APEC “security theatre” a joke, literally

Photograph of The Chaser team being arrested

Now here’s a surprise. Not. The massive security operation surrounding APEC brings us yet another example of security theatre — pointless activity that’s all for show but which does nothing to actually enhance security.

The police busy themselves by (mostly politely) hassling tourists and photographers, deleting images of The Fence because “protesters might be doing reconnaissance for weak spots.” Uhuh. But The Chaser crew get within metres of George W’s hotel by playing dress-ups and driving big black cars.

If you watch the Sydney Morning Herald video, you’ll see an enormous contrast. The uniformed police laugh with The Chaser team. Then the assistant commissioner and the police minister try to look Very Serious Indeed. Minister David Campbell even claims…

I think this reinforces that APEC security has been successful by the mere fact that 11 people have been arrested… I offer my congratulations to those police officers for their diligent work.

Yeah? What’s your reasoning, Mr Owens? Seems to me that if you can cruise through the first two checkpoints just by hiring cars and dressing up — something anyone can do — then you’ve got a Bloody Great Hole.

“I am not embarrassed at all,” says Assistant Commissioner David Owens — in the same tone and body language as Richard Nixon claiming “I am not a crook.”

From what I hear, the boys and girls in blue on the ground are doing their best to help people cope with the over-the-top lockdown. Some are starting their conversations with “Hi, look we don’t make the rules, but would you mind…”

The SMH editorial respected journalist David Marr gets it right:

Not even an assistant commissioner can deny the verdict of laughter. The Chaser‘s ratings will go through the roof next week. And maybe somewhere down the track a magistrate with a sense of humour will watch the footage and dismiss any charges laid under section 19 of the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Act 2007 because he gets the joke.

It happened in February. Police at a Dick Cheney demo in The Rocks did not find the antics of the Tranny Cops the least bit funny and had them arrested…

Sure, they were impersonating officers as alleged. But the magistrate dismissed all charges after pointing out to the police that this was a joke in a long tradition going back beyond the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the Vietnam moratoriums. The magistrate explained: “Part of protest has always been challenging figures of authority.”

Police were not amused then and have learnt nothing since. Demonstrations seem to have a solemn impact on senior officers, though it has to be admitted it would take a superhuman sense of humour for Dave Owens to join the laughter after his security arrangements were shown to be a bit of a farce…

Not known at this stage are police plans for dealing with another outbreak of comedy this afternoon in Hyde Park, where Justice Action proposes a “21 bum salute” to welcome the 21 heads of economies to Sydney…

It sounds like a case for dog squads and the water cannon. I can already hear Owens telling the media that he enjoys a joke as much as anyone. “But this isn’t funny.”

Mr Owens, if anyone was seriously doing reconnaissance for weak spots in The Great Fence of Sydney, they can do it from home by flicking through Flickr.

11 Replies to “APEC “security theatre” a joke, literally”

  1. You read Schneier too then?

    IMNSHO, it’s worth going to LCA08 just to see him giving the keynote.. I wonder if he’ll be upset if I give a wolf-whistle as he walks on stage?

    (remind me to tell you the embarrassing story involving rusty some time)

  2. Yes, supposedly at one time I knew a lot about infosec. I skim through his blog, and I’ve read two of his books, Secrets and Lies and Beyond Fear.

    (I recommend both of them very highly to anyone trying to get a perspective on security issues — the first as “an educated consumer of security products”, the second in terns of understanding idiotic trade-offs that happen in the name of security.)

    I don’t know that I’d bother going to hear him speak — I think reading the blog is cheaper. Unless some sort of frottage is planned?

    Yes, tell me the embarrassing story involving rusty.

  3. Bur, alright then.

    To give you some background, take a look at http://flickr.com/photos/pfenwick/361396140/, because this story happens within a minute or so of that photo, and everyone involved is in the same position. I’m in the orange shirt with my back to the camera, Rusty is talking.

    Rusty is the guy who wrote most of ipchains and iptables, hence somewhat of a hero of mine.

    Just after the photo, James walks up to me on my left, and I whisper to him something to the effect of “Do you think Rusty’s a bit cute?”..

    to which he very loudly replies, “You think Rusty is cute?”

    Cue me dying of embarrassment and making a hasty exit…

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