I have little bit of experience with issues related to the handling of sensitive information and restricted access to secured environments.
I served in the military years ago, and in the private industry I've worked at companies that dealt with very sensitive technologies (related to fraud prevention), and security of (highly sensitive) physical locations.
From that experience I developed a rule of thumb when it comes to every-day security: go by the book. That sounds pretty straight forward, but you won't believe how rare it is for most people to follow that rule of thumb every single time.
Back when I was in the military I remember from time to time about situations where a base would be put on high alert. Sometimes it lasted 24 hours, or sometimes more.
Even back then I found that exercise kind of amusing... I would think, "Okay, so whoever has plans to do something, all they have to do is wait for when everything is 'normal' to do whatever it is they're planning to do."
What I mean by that is that in every single environment I've been, whether in the military, or as a civilian (dealing with secured environments), the biggest threat I was always able to identify was complacency by those who were supposed to be "on watch."
One example... There is a highly-secured, restricted area that requires anybody in it to have a valid badge/ID. Somebody that works there shows up on a day off, with no badge, ID, wandering all over the place (even though the security policy says that that is not supposed to happen, ever).
I'm not going to bore the readers with multiple examples I've seen throughout the years. Of course, if I ever saw a situation like that I would always act, immediately... "Excuse me, you're supposed to have your badge/ID with you at all times when you're here; don't have it? Let me escort you to the exit." Straightforward, no drama.
Same with data, secured systems, etc. I mean, it really doesn't require that much effort to go by the book... I do realize it's kind of hard socially speaking because in our culture being liked is of huge importance, and sometimes going by the book means pissing somebody off. Fortunately, I'm missing that gene...
But I digress. Let me get to my point... Issuing generalized terror alerts is not only a useless absurdity (on its face), in today's environment it is an utter display of Banana Republic-like transparent fear-mongering propaganda tool to benefit both, the fast-rising Surveillance Police State, and the fast-profiteering corporate-owned national security industry.
Let me make one important distinction here, at a point where I think establishment-apology readers may start getting a little antsy.
It is a given that one of the most important functions of a government (for, by, and of the people) is national security, enforcing the rule of law, and to keep the peace at home (domestic tranquility).
And the way that's supposed to work in our Constitutional Republic is that, in order of importance, each citizen is afforded certain rights and protections within the United States Constitution. Nothing is (or should be) more paramount than that when it comes to the first and most fundamental level of safety and security for the citizens, for the moment Constitutional protections start to erode, that's what represents the gravest danger to our security.
And so, once that's clearly understood and respected, then every other type of security is addressed, including issues related to so-called terrorism, crime, wars, etc.
There should never be any circumstance where a government asks citizens to give up any rights that have been clearly enumerated in the Constitution, for any reason, ever. That should be the position of every true freedom-loving citizen.
I understand that there may be some extraordinary situations where the government is going to insist on curtailing certain rights. The only one that comes to mind to me is a brutal civil war within the country, or a foreign invasion of our shores by millions of soldiers of a hostile country, but short of that, I can't think of anything else... Other people may have their own threshold.
But either way, the point is that even in those extraordinary situations, the citizens should always resist the taking away or curtailment of any of our Constitutional rights, and if for some reason there is a consensus on acquiescing to it (because of truly extraordinary situations), we should always demand that the curtailment be of limited scope and duration.
I would like to make this point so clear, that I'm going to push the envelope a bit to illustrate how important I think this is... If we were having 10 to 20 low-level attacks around the country every day, no entity shall have the right to ask the citizen to give up one single Constitutional right.
In those cases, the government should address the security issue within the constrains of the Constitution. Think about it; that is the purpose of having a Constitution and enumerated rights; for when things get tough.
Furthermore, it is totally absurd for any entity, any government, to guarantee that there would never be terrorist attacks, bombings, shootings, or whatever. That is a total absurdity, within the context of a free nation.
The only way to achieve that type of "security" is to live in a total-information-awareness POLICE STATE.
And that my friends, would mean living in a hellish dystopyan soul-crushing country.
Why? Because at that point you would have transferred the ability for the commission of crimes and violence to the Police State. That in essence is tyranny. That's when you see Wall Street global racketeering cartels pillaging tens of trillions of dollars, with total impunity. That's when you see war profiteers and war criminals commit massive crimes and pillaging, with total impunity; banks falsifying documents used to throw millions of people on the street, with total impunity; business cartels paying off politicians to prevent unionization of workers, to keep wages low, to strip away hard-fought workers' and women's rights.
It goes on and on and on... It should not be surprising to anyone that in any age, in any era, would-be tyrants would be consistently pounding at the door of freedom and democracy, with a battering ram, trying to bring it down. That's a given. But what's inexpiable is why would citizens acquiesce to their own enslavement.
The current National Security Establishment in the U.S. today is a for-profit corporate-run MLM scam. It grows and benefits when people are scared; it grows and benefits when there are threats against the country; it hyper-grows and it hyper-benefits when there are successful terrorist attacks against us.
There could be no better and clear example of an obvious conflict of interest. In order to truly comprehend this concept one has to look no further than recent examples of top NSA officials blatantly lying to Congress, following up with increasingly bizarre and dishonest statements to explain their last lies.
These are shifty, fast-talking hucksters, bought and paid for by their corporatist masters, tasked with doing everything they can to keep the scam going, to keep transferring billions and billions of dollars to these racketeering enterprising, and to continue stripping away our rights.
Our National Security should not be in the hands of profiteers and corporatist hucksters. That's all I'm saying...