Super Bowl LII: Don’t Rely on the FBI

Super bowl el aye aye?  Don’t rely on the FBI.

Yo, that’s a pretty catchy rap.  My oh my.  Why oh why?  I try and try.  But you can’t rely, on the FBI.  Makes me wanna cry, cry, cry.  Someone help me out here.  We’ll need to exhume Casey Kasem’s casket.

It’s going to be a busy next two weeks for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  There’s a big showdown in downtown Minneapolis at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 5, 2018.  It’s called Super Bowl 52.

The FBI released a “relatively vanilla” public relations video showcasing their extensive preparations (youtube.com/watch?v=2fRO5JPWFtE).  I’d post the link in its youtube comment section, but it has been conveniently disabled.

I won’t get into all of the logistics.  I’ll eagerly concede that there are a wide-ranging degree of Super Bowl vulnerabilities.  After all, it’s virtually impossible to prevent lone-wolf attacks.  If someone is truly committed and wants to reek havoc, the sky’s literally the limit.

So here’s an open challenge to any FBI agent with a role in Super Bowl 52.  Oh, what the hell.  I’ll open the contest to any member of the FBI.  That’s approximately 35,000 individuals seeking truth and justice.

Here’s the deal.  If you are willing to comprehensively respond to my concerns, or at a bare minimum, just officially acknowledge them, I’ll make a $1,000.52 contribution to a mutually agreed upon charity.  That extra 52 cents is meant to honor the big game, and of course, the FBI itself, whose acronym represents fidelity, bravery and integrity.

On February 5, U.S. Bank Stadium will be filled with close to 70,000 active cell phones. I’m specifically concerned about the stadium being saturated with false cellular information.  Whether that information is a directly disseminated “info-bomb” or arrives in the form of a decentralized “viral blitzkrieg” is wholly irrelevant.  The information would be specifically attenuated to foment a real-world panic.  Resulting in an unscheduled, self-evacuation.  Followed by a human stampede.  Last time I checked, stadium stampedes, and stampedes in general, are bad news.  On any continent.

Keep in mind, there are literally an infinite number of scenarios, but I’ll throw out this specific one.  Exactly what’s the super duper contingency plan for…

Hmm, sounds to me like asymmetric, weaponized information.  A black swan?  A cyber-9/11?  Irregular warfare?  Do any of those words sound familiar?  They probably should.  You hear them on the news everyday.  Far be it from me to lecture any federal agency on the societal gaps in cyber-security, public safety and human rights.  But I’m gonna do, what I’m gonna do.  You wanna know why?  It’s called doing what’s morally right and ethically sound.

Granted, the “Trump hijack tweet” is a tad extreme (unless of course, his account was hacked).  Hence I’ll sanitize the request.  The rules just loosened.  The bar has been lowered.  To be awarded the money, all you must do is publicly explain that… Donald Trump is NOT allowed to tweet a stadium evacuation order.  Now how on earth could anyone, at least anyone knowledgeable about NFL or Super Bowl security, view that as an unacceptable request?

To all you inspecting detecting, inquisitive junior G-Men — there are an endless number of variations here.  The problem’s a little more complex than a renegade Trump tweet.  But I liked this one because it exemplifies my concerns across a wide array of entities.  Twitter (and for that matter, facebook, snapchat, instagram, et al), the Federal Communications Commission (their inability to adequately safeguard the wireless carrier and cellular industries), the Department of Homeland Security (see something, say something) and the executive branch of government (the orange tweeting imbecile in the White House).  Oh, and of course, the FBI (killing people WITHOUT weapons falls a little outside the scope of an official cyber-investigation.  Until of course, AFTER it were to happen).  I almost forgot about the human rights aspect.  Yes indeed, whether you know it or not, you’re allowed to be aware of the fact that emergency stadium evacuation orders are NOT delivered via your personal cell phone.  I’ll give you a hint — incident command uses the public address system in tandem with the video monitors.  This might very well be the most generically obvious, well-guarded secret on the planet earth.

So that’s the challenge.  But my hunch is that I’m gonna be talkin’ to an empty cell phone.  Because the person on the other end of the line doesn’t exist.  Hey, it’s not totally their fault.  This individual cannot exist because of the catch-22.  For the reason that… drum roll please…. if you acknowledge a security disconnect, you own it.  And if something horrific were to actually happen, you’re totally screwed.  Why?  Because you didn’t do enough to prevent it!

It’s called a paradox.  Isn’t it peculiar how nobody out there is allowed to acknowledge the wireless equivalent of shouting “FIRE” in a crowded theater?  Trust me, with all of our stadiums, ballparks, arenas, amphitheaters and motor speedways, it’s more than just some crazy coincidence.

Enough of that.  Back to the FBI 2018 Super Bowl video.  God forbid, if I didn’t take a few jabs at the FBI’s sleek presentation, I wouldn’t be doing my thankless job.

According to their own video, here were the major discussion bullet points for everyone in that mammoth hotel banquet room.

*  Security Considerations and Preparations at the Mall of America
*  Crowd Control Planning
*  Media Management
*  Public Information and Warning
*  Mass Arrest Contingencies
*  Airspace Security
*  Family Reunification

So what’s the one subject heading conveniently missing?  Yep, you guessed it.  Cyber-security.

Michael Hartnett — Crisis Management Unit, FBI Critical Incident Response Group

“we’ll bring tactical teams, bomb techs, people that can respond to a hazardous device incident, we’ll bring social media experts”

Lemme guess.  These social media experts will be assigned to monitor online threats.  The chat rooms, message boards and relevant twitter hashtags will be properly observed and analyzed.  Nice job!

Scott Gerlicher  — Special Operation and Intelligence Division, Minneapolis Police Department

“I think we have done our best to try think about just every contingency, natural or man made, that could potentially come our way.”

I concur.  Well, except for this “artificially generated stampede” thing.  That would be silly silly.  Dilly Dilly!

Alex Khu — Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations

“It really requires the full gamut, at all levels.  Local, state, federal law enforcement and even D.O.D. components.”

That’s a lot of agencies, a lot of departments, a lot of people.  Too bad that nobody is allowed to “discuss the undiscussable.”

Jeff Potts — Chief of Police, City of Bloomington

“The security footprint for the Super Bowl is… is… is… incredible.”

I agree.  It is… is… is… incredibly naive.  The year is 2018.  Not 1998.  Since the widespread proliferation of cell phones 20 years ago, NFL stadium WiFi capabilities have markedly shifted.  All of them trending in the direction of wireless hyper-connectivity.

Believe me, I could ramble on in a way that makes Led Zeppelin envious.  But instead, I’ll just bring it on home.

This whole $1000.52 Super Bowl security contest is legit.  The irony???  The reward could be for as much as a cool million.  But unless some hypothetical FBI agent is willing to stir up a hornet’s nest, sacrifice their career, and quite possibly risk personal incarceration on a felony charge of theoretical wanton public endangerment and conspiracy to commit a speculative act of terrorism, I’m fairly certain the reward will go uncollected.

As our heroically eloquent commander-in-chief would say, “BAD!  NOT GOOD!”