Seattle responded to request for text messages by photocopying a phone

Seattle responded to request for text messages by photocopying a phone

Last year, Seattle-based activist Phil Mocek requested text messages sent by mayor Ed Murray to his staff. Unsurprisingly, the mayor’s press team responded fairly quickly – albeit in a fairly surprisingly way.

Yes, the Mayor’s PR team apparently felt that the best way to do this would be to pull up the text messages on the phone and then place it on a flatbed scanner, which credit where it’s due, did produce a responsive record. With agencies often going to absurd lengths to avoid fulfilling a request, it’s nice to see one going to absurd lengths to actually fulfill one.

But seriously guys, next time just call IT.


How the NYPD Secures Times Square on New Year’s Eve

How the NYPD Secures Times Square on New Year’s Eve

The tongues of native New Yorkers land heavy on consonants, and on vowels, too. On words and sentences. On poetry and prose, on dese, dem, and dose. For all the worry that television has homogenized all the fun accents out of existence, the sons of certain neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn—they still speak the hell out of all the words. Make a real meal out of them. No posh Manhattan private school diction for these guys, not on your life. And these guys here—these guys are cops, and when they’re on the job, people aren’t people, they are the more formal in-duh-vi-jew-wuhls, and by the time this man here, Jim Waters, chief of counterterrorism, New York Police Department, gets up the slopes and down the valleys of that word, it’s picked up another syllable or two. For reference, Waters sounds a little like the old actor Broderick Crawford, who played a lot of cops. And Waters may be chief of counterterrorism now, but he started out life walking a beat in the 110 Precinct, Elmhurst, Queens, which isn’t as quaint as it sounds.

It’s just after 2:00 in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, cold dappled sunlight splashes up and down Seventh Avenue, the universe’s own spotlight giving God a better look at what in hell is happening down in New York. Everybody, it seems, is curious about this particular spot on the dirty globe today. Chief Waters is standing right in the middle of the street, facing north toward Central Park, keeping a close eye out as the hearties and the crazies and the curious stream from Forty-Sixth Street, take a left toward Times Square, and enter into the “chute” for screening by cops under his command. They’re all here for The Show—Midnight in Times Square, baby! hollers a young Asian woman who doesn’t look dressed warmly enough at all, as she dances past to join her friends. Chief Waters smiles and nods. His aide-de-camp, Captain Danny Magee, shakes his head, a bemused expression on his face. Magee’s always looking to bust somebody’s balls.

“Some of ’em mighta already had a few,” he says. “Once they’re screened and in the pens, it’s hard to leave and there’s nowhere to pee.” He pauses, thinks about two million people—that’s how many guests they’re expecting tonight—with no place to pee. “They’re gonna need a jar!” he says, his face erupting in a crinkly smile. If Waters is Broderick Crawford, Magee is more Jimmy Cagney. Very Brooklyn, total wiseass. Mother, wonderful woman, still lives in the house he grew up in. “Maybe a friend can hold up a sheet, so they can take turns using the jar! ‘Cause they’re gonna need a jar.” You cannot spell jar the way Magee says jar. His voice is snappy and he is shouting a little because this intersection—Forty-Sixth and Seventh—is madness, the center of an enormous mobilization of a security apparatus that has no peer anywhere in the world in terms of civil police departments. In the name of fun and freedom of assembly, seven thousand cops are at this moment being deployed to harden a grid in the center of Manhattan between Thirty-Eighth Street and Central Park, and between Eighth Avenue and Sixth Avenue. As mass gatherings of the public go, this is the big enchilada, the Super Bowl. A couple years ago, incidentally, the city hosted an actual Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium across the way in Jersey—Chief Waters threw that party, too. “That’s all we are—party planners,” says Magee. “Party planners with big guns and a bomb squad.” Waters smirks. “That’s why we keep Danny around,” he says. “For his sense of yuma.”

It’s not just Magee. Everybody’s in pretty good humor today. The pizza guy on the block is sending a platoon into the jovial crowd with fresh hot pies. “Thirty bucks!—that’s a helluva markup,” says Magee. “He’s making his nut for the year today.” But he sure is keeping them fed in the pens. Waters says there are forty-eight of the block-long enclosures, from here all the way up toward the park. They were erected by hundreds of cops using thousands of metal barriers starting at midnight last night. Any brave souls who want to watch the ball drop are entering the grid from the east and west, and at entry points on either Sixth or Eighth avenues, they subject themselves to a handheld magnetometer that detects any ferrous metals, and maybe a pat down, a radiological detection test, random explosive-trace detection in which something that looks like litmus paper is wiped on their hand or run down the length of the zipper on their jacket, and everybody gets sniffed by a dog. They then will walk toward Seventh Avenue or Broadway, past at least one twenty-ton sand truck, two on the wider streets—each topped off with another fifteen tons of sand—blocking the street, past the row of six-foot-long, two-ton concrete blocks blocking the sidewalk. Counterterrorism cops have to pay attention and learn from what’s in vogue among people who want to kill as many people as possible, and this year’s innovation in mayhem has without doubt been driving a big truck into as big a crowd as possible. So today, Waters is hardening the perimeter of the grid with trucks so heavy that “ain’t nothing gonna move ’em,” but that have the added convenience of being portable, so at the end of the night you just drive them away. Down the block the once-screened stream of humanity goes toward the pens. They walk, silly hats on and bottled water in hand, and when they reach Seventh Avenue, they run into Chief Waters and his boys and are screened all over again. Two million people, screened twice. Magnetometer, radiological, dog. All the while, “red cell” teams of cops in plainclothes are dispersed among the crowd, trying to breach the system, probing its vulnerabilities, and “that bag can’t come in here, ma’am. Ma’am, no bag,” Magee says. “What’s that? You can either walk out the way you just came in, or you can donate it to our growing bag collection here.” Magee pulls back a tarp to reveal bins and bins of bags of all shapes and sizes and degrees of fanciness that have already been surrendered. A young woman, thinking better of the whole idea, is clawing deep into the bin to retrieve a bright-green leather bag to be on her way.

