Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Theft, Gunfire, and Death in Hayden, Idaho

The Idaho State Police is investigating the wounding of Coeur d'Alene police officer Michael Kralicek and the death of Michael Madonna at Madonna's residence in the Grouse Meadows residential subdivision of Hayden, Idaho, shortly after midnight on Tuesday, December 28, 2004. One account of the shooting was reported on December 30 in the Idaho Spokesman Review article by writer Kevin Taylor.

In conducting this homicide investigation involving a police officer, two deputy sheriffs, and Madonna, the Idaho State Police (ISP) will ask some questions that may irritate some people. The questions will try to get answers to explain exactly what happened, what was the timing and sequence of events, and why they happened. A thorough investigation, one which may make some law enforcement supervisors and administrators uncomfortable, is essential if they are to learn the lessons to avoid future incidents. As ISP Captain Clark Rollins said, "When you think about the crimes that led up to this, why did this happen? It's crazy."


It is expected that the ISP's investigation will produce a meticulously detailed timeline of events and answer several relevant questions about this incident.

- Was Michael Madonna's theft of the two kegs shortly after 9 p.m. a felony or misdemeanor? What was the dollar value of the property stolen? Were the kegs inside the business or outside when he took them? The answers to these questions are relevant, because they determine the severity of the initial offense that started a sequence of events ending with one man dead and one seriously injured.

- When the first Coeur d'Alene police officer arrived at Madonna's residence minutes after the theft, the officer knocked on the front door but there was no answer. For how long, if at all, had Madonna's pickup been out of the view of the two civilian pursuers before the officer arrived? The officer and the two beer distributor employees left after noting items in the back of Madonna's truck. What were the items they observed? Were the beer kegs visible in the back of the pickup truck at that time? If the theft was a felony, why did the officer leave rather than call for backup to establish a secure perimeter, conduct a search for the suspect, and then secure the pickup and evidence?

- Three hours later, Coeur d'Alene police officer Kralicek and two Kootenai County deputies were dispatched. Kralicek was to question Madonna about the theft, and the deputies were to talk with him about the minor hit-and-run damage to a wall at the Grouse Meadows entrance. Who made the decision to dispatch the officer and deputies? At the time Kralicek and the two deputies were dispatched to Madonna's residence, had the decision already been made that Madonna was to be arrested? Had they been told by supervisors, formally or informally, that they were to arrest Madonna? Or were they simply interviewing him as the newspaper reported?

- Why was it deemed necessary to conduct that interview at suspect Madonna's residence in a residential neighborhood shortly after midnight? If investigating relatively minor property crimes was the reason for contact, why not confront the suspect at a time and place that would give the officer and deputies more control and tactical advantage and present less of a threat to others? What was the urgency compelling contact during the night at his residence in a residential community?

- Was the city police department or county sheriff's office aware of any emotional or mental problems with Michael Madonna? Was he known to be violently aggressive or potentially suicidal? If so, was that information conveyed to the officer and deputies in any manner other than the "alert code" prior to dispatching the officer and deputies to make contact with him?

- Before dispatching the deputies and officer, had anyone determined whether or not Madonna owned any weapons and had any weapons in his house? For example, did he have a concealed weapons permit? Did he have prior police contacts when weapons were found in his possession? Had this information been conveyed to the officer and deputies?

- Almost certainly the three law enforcement officers knew about the "alert code" on Madonna for resisting arrest in an incident two weeks earlier. That incident involved Madonna's trying to get control of a Coeur d'Alene police officer's handgun while Madonna was under arrest for DUI and handcuffed in the patrol car. Why, then, did they not handcuff Madonna for their own safety and to prevent his fleeing when they first approached him shortly after midnight Tuesday morning in his driveway?

- Did Officer Kralicek actually enter Madonna's house in pursuit? When Madonna fled into the house, did Officer Kralicek draw his own weapon? If Officer Kralicek entered Madonna's house, had Kralicek drawn his own weapon before entering? At what point, if any, did Kralicek draw his own weapon?

- Has it been forensically confirmed that the bullet that struck Officer Kralicek came from Madonna's handgun?

- What was the position of each participant (Madonna, Kralicek, KCSD deputies)when the shooting began, and what were their positions throughout the shooting?

- ISP Captain Rollins said more than 20 rounds were fired. If two were fired by Madonna from his revolver, then at least 18 rounds were fired by the deputies. The newspaper accounts do not indicate if Kralicek fired any rounds. Three rounds struck Madonna, so at least 15 rounds did not. Have all bullets fired been located? Where did each bullet strike?

These are some of the obvious questions the ISP will ask and answer. There are many more. The public should not be upset by having them asked. Their answers, and the thoughtful analysis of them, should lead to safer and more professional law enforcement in our community.

Our local news media should seek public disclosure of the final ISP report. Often, law enforcement agencies object strongly to this type of report being made public. Usually, they assert that disclosure would (a) Interfere with enforcement proceedings; (b) deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication; (c) constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy; (d) disclose the identity of a confidential source or confidential information furnished only by the confidential source; (e) disclose investigative techniques or procedures; or (f) endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel. Of all the exemptions, only (c) might apply, and it could easily be overcome by redacting personal identifiers of civilian witnesses.

In this incident, there were over 20 shots fired in the span of a few seconds in a residential neighborhood shortly after midnight. The residents of the Grouse Meadows subdivision were put at greater risk of injury or death because of all the events that transpired. They are entitled to know the facts, all of them, that resulted in their personal safety being placed at risk. The community at large is also entitled to that information so that it can form informed opinions about the conduct of its elected and appointed law enforcement administrators and supervisors.

