back to article NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'

“Excuse me, sir, may I see your passport?” You have to give credit to white-collar Americans, even the seven-foot Richard Kiel cosplay US government thug in front of me: they are so polite. The odd thing was that I haven’t reached the States yet. I haven't even boarded the plane. In fact, I am still at Heathrow and had been …

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Re: We know, you know.

I'd suggest if your friend was in the TA his background may have been more thoroughly checked than your average punter at the airport. The questions about your relatives on the standard security vetting form are almost as intrusive as the State Departments visa application for people from the Middle East. Mind you they don't seem to notice if you make stuff up on that as the 50 members of the Iraqi Navy I completed the forms for all got in and out okay and I made half of it up...

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Big Brother

Re: We know, you know.

that probably wasn't true a few decades ago, because technology simply wasn't there.

However if you read the Glen Greenwald article on the new Trrrst DB, and how arbitrary it is to be added to their list!!

I would be more worried about the answers they *think* they know...

P.

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Terminator

US Immigration

Are there several training courses that the workers in the Department of homeland immigration and border controls (or whatever that particular law enforcement agency is currently called) have to go through to ensure they have not one scrap of a sense of humo(u)r or empathy left before they are let loose on the poor 'foreign' idiots that have chosen to spend some time and money in the states?

On my first and only trip so far, the first 3 words mumbled by the [clerk|guard|officer] were 'business or vacation'? which left me staring blankly at him for a few seconds whilst my sleep deprived and dehydrated brain attempted to determine the source language and translate it into my native English.

Eventually my response was 'Oh, um, holiday' ... blank stare returned for 2 seconds ... 'um, vacation, yes'. followed by the where will you be staying ('travelling all over' is a bad answer), how long, etc.

Even just a 'good morning' / 'good afternoon' to allow my brain to get into first gear would have been nice - I realise it's probably quite a mind-numbing job, but some hint of civility and human recognition might make the day a little less tedious, and make me feel less disinclined to ever visit again.

Of course, at the end of the questions, being British, I took my passport back, thanked him and then joined the next queue...

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Re: US Immigration

Can't really confirm the absence of humour. When I arrived there with the significant other, we were asked for how long we've been together. "How long?! And you aren't married? Go to Vegas!!"

Then again, probably he was serious... But at least friendly.

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Re: US Immigration

On the half-dozen times I've been to the US, they have always had a significant lack of humour.

On one trip they where very perplexed that my wife was travelling under her maiden name - we had only been married a year at that point and she hadn't renewed her passport. They just couldn't get their heads around that one.

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Re: US Immigration

I was stopped by Highway Patrol in USA outside Wooster Ohio.

They were very thrown by a UK British Driving Licence and a newish Irish Passport. Explaining I'd never had an Irish Licence or British Passport confused him more.

He had to radio someone but let me go. Fortunately I had a Indefinite Stay, Multiple Entry perpetual visa stamped in the Passport. I don't think too common then.

I lived and drove (legally) in Ireland for 8 years before I had to hand in my British Licence (renewed) and get an Irish one in exchange.

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Pint

Re: US Immigration

I heartily recommend going via Dublin or Shannon.

Not only can you have a craic in the land of the black stuff for the weekend prior/after - you also get to be pre-cleared by US immigration so come through the domestic channel on USian soil.

As a brucie bonus the America Border staff based there are basically on an all expenses 6 months trip to Ireland - so they are generally fairly relaxed and on a number of occasions have displayed a sense of humour.

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Re: US Immigration

No, there is no special school for these TSA & ICE people, it's just a low paying wage job, done by people who don't care much until somebody tries to make a joke. Have you ever flown to Germany or Switzerland? No humor there either, humor and niceties take time these folks don't get paid for.

As I said, it's not uncommon to be humorless. Empathy costs money too!

Too many people, too little pay and too many "wise guys" makes Jack a dull boy.

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Salient Lesson....

....don't bother going to America unless you have to. They hate our freedoms.

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Re: Salient Lesson....

You might not go there but what if they come to you as is their wont?

I once tried to help some US Marines and indicated that if they took fire I would cover them as I was 5 stories higher than they.

They called a gun ship in on me!!! Luckily the pilots knew what a massive French flag meant and also what a green beret indicated and I got off with a very close fly past and wave from a good old boy.

All in all I have no interest getting involved with them or visiting their democratic paradise on earth.

As for Snowden and metadata, I want to know more about his work for the CIA at Dell. What was all that about? exploding laptops, shaped charge phablets, malware resident in BIOS' and disk images.