Captain is an old-man rank, a retirement rank, and Magee isn’t yet forty. Probably ought to pay attention to that name, he’s going to be somebody. Waters is on the verge of fifty-seven, and with compulsory retirement coming when he hits sixty-three, he is both state-of-the-art in counterterrorism and nearing the end of his career in counterterrorism. He’s been pulling New Year’s Eve duty since infancy—

“I remember, I was a young sergeant, ’86 I think it was. Forty-Seventh and Seventh, and they told us to bring our hats and bats—riot helmets and nightsticks. That was about the height of technology at the time. I had ten cops and by 7:00 or 8:00 p.m., the crowd was already somewhat, uh, intoxicated . . .” Not to mention completely unregulated, and somewhat aggressive. Bottles were flying, and so Waters told his men to put their chin straps on. One of his cops wouldn’t do it, and a couple minutes later, he took a bottle to the head, knocking his helmet sideways. “I said, Are you gonna put your chin strap on now?” The threats were different then—FALN (militant Puerto Rican nationalists) and the like—but nobody really knew yet what counterterrorism was, or why it might be necessary.

A black Lab at the end of a cop’s leash brushes your leg as he methodically pushes his way through the crowd, padding spryly back and forth across the avenue. That’s Kevin, one of the department’s vapor-wake dogs. German shepherds are very good at sniffing a bomb in a backpack stuffed under a mailbox, but these Labs, specially trained at Auburn University, are expert at moving targets. As each of us moves through the world, we constantly displace air, disturbing a universe of molecules, and it is the plume of air left in the wake as each reveler cuts through the space in front of him that Kevin is sniffing, in patient search for precursor bomb material or radiological matter of any kind. We give off molecules, and so do bombs. Once, during a half-marathon in the park, one of the Labs alerted on a runner wearing only shorts and a tank top, and was insistent that there was something suspicious on the man. “Excuse me, sir, are you undergoing radiation treatment of some kind?” The dogs sometimes alert on cancer patients. The man dug into the pocket of his shorts, and brought out a tiny pill. Nitroglycerin. Somebody had told him that taking one halfway through the race turbocharges you for the second half. The vapor-wake dog had discovered his secret.

To secure the grid for tonight, forty of the NYPD’s dogs are on the job, including eight of the vapor-wake Labs. Magee says that the department favors the Labs, both for their extraordinary skills but also because people sometimes have negative associations with shepherds. Labs aren’t as intimidating. Regardless of breed, all the counterterrorism dogs are named after a fallen cop. Kevin is named after Kevin Gillespie, a street-crimes cop who was killed on the job in 1996. And here comes Vin, named after Vinnie Danz, an emergency-services cop killed on 9/11.

Waters plans to spend all afternoon in constant communication with his officers deployed around and throughout the grid, making certain that this massive undertaking that has been in planning for the past 364 days is proceeding smoothly. He’ll be traveling back and forth to the Joint Operations Center at 1 Police Plaza downtown, the nerve center of all police operations but especially, today, counterterrorism and intelligence, which will be collecting information from NYPD assets stationed in thirteen foreign countries, including most of the current hot spots. He will be looking at those thirteen countries as they go to midnight, like dominoes heading to New York. If midnight passes without incident in London, Tel Aviv, and Istanbul, Waters will breathe a little easier. He knows and has staked out every parking garage in the grid, to make sure no bad guys go in to plant something, or out, unscreened, to do harm. Two days ago, he had every manhole cover in the vast swath of midtown Manhattan marked, a job so big that it alone would strain the ability of most other cities to do it. The checklist of all that Waters and the seven thousand cops deployed here today have to do reels in his head. You can see it. He is buttoned-up but cordial, talking easily one second and lost behind his eyes the next. But look around today and you are likely to find Chief  Waters, given a spare moment, down on the ground—or in this case, kneeling on the street—playing with a large variety of dogs, all of whom are official New York City police officers, wearing shields and signs that read “Do not pet.”

Just then, an interloper with brown hair and glasses—with a look of determined nonchalance—gets through these layered and concentric circles of security wearing a backpack, walks right on through, and after screening his share of approximately five hundred thousand people so far today with nothing so much as a false positive on a bologna sandwich, Vin goes nuts. He strains at his leash so hard he almost pulls his partner off his feet. Vin points at the object of his concern with his snout, almost touching the backpack on the man’s back, and then he sits on his haunches, supremely alert. The man is now frozen in his tracks. “You know it’s a definite hit when the dog sits down,” Vin’s partner says. “These dogs do not make mistakes.” Vin has alerted on a decoy, a test of the system. The guy with glasses was let through on purpose, and in his backpack he carried a half-pound of smokeless powder that Vin could smell from here to tomorrow.

Magee taps his watch, and now Waters is up again and moving, heading to Forty-Second Street, past pen after pen, full of the most joyful revelers with the greatest bladder control you ever saw. Everywhere he walks, officers stop and salute. They’re not used to seeing a three-star on the job on a day like this—maybe for the ball drop, but not working. He is congenitally modest and is always trying to deflect attention from himself to “more deserving people, the men and women of the NYPD.” He has eyes that droop slightly, hair high and tight, and lumbers along like a workingman. As he passes a young woman up against a barrier with some friends, she sees him and says, a little sleepily, “Thanks for protecting us . . .” she slowly leans forward to read the name on his jacket . . . ”Waters.” Her arms are crossed tight and she has the sleeves of her sweater pulled down to cover her hands. She looks up at him and smiles a rheumy smile.

“You look cold,” Waters says.

“Oh, I am not cold, believe you me,” she says right back.

“Well, have a great time tonight,” he says, and he’s off.

