think, at length, about very complex problems. Academics have the luxury of doing so without meeting a budget, keeping the boss happy or fearing negative publicity.

They're irritating, but essential. The more irritating they are, the more you need to pay attention to them!

"The truth will set you free. First it will piss you off." -- David Gerrold.

>> Say what you will about the people at TSA, at least they're working the problem.

Are you kidding? TSA is working (budget wise) only the very smallest part of the problem, which is screening passengers. When 98% of maritime container traffic and over 70% of air freight is still not being screened, not to mention rampant baggage theft from 'secured' checked luggage . . . the terminal and the passengers are not the problem. The tarmac and the insiders are the problem, and any security professional who thinks about it for five seconds knows it.

>> Mr. Schneir, you are nothing more than the Paris Hilton of the security world.

That's not fair! Paris Hilton did a great job of putting McCain in his place. Bruce is still being polite to the TSA.

>> One of many, I might add.

When the security community is (politely) telling the TSA that it has its collective head up its butt, perhaps someone should pay attention.

It is the nature of bureaucracies to make it easier to lie to the boss than to tell the truth.

The truth is that on 11 September 2001, four jetliners were hijacked and thousands of Americans died. Today, on 19 December 2008, airport security postures and doctrine are ill equipped to prevent a repeat. The same minds who plotted Mumbai are working the problem today. I won't help them here, but if I can think of a dozen ways to jack a jumbo, I'm willing to bet that the enemies of America can think of a few more.

>> You do nothing more than ridicule and back-bite, and add nothing of substance to the problem.

Bruce has suggested a number of simple, practical solutions that would help TSA in its mission enormously. Armored cockpit doors on all large aircraft, passenger and freight, would be a great start. It's not his fault that your bureaucracy makes it nearly impossible to implement any idea that is not blessed from on high.

Terrorists don't have to get three levels of approval, you know, nor do they have to placate all stakeholders and beg for budget scraps. This puts them inside your decision curve unless you are proactive rather than reactive.

>> At least the people at TSA are putting their efforts where it may do some good.

How many hours of lost productivity? How much damage to the American economy? How many taxpayer dollars spent? How many more taxpayer dollars wasted? How little motive to become more effective and efficient?

A tithe of the money spent on TSA checkpoints (largely labor) could have made a huge difference spent intelligently.

>> You do what, exactly?

Speaks truth to power, to quote Dr. Gary Marx. He's also nice about it. Hats off to him.

AndrewDecember 19, 2008 2:17 PM

@Brandioch Conner

While I enjoy the idea of posting IPs, many of us would then have to stop posting for one reason or another. Especially those inside the wire, so to speak.

Bruce SchneierDecember 19, 2008 9:37 PM

@ Thunderbird

"You do what, exactly?"

I'm a security technologist.

Does anyone know where the "part-time kitchen worker" bit came from? Has someone been messing with my Wikipedia entry again?

KanlyDecember 21, 2008 2:33 AM

Yes, my comment got deleted too. What did I say? That the media's soft reporting on Iraq did far more damage than Bruce's security comments ever did. Guess that could offend CBS, but deservedly so. By deleting the stuff you disagree with you're polishing your own slippery slope there Bruce.

gregDecember 21, 2008 10:57 AM

@Kanly

I don't think Bruce does the moderating here.

I know sometimes my posts don't go through.

But i have never had anything deleted (ie it was there then taken down). If you look above, if a its a deliberate delete you may have been a bit on the rude/personal attack/less than objective side.

ValDecember 21, 2008 2:59 PM

@greg

Mine went through, stayed up for a while, then disappeared.

And all I said was that I had more respect for Hawley before the video piece, and that his logic goes along the lines of "We must never forget! That's why we have all this security theater around that's not making us any more secure".

Are you saying that someone else is doing the moderating here for Bruce?

ModeratorDecember 21, 2008 4:23 PM

I definitely need to set up a highlighted style for Bruce's and my comments so people don't miss them. As I said above, this isn't a thread about Iraq. It's not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with the comment, but of refusing to allow the thread to be derailed.

Val, I removed your comment because the language you used was over-the-top insulting, and your point had already been made in this thread. Your basic sentiments are widely shared here, but comment threads full of people insulting Kip Hawley in slightly different ways aren't very illuminating. If you have a substantive criticism of what he said that hasn't already been made in the thread, that would certainly be welcome.

@greg:
"I don't think Bruce does the moderating here."

That's almost always true. He will occasionally delete stuff if he happens to see it first. But since the comments here are so active, and since the life of a part-time kitchen worker is surprisingly busy, he often doesn't read threads until everyone has already moved on. So he has a flunky do it.

"...if a its a deliberate delete you may have been a bit on the rude/personal attack/less than objective side."

I know what you mean here, but just to be clear, there's no requirement to be objective. That would make for VERY quiet threads.

OliverDecember 23, 2008 6:39 AM

@Bruce

I think the kitchen-worker might refer to your post "Bypassing Airport Checkpoints" (Dec 18) where you quote a broiler repair-man speaking in the first person. I guess they thought that was you.

TarkeelJanuary 12, 2009 7:46 AM

Okay, so I know I'm late in commenting... But seriously, you should have used your "Two-eyes" routine for lens solution :)

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