Just as there are people who would seize on the report to be hypercritical of the law enforcement actions, so there are those who believe any public examination of law enforcement conduct is never necessary. Fortunately, most people in our community are between those polar extremes. We can handle the truth.

Addendum on 09-22-2007: The answers to some of the questions in this post are in Theft, Gunfire, and Death in Hayden, Idaho: Part II posted on February 16, 2005.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Law Enforcement Technology - Introduction

The term "law enforcement technology" is fundamentally misleading. Very little new technology is developed first for law enforcement. There's just not enough money in it. Consequently, most law enforcement technology is trickle down (apologies to David Stockman). It enters law enforcement after being less useful and therefore less marketable in the discipline for which it was initially developed.

Often, law enforcement technology is derived from the US military or other US government agencies' contracts. A reduction in federal budgeting for massively profitable contracts coupled with continuing advances in various technologies, principally those connected with the various electronic intelligence efforts, results in contractors scrambling to find viable markets for their products at once technologically obsolete for the Feds but highly advanced for the Locals. The first charge-coupled-device miniature cameras used in law enforcement evolved from the spy satellite programs as well as from industrial inspection processes.

Law enforcement technology is also derived from other private industries such as medicine and the entertainment industry. Imagery technology (fluoroscopic or radiographic) once limited to doctors is now regularly used by public safety bomb squads and airlines. Audio devices such as body worn tape recorders used in the motion picture industry found their way into law enforcement.

On November 29 and 30 and December 1, 2004, I was the guest lecturer in Criminal Justice 382 - Organization and Administration at Eastern Washington University, Cheney, Washington. The topic I chose was "Law Enforcement Technology", and the series was entitled "The Technology Tornado - Criminal Justice Meets the Wizard of Oz." Today's posting is from the Introduction to those lectures.

For a few days, I am going to post on the remaining topics covered in those lectures. There will be little about toys (cop-speak for law enforcement technology). Rather, it will be more about how agency heads can prepare themselves to recognize the challenges of technology and use technology most effectively.

By the way, the title for the lecture series, "The Technology Tornado - Criminal Justice Meets the Wizard of Oz," was inspired by The Wizard of Oz. The administration of the criminal justice technology process is similar to a tornado: Lots of stuff happening and flying around all over the place with a lot of administrators hoping a house doesn't fall on them in the process!

Other topics to be covered include:
- Needs identification
- Researching technology
- Law, ethics, morality of technology
- Agency policy development and compliance
- Procuring technology
- Training to use technology
- Deploying the technology
- Supervising those who use technology
- Measuring how well or how poorly technology meets needs
- User and supervisor feedback
- Preventive and corrective maintenance
- Upgrades and replacement
- Adjusting to rapid changes in technology

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I Am Not a Threat!

Spokesman-Review editor Steve Smith responded to an "Ask the Editors" question about media consolidation on December 20, 2004. Here's the final paragraph of Mr. Smith's answer:
One bright spot for the writer to consider...at the same time consolidaton sweeps mainstream media, technology is opening news reporting, writing, and editing to limitless numbers of people. The future of news reporting in this country probably belongs to the self-employed, self-trained editors and bloggers rather than the corporatized few. Anyone with a PC can be in the news business now without having to invest in a chunk of metal (the printing press) or a digitized plasmatized TV studio.
Maybe it's just me, but I thought I detected a note of unnecessary anxiety in his response.

Spokesman-Review writers like Benjamin Shors, Erica Curless, and James Hagengruber need not be unduly concerned about me and my computer running them out of business. What I and other bloggers typically post is not news, it is information and comment.

News is a finished product. It starts out as raw information supplied by human or inhuman sources. The raw information is tested for accuracy and authenticity (well, most of the time, Jayson Blair and Dan Rather excluded) and its sources are evaluated for reliability. The story gets written and judged by one or more editors (most of whom are human or reasonably close to being), and then it gets sized, placed, and printed.

Blogger postings can be accurate, well-written, and informative, but for the most part they do not qualify as news. The reportorial and editorial discipline is often missing.

But bloggers, often with highly specialized knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences can offer reporters information that can, or should, lead to more probing and insightful questions and thus better news coverage. To put it another way, bloggers can provide specialized information to the reporters. That, of course, transforms the real reporters into editors. The reporter must perform the same kind of relevance, accuracy, timeliness, and reliability checks on blogger information that an editor performs on the reporter's stories. Since the reporter's time is very limited, it stands to reason that a blogger submitting information must begin to adopt some of the institutional discipline inherent in the news business. The blogger's information must be timely, crystal-clear so it and its relevance is quickly understood by the reporter, brief, and verifiable.

So, to answer Steve Smith, his job and his reporters' and columnists' jobs are not threatened by bloggers' access to computers and email. The "delete" button on Mr. Smith's computer can remove all traces of our not-ready-for-the-news ramblings. But since newspaper editors are being forced to reduce staff, he and other editors might want to consider ways bloggers can contribute to rather than compete with those who report and edit for a living.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

If We Had Only 60 Seconds...

Suppose we were faced with an onrushing disaster and had only 60 seconds to grab and go with everything we would need to sustain our bodily life and then to recreate our economic life after the disaster had subsided. Could we do it?

The tsunami that hit several south Asia countries has reminded us to be sure we could. Fortunately, it is much easier for most of us than for those who were caught in the Christmas eve tragedy in Asia. Unfortunately, most of us don't take the time to do it.