A few steps away, his smile gone, he’s all business. “I am not worried about a nuclear device going off here tonight,” he says. “We know well the capabilities out there, and I’m confident that’s out of the question. What I am worried about is the lone wolf that we don’t know, that we can’t know. The ISIL model now is to say,  Act where you are, with what you have. That’s where the Nice and Berlin Christmas market truck attacks came from. So I’m worried about that guy.” He walks on, picking up his pace toward Forty-Second Street. “But we don’t worry. We act. That’s what everything you see here today is all about.”

Waters has been chief of counterterrorism since 2008, running a select division of one thousand cops. Before that, he was head of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for five and a half years. It’s been all terrorism all the time since shortly after September 11, 2001. Before 9/11, there was no counterterrorism at the NYPD. So it’s kind of his baby. That’s the kind of duty that is impossible to leave at the office. And so he’s got a hyper-vigilance that just won’t quit, he doesn’t sleep much, and when he does sleep he is frequently awakened in the middle of the night with news of the world that ripples all the way to New York, all the way to his bed on Long Island. And then he’s up for good. “Chief hasn’t had a decent vacation in like, ever,” Magee says, laughing. “His poor wife, you know?”

“Oooh, my wonderful wife,” Waters says. “Sometimes we just can’t catch a break.”

One Saturday night last September, Waters had driven into the city to pick up a couple of suits that he’d had tailored, and “I said to Joanne, C’mon, we’ll go to dinner. There was a place in Brooklyn that she liked.” No sooner had they gotten on the Williamsburg Bridge than a job came over the radio. Didn’t sound like much at first, but Waters knew he had to listen to it. Traffic was light going to Brooklyn but terrible coming back to Manhattan, and by the time Waters and his wife got to the other side of the bridge, “Uh, ya know, the first units were on the scene, and they were calling for ambulances.” A bomb had gone off on a random block in Chelsea. The United Nations General Assembly was in town, 120 heads of state, and they picked Twenty-Third Street instead.

Waters made a U-turn, told Joanne, “Hold on. If you have to close your eyes, close your eyes,” and he floored it, weaving in traffic back across the bridge, lights flashing. He was on the scene in ten minutes, pulling up just behind the bomb squad. He parked his truck, and walked up, trying to absorb the extent of the damage, trying to get an assessment of the number of injured, looking for secondary devices, which was at the top of his checklist that evening as he approached. “Seeing a first sergeant, I said, ‘What are we doing?’ I wanted to see what he says. ‘We’re doing a search for secondary devices.’ That was music to my ears.”

That’s the constant drilling to these guys: Second devices target first responders. Assume there’s a second device, and find it.

And then of course there’s the technology. The NYPD has three thousand cameras of its own all over the city, and access to seven thousand more through partnerships with private businesses. From a command center downtown, they can even activate and turn the cameras to the desired view, or consult footage from thirty minutes or three hours or three days ago to get a clear picture of the who and the what. Because of a program called the Domain Awareness System, and software developed between the NYPD and Microsoft, all of these video resources, as well as data on all ongoing and active calls and a database of what is known about previous police interactions with any given address in the city, are instantly available to all thirty-six thousand NYPD cops—on every desktop and on thirty-six thousand department-issue Nokia Windows devices that each cop carries in his pocket. DAS has revolutionized policing. Now, when there is a domestic violence call, no cop has to go blind into the situation—he or she knows instantly of previous calls at that apartment, whether there are outstanding warrants, whether there might be weapons present, or whether there is no history at all. That technology can save lives on both sides of the door.

And then, hallelujah, within two hours of the first call, cops found that second device on Twenty-Seventh Street. The news reports had gone out about the explosion on Twenty-Third Street, and Waters cautioned the investigators to make sure it wasn’t some kind of copycat device. “We play everything for real, and as soon as I got there, the fellas said, ‘No, it’s real.’ I can’t say enough about the courage and focus of the bomb squad guys.”

It was a pressure-cooker bomb, in the mold of the Tsarnaev brothers’ work in Boston. It was carefully removed to the outdoor range, at Rodman’s Neck, in the Bronx, to be taken apart and rendered safe. They pulled up the Total Containment Vessel, which is a vehicle that is so armored that if you sealed the device inside and it detonated, you wouldn’t hear it. But the trick, of course, is getting the device inside the vehicle. At the scene, the bomb squad removed the phone—which was designed to be used as either timer or detonator—from the pressure cooker. Then with a robot, cops remotely brought it to the TCV. There’s a basket inside, which hangs on a couple of sturdy straps, and a cop with a joystick placed the device into the basket so that it was suspended and would be able to move with the motion of the vehicle without bouncing around too much. And here’s the tricky part, because once it’s in the basket, then a bomb-squad technician has to put the suit on and go close that door. So for that thirty seconds, he’s in very close proximity to that device. Call it a bomb. And one of these has already exploded, injuring dozens of people. He locks the door. Good. Now if it explodes, it explodes, there’ll be no danger to anyone. Drive it up to the Bronx, and go through all those steps in reverse. Then take the device to the pit area, which is surrounded by three walls of blast-proof concrete block that go up about fifteen feet and is open on the fourth side. Hard ground, steel workbench, industrial vise on the end. Here, they practice with an identical pressure cooker. How are we gonna do this? Dry run after dry run after dry run, to get comfortable. Time for the real pressure cooker. They first try to open the lid, which doesn’t work, so, using “a couple of bomb-squad techniques,” they pop the lid off. Now what? It could explode, which wouldn’t be good for the preservation of evidence and the invaluable forensic analysis. But because of the care the professionals took, it didn’t explode, and the FBI evidence collection guys had, ya know, a perfect crime scene, if you will. They had the pot, they had the lid, they had all its contents, perfectly preserved. All of the evidence they could want. Not only for the trial, but to study, learn from, and defend against the next attack.

