The Guardian had an unsettling article yesterday (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/dec/22/david-cameron-us-america-refuses-british-muslim-family-disneyland). Now we all know that US protocol is not completely up to scrap. It gets enforced by people and certain systems are updated by people, so things will go bump into the night. For a family of 11, trying to get their Christmas dream in play, that fact must be overwhelmingly unsettling. You see, they were refused to get to the US. The issue “a family party of 11, about to embark on a dream holiday for which they had saved for months, were approached by officials from US homeland security as they queued in the departure lounge and told their authorisation to travel had been cancelled, without further explanation“.
On the one side… No scrap that!
There are two sides, either there is a genuine issue and in that case DHS would have had to have updated the British security services. If that is not the case than we have a first case of evidence that the DHS data systems are now so garbled it can no longer distinguish between friend or foe, which is another matter entirely.
So “Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, has written to the prime minister she is concerned that a growing number of British Muslims are saying they have had similar experiences of being barred from the US without being told the reasons for the exclusion“, this is indeed an issue.
Friedrich Nietzsche: A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything
First we must acknowledge that the US has not given a reason, so we are merely speculating, yet why avoid tourist income? Well, the Canadian Star had reported on a similar issue in March 2015, here we see the following quote: “United States Customs and Border Protection refused to comment on the Al-Rawi incident, but said travellers are responsible for proving their innocence“, so a tourist is regarded as guilty until proven innocent? How does that relate to the Law that is unless the Supreme Court states that presumption of innocence does not apply to tourists and Muslims and that should be a barrel of fun for everyone all over!
From my side, I always tend to keep an open mind, but here I have too many questions. refusal means flags, flags means data, that data should be shared with British Security services, if not, then why are we allies with America? Because they are so powerful? They remain utterly bankrupt in my eyes, the fact that they buckled a few times and the fact that the press is now looking at Russia as the possible salvation for the Syrian situation should be ample signs that America has outlasted their power base. The fact that the Canadian example involves a physician from Toronto General Hospital gives way to even more questions as this was not some plumber with a small business, it was a doctor with a position and a solid foundation for the future of his family, the idea that he wants to throw that away for an uncertain live in a nation now ruled by bigotry is not really that reliable a source, is it? I would choose live in any town in Canada over any city in the US any day of the week, but that’s just me!
Havelock Ellis: The place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum
“The MP, having “hit a brick wall” in her own attempts to get answers from the American embassy, has asked the prime minister to press US officials for an explanation for the Mahmood family’s exclusion“, which is interesting, the fact that an elected official is not receiving any answers leans towards the fact that the issue is not founded and that the lack of foundation implies unreliable data.
You see, an individual might not get an answer, an elected official (in this case Labour MP Stella Creasy, would have had access to a higher echelon of staff, meaning the answer ‘security flag’ could have been received. It will then be up to the British Security Services to resolve this (or investigate this). At which point the mere notice “We apologise, yet information has been obtained that regards you and your family a possible risk“. Now that might not be nice to hear, but that also means there is something to work from. As British Security Services are on average 300% more efficient than the US alphabet teams, more info would have been begotten. In my mind the question now becomes, if US data is unreliable, how come, who has been filling up that part of the system? The old ‘Garbage in Garbage out’ applies, even to today’s systems (even a little more when you see some of the assumptionary techniques Palantir Government allows to use). That last part needs a little explanation, actually Palantir has a good handle on it. You should read ‘THE POKÉMON PROBLEM: A NEW ANTI-PATTERN‘ (at https://www.palantir.com/2009/03/the-pokemon-problem/). As I see it (read: assumption), some analysts have been rehashing data, iteration upon iteration. So as such, some given elements will become the anchor while it should be nothing more than a passing event that is linked to an ACTUAL anchor. You see the article has ‘the’ solution with ‘the visitor pattern‘, yet consider, when someone makes these files, using temp files (as any analyst will do), now consider that those temp files are not properly managed and over a set of iterations that value was saved in the file for speed reasons. So the end of that article reads: “We now have easy re-factoring, no resource leaks, and have simplified calling code. And finally: there are no new bugs to be introduced by callers that aren’t sure how to use our resource. Looks like we caught ‘em all!”
True, there were no resource leaks, they were possibly written in a temporary variable by an analyst and not correctly wiped when needed. In this instance groups of people are wrongly classified, more irritating is that it could also clear people who should not have been. This solution is nothing more than an indication on how easily a mere flag can go wrong. The US manages bulk data on a massive scale on a daily basis, so one mistake is not an assumption, it is a guarantee, a system drained, stretched and under resourced is leaving a mark, now on people in different ways, a massive problem for the US government no matter how you slice it.
James L. Petigru: South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum
The quote “Mahmood said neither he nor his brother, Mohammad Zahid Mahmood, had ever been in trouble with the police. They have been told by the airline they were to travel with that the £9,000 cost of their flights, for which they had been saving for many months, will not be refunded” gives way to even more issues. Not only were they deprived of status, they are deprived of funds. At which point we could see either an immediate refund, or if not given an overhaul of the US tourist industry. You see, the US would be required to give mandatory answers before the flight is paid for, that means that any interest in travelling to the US must be met with clearance, so not the 25,000 travelers, no the 354,000 interested parties must be vetted, which means that the DHS would run out of resources almost instantly, implying that they become useless even before they are needed. In addition, it also seems that they have a brother in Southern California. Perhaps there is an issue with data there (too)?
So how does this sit with the Prime Minister?
A Downing Street spokeswoman said Cameron would consider the issues raised in Creasy’s letter and respond in due course, which is of course fair enough, immediate response would not possible without all the facts and the US Embassy does not seem to be given any.
From the view I have, I don’t have one perse! You see data is at the core of this, but beyond the core there is the policy and the policy in play has been broken for some time now, the issue is that even in a broken policy, or should I say especially in a broken policy things will go wrong and the wrong people are labelled, it happens and for this family that is unfortunate, yet in all this the equal stress is that those who should be labelled are not, because that is a reality the US might not be properly investigating, mainly because it can’t, the data could realistically have become that cross contaminated.
How much value should you hold to my view?
Oscar Levant: There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line
My knowledge of data got me partially here, my knowledge/experience part of that way, you see on one side you do not go lightly with such rejections, not even the US, so we should expect smoke, but the two examples shows clear questionable issues and I do not believe that this is only two instances, the real amount will be much larger, especially when we consider the UK, Canada, France and a few others. So how to use a data system where the data is no longer reliable? Because that is the question that is currently in question. If it turns out to be mere policy than the US will be in more problem than they realise because discrimination of that magnitude will not go unanswered for long.
So can this still be a mere security issue?
Yes, that remains possible but in that case another response should have been voiced by more than one party, no matter what, the cancellation of funds in excess of £9,000 will be another topic still, because the cancellation was not due to any fault of the travelling party, which is an issue the UK Watchdog should address and they should address it very soon.