One interesting fact is that the more low quality non targeted data one has, the harder it is to mine, wood and trees etc..

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Black Helicopters

Schroedingers luggage?

At least you didn't get the gem that according to a friend who works at Gatwick security some of his colleagues like to throw in occasionally - "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?". Apparently the number of people who automatically just answer "no" is depressingly large.

Oh and enquiring minds want to know - did you get the steely stare from his eyes or his mouth?

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FAIL

Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

I love that question...

If it was without my knowledge then HOW THE F*CK WOULD I KNOW ???

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Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

In the spirit of the question, I reckon the answer:

"Anyone? No!"

is both strictly true and suitably vague.

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Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

<snip>

"If it was without my knowledge then HOW THE F*CK WOULD I KNOW ???"

Thank you for explaining that I would never have done sufficient exegesis to get it for myself.

What annoys me the most as a frequent traveller is the fact that those twin towers are costing me hours per trip fannying around. There is a point when too much security becomes bad security.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Schroedingers luggage?

I got that one once too and I said without thinking "No, it explodes when opened". They didn't like it very much. I was detained for several hours while never seeing my luggage again...

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Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

>> those twin towers are costing me hours per trip fannying around

Strictly speaking, the most annoying fannying is the direct result of Richard Read, a Briton, and his matchstick soles and lack of braincells. Don't blame the Americans.

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Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

"Strictly speaking, the most annoying fannying is the direct result of Richard Read, a Briton, and his matchstick soles and lack of braincells. Don't blame the Americans."

I would say that the world we live in today has been shaped by US policy over the years. Do not forget who funded a lot of these people and allowed them to mutate into the organisations they are today. Do not forget that the actions of certain countries have a knock on effect and can promote terrorism by their action or inaction. We live in a febrile state of paranoia, we are alienating people left right and center and essentially generating a climate where in some sectors of the world it is cool to be a terrorist or to take the path to Jihad and become Shahid.

I don't know about "Richard Read" but Richard Reid was trained by an organisation that was supported and funded by the US in its early days. He is a mere chicken that has come home to roost there are many others.

The expansion of the US empire has shaken up the world and has a direct effect on my life, travel, personal security etc. I for one do not like it one bit

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Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

Those "twin towers" signified the deaths of over 3,000 innocent people from multiple countries. You should leave comments like that out of your posts you fucking troll.

You could have just mentioned the 'too much security" and been done with it but you had to bring in something truly unneccessary.

This is the same kind of security you see everywhere these days, it's NOT extraordinary.

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WTF?

Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

"This is the same kind of security you see everywhere these days, it's NOT extraordinary."

His point was perfectly valid - prior to 7/11 - it WAS extraordinary.

Prior to 7/11 the UK endured a concerted IRA terrorist campaign for 28 years with 600+ civilian deaths and hundreds more incidents with a fraction of the security theatre we now have to put up with. the only meaningful incident since that time in the UK has been 7/7 at 52 deaths and you'll note there isn't a strip search getting on the UK Tube.

YMMV - but I think his point stands.

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Go

Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

But Richard is laughing his ass off every day thinking about how badly he sent us into a spin whilst surviving the ordeal intact. Now he only has to declare himself trans gender and get re-assigned to a womens prison and he's set for life.

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Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

"Security" all depends on what's an issue in the country at the time and where you came from or have been.

If an American flew to Brittain in the same time period as the IRA issues, we got the third degree if you were of Irish ancestry or had an obviously Irish last name.

And for the record that's 9/11 NOT 7/11. 7/11 is the convenience store.

FWIW you can never stop the concerted efforts of a terrorist with "security", it's all theatre!

You have more camera's in your country than people, they don't HAVE to strip search you.

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Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

"This is the same kind of security you see everywhere these days, it's NOT extraordinary."

Sorry but this is crap. The UK put up with decades of US funded terrorism on its own shores. We'd go to the pubs in the city centre's & just think "fuck it". If some dignitary was expected they might seal up the bins along the route (for what use that might have been).

More US citizens died on D-Day than 9/11. By that measure all your german & japanese residents should still be in camps? Al-Qaeda doesn't have to *do* anything. It just has to have a credible voice. It is blindly obvious 9/11 was an unexpected terrorist success. Much more successful is their subsequent propaganda campaign in that they're bringing their hated western governments closer to the hard-line political system they espouse.

Just ignore them. Meanwhile, educate the susceptible such that it isn't seen as cool to go trundling off to the likes of syria.