It’s a pretty elaborate deal, a messy, sprawling civil society of eight million of the loudest, most opinionated people, all with freedom to move and assemble and protest and express themselves and push and test the limits of what is acceptable as their birthright, because “that’s what makes ’em Americans and that’s what makes ’em New Yorkers,” the chief says. And it’s his job to let ’em express and assemble and scream to their heart’s content, and be safe doing it. And now there’s a president of the United States who has a building or two in his town, and a lot of the guy’s neighbors seem to want to regularly demonstrate their appreciation by showing up at his door by the hundreds of thousands and giving him the old Bronx cheer. Why, the United States has suddenly entered into a new era of such mass gatherings, both planned and spontaneous, often both at the same time. Like when you’re expecting sixty thousand for the Women’s March up Fifth Avenue and four hundred thousand show up. “Ha!” the chief says. “It never does get boring!”

Now Waters is standing at ground zero for tonight—Forty-Second and Seventh—and the light is changing as the afternoon accelerates and the checklist is scrolling behind his eyes. Two days ago, in the police commissioner’s executive command center, Commissioner James O’Neill’s executive staff had run through the plan for New Year’s Eve. The command center is a conference room that looks just the way it would look in the movies—all blacks and grays, leather and marble, the walls covered with screens and data and images from all over town and all over the world. Whaddya got? Commissioner O’Neill said, taking a seat at the head of the table. And one by one, the executives ran through a list of plans and assets and allocations that would compare decently to the landing at Normandy:

Five Joint Terrorism Task Force response teams; the bomb squad is broken down to four response teams within Times Square alone, with additional response teams to cover the rest of the city should something happen; somebody remember to thank the sanitation commissioner for the sand trucks; gotta seal the manholes, check and double-check that, yes you; five ballistic vehicles spaced out strategically; large tactical harbor unit for interdicting and boarding a boat or boats, accompanied by SWAT team, prepositioned and ready to go; ten prepositioned light trucks in case there is a blackout—enough to illuminate all of midtown Manhattan so people can see to move around safely, no panic; ten observation teams positioned on high ground—made up of two cops, one to observe, one to communicate, with a “sniper component,” with corresponding response teams on the ground; armored vehicles on Forty-Sixth and Forty-Second, with tactical-weapons component, to neutralize anything serious at Times Square; “Archangel” team, a.k.a. “the Holy Shit” Package (this consists of an REP—emergency services truck, WMD team, canine team, light truck, Total Containment Vessel, a BearCat armored truck in case you have to roll into a raging gun battle to rescue people, that’s the thing you’re gonna use, WMD response trucks, two vapor-wake dogs, seven EDCs [explosive detection canines] and six patrol dogs); air-sea rescue at HUSH [Harbor Unit Station House] on the Brooklyn side, with helicopter and divers standing by, because if the assault starts with them shooting at one of those party boats in the harbor, that’s not the time to think about how are we gonna get resources out to them; a Hazmat/chem/bio team stage on the East Side with quick access into and out of Forty-Second Street; gotta implement flight restrictions below 110th Street, nothing under four thousand feet; seven harbor launches in harbor ready to respond, and four harbor launches doing Staten Island ferry escorts; Hostile Surveillance Teams [plainclothes cops at eight critical subway stations in midtown, wearing the funny hats but looking for hostile surveillance]; new emergency-vehicle routes designed; new radio frequencies for everything . . .

Captain Magee interrupts the reverie. “We have to get downtown,” he says. “To the JOC.” That’s the Joint Operations Center at 1 Police Plaza, the war room of coordinated interagency activity on any night, but especially tonight. “Yeah, yeah,” Waters says. “I’ll be right there.”

There is a profound tension to this work, and a sobering recognition that in an open society you can only ever be so secure. A police state might be perfectly secure, but no one with will or imagination would want to live there. The roiling civic conversation of our time has been about the opposing demands of security and freedom. And that is the seam that Chief Waters works, very sensitively. All of this—the vast array of police assets deployed to both project power to the bad guys watching—they’re always watching—but also as lightly as possible so as not to unduly burden the people they are serving—is being done with the ultimate goal of . . . absolutely nothing happening. A good party, and that’s it. So that at twenty seconds to midnight, as the countdown proceeds and the crowd noise suddenly doubles, a guy says, “Go confetti,” and on that word, 120 people high on top of seven buildings encircling Times Square will begin to drop three thousand pounds of two-inch-by-two-inch pieces of colored tissue paper, one handful at a time, and the paper will float up on the frigid air of the vortex of the high-rises, swirl around in thick clouds before snowing back down to earth, landing on the shoulders of the tactical units with their long guns, and landing on the head of a little girl, who will squeal, “I can’t see, it’s so much!” and landing silently on the ground of the grid, the only unscreened and unscrutinized objects allowed anywhere near here all day.

And Mayor Bill de Blasio and his beaming wife will make a beeline for Waters and bend down slightly to shout, “You did it! Great job!” and clap him on the back, and the secretary general of the U.N. will nod and smile, and the governor, and the secretary of Homeland Security, and various celebrities. All deeply appreciative for all that goes into having absolutely nothing happen. Grateful for the herculean task that goes into making a quiet night.

Waters heads to his car. There’s a ton to be done before then.

Seven hours to midnight.

find typically that the more money I make, the smaller my office is.”

That’s John Miller talking. He is the deputy commissioner of the NYPD for Intelligence & Counterterrorism and former broadcast journalist who could well be the only cop in the world whose ride-along partner was once Barbara Walters. “In TV, my office was usually just a glorified cubicle.” He has a pretty big office right down the hall from Waters’s, in the unbeautiful suite of offices that make up the eleventh floor of 1 Police Plaza, the city-state that houses the administration of the largest municipal police force in the world. “My own army,” former mayor Michael Bloomberg once called it.

