Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Must... Resist... Tinfoil...

When I got home from work Monday night, I had a couple of E-mails about the security incident at SUBASE New London that closed down Gate 1 during the day; by the time I got saw them, they had determined there was no bomb in the car that the explosive-sniffing dog had "hit" on. At this point, I figured there was nothing to blog about that Lubber's Line hadn't already covered, so I just thought, "Well, it looks like it was a good practice run for the security team (and the Newport-based EOD team)" and forgot about it. (Yes, I actually included the parenthetical expression in my internal monologue -- I never said I wasn't weird.)

Then, I read this story in The Day (annoying free registration required):

"A man arrested during a vehicle inspection at the main gate of the U.S. Navy Submarine Base Monday has been cited with trespassing.
"The man, whose name was not released today, is scheduled to appear in May before the federal magistrate in Hartford. A specific date had yet to be assigned for the trial, a spokesman for the sub base said today.
"Security personnel stopped the man at Gate 1 at about 6:30 a.m. when he tried to enter the base. A dog trained to detect explosives reacted to the man’s vehicle during a routine inspection.
"The man, who U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons said Monday was a citizen of Turkey with a valid Connecticut driver’s license and a “green card,” was detained for roughly 12 hours while the Navy inspected the vehicle."

My first reaction is probably what you're thinking -- "What are the odds that someone from an Islamic country just happened to try to drive onto SUBASE, when he apparently wasn't supposed to be there (judging by the trespassing citation), during the morning rush hour, if it wasn't a dry run or intel gathering attempt for something bad?"

The other side of my brain tried to talk some sense into me. "Look, Bubblehead, you're one of the blogosphere's loudest proponents of Hanlon's Razor -- 'Never attribute to malice that which can be ascribed to incompetence'. Leave the tinfoil hat stuff to the moonbats... chances are the poor guy just made a mistake."

But then I think: "Who's going to wait in the line at 0630 to go someplace he doesn't want to go? And why did the dog hit on explosives if there hadn't been explosives in the vicinity of the car at some point? Did the car have a base sticker? Had someone purposefully bought a used car with the base sticker still attached for nefarious purposes?"

But then I reconsidered: "Maybe, just maybe, it's a case of unintended profiling. Maybe (although you have no information about this, and you're just pulling it out of your ass) the dog handler unconsciously sent out some sort of vibe to the dog because of the ethnicity of the driver, which caused the dog to react. The guy probably was just trying to pick up a friend who worked the night shift who didn't realize that random people weren't allowed on base."

By this time, the two sides of my brain were hopelessly conflicted. I just hope that whoever is investigating this event has at least part of his brain thinking the same way my irrational part did, and isn't afraid to pursue some un-PC lines of inquiry if they're called for...

Update 0548 15 March: From another article in The Day (posted over at Rontini's BBS), it appears the guy said he was trying to visit the Sub Force Museum. At 0630. Congressman Simmons actually voices the concern that it may have been an attempt to probe base security, so someone else is thinking the same thing.

Update 0002 18 March: Changed the link for Hanlon's Razor, because the Wikipedia link kept dropping the last part of the URL...


Blogger Lubber's Line said...

Bubblehead I concur, you can’t jump to conclusions just because of the person’s ethnic origin. BUT, when enough red flags are raised it’s time to start following your gut. That’s what happened in 2000 in Washington State when an alert customs agent stopped a very nervous Middle Eastern man entering from Canada and heading for LAX.

Thanks for the followup and details I was unaware of yesterday. -LL

3/15/2006 10:48 AM

Blogger basscheez said...

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and has explosive residue on it, then it's a damn curious duck.

3/15/2006 11:04 AM

Anonymous Byron Audler said...

I'm with basscheez. Screw the civil liberties stuff. That all stops once you hit the line where the sign says "US Naval Installation" After that, you play by the Navy's rules. And since I do it EVERY day I go to work, and have for over 25 years, I know whereof I speak. I have zero problem with being stopped and searched. If it were up to me, it would happen a hell of a lot often. IMHO, it don't happen often enough as it is.

Rant mode, off

3/15/2006 3:20 PM

Anonymous EW3 said...

I'm sure you are familer with Bayesian statistics. It would actually confirm you gut instinct in this case.
It's all about the odds.
What is the odds that the driver would be Turkish? What would be the odds that he wet through the gate at that time. What would be the odds that the dog detected something.
The overall odds are pretty slim.
I'd be curious if a second dog found the same scent.

3/15/2006 10:01 PM


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