Staying Safe in Public Spaces

Bayard & Holmes

With the increasing number of terrorist attacks around the world, the public is becoming ever more aware that it’s wise to take precautions and think about safety measures. Today we welcome former CIA officer Doug Patteson of Inglorious Amateurs, who shares his insights and advice on precautions we should all take as a matter of habit.

 

Staying Safe in Public Spaces

~ Doug Patteson

Whether it is the recent suicide bomb in Manchester UK, or the 2003 The Station nightclub fire, or any number of other recent catastrophic events, we are reminded that we need to always be thinking about our security in public events and transitional spaces. Just because you are in an event or location with robust security, you should not ever take your safety for granted.

 

 

At events like the Manchester attack, we tend to think we are safe. The arena has security, no weapons are allowed, it’s a fun crowd out for a fun evening.

Attackers know these thing too and they tend to look for the weak points in security. In this case, the attacker chose a transitional space, a natural funnel between a primary exit from the arena, and the nearest public transport, the Manchester train station. He knew traffic flow from the concert would be heavy and concentrated. He knew the only likely security in the transitional space would be CCTV cameras (great for post mortem, not so hot for prevention). And he knew that by the nature of the transitional space, no one would think twice about someone loitering (waiting on friends? A train?) carrying luggage (it’s a train station entrance after all).

In 2003, The Station nightclub caught fire and was engulfed in smoke and flames in 5 ½ minutes. Of the 462 people in a club with capacity for only 404, 100 died and 230 were injured. When the fire began, people panicked and fled blindly, trying to exit through the one door they had entered, ignoring other potential exits.

A framework can be helpful in this process. Largely, the model below is familiar to most military or first responders as it is similar to the traditional OODA loop, or Observe, Orient, Decide, Act model of decision making. But, sometimes jargon gets in the way of understanding. So here is some simpler language.

Pay attention

For some reason, when we get around our friends, in a social situation, excited about our plans as they unfold, we stop paying attention to the world around us. When we are alone in public, we tend to pay far more attention to our surroundings. We feel alone, which often makes us feel insecure, less safe, but heightens our focus. Being in a group brings an often false sense of security, and a fair number of distractions.

Don’t let your guard down. Stay vigilant and pay attention to the world around your group. If something seems out of place, or makes you feel off, there is probably a good reason for it. Security professionals often call this situational awareness, which is a fancy way of saying understanding the environment and events you are in, in relation to time and meaning, what is normal and expected, and thus what is out of context and therefore noticeable. And if you notice something that looks out of place, or your spidey senses start tingling, an unattended bag or individual dressed inappropriately for the environment and looking uncomfortable, etc. let someone in authority know.

 

Know the layout

There is a reason flight attendants show passengers where the exits are. Statistics point to a significantly increased probability of surviving a plane crash if you know where the exits are. Virtually any public venue you go to will have multiple entrances/exits. Don’t just remember the one you went through to get there, learn where at least one of the others is.

In 2003, during The Station nightclub fire,  100 people died, 40 of them in the doorway they had entered through. There were three other exits in the building, and an entire front of windows that could have been broken to create egress points. People are creatures of habit, they like to go in the way they came.

Take a few minutes, look for the exits, talk it over with your group and have a plan in case you get separated or things go south.

Take a moment to assess what’s happening

If you are in situation where an event has happened (active shooter, plane disaster, ied), don’t panic. Stop, take a moment to assess the situation. Where is the threat? Is it ongoing? What are my escape options? Remember, you already learned where the various exits were. What is the crowd doing? Is there cover available to me? Or just concealment? Can I leave? Or is hiding my only option?

In the early days of active shooter training, the mantra was Run, Hide, Fight. Today that has been replaced with Avoid, Deny, Defend. In either case though, you need to take a little time to assess what is happening. Don’t freeze however, this is an active assessment informed by your previous knowledge of the area. You are making decisions about your next steps.