Miller is also probably the only cop who has a picture on his office wall of himself with Osama bin Laden—from 1998, at bin Laden’s hideaway in Afghanistan, the last time an American journalist interviewed the terrorist. In 2011, after an American SEAL team killed bin Laden, Miller was in the top-secret CIA briefing with Director Leon Panetta, and at the end of the briefing Panetta said, any questions? “I’m like, uh, did he say anything? Like when they confronted him on the stairs, was there any dialogue? And he laughed and said, There wasn’t a lot of conversation. I thought, Excellent, so I actually still do have the last interview with Osama bin Laden.” There are many other pictures in the office—Miller with the pope, with President Obama. He keeps his Emmys elsewhere. All of which testifies to the utter bizarreness of Miller’s career—which spans from calling in news reports to local New York TV stations from his bike in the early seventies, to being the authority on John Gotti and the mob in the eighties, to a first foray in law enforcement in the mid-nineties, to hopscotching back and forth ever since—from NBC and ABC, cohost of 20/20, to Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, to 9/11, when he sat by Peter Jennings’s side for sixteen hours calmly explaining global jihad to a stricken country, to going to work for the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to now overseeing the strategy and mobilization of police resources to protect any self-respecting terrorist’s bucket-list target city—you can get whiplash just reading Miller’s résumé.

When Popular Mechanics contacted the NYPD to ask about how police design security for mass gatherings in the age of terrorism, it was Miller who said, “Talk to Chief Waters.” But the same skills that made Miller a good reporter—taking in information, synthesizing it, telling you what it means—have made him sort of a philosopher king on the subject, too.

“You’ve got New Year’s Eve, where you have concentric circles of security,” he says, “on the idea that you can’t let a million people in and have total security. So you’ve got to have a graded system. You’re gonna catch most things at the first ring, and if not there you’ll catch it at the second ring, or a dog may catch it at the third ring. Before you go into those pens, there is a pretty good chance that going through all those baffles and filters, somewhere along the line, if there’s something that needs to be caught, it’ll get caught. But that’s about the event. When you design a mobilization for New Year’s Eve, with extraordinary assets pointed at a single spot, you also can’t take your eye off the rest of the vast metropolis outside of your grid. You can’t have all your assets tied up in one place. There’s the whole rest of the city out there.”

What police learn from so many of the recent events around the world is that the attacks come where the security isn’t. “Take Orlando,” says Miller. “Where is the counterterrorism package in Orlando? It’s focused on Disney. That’s where the concentric circles of security are. But the single largest loss of life in a terrorist incident on American soil since 9/11 occurred in Orlando, but not at Disney. It was miles away, at two o’clock in the morning, in a nightclub, on Latin night. So you can do all the targeting and analysis about where you should put your resources, but there is a randomness to these things, and we have to prepare for randomness, too.”

So if you apply that thinking and these “security overlays” to New Year’s Eve and Times Square, what does randomness look like? In the great feedback loop of the universe, as the clock ticks down to midnight, and the pens fill up and the air gets colder and millions of people mill about in the charged atmosphere, NYPD executives, with their checklists being checked and rechecked, get their answer.

Five thousand miles away, at 1:14 a.m. local time, at a nightclub in Istanbul called the Reina, randomness happens. A gunman opens fire with a Kalashnikov at people dancing, drinking, and laughing in the new year, slaughtering thirty-nine of them before disappearing into the night. Within minutes, as help is still on its way, the mobile device on Jim Waters’s belt starts pinging.

He was about to get a bite to eat, for chrissakes, but no time for that now. In a situation such as this, a man in Waters’s position has to grab the analyst in his office and find out as much good information about the circumstances and target in Istanbul as he can, quickly, and then consider soft targets in his own city that might be similarly vulnerable, all while hosting a party for two million guests. Tonight is busier than last year, could be a record. By 8:00 p.m., the pens are filled all the way up to Fifty-Fifth Street, thirteen blocks north of Times Square. “You can’t even see the ball drop from Fifty-Fifth!” says Captain Magee. “But you can hear the roar of the crowd I guess, feel the vibrations, say you were there.”

With the news from Istanbul, the executives at NYPD in charge of counterterrorism can feel another, unwelcome vibration. There are nightclubs too many to count all over New York City, in all five boroughs. But if there is a disaffected guy out there, Chief Waters’s lone wolf, who has been thinking about making his mark but maybe has doubted his abilities or has hesitated for some reason, and he sees the news from Turkey and finds in it his inspiration to impulsively act, where would he go? When would he go there? How would he maximize the statement he’s trying to make?

“There are neighborhoods that compare to the neighborhood in Istanbul,” Waters says. “Concentrations of nightclubs and restaurants, active street life. The Village all the way up the West Side, Chelsea, the Meatpacking District. We haven’t touched a single asset for New Year’s Eve, haven’t pulled and won’t pull anything out of Times Square. Everything will remain here as it is. But we are directing available tactical units with long guns already on for the 4-to-12 shift to circulate in the area—up to a dozen cars—they’ll leave their guns in the trunk for now, don’t want to alarm people. Just establish contact with proprietors, let them know they’re there. Be seen. Establish deterrence. Put people at ease so they can have a good time. Ten, fifteen minutes at each place—now you see us, now you don’t. Move on to the next one, then come back. Over the course of an hour they’ll be in four or five locations.”

One more tactical ball in the air for Waters and his cops to juggle. One more jolt of adrenaline to propel everybody toward tomorrow. As the crowd and the colors swirl around him, as Mariah Carey struts the stage right over there not singing, the chief of counterterrorism is on the phone constantly with all of his executive staff, getting one-minute briefs from all sectors and levels of responsibility for the grid. He smiles. “The way I work is, I know if they say, ‘Everything’s great, chief, no problem,’ I know I’m not getting the truth. Either they aren’t doing their job, or they’ve already corrected a problem and feel like they don’t want to bother the boss. That’s policing—situational awareness and constant adjustment to conditions on the ground.”

Waters and his coterie are in motion and remain in motion, making their way back and forth through the clotted blocks at the heart of Times Square, checking with lieutenants, detectives, inspectors, there’s Commissioner O’Neill over there talking with the press, and Mariah Carey again—”she walks through like she’s the Dalai Lama or something,” Magee cracks, “eats up resources, but that’s okay, it’s part of why everybody’s here”—and the music is loud and man, Ryan Seacrest wears a lot of makeup, and the empty zone right in front of the ball begins to fill with cops, and three hours collapses in an instant.