The first step must be taken long before disaster strikes. Plan.

Identify what we need, absolutely need, to keep us alive and help rescuers locate us in the United States. That will usually include medications, water, a flashlight with fresh batteries, a whistle, and limited nourishment. Depending on where we live and on our post-incident ability to get to a public emergency shelter, it may also include clothing and blankets and a portable radio with fresh batteries. If we take medications or have allergies or medical conditions, we should wear a Medic Alert bracelet. It can provide emergency responders access to vital medical information about us even if we are unconscious. It can also make identification of our bodies easier should we die.

Planning also includes ensuring that copies of all our important financially relevant documents (insurance policies, birth certificates, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, passports, etc.), documents we will need to recreate our financial life to its pre-disaster condition, are current and in two locations. The first location is in a grab-and-go bag along with our keep-us-alive stash. The second location is with someone trusted and well beyond our geographic area. This might be with a distant trusted family member, an attorney, and accountant, etc. Why two locations? We may not be able to get back to our grab-and-go bag. We're not likely to carry it with you everywhere we go. If disaster strikes and we are separated from our records, our distant custodian can help us get things back in order after the emergency passes.

The second step is simple: Execute! If disaster strikes, if we must immediately evacuate in the face of an oncoming disaster, assemble the family, grab the grab-and-go bag, and go. Difficult as it will be, we may have to leave pets and family memorabilia behind.

Monday, December 27, 2004

"I Do Not Understand It...At All"

In The CDA Blog on December 24, 2004, Phil Corless linked his readers to another blog, The Happy Homeschooler. The Happy Homeschooler's entry was entitled "Security is Not a Joke", and it recounted how the author and her young son were searched by airport screeners. Mr. Corless's comment about the searches was, "There's really something seriously wrong with the system when they are searching a little boy's genitals and his mother's breasts at airport security. I do not understand it... at all."

It is difficult for decent people to accept there are amoral people in the world, people who will purposefully and willingly exploit anyone including women, infants, toddlers, the elderly, the infirm, and the psychologically disabled. French sociologist Emile Durkheim discussed this amorality (his term was anomie) in his 1893 book "The Division of Labor in Society". Anomie was Durkheim's explanation for the breakdown in social norms. Our social norms control behaviors in an ordered society. When the norms that regulate how we behave begin to break down, we see people engaging in unacceptable behaviors such as trying to hijack or destroy aircraft in flight. As that happens our preventive and remedial responses are likely to also become more aggressive and less acceptable.

What Mr. Corless believes is seriously wrong with the (airport security screening) system is less attributable to the screeners' methods than to the behaviors of those who would circumvent security measures.

Airport screeners, or at least the security professionals who write the policies and procedures they follow, understand some simple facts: It requires very little material to make an aircraft fall out of the sky and crash into the ground at terminal velocity. All on board an aircraft are likely to die if that happens.

Security professionals also understand that the items necessary to assemble a small destructive device on board an aircraft can be concealed in or under the clothing of children or under a woman's breasts or in body cavities. The terrorists understand and exploit our cultural unwillingess to touch another person's body in a way and in places most likely to reveal cleverly concealed items.

Full body scanning fluoroscopes are available. They allow security screeners to observe the entire body without the passenger's being touched or disrobed. But this technology has detractors who fear that a machine which can visually resolve concealed items will have sufficient resolution to allow screeners to see "private" components of our physiology. They also object to exposing the passenger to even a low level of ionizing radiation. So, what if the image indicates an object that must be resolved by closer examination? How much closer? How much more intimate?

Yes, there are technologies that can "smell" explosive or incendiary materials. So the alarm goes off on a four-year old passenger. Then what? What are the alternatives available for resolving the alarm? Have the child disrobe?

There are no simple, socially and culturally sterile solutions immediately available to airport security screeners or their bosses. To paraphrase Newton's Third Law of Motion, for every security action there will be an equal (or greater) and opposite reaction. We may need to begrudgingly accept that this security versus terrorist tug-of-war will be going on indefinitely.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

The BNSF Refueling Facility Leak at Hauser

The recently-disclosed leak at the BNSF Hauser refueling facility has attracted renewed community and government attention. Here is an interesting website that describes some of the preventive and protective measures at that facility. This website is apparently maintained by an 11th grade student rather than by BNSF, so the information on this website may not necessarily be current, accurate, or endorsed by BNSF.

However, the BNSF's own website does contain an August 27, 2004, press release announcing the opening of the Hauser facility. Concerning the level of safety and environmental protection, the press release states, "The protection includes two high-density polyethylene underground secondary containment liners with leak detection, double-walled pipe for all underground piping and double bottom diesel storage tanks (two 250-thousand gallon capacity each)." Wasn't the 8-inch PVC wastewater piping underground? Was it single- or double-walled? Doesn't the press release imply that even the wastewater piping had "underground secondary containment liners with leak detection?"

Friday, December 24, 2004

Terrorist? Unwitting Smuggler? Victim?

The case of Randall Rustick of Fairfax County, Virginia, has everyone puzzled. The most complete account of this mystery has been Steve Ginsberg's December 24, 2004, article on page B01 in the Washington Post. The article was headlined, "Blade in N.Va. Man's Shoe Baffles Federal Authorities."