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Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

<snip>

"Just ignore them. Meanwhile, educate the susceptible such that it isn't seen as cool to go trundling off to the likes of syria"

Agreed and I think that the US has handed the terrorist brotherhood a massive victory with their actions post twin towers. In my opinion the world is now a shitty place and getting worse by the minute

In the past 50 years I can't recall a military adventure that the Americans have one, you would think they would get the message by now.

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Re: Schroedingers luggage?

Once I answered the related and less nonsensical question, "Has your luggage been out of your control since you packed?" with

"I left it at King's Cross left luggage this morning"

he decided,

"Well, I think we can trust them."

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Headmaster

Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

The lawyers for the convenience store would probably be quick to point out that it's actually "7-Eleven", not 7-11, or 7/11.

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US Immigration

Heh, that's just reminded me of my first trip to 'murrica in the 90's - the Polish stamps in my [UK] passport gave them some cause for concern. I think they must have looked 'a bit commie'. Luckily I'd ticked the box to say I wasn't a turrrrist, so was let in ;-)

LPT: In answer to the 'where are you staying' question, it is not advisable to tiredly say 'how the fsck should I know? I've only just arrived'... :)

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Re: US Immigration

The other question that used to confuse us on the old visa waiver form was the one that said "are you a Nazi or have you or your family ever been involved with them' (or something to that effect).

Since my partner is descended from the five percent of her family that got out of Germany in the thirties - the rest remain in Dachau and Auschwitz - the answer was obviously 'yes'.

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Re: US Immigration

The reason for asking all of those obviously daft questions is actually very clever: say you're a terrorist, but you answer no to the "are you a terrorist?" question. Now when they catch you trying to set off your underpants in the loo they can add immigration fraud and lying to government officials to your charge sheet. Worth another 30 years in prison at least.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: US Immigration

The last time I had the misfortune to set foot in the USA, the answer to "Where are you staying?" was "Nowhere, I'm getting a connecting flight in about 3 hours, assuming you let me through in time to catch it that is."

That seemed to confuse them. Mind you, it was about 3 months after 9/11 - most everything seemed to confuse them then.

Before 9/11, if you were getting a connecting flight, you didn't need to go through customs and immigration. After 9/11, that changed, although I have no idea exactly why. But it annoyed the crap out of me, connecting at LAX en route from London to Auckland. "I've just got off a 12 hour flight, and I'm just about to get on another one, and standing in queues waiting to be questioned about things that I have no wish to do, like 'visiting your country', is not my ideal for how to relax between the two."

And to give them credit, even at that difficult time, they were still human enough to let me through despite a slight show of exasperation on my part. But like I said, I haven't been back since. Nowadays, when I want to make that trip, I'll pay extra if necessary to fly via Asia.

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ZSn

What's wrong with Turkey?

Actually, more to the point, what's wrong with a Turkish connection. Turkey, for those Americans who are geographically challenged, is in NATO and has been for a long time. Apart from their music, which should be banned under the Geneva convention, they are very welcoming and helpful.

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Re: What's wrong with Turkey?

I don't know but the US has been practicing genocide on them for many years. Think November the 27th and December the 25th and you will get an idea of the scale of this particular issue.

I think that we should rise up and free them from tyranny.

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Re: What's wrong with Turkey?

I have to agree, I've never met a Turk who I didn't like. But then I've never met their politicians.

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Headmaster

Re: What's wrong with Turkey?

Actually Turkeys come from America, so, in fact they deserve what happens to them on Thanksgiving. That's the Americans settlers for you, one part of the locals they murdered in their millions via smallpox, gunpowder, and atrocious Tonto impressions, the other part they just ate.

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Re: What's wrong with Turkey?

"But then I've never met their politicians."

And you´ve never been to a german biliard hall.

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My pleasant passport chap tried this on a recent trip to LA...

His opening gambit was - spain are out of the world cup, now I don't give a rats ass about such things, but I immediately feigned an interest.

His second question was about what I did for a living, I was terrified as I work for IBM, and he wanted to know exactly what I did. I tried to make it sound exciting, I think I got away with it to.

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he wanted to know exactly what I did.

He didn't care, he just wanted to see if you could reel off a sincere description quickly without giving the impression that you were trying to remember your cover story...

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Facepalm

Yeah? Just try to leave Israel!

Last minute business trip -- problems with the testing of a controller PCB I had designed by our Israeli subsidiary -- getting in was no problem. Getting out, however, had me spending an hour with a nice officer, explaining who I was, what I did and why I had only spent 40 hours in their wonderful country.