Midnight is upon us. Further uptown, near Central Park, the magnetometers and the dogs are still working as the stragglers get screened, and the semi-official position of the New York Police Department might be described as lighthearted vigilance. Jubilant wariness.

Joanne would normally be here for the ball to drop, but she’s running the midnight 5K up in the park tonight. Chief Waters checks on the security for the run, then makes a last call. “How are things in Chelsea? Quiet? Good.” He hangs up, slips his phone into his pocket, and is quiet for the first time in hours, amid the roar at the crossroads of the world.

One minute to go.

In his head, he’s getting to the bottom of that checklist. “Now is when I always call my muthah,” Captain Magee says, turning away to talk on the phone. Waters smiles. “I know his mother,” he says. “Wonderful woman.” He is still smiling when his eyes suddenly get cloudy. “I lost my mother this year . . .” he says quietly. He turns away for just an instant.

Thirty seconds.

He turns back, all business again. Checks his watch. Looks up at the ball. “You know, the most important thing for us to remember,” he says, “is that we are a free society, and we do our job well when people are as free to move and as safe as possible doing it .”


“You can’t protect everything all the time, or you actually protect nothing.”

There is a sign Waters keeps in his office. Reads it coming and going, every day. “Did you do everything today to prevent an attack tomorrow?” it says.

Here we go.

10 . . .

9 . . .

8 . . .


For a controlled event (as opposed to a more spontaneous exercise of free speech) of two million people, screening is essential, as is blocking access to where the largest concentrations of the crowd will be assembled. In addition to the street being blocked by fully loaded sand trucks, the sidewalks are blocked by two-ton concrete blocks.


Back in the old days, New Year’s Eve in Times Square was an unsecured, alcohol-drenched free-for-all, which, in a post 9/11 world, is simply unheard of. Now, following screening, the secured revelers are congregated in “pens,” less free to move, but less likely to get hurt.

Benchmarking U.S. Government Websites | ITIF

Benchmarking U.S. Government Websites | ITIF

One of the most important ways that the U.S. government provides Americans access to government services and information is through more than 6,000 websites on more than 400 domains. Unfortunately, many of these websites are not fast, mobile friendly, secure, or accessible. In the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s (ITIF’s) review of almost 300 of the most popular federal websites, approximately 92 percent failed to perform well on at least one of these benchmarks. It is incumbent on the Trump administration to address these failures and ensure the federal government can provide all Americans with secure and convenient access to online government services and information.

This report provides a detailed analysis of how U.S. federal websites are performing overall in terms of page load speed, mobile friendliness, security, and accessibility. To gather this information, ITIF analyzed 297 of the most popular federal websites using publicly available tools. This report shows that many federal websites fall short of requirements set by the federal government, as well as basic industry standards for web development.

This report uses two metrics for page load speed: desktop page load speed and mobile page load speed. While 78 percent of websites passed the desktop page load speed test, most websites failed the mobile page load speed test. Only 36 percent of the reviewed websites passed the speed test for mobile devices. Websites often failed this test because they failed to implement common optimization techniques, such as compressing images and prioritizing loading the part of the website visible without scrolling first.

Many federal websites also did not fare well on mobile friendliness. Just 59 percent of the reviewed websites were mobile friendly. Common problems included not using metatags to properly configure the site for mobile devices, illegible font sizes, and buttons and links that were too small for easy use on mobile devices.

Federal websites generally scored high on security. We reviewed two security features: Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)—a common standard for encrypted Internet communications, and Domain Name System Security (DNSSEC)—a set of protocols that add security to domain name system (DNS) lookup and exchange processes. To test for HTTPS, we used a tool that analyzed websites’ Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates (which underpin most HTTPS connections). Two-thirds of the reviewed websites passed the SSL test. To test for DNSSEC, we used a tool to determine whether reviewed websites enabled this security feature. We found that 90 percent of federal websites enabled DNSSEC, and 61 percent of websites passed both the SSL and DNSSEC tests.

Finally, only 58 percent of the reviewed websites were accessible for users with disabilities. Issues with accessibility ranged from poor contrast on websites to a lack of labels, which may prevent the website from being easily navigated by someone using a screen reader, assistive technology commonly used by individuals who are blind.

The federal government should build fast, convenient, secure, and accessible websites, so that anyone can access government services and information online. Unfortunately, this report finds that the federal government must make substantial improvements to meet this goal. There are a number of steps policymakers should take to ensure the federal government can improve its websites:

  1. The White House should launch a series of website modernization “sprints” to fix known problems with the most popular government websites.
  2. The White House should mandate that federal websites meet page load speed requirements.
  3. The White House should require all agencies to monitor and share detailed website analytics.
  4. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should launch a website consolidation initiative.
  5. Congress should encourage nonexecutive agencies and other branches of government to adopt federal government website standards and best practices.
  6. The White House and Congress should establish a capital fund for federal agencies to upgrade their IT.

Source: Benchmarking U.S. Government Websites | ITIF

The curious case of the State Department’s zombie spokesman

The curious case of the State Department’s zombie spokesman

The year was November 1983, and the State Department needed to admit something pretty embarrassing.

For two weeks, it seems they had been able to keep quiet the accidental transfer of highly-classified documents to the Lorton Reformatory, a one-time D.C. prison with a long-time federal partnership. But when a local reporter returned some of the “stratospheric secrets” to the State Department, they had to come out with it, and in headlines across the country, the news broke that the government had lost track of the precious papers. To deliver the Department of State’s side was spokesman Joe Reap.

Who was Joe Reap?

Well, according to another New York Times piece from 1974, nine years prior, he was a graduate of Georgetown University Law School, deputy press officer under eight Secretaries of State, the husband of Anne, and the father of eight children.