On December 21, 2004, Rustick, his wife, and four children were boarding a flight from Honolulu to Kauai to visit his mother. Rustick removed his dress shoes, placed them in a plastic tray for fluoroscopic examination by TSA security screeners, and walked through the magnetometer. His next step was into the Twilight Zone. The next thing he knew, he was in federal custody for having tried to carry a three-inch boxcutter blade onto an aircraft. The blade had been spotted on the fluoroscope screen. Further examination of the shoe revealed the blade concealed under the insole of his shoe.

Rustick denies any knowledge of the blade or how it got into his shoe. Nothing in the investigation so far indicates otherwise. Rustick believes the blade could have been concealed in his shoe six months ago when the shoes were repaired. But he has reportedly flown several times since then wearing the same shoes without the blade being detected.

Rustick spent Tuesday night in a federal detention facility. An Assistant US Attorney for the District of Hawaii does not believe Rustick is a danger and agreed with a federal district judge's decision to release him on the condition he not leave the country.

Still, everyone wonders how the blade got into Rustick's shoe. And why? Why him?

Authorities have to be concerned that someone may have placed the blade in Rustick's shoe to have him unwittingly smuggle it on board an aircraft where it could be retrieved by someone with malicious intent. But that is an incredible stretch of imagination. The instigator would have to know that fluoroscopic detection of the blade was possible, maybe likely, regardless of who was carrying it. And then, once on board the aircraft, how did the on-board terrorist plan to acquire Rustick's shoe? It is not a long flight from Oahu to Kauai, so it is unlikely that Rustick could be counted on to remove his shoe for comfort.

If the blade was placed in Rustick's shoe as a prank, then authorities will still want to know who and why. The way the blade was cleverly concealed suggests whoever placed it knew detection was possible. If someone emplaced the blade to cause Rustick's detention, that person ought to be charged with obstruction of justice or interfering with a federal agent. The Feds will also want to know when. How many times have Rustick's shoes been fluoroscopically inspected at TSA checkpoints and the blade's presence been overlooked?

This one is a mystery.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Investigate, But Not Yet

The Thursday, December 23, 2004, Coeur d'Alene Press is reporting here that the Friends of the Aquifer and the Sierra Club are asking for an independent investigation of the wastewater leak at the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe's (BNSF) fuel depot in Hauser. The depot opened on September 1, and the drainage pipe leak was discovered on December 10.

Rachael Paschal Osborn is an attorney representing both the Friends of the Aquifer and the Sierra club in calling for the independent investigation. Her clients do not fully accept the BNSF will conduct an impartial investigation and completely report its results. Osborn was quoted in the Press saying, "We really can't trust that BNSF is doing the right thing. They've polluted aquifers all over the West, and this is typical behavior by them."

Kootenai County Commissioner Gus Johnson believes the county should wait until BNSF and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have completed their investigation. The county will review that investigation's results and then decide how to proceed. Johnson was quoted in the Press saying, "I don't buy into BNSF and DEQ skewing information. I have better thoughts of people than that."

I am astonished to find myself agreeing at least in part with Gus Johnson. It appears that BNSF has acted to prevent further leakage from the wastewater pipe, so presumbly the immediate threat has been stopped. I'm not so naive, however, to think that BNSF could not and would not skew the report results to put forth the best corporate image possible. We've seen enough corporate malfeasance in the past two or three years to not buy into Johnson's "better thoughts of people" comment.

Tactically the environmental groups would be wise to let BNSF and DEQ complete their investigation and submit a final report. Then insist that the report, its methodology, and all the evidence be reviewed by a neutral body of scientists who can evaluate the report's scientific and social validity. If the BNSF/DEQ report stands the tests of scientific peer review, factual completeness, and accuracy, then another equally valid but independent investigation would serve only to muddy the waters and delay remediation. On the other hand, if the BNSF/DEQ report fails an objective review, the environmental groups' case for a fast-track independent investigation is strengthened.

Both the BNSF and the DEQ have reputations to protect. It is unfair and unwise to prematurely assert their report will be biased. They are duty-bound to fulfill their social and political obligations to the public. They need to first be given a chance to do their duty. If they fall short, then we should hold them accountable. And we will.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Jack Newfield died Monday, December 20, 2004. Here are some links to obits for this legendary and fearless newspaperman:

The Village Voice

The Mercury News

The New York Sun

The New York Daily News

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Report: Covering the Police in Times of Crisis

The University of Southern California Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism has published an excellent report available online here. It was prepared by Joe Domanick, a Senior Fellow for Criminal Justice at the Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism for a symposiuim at the Institute.

The report appears to do a responsible job of explaining the challenges faced by journalists covering the police. It discusses the some of the conflicts that exist (as they sometimes should) between the two occupations. It also explains why journalists and their employers sometimes fail to report as aggressively as they should about police conduct that crosses the line into misconduct.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Corrosive Correspondence

After reading Duane Hagedone’s letter withdrawing the Gardens project, the Coeur d'Alene mayor and city council may finally comprehend the contempt he has not only for them but also for most of us who live here. Surely now our elected officials understand just how he has used them.

Because Hagedone’s letter was so poorly and poisonously written, I wondered if the Spokesman-Review and the Press had verified its authenticity before reporting its content. It was not a shining example of gracious business correspondence.

• Hagedone: “Your (referring to the mayor and council members) proposed action of next Tuesday to put my plan to a public advisory vote does not pass my test of what is in the best interests of the citizens of Coeur d’Alene.”

Now, how could he know what the outcome of the council’s Tuesday meeting would be? He couldn’t, unless the council had already privately deliberated and decided to put the Garden issue on the ballot and someone in the meeting had provided the information to him. Of course, they didn’t do that, because even informally polling each council member to determine how s/he would have voted would have been a very clear violation of that pesky Idaho Open Meeting Law.