Take action

With your assessment in mind, action is now required. Can you safely and quickly leave the area? Which way? What is the crowd doing? There can be significant risk in following the crowd. Crowds can lead to deadly bottlenecks. In the case of a terrorist attack, one tactic we have seen applied is an initial attack designed to stun/assault a crowd, followed by a second, potentially larger attack, designed around a bottleneck of fleeing victims and/or first responders.

Are you responsible for others? Are they with you? Can you communicate with them? Did you set up a meeting place in case you got separated? Now is the time to execute on the plan you worked through earlier. For example, “We are going to head out that emergency exit on the north side of the stage. We will make our way back to our vehicle in section X of the parking lot.” Once you leave, get away from the threat zone. Remember, debris from an explosion can travel long distances. Don’t linger in the area.

Finally, what to do if you or a friend are injured?

Do you know CPR? ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation). Are they conscious? Talking? Take another moment now to assess their injuries. Have you taken any medical training or first aid courses? Do you know to apply pressure if they are bleeding? Do you have a med kit? I highly recommend you get one, get trained on using it, and carry it. Call 911 and, if necessary seek medical attention as soon as possible.

 

 

Look, I don’t want you to live your life in fear. That’s what the bad guys want, whether a bully, criminal or terrorist. Go out with friends. Attend concerts and movies. Travel. Live your life. I am only advocating that you go out in that life a little more prepared. A slightly harder target than the average person. Someone more likely to survive when faced with a deadly threat. Because you have taken the time to pay attention, assess, build a plan and be prepared to execute on it.

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Doug is a former CIA officer with extensive overseas experience in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. He is skilled in several foreign languages, personal security, tactical driving, counter terrorism tactics and small arms. He holds an MBA from Wharton and has worked in high tech, private equity and manufacturing. He regularly writes on business and intelligence topics for both web and print publications, serves as an on air SME for news and opinion shows, and consults/produces on film and television productions.

 

For more from Doug, please see his work at Inglorious Amateurs.

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Make Your TSA Grope Memorable

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Spring break is kicking off the travel season, and summer is just around the corner. The DHS and the TSA are already using this timing to further justify molesting American citizens and irradiating them with shocking, and shockingly expensive, strip-scanners in airports, on highways, and in bus terminals.

 

Canstock image.

Canstock image.

 

Our advice to you? As Holmes says, “Avoid the radiation by all means. We shouldn’t be irradiating our citizens. Situations like this make me long for the Cold War. At least back then, our government knew who we were supposed to irradiate, and we weren’t planning to offer those SOBs any patdown options.”

We realize this subject causes great stress for many travelers, and our entire goal is to sell books alleviate your stress. So not long ago, we spent the better part of our evening sipping 10-yr-old Guinda* and discussing some creative methods of reducing your stress and lightening up the travel season for you and all of your fellow voyagers.

We want to extend our stress relief to TSA employees, as well. After all, except for the child molesters and other perverts among their ranks, they are mostly people who are just as beleaguered by their duty to grab your crotch as you are.

 

"Two by two, hands of blue." ~Firefly TSA agents in Boston. Image by DHS, public domain.

“Two by two, hands of blue.” ~Firefly
TSA agents in Boston.
Image by DHS, public domain.

 

We’re offering these suggestions to help you make your TSA Patdown fun for you and memorable for your TSA agent. Let’s fill America’s airports with laughter and joy this summer. It’s win/win.

1. Pretend you don’t speak English. Whatever translator they bring you, pretend you don’t speak that language, either.

2. If you’re traveling with a church group, you should all simultaneously cry out, “Hallelujah, the rapture is coming!” and start speaking in tongues.

 

 

3. Let yourself relax and enjoy it. In fact, moan loudly with pleasure. After all, lots of folks enjoy a good groping, and your TSA agents are hard at work looking for all of your security sweet spots. Be sure to cry out with passion to let your TSA agents know how much you appreciate their security technique. When it’s all done, compliment them, and if it’s your first time, let them know it was everything you dreamed of. Meg Ryan gives us a great example for the TSA encounter.

4. Educate your TSA agent to the benefits of becoming an Amway salesman and refuse to move on until you have finished with your sales pitch.