He was also dead.


Was federal spokesman the family line of work? Or was Mr. Reap the specter of the State Department?

Since the obituary appeared in the Grey Lady’s pages in 1974, just months after the resignation of Nixon, Mr. Reap has been cited over and over again.

Among other instances, he surfaced (albeit with a suffix) speaking to the Times during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1981….

in an issue of Black Enterprise from 1984 …

on behalf of the State Department’s “Terrorism Desk” in 1998 …

on behalf of the State Department’s “Terrorism Desk” in 1998 …

MuckRock has submitted multiple requests to follow up, but while we wait, we’re wondering: can you find Joseph Reap faster than a FOIA?

Twenty requests to the person who can satisfactorily solve this mystery, and, in the meantime, we’ll find some humor knowing the CIA isn’t the only agency with spooks.

CNS – California Judges & Court Workers Blast Pay Proposal

CNS – California Judges & Court Workers Blast Pay Proposal

Judges and court officials throughout California have united against a proposal to standardize salaries for the state’s trial court employees, saying it’s likely to be incredibly costly and won’t do much to improve service.

The idea to study uniform classification and compensation levels was suggested by the Commission on the Future of the California Court System, set up last year by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to plot the course of California’s trial courts for the next 10 years.

Michael Roddy, the head clerk at San Diego Superior Court, told the commission at a public comment session in Los Angeles on Monday that though the Lockyer Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act of 1997 established statewide funding for the courts, there is no corresponding statewide employment structure for court staff.

“While much has been accomplished to achieve the goals of the Trial Court Funding Act, there is little consistency and predictability and equity relating to areas of employment,” Roddy said.

Roddy is a member of the commission’s Fiscal/Court Administration Working Group, where the proposal originated. He told the full commission there are “significant differences” in pay for court employees who do similar jobs throughout the state.

But the idea of homogenizing the way employees are classified and paid doesn’t sit well with California’s judges and court administrators.

Sherri Carter, head clerk at Los Angeles Superior Court, said she opposes the idea for several reasons, including the cost of simply conducting a study to create uniform classification and salary structures statewide.

“A class and compensation study of this magnitude, that would include 58 counties, would be incredibly expensive,” Carter said, noting that the proposal does not identify a source of funding for the study.

Carter said proposal would cripple innovation and stifle the ability of courts to solve their own fiscal problems creatively.

“During the Great Recession, Los Angeles had to reduce its workforce by 25 percent. Today we are re-engineering our entire court, in every litigation area, in an effort to become more efficient. We are integrating automation, we are streamlining processes, and it will touch every position in the court. The court could not have done either of these big changes if there would have been a statewide class and comp structure in place,” Carter said.

“I believe one major strength of the California trial court system is our ability to promptly, effectively, efficiently and creatively serve our local needs. The governor has challenged us to be innovative. I believe that [this] concept will cripple the branch’s ability to meet this challenge.”

Presiding Judge Elizabeth Johnson, of Trinity County, said her small court thrives on the flexibility of its staff.

“We have a group of clerks who are wonderful generalists. They do everything from probate to traffic and they do it well. And they serve the counter, they work in the courtroom, they take collections, and they do a little bit of self-help.

“With a uniform class and compensation system, this flexibility to adapt would be severely compromised,” Johnson said.

Carter also said the proposal is inconsistent with the California Constitution, an opinion shared by the reformist group, the Alliance California Judges, which also weighed in.

In a letter to Futures Commission Chairwoman Supreme Court Justice Carol Corrigan, Alliance President Judge Steve White cited Government Code § 77001, a constitutional provision granting local courts the authority to manage their own operations and personnel.

“We are baffled by the rationale offered for this concept,” White wrote. “The concept’s authors assert, with no evidentiary support, that local variation in employee pay and classification somehow affects ‘how courts’ users are served.’ We fail to see how. There is no valid reason why a court clerk in Imperial County should be given the same title and pay as a clerk in San Francisco. Their duties and working conditions may vary widely. Their costs of living are vastly different.

“Any attempt to impose uniformity on employee pay and classification would render meaningless the mandate contained in Government Code, § 77001, of ‘a decentralized system of trial court management’ with ‘local authority and responsibility of trial courts to manage day-to-day operations’ and ‘countywide administration of the trial courts.’ If local courts can’t set pay grades and salaries and negotiate with organized labor, they aren’t really administering much of anything.”

At Monday’s comment session, Presiding Judge Risë Jones Pichon, of Santa Clara County, said a uniform statewide employment structure would have done little to help end a recent eight-day strike of 400 court employees, who walked out in early August in a wage dispute.

“One would think that I would be here to say that we applaud a uniform classification and compensation study and system, but no, we don’t,” Pichon said. “There was not anything in the proposal that would have helped us with an impending strike.”
Pichon’s court is one of 54 that signed a letter opposing the concept.

“I think that is very unusual, but speaks to the fact that we all agree that this isn’t a way to improve access to justice or to improve service levels,” Pichon told the commission.

Eleven labor unions representing California court employees also blasted the idea, saying a proposal that assumes uniformity to be better than the localized system demonstrates lack of understanding about how the courts work.

“The trial courts are varied and the needs of local communities are varied,” the unions wrote in a letter to Corrigan. “The very nature of local employment allows trial courts to tailor their employment needs to the demands of the court and their communities, and establish salaries based on the local labor market and local costs of living. This concept alleges variance in wages and classification titles somehow impacts services. However, there is no evidence whatsoever to support this allegation.”

The unions, which include the Service Employees International Union, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and employee associations in Orange, San Diego and San Luis Obispo counties, called the idea a power grab by the centralized court bureaucracy, now called the Judicial Council staff.

“We view this concept as nothing more than a backdoor effort to undo current law and give a centralized bureaucracy with a questionable performance and transparency history the ability to attain more power over the administration of trial courts and trial court employees,” their letter said.