We elected the mayor and council, not him, to represent our best interests.

What is his test of what is in the best interests of the citizens of Coeur d’Alene?

• Hagedone: “I do believe we would be successful if the vote were taken but it would take a major campaign which I feel would divide the community and also send out a message that would not be good to anyone interested in locating in our city.”

Why would an informative, honorable campaign to persuade people to support a worthwhile project divide the community and send out an unfavorable message? If the campaign was not contentious, it seems that a message of community collaboration would be sent.

• Hagedone: “It is also my understanding that you would place the vote along with the vote on the new public library and some badly needed public works projects. It is my belief that combining these projects will dramatically reduce the possibility of passing the new library and the public works projects that are badly needed. There is no question that a vote on our project will bring out many of the negative voters in the community.”

It is a library bond vote and a public safety bond vote, not “badly needed public works projects.” His apparent concern for the library and the public safety agencies was a red herring the size of Moby Dick.

The projects aren’t being combined. They would have been included on the same ballot but as separate ballot items. The citizens of Coeur d’Alene are able to distinguish between ballot items.

And who are “the negative voters" in the community? I thought it remarkably coincidental that identical phrase was also used in the Press article: “Sources close to both bond initiatives said privately they were fearful that if the City Council put the garden proposal on the same ballot with their projects, all three would fail because the Hagadone plan would bring out ‘the negative voters.’”

• Hagedone: “Giving in excess of $20,000,000 for what I feel would be a world class garden addition to our community should be embraced by the City elected officials and the community. It should be a project filled with pride, fun and excitement for me and my family.”

Most people would agree. Perhaps in his next letter, he would like to complete his thought and explain how these statements were reason for withdrawing the project proposal.

One final note: The city government ought to publicly repudiate the statements of Jonathan Mueller, a landscape architect with Coeur d'Alene-based Hatchmueller P.C. In Saturday's Press he said, "There's a real cynical side to me that says it's a sad day for Coeur d'Alene. The flat-earth society has prevailed." Apparently Mr. Hagedone’s contempt for us geospatially-challenged Coeur d’Alene residents and elected officials trickles down to his hirelings.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Your Loved One Is Missing!!!

In February 2003, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a multi-part series entitled "Without a Trace." It reported the neglect, indifference, and poor training of law enforcement agencies handling of missing person cases. The series was nearly ignored by our two local newspapers, perhaps because they did not want to embarrass local agencies that handled the Carissa Benway missing person-turned-homicide case. The P-I's series is still available here.

As a result of the P-I's series, several Washington State agencies updated and upgraded their missing person procedures. Additionally, Attorney General Christine Gregoire formed the Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Task Force to develop tools to aid law enforcement and victims' families.

The AG's press release is available here.

The booklet "Your Loved One Is Missing!!!" is available here. You will need Adobe's PDF reader to view the booklet. This booklet is a must-read-and-have. It provides structure and guidance that can help victim families and friends work more effectively with authorities to recover a missing loved one.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Is the Airport Safe?

The Thursday, December 16, 2004, edition of The Spokesman-Review carried a Business page story headlined "Three airport security officers quit." The story by John Stucke is linked here.

My first reaction was, "Why is this story on the Business page?" This is less a story about business than about public safety. It is a significant story. It is very important to note that the three federal employees, all supervisors, were not reassigned; they resigned. I suspect a more accurate characterization of their departure would have been to say they were allowed to resign.

Well, this is a personnel matter, so the public isn't really entitled to know the real reasons for their resignations, right?


We are forced to fund and rely on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). When the top three TSA supervisors at the airport resign simultaneously for "personal reasons", we are entitled to more information so we can better determine if TSA in Spokane is worthy of our trust and confidence, not to mention our dollars. Did the "personal reasons" in any way compromise the public's safety at Spokane International Airport? TSA would say no, but how can we be sure?

This is not the first time Spokane International Airport's security reputation has been sullied.

On July 6, 2002, less than a year after 9-11, the Spokesman Review published a story based on some photos taken by a passenger in the airport's main terminal lobby. The article included one of the photos showing an airport police officer playing solitaire on one of the computers in the airport police command, control, communications, and security center. The airport no doubt breathed a sigh of relief when the article focused on the officer's individual conduct rather than on the much larger and more timely security issues her conduct and the photos revealed.

The Spokane news media were equally willing to let the story drop without asking some very relevant followup questions and reporting the answers.
1. At a time when airports are so concerned about security, why is the command, control, communications, and security center for the airport's police in full public view where its operation could be easily seen by someone targetting the airport? Why is the airport police command center even accessible to the public in the main terminal rather than tucked safely away in a remote and defensible section of the airport?
2. Why was a citizen looking through the window into the police command center able to see and photograph the security camera video monitors with their labels and thereby discern what areas of the airport were under video surveillance?
3. Why did the police officer feel comfortable playing computerized solitaire in full view of the public? Did she did not fear detection by her shift supervisor because playing games on the office computer was permitted by the police supervisors?
If we have concerns about the adequacy of security and the competence of the federal security personnel and airport police at Spokane International Airport, we need to communicate them to our elected state and federal representatives. We rely on them to police the police, a task they should be eager to undertake since they, too, fly in and out of Spokane International Airport.

Shoot Me First, But Make Sure I Look Professional

Michelle Malkin's article "Homeland Security for Dummies" in the December 15, 2005, Frontpagemag.com here was right on target.