5. If you are a melanin-gifted traveler, and you’re being groped by a melanin-challenged TSA agent, burst out singing Perry Como’s “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” with the broadest smile you can muster. (We recommend against any rap songs about killing authority figures.)

6. Tell your TSA agent that if her groping inspires an out-of-body experience, you will reward her with a kiss and a phone call on the morrow.

 

Man in kilt enjoying his TSA grope. Canstock image.

Man in kilt enjoying his TSA grope.
Canstock image.

 

7. For men, wear a kilt with no underwear. When they get to your genitals, have a bouquet of flowers pop out of your cod purse playing Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. Then, in your best Mike Myers Scottish accent, exclaim, “Ah, Laddie, ye give such good grroope!”

If the TSA fails to offer you a complimentary groping and attempts to re-route you through a metal detector, remind them loudly that you paid full fare for this ticket, and you are every bit as entitled to a groping as any other traveler would be. And don’t worry. If you are a virgin, you will still be a virgin when they are finished. But if they offer the free cavity search, definitely turn them down.

Let’s fill America’s airports with laughter, song, and joy this summer travel season. It’s win/win. And remember, you’re in good hands with TSA.

All the best to all of you for avoiding all unwanted gropings.

 

The bottle we toast from on special occasions.

The bottle we toast from on special occasions.

 

*Guinda is a traditional Spanish drink made from cherries. It will give you a serious case of the warm-fuzzies.

UK Ueber Alles! — Reporting Terrorist Toddlers

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Every now and then, we here at Bayard & Holmes are reassured that not all of the political crack heads in the democratic world reside in the US Congress or the White House.

As part of its counter-terrorism and security efforts, the UK has already enacted its “Prevent” program. Under the dictates of Prevent, 44,000 UK health care workers underwent one day of training to teach them to recognize potential terrorists. Now, patients from cradle to grave who enter UK health care facilities are having their terrorist potential evaluated. Fortunately for the Western world, a 9-yr-old extremist has already been identified and “deprogrammed,” thanks to this new human intelligence branch.

 

Armed and dangerous potential terrorist. Note the glee on this future terrorist's face as he contemplates his innocent target.

Armed and dangerous potential terrorist. Note the glee on this future terrorist’s face as he contemplates his innocent target.

 

In a follow up to this, the UK is currently considering a bill that would require all teachers to report children as young as toddlers as “potential terrorists.” One assumes the teachers would also be given one day of training to enable them to distinguish child terrors from child terrorists. (See UK Could Require Teachers to Report Would-Be Terrorists.)

Since both of us raised kids who periodically terrorized us during their adolescence years, we have a few suggestions for the UK to beef up their Counter-Toddler-Terrorist initiative:

 

  • Install CCTVs in each nursery school disposable diaper bin to monitor the true down and dirty activity of the UK’s Most Dangerous Babies. This is a critical task, which should only be trusted to the UK’s most prominent statesmen. Therefore, the top thousand Home Ministry officials will be vested with the duty of monitoring these CCTVs from their laptops 24/7.

 

  • Each toddler will be given an iPad and taught to Google search. GCHQ, the UK’s equivalent of the US’s NSA, will monitor the children and detain any of them who search on “Winnie the Pooh-Bomber” or “Blow Up Paddington Station Bear.”

 

  • All baby monitors will be tuned to the same channel and will be monitored at GCHQ 24/7. Any children babbling “Allahu Akbar” when they should be napping will be immediately detained.

 

  • Some suspiciously unpatriotic individuals in the UK are not taking the Home Office plans seriously, making comments like, “I knew those bastards were daffy!” To inspire those wafflers into the right attitude to maintain the UK’s safety from those who would overrun her and destroy her principles, “God save the Queen” will be replaced by the inspiring Nazi war hymn “Horst Wessel.” A few words of the lyrics will be changed to lend a uniquely British flavor to the song. Heil Home Minister! UK Ueber Alles!

 

 

 

Why General Petraeus Had to Resign

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

CIA Director General David Petraeus resigned three days after the election due to an illicit Hokey Pokey round with his female biographer, Major Paula Broadwell. Many people have approached us with the question, “Why did General Petraeus have to resign? So he got a little strange on the side. Clinton got a lot of strange, and he never left office.” We can only comment on what we know or think we know. Just like most of you, the FBI doesn’t share their files with us.

