Bruce Schneier writes what I consider one of best security-related blogs on the web, “Schneier on Security.”
Over the years, I’ve found most of the people who comment on his blog are serious, generally knowledgeable, and suspicious of unsupported assertions.
A few weeks ago, Schneier told his readers
“The second Quadrennial Homeland Security Review has been published by the Department of Homeland Security. At 100+ pages, I’m not going to be reading it, but I am curious if there’s anything interesting in it.
I’ve been gushing about the QHSR for the last few weeks. Schneier’s readers are significantly less impressed. Here are some of their comments (italics are intended only to separate the comments):
- “We have reviewed ourselves and found ourselves to be in compliance.”
- Nothing of value in most sections I read. It reads like an incredibly long Homeland Security brochure you pick up in their lobby.
- It says nothing. It reads like an annual report for the Girl Scouts. “We are protecting you… all 1000 federal agencies.” But I especially liked the part about the commitment to human rights… even as the administration justifies drone attacks on civilians.
- I don’t think I’ll bother trying to read it. Internal reviews are always going to try and put the agency in a positive light, since if they say “This agency is completely useless” then they are all out of a job. Half of their job seems to be to recommend products that various lobbyists promote, the other half is to give an appearance of “We are doing something to combat terrorism” – in reality, I think all we have managed to do is label more and more of the population as potential terrorists, probably making it even more difficult to track real threats.
- Maybe what’s left out is most interesting. Only a single mention of the “Constitution of the U.S.”
- Tried to read it, but got bored very quickly. Maybe that’s part of the strategy! Reminds me of a quote from Wittgenstein:”If a lion were able to speak, we would not understand him.”
- I know that ‘boring your enemy’ is a legitimate tactic. Hell, lawyers have been doing this by handing over large amounts of irrelevant material for the other side to trawl through.
- They might as well use one of those automatic paper generators (like mathgen [http://thatsmathematics.com/mathgen/] or scigen [http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/scigen/]). [One] wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
I tried the automatic paper generator suggestion in the last comment. The results were disappointing. One can easily tell the difference between the automatically generated essay and the 2014 QHSR. There were fewer pictures.
I tried a different generator, found here. That program produced a 530 word report, also without pictures, but disturbingly connected – in more than a few instances — to homeland security. Here is a link to that randomly generated homeland security report.
But don’t waste your time. It’s nowhere near as interesting as the 2014 QHSR.
I’m going back to my echo chamber now.