Tom Quinn's obsession for having Federal Air Marshals (FAM) wear blazers, suits, ties, etc., to look "professional" is a holdover from his days with the US Secret Service and particularly from his assignment with the Presidential Protective Division. He needs to differentiate between looking professional and performing effectively.

The FAMs need to be undercover, but only allowing appropriate attire won't go far enough to establish and maintain their cover. There are other procedural considerations that must be addressed to ensure the FAMs' effectiveness. In general, the procedures must make the FAM indistinguishable from the general public from the time he arrives at his departure airport until he leaves his arrival airport after the flight.

This would not normally be unusually difficult, except the FAM is carrying a firearm. Federal Aviation Administration regulations require armed law enforcement officers to go through one or more too-often public identification and authentication procedures. Those procedures are instantly recognizable by competent surveillance teams working on behalf of the bad guys.

If the federal government is taking the FAM program seriously, its marshals need to be taught how to detect surveillances. Surveillance detection and countersurveillance teams need to be onsite and instantly available to identify and watch those who are trying to spot the FAMs or gather other target assessment information.

Check-in procedures for the FAMs need to be so discrete as to make the FAMs indistinguishable from the rest of us.

On board the aircraft, all armed law enforcement officers need to be known to each other but to no one else. The regulation requiring that already exists. The challenge is for the flight crew to make the notifications without alerting unwitting passengers to the presence and identification of any armed law enforcement officers. The procedures for the FAMs and other armed offices to identify themselves to flight crews must be made more discrete.

Any functional undercover operation requires a great deal of planning and skillful execution if it is to be safe and effective the operatives and invisible to those who do not need to know of its existence. Requiring undercover FAMs to wear particular attire does not enable them to operate safely, effectively, or invisibly. Neither does making them publicly perform administrative measures that make them stick out like a sore thumb.

If Tom Quinn is unaware of the resources in the Washington, DC, area that could help him make the FAM program more effective without endangering his marshals, then he's truly the wrong person for that job.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Report: Law Enforcement Intelligence: A Guide for State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies

In November 2004 the US Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) published "Law Enforcement Intelligence: A Guide for State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement."

The report is available in print to the general public through the US Government Printing Office. It is also available online here.

Report: Protecting Airliners from Terrorist Missiles

The Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service (CRS) has published an informative report entitled "Homeland Security: Protecting Airliners from Terrorist Missiles." The report is dated September 24, 2004.

The report is available online here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Right Call

Some parents in Washington state are outraged at the Washington State Supreme Court's ruling in State of Washington v. Oliver C. Christensen. The case ruling is available here. The parents' concern is that the Court's ruling reaffirms the state's privacy law regarding the interception and recording of telephone communications. Under that law, it is illegal for a parent (or anyone else) to listen to a child's telephone conversations without the consent of all parties to the conversation.

Oliver Christensen and another juvenile were involved in a purse snatching. The county sheriff believed Christensen might make contact with his girl friend, Lacey Dixon, so the sheriff contacted Dixon's mother and asked her to be alert for any evidence of the crime. Christensen telephoned the Dixon residence, and Lacey's mother answered on a cordless phone. After determining the caller was Christensen, Mrs. Dixon gave the cordless phone to her daughter who took it to her room, closed the door, and carried on a conversation. Without either Christensen's or her daughter's consent, Mrs. Christensen listened via the speakerphone feature and took notes. She turned the notes over to the sheriff. Christensen was arrested, and at trial, Mrs. Dixon's testimony about the conversations she overheard was admitted over defense counsel objections. Christensen was convicted and appealed, saying Mrs. Dixon's testimony should have been ruled inadmssible because the way she obtained it violated the state privacy law.

For the Supreme Court to have ruled otherwise would have been inappropriate judicial activism. To admit the overheard conversation would have been blatantly contrary to Washington State law.

Parents are evidently concerned they might be prosecuted criminally for listening to their children's telephone conversations. Parents reasonably believe that part of responsible parenting may include that kind of monitoring.

Realistically, it is hard to imagine that under similar circumstances, any elected prosecutor would prosecute a parent for this "illegal" interception. The most logical solution would be for Washington legislators to change the law. Parents should direct their outrage at the state's legislators, not at its judges.

Monday, December 13, 2004

"Man Overboard!" They Whispered

That figure we see bobbing in the water, hands tied behind his back with the Cardian knot in the rope, is Bernard Kerik struggling to stay afloat as the destroyer USS White House sails away from him at flank speed.

Both Kerik and the hired help working in the West Wing and Old EOB share the blame for their mutual embarrassment when Kerik withdrew his nomination to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Kerik should not have been nominated, and had he not been Commissioner of the NYPD under Mayor Rudy Giuliani on September 11, 2001, he would not have been. He lacked the skills and experience needed to successfully herd the cats included in the Department of Homeland Security. Kerik’s personal story is impressive. His rise inside the NYPD is impressive. His political leadership of the NYPD was adequate. But there is nothing in his history suggesting he would be able to survive inside the Capitol Hill trash compactor.

Being nominated by the President for a Cabinet-level position is pretty head-enlarging. So much so that it apparently causes nominees to forget that the immigration and tax laws apply to them, too. But there is plenty of blame to go around. The Bush administration body-gatherers wanted Kerik less for his abilities than for his name and face recognition. He had star quality. It didn’t hurt that he does a pretty good imitation of the Bush swagger, too. In short, Kerik was going to be exploited, willingly, but exploited nonetheless as testosterone eye candy to bolster not only Bush’s political legacy but Giuliani’s political future.

