Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Reader Comment – 02-01-10 TSDB

Background Check added a new comment to the discussion of the Terrorist Screening Data Base (TSDB). Background Check wrote: “nice post! I am also wondering... regarding with the TWIC background check if it was made to monitor the watch list of terrorist why is it that there are still terrorist who are free to enter United states?” Well, Background Check is a little confused (and many people are so don’t feel lonely), the TSDB is not exactly the same as the ‘no fly’ list and the TWIC has nothing to do with allowing personnel into this country. The TWIC only deals with access to MTSA covered facilities. But the question, if not quite accurate in wording, is really applicable to MTSA security. Let’s reword the question: if terrorists can enter the United States because they are not on the TSDB, what is to stop them from getting a TWIC and gaining access to secure areas around our ports? The Underwear Bomber incident in December may have pointed out some problems with the sharing of intelligence and the management of the TSDB, but it should have also pointed out a more important security issue; systems are fallible. Because these systems are designed by humans they will never be perfect. More importantly, our adversaries watch and learn how these systems work; they then modify their procedures to take advantage of known weaknesses in the system. Anyone that thinks that if a person has a legitimate TWIC it means that they are absolutely not associated with terrorists. While the TWIC system will eliminate most terrorists, it is inevitable that one or more terrorists will obtain these credentials. Whether or not they are able to use those TWICs to successfully complete a terrorist attack will depend on how well security managers realize that they cannot depend on a single layer of protection when designing a successful security system. Layered defenses are always necessary.

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