Luckily, I had a lab notebook, schematics and a wealth of detail to bore the nice officer with. Turns out, if I had had a written letter of invitation from the subsidiary, it would have been "have a nice day and enjoy your flight"

I played it straight, they let me leave. On a Lufthansa flight, through Frankfurt, which I thought was a bit surreal.

// Oh yeah, I had to pay import duty (a couple hundred dollars IIRC) on the replacement board I brought with me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah? Just try to leave Israel!

On a Lufthansa flight, through Frankfurt,

Ah, Lufthansa. The airline that insists on seeing a printed copy of your ESTA at check-in even when the ESTA clearly says that you have no need to carry a hard copy. Thank heavens for smarthones & free airport wifi.

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Re: Yeah? Just try to leave Israel!

Getting in an out was always a bugger. I used to get asked where I was going, what number bus I was taking, where that parked in Tel Aviv, who i knew and what my rifle number was. That was back in the mid 80s when the US was just gearing up funding and training for what would become the Talaban / Al Qaeda.

Their security is very good and very exact with knowledgeable well trained operatives along with the odd spook. The US could learn some of these targeted techniques. Sadly the US learned one bad technique from the Israeli's when they fire from the drones, kill them all and let God recognize his own is the order of the day. Oooh, sorry I meant that 'collateral' damage is no longer an issue.

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Re: Yeah? Just try to leave Israel!

Heh. One of my colleagues failed to mention ten grand's worth of spares he was carrying into Delhi. Got to enjoy a cell overnight and an invitation never to return...

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@ Peter Simpson 1 Re: Yeah? Just try to leave Israel!

Why would I, a civilized human being, want to go to the terrorist state of Israel[1][2] in the first place? Serious question.

[1] A Rabbi friend of mine has been calling it that since we were at Stanford together, 30 years ago. In his opinion, the entire hell-hole that is the middle-east makes the perpetrators responsible for the US Civil War look like pikers, and has done for thousands of years. In his words "They need to grow up and accept that they are all related, the lot of them".

[2] Or anywhere else in the middle-east, just so I'm not accused of being anti-semitic[3].

[3] Daftest thing about THAT bit o' lingo is that Arabic is a semitic language ...

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Re: @ Peter Simpson 1 Yeah? Just try to leave Israel!

You try telling either party that they are more closely related to each other than Europeans, Africans or Asians; that Palestinian DNA falls slap bang in the middle of the Jewish groupings, and so they are all basically blood brothers....and wait for the fireworks to fly (....or rockets, bombs, shells whatever).

Mind you expecting 'we hate them because they are "X" race' to have some logic or sense to it is just wasting time.

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Boffin

Re: @ Peter Simpson 1 Yeah? Just try to leave Israel!

there is no scientific basis for race, it is a social construct.

P.

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@phil dude (was: Re: @ Peter Simpson 1 Yeah? Just try to leave Israel!)

Look up "Y-DNA Haplogroups" and "human migration". Look at J1 and J2 groups in specific. Now place these concepts in the context of the middle east today.

In theory, you'll understand why Jews & Arabs are blood-brothers, like it or not. The entire cluster-fuck is nothing more than a glorified family feud. Which they all seem to glorify, alas. They really need to get over it, this is the 21st century, not 2,000BCE, the year dot, or 610 CE.

Me? Glad you asked. I'm N1c (Finnic). My mother's brothers are N1b (Ugric).

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Joke

My mugshot is a pair of buttocks.

That should be fine for a passport as long as you're not wearing glasses or smiling.

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Glasses?

Perhaps a monocle would be more appropriate

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Anonymous Coward

Entering the US

Never mind trying to explain why you are only in the country for 12 hours to transit by road from NY into Canada via Buffalo - it took multiple explanations (and 2 tired hungry crying children and a Mrs dying for a fag) before they reluctantly let us go. Ironically a week before 9/11

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Re: Entering the US

We got some of them newfangled airports up here in Canada now, ya know? Some people can fly directly into here now.

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Anonymous Coward

Did you say Chemical Engineer?

My first interview with a US Immigration Officer went on like this: 'What's your profession?' 'Computer Network Engineer.' 'Did you say Chemical Engineer?'. Then blah, blah, five minutes later, the same question, same answer, same reply. No, it was not just twice. Other five minutes later... Oh, it was just my two-year-old Pakistani visa that I had in my European passport. That was in 2007. One year after: 'Oh, I see you've been to Pakistan...'.

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Meh

Choice of Hols

... and all these are reasons why I am not tempted to go to the USA,on holiday and will resist going there on business

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