Those in the best position to save Bernard Kerik’s political life were the ones whispering, “Man overboard!” as he made his last big splash.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Whither Research?

Duane Hagadone's proposal to close two blocks of Coeur d'Alene's Sherman Avenue has awakened community interest. The downtown business association has consultants studying the economic effects the project would have on downtown. Presumably the consultants will use valid statistical methods to measure those effects.

If what the ubiquitous and omniscient "everybody" is saying is accurate, Coeur d'Alene will continue to grow. Projects like Hagadone's, though perhaps not on the same scale, will proliferate.

I wonder if it would be feasible for the Coeur d'Alene city government to ask one or more of our great nearby universities (Washington State, U of I, and Eastern Washington) that have research capabilities to conduct projects measuring residents' attitudes about the directions growth should and should not take. The research ought not be limited to economics. It should also include measurement of social, political, and cultural attitudes. That's what social scientists do.

Too often in public hearings, economic testimony is given disproportionate weight because it can be quantified in easily grasped terms: dollars and cents. Testimony expressing concerns about social, cultural, and political effects is often anecdotal not because those concerns can't be measured but because they usually have not been. But the social, political, and cultural growth of a community is no less important than its economic growth. They all interact.

I'd propose that the city council take a very simple step. Contact the universities and see what these great local resources could do to help Coeur d'Alene identify and scientifically measure the ways all the residents would like to see the city grow. In the meantime, postpone a decision on the Hagadone plan. It is urgent only in his mind. Once the council has examined and understood the studies, reconsider his plan. The value of public testimony will be enhanced, not degraded, by including carefully measured and analyzed research results.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Our Own Personal Intelligence Service

We are told there were “intelligence failures” leading up to the events of September 11, 2001. The President is expected to sign a sweeping intelligence reform bill during the week of December 13-17, 2004. That should solve our perceived intelligence failures, right?

Well, that depends. Analyses of historic intelligence failures tend to skim over one that is usually not characterized as an intelligence failure: executive inaction. That’s probably too harsh. A more accurate characterization might be “executive reluctance to believe the intelligence or grasp its significance.” Improved finished intelligence reporting and dissemination should be beneficial, but only if the policy makers and decision makers who receive it use it to generate appropriate timely policies and decisions.

So what does that observation have to do with the topic of this blog entry: Our Own Personal Intelligence Service?

More than you might think. You and I may be guilty of “executive inaction”.

Every day we have remarkable access to finished intelligence. For many of us, it is delivered almost as personally as the President receives the President’s Daily Brief. It is our morning newspaper. And we are not limited to one. In addition to the one with real ink on real newsprint, we have Internet access to many of the world’s newspapers.

It is not a stretch to refer to our daily newspaper as “finished intelligence.” If you read my blog page “From Raw Information to Finished Intelligence,” you will see some striking similarities between the intelligence process and the newspaper publication process. Reporters are gathering and checking facts, copyreaders are double-checking, editors are checking again and ensuring that the most timely and valuable information is made available to us. The comparison between finished intelligence and our daily newspaper can be summed up in four words: Timely truth well told.

Yet at a Spokesman Review readers forum in Coeur d’Alene on November 18, 2004, Editor Steve Smith told the forum that “...our studies show overall daily newspaper readership in North Idaho (including readership of our paper, the Coeur d'Alene Press and its sister papers), is substantially below readership in most other regions in the country.”

That is astonishing. We have access to a vast amount of finished intelligence that we could be using to improve our lives and our communities, and a huge percentage of us choose to ignore it. We are receiving community-level “actionable intelligence” as the warfighters like to say, and yet many of us don’t even bother to consume it.

As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

From Raw Information to Finished Intelligence

The intelligence process transforms raw information into finished intelligence for policymakers to use in decision making and action.

The intelligence process is often geometrically portrayed as a circle. That is not accurate. Neither is it accurate to say that the intelligence process is linear. Both geometric descriptions incorrectly suggest that one element of the process must end before the next begins. It is accurately characterized as a process. All of the elements occur, and they are all related, but they definitely need not occur sequentially.

Elements of the Intelligence Process

Identification of Essential Elements of Information or Requirements (EEIR)

At this stage of the process, management (the President, the Chief of Police, a newspaper editor, you, etc.) identifies what it wants to know, what information needs to be collected and why it needs to be collected to achieve the desired results.

Identifying the EEIR is the guide, the direction, for information collection. It enables collection requirements to be narrowed and refined to those most likely to be productive. It enables the collector to focus on the information to be collected and not waste either collection or analytical resources.

Systematic Collection of Information in Response to the EEIR

Collection of information must be focused to be efficient and productive. There are many open sources of information, including people, radio and television broadcasts, the internet, newspapers, periodicals, and books.

There are also secret sources of information. Human intelligence (HUMINT) relies on a person (known as a source or agent) reporting information covertly or clandestinely to another person (known as a handler or case officer). There is technical collection including imagery intelligence (IMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), measurements and signatures intelligence (MASINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT) and geospatial intelligence. Geospatial is the newest “-INT”. It refers to the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on earth.

Evaluation of Collected Information

Evaluation of the collected information is not the same as analysis. Evaluation determines how factual the information is. How accurate is it? Evaluation tries to assess the truthfulness and reliability of the source of the information. Both the information and its source(s) must be evaluated. It is entirely possible for a highly reliable and truthful source to supply totally inaccurate and useless information. Likewise, just because a source has no track record of reliability and truthfulness does not mean the information the source provides is bad.

