Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Friday, March 10, 2006

Who guards the guardians, or "Chief, can we use the cone of silence?"

The Leiter Report has this choice piece about incompetence at the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security (sorry, the Heimatssicherheitabteilung) in which accounts of stupidity like taking an envelope containing white powder through the office of the head to empty it outside the window are recorded. Then there's the suspicious bag left in the carpark:

Former guard Bryan Adams recognized his inadequate training one day last August, when an employee reported a suspicious bag in the parking lot.

"I didn't have a clue about what to do,'' he said.

Adams said he closed the vehicle checkpoint with a cone, walked over to the bag and called superiors. Nobody cordoned off the area. Eventually, someone called a federal bomb squad, which arrived more than an hour after the discovery.

"If the bag had, in fact, contained the explosive device that was anticipated, the bomb could have detonated several times over in the hour that the bag sat there,'' Adams said.

The bag, it turned out, contained gym clothes.

This brings fond memories to mind of the wonderful Mel Brooks TV show Get Smart. Incompetence in the intelligence community in that case was, of course, funny, not tragic, but I have this mental picture of the Cone of Silence, which was supposed to maintain security, but which made it hard for the people inside to hear the state secrets and everyone outside (the audience) able to hear every word. I wonder if Adams used a Cone of Silence? I mean, we heard about it, didn't we?