General David Petraeus and Major Paula Broadwell, image from US Navy

So why did General Petraeus have to resign? An excellent question. The short answer is, “Because he was the Director of the CIA, and the CIA is in charge of our nation’s secrets.”

I know. I can hear your confusion now. “But I thought the incumbent administration and the mainstream press were in charge of keeping secrets during an election year.”

A superb observation, and you have good reason to be confused.  *cough, cough, Benghazi, cough, cough*  We are all within our senses to question the timing of the General’s resignation—only three days after the election—when the FBI had the information well before the election. Can’t have that little scandal casting aspersions so close to the vote, can we? We’ll let you talk amongst yourselves on that one.

But beyond the timing of the resignation, this is simply a case of a man spending too much time with a lady whose only purpose in life was to record his stories and admire his deeds. Apparently, she admired him in every way she could. We’re guessing if she’d been a lesbian or happily married, or if his biographer was a dude, General Petraeus would still be the CIA Director, and his wife would not be ready to shove him through a wood chipper right now for his infidelities.

But why did he have to resign?

When it comes to security and trustworthiness, it’s all about shame. Are people doing things they are ashamed of? If yes, that means they can be blackmailed. People who can be blackmailed are a far greater risk to national security than people who are shamelessly immoral.

For example, certain communities of individuals with high security clearances in isolated locations have quite the swingers clubs going. It’s no big deal to security, though, because their spouses are part of the action. They can all share indiscretions with their neighbors and friends in any number of ways we shall not dwell upon, and it is no threat to the nation’s security because they are open about it. They are unashamed and cannot be blackmailed over their behavior.

To go back to the Clinton comparison, Clinton was shamelessly immoral. He lied to his wife, to Congress, and to the American people without blinking. Monica Lewinsky was not his first extramarital playmate, and she probably hasn’t been his last. He was well-practiced in the art of enjoying his side dishes, and he was confident that while Hillary might not be happy about it, she wasn’t going to unhitch her wagon from his political star. When Clinton was caught out, he basically responded with, “Yep. You caught me. How about that?” And after a few tearful performances and well-acted apologies he got away scot free. No potential for blackmail.

General Petraeus is another story. He is in a committed relationship with a wife of decades who isn’t as hardened to her husband’s hanky panky as Hillary Clinton was even before Bill took office. More than that, the fact that he chose a mid life crisis who evidences instability by sending harassing emails to other women indicates a certain inexperience on his part. His indiscretions were indiscreet, and that made him vulnerable to outside pressures.

We give General Petraeus credit for leaving of his own volition. To the best of our knowledge, he was not coerced into resigning. We respect him for his honorable choice and for putting this nation’s best interests ahead of his own career. Not everyone in a political position would do so in this situation.  *cough, cough, Bill, cough, cough*  We wish General Petraeus and his wife all the best as they sort through this difficult situation, and we will be relieved when, if ever, the press gets off of their backs.

Many people are looking to tie the General’s resignation to Benghazi and the hearings coming up around that incident. There absolutely are outrages around the motives behind the Ansar Al-Sharia attack on our US Consulate and the string of lies perpetuated by the Obama administration around that event. Those violations of American trust and abuses of power need to be exposed. (See Intelligence Perspective on Benghazi)

To the best of our knowledge, however, the Obama administration did not dispatch Paula Broadwell to seduce General Petraeus. As far as we know, the General remains responsible for his own penis. To what degree the president controlled the release of information and as to what his motives might have been, that’s a bit more difficult to say.

One thing is indisputable, though. General Petraeus has conveniently provided the mainstream media with something to talk about other than Benghazi. We find it interesting that all of the same media outlets that did their best to avoid accurate coverage of Benghazi are now doing their best to make sure there is no Petraeus accusation left behind.

Our conclusion? Where General Petraeus’ actual affair is concerned, a cigar is just a cigar. Let’s all hope we don’t start hearing more about cigars.