It is very important to remember that "classified" information is not automatically more factual or accurate than unclassified information. Security classifications are usually applied to information to protect the information's source or the method used to collect it.

Collation of the Collected Information

A wide array of information will be collected in various forms. Presumably it was collected and reported because it was responsive to the EEIR.

Collation is the first step in transforming raw information into finished intelligence. Collation is more than just the systematic storage or filing of information. It includes sifting out useless, irrelevant, inaccurate, or duplicated information. It also includes the orderly arrangement of collected information so that relationships between apparently disconnected data elements may be established. Finally, collation includes a systematic method for storing and retrieving information so it can be analyzed quickly, effectively, and confidently.

Analysis of the Collated Information

Competent, timely analysis is the heart of the intelligence process and system. Analysis examines the collated bits and pieces of information that have been collected from a variety of sources and puts them together in a way that shows pattern and meaning.

Reporting and Disseminating the Finished Intelligence

The raw information that has been collected, evaluated, collated, and analyzed can be correctly called finished intelligence.

Finished intelligence is produced for reporting and dissemination to those who need it to do their jobs. Reporting alludes to the format used to deliver the intelligence to the consumer. The format can vary from the formal President's Daily Brief (PDB) delivered personally to the President of the United States. It can also be the newspaper delivered daily to our front doorstep. Dissemination is the process used to deliver it. Reporting must be clear and unambiguous. Dissemination must be timely. Having finished intelligence and not reporting and disseminating it wastes the information and the resources that were committed to its production.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Corrupted or Co-opted?

Every now and then an elected body such as a city council will award something of value to a rich, influential constituent. The elected body will appear to have negotiated poorly on behalf of the community at large and received little or nothing of value in return. When that happens, murmurs of “Corruption!” are sometimes heard in the community. In the interest of fairness and accuracy, it might help to differentiate between elected officials who have been corrupted and those who have been co-opted.

When we speak accurately of the corruption of public officials, we are usually referring to specific criminal acts such as bribery or accepting a gratuity. These acts have specific elements which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law if the charge is to be sustained.

Under federal law, elements of bribery are:
· The person accepting or offered the bribe is or has been selected to be a public official
· Corruptly (i.e., knows the act to be corrupt and willfully engages in it)
· Directly or indirectly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept
· Anything of value
· Personally or for any other person or entity
· In return for being influenced in the performance of any official act; or being influenced to commit or aid in committing any fraud on the U.S.; or being induced to do or omit to do any act in violation of his or her official duties.

Under federal law, elements of accepting a gratuity are:
· The person accepting the gratuity is a public official, a former public official, or person selected to be a public official
· Otherwise than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duty, directly or indirectly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept
· Anything of value
· Personally
· For or because of any official act performed or to be performed by such official or person.

Proving these elements beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury can be difficult. But before We, the People, start accusing our elected officials of corruption, we need to have accurate and verifiable facts and evidence admissible in a criminal court.

Easier to see and demonstrate is that one or more public officials have been co-opted by someone rich or influential. One definition of co-opt means to assimilate or take over as one’s own. Being co-opted is something most of us can understand because we have experienced it. If we were invited to join a group and have adopted some or all of its precepts as our own, we have been co-opted. The word sounds more evil than it is in most of our lives.

However, co-opting someone can be sinister or dangerous. Charles Manson and Jim Jones co-opted followers, victims themselves really, into their respective cults. Agents committing espionage have been co-opted by their case officers or handlers. In these examples, acts of kindness, benevolence, and personal support by a handler were really intended to secure a deep and personal loyalty from those being co-opted.

A counterintelligence (CI) investigation is a better model than a criminal investigation for understanding how an influential individual can co-opt elected officials. A CI investigation looks at the subtleties in a long-term, developmental relationship between the handler and each elected official rather than focusing on one or two acts of apparent bribery or receiving a gratuity. A CI investigator looks at the details of each official’s personal and business relationships with the handler to determine if he had “groomed” the official for public office. This long-term, developmental relationship strives to create ideological loyalty. Ideological loyalty to the handler is far deeper and more accepted by the official. Coercive loyalty may achieve short-term benefits for the handler, but they require more assertive control over the official.

This is exactly how the world’s intelligence services go about spotting, assessing, recruiting, developing, and controlling human intelligence sources and agents of influence. The process is gradual. Often the ideologically motivated agent truly believes his or her actions on his handler’s behalf are for the greater public good. Even if he doesn’t believe it, he can rationalize what he has come to recognize as manipulated behavior. The handler’s ability to have nearly instant and personal access to an agent in an environment controlled by the handler is a revealing demonstration of the control he exerts over the agent.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Court of Public Opinion

Our Constitution-based system of jurisprudence depends on stringent rules of evidence, procedure, criminal law and a presumption that someone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. The defendant is entitled to that presumption only in the criminal trial. The rigid rules are appropriate in criminal proceedings, because the outcome for the accused can be deprivation of his life, liberty, or property.


Sitting as judge, jury, prosecutor, and defense attorney in the Court of Public Opinion, “We, the People” may appropriately use different rules to judge the performance of our elected and appointed government officials. We are kept on the course of fairness by our own internal moral compass and an acknowledgement of our own personal imperfections. We determine whom and what we believe and what weight we attach to our observations and information. We rely on our life’s experiences, our individual backgrounds, and our common sense to assess conduct and credibility. We render our verdict with our votes and with reasoned public commentary, mindful that if we elect or tolerate incompetent, co-opted or corrupted, or lazy officials, we share in the responsibility for the results they deliver.