At the close of Monday’s hearing, Corrigan said none of the concepts discussed — which included giving judges the discretion to reduce fines and fees, reducing “non-serious” misdemeanors to infractions, and using digital recording rather than court reporters in some hearings — are firmly established, and the commission’s job is only to make recommendations to the chief justice and note concerns and opposition to the ideas presented in its final report.

“There is nothing etched in stone as of yet,” Corrigan said. “We are in the process of trying to figure out what might work and what wouldn’t work, and what we are not anticipating, as other aspects of these questions come forward.”

The White House releases policy to help government agencies go open source | TechCrunch

The White House releases policy to help government agencies go open source | TechCrunch

The White House (led by United States Chief Information Officer Tony Scott) has been pretty vocal about using technology to improve how government operates. They want to make sure code helps, not hurts, government agencies, and that the U.S. government can use technology just as effectively as a private company can.

In March the White House issued a blog post detailing their intentions to bring the benefits of open source software to the government, and today they released the Federal Source Code policy, a set of rules that should help government agencies be more efficient with the code they write.

The main requirement is that any new custom source code developed “by or for the Federal Government” has to be made available for sharing and re-use by all federal agencies. For example, this means that the TSA can have access to custom made software that was commissioned by the FBI.

Considering there is probably a great deal of overlap in applications needed by certain branches of the federal government, this rule alone should save the government (and taxpayers) a great deal of money. The policy states that “ensuring Government-wide reuse rights for custom code that is developed using Federal funds has numerous benefits for American taxpayers.”

But what about making this code available to the public? This is obviously a little more complicated and controversial, because federal agencies often deal with information not available to the general public.

But that doesn’t mean the government isn’t going open source. The policy establishes a pilot program that is a compromise of sorts. Federal agencies will be required to release at least 20 percent of new custom developed code as open source software. While this is only a pilot, the hope is that it will encourage cost savings and increased efficiency within the federal government.

You can read the full policy here, which is a lengthy memorandum from Tony Scott to the heads of all the departments and agencies within the U.S. government. The memo is an interesting read, and talks about the technical aspects of the new policy (like what to do if a federal agency thinks making 20 percent of their software open source would be a risk to the nation’s national security).

It also notes that the White House will be launching in the next few months, which will be the permeant home to the open source code released by these agencies.

Source: The White House releases policy to help government agencies go open source | TechCrunch


Not enough staff left to run Italian town after arrests for bunking off work | World news | The Guardian

Not enough staff left to run Italian town after arrests for bunking off work | World news | The Guardian

The mayor of a small town outside Naples had to shut down most municipal offices after police arrested 23 of his staff in the latest revelations of absenteeism in Italy’s public sector.

Staff were filmed clocking in and then leaving to go about their personal business or using multiple swipe cards to register absent colleagues, police said, in scenes that have become familiar after numerous similar scandals.

A police video showed one man trying to tamper with a security camera and then putting a cardboard box over his head to hide his identity before swiping two cards.

Police arrested around half of all employees in the town hall offices of Boscotrecase following a weeks-long investigation that they said revealed 200 cases of absenteeism involving 30 people.

“I’ll probably have to shut down the town hall,” Pietro Carotenuto, elected a month ago as mayor of the town of 11,000 people, told Sky Italia.

He said four major town hall departments had been closed on Tuesday due to a lack of staff. Those arrested, accused of fraud against the state, included the head of the local traffic police and the head of the town’s accounting department.

The workers, whose arrest comes amid a government crackdown against absenteeism, have been suspended from work for between six and 12 months and risk eventual dismissal.

Air Force has lost 100,000 inspector general records | TheHill

Air Force has lost 100,000 inspector general records | TheHill

The Air Force announced on Friday that it has lost thousands of records belonging to the service’s inspector general due to a database crash.

“We estimate we’ve lost information for 100,000 cases dating back to 2004,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told The Hill in an email.

“The database crashed and there is no data,” Stefanek said. “At this time we don’t have any evidence of malicious intent.”

The database, called the Automated Case Tracking System (ACTS), holds all records related to IG complaints, investigations, appeals andFreedom of Information Act requests.

“The exception is senior official data which is maintained in a separate database,” the Air Force said in a statement. “We also use ACTS to track congressional/constituent inquiries.”

The Air Force said it was notified on June 6 by a contractor that administers the database of records that the data within was “corrupted,” according to a statement.

The Air Force has launched an investigation to determine the cause of the crash, and is “aggressively” trying to recover the lost data and determine the severity of the loss, the statement said.

Wisconsin Justices OK Statewide E-Filing

Wisconsin Justices OK Statewide E-Filing

Wisconsin’s lead judges had money on their minds Tuesday and voted, after hours of testimony, to implement an all-electronic state court filing system.

As a result of the unanimous vote, mandatory e-filling will begin “rollout” on July 1, 2016, with all counties under the system for civil, family, paternity and small claims cases by the end of 2017. All cases will be e-filed by 2019 under the current plan.

The court will meet again on March 17 for another rules hearing and conference, before which court staff will gather more detailed finance information.

The office of the Director of State Court’s Committee of Chief Judges in 2014 petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court to eliminate almost all paper filings from the state court system, a change the state declined to fund in its 2015-2017 budget, according to testimony.

Hopes for a brief set of updates since the March 2015 hearing were soon dashed as the judges repeatedly asked questions well beyond the allotted speaking time, over the protestation of Chief Justice Patience Drake Roggensack.

Roggensack initially allotted 15 minutes to Fond du Lac County Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert J. Wirtz, chairperson of the Committee of Chief Judges, 10 minutes each to Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Richard J. Sankovitz and Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Randy R. Koschnick, and five minutes each to the remaining six speakers.

The hearing that began at 9:30 a.m. adjourned for lunch at noon.

Most of the speakers sang the praises of e-filing, echoing the committee’s memo in support of the petition.

“Among other benefits, electronic records decrease data entry, improve the speed with which information can be retrieved and shared, reduce staff time and storage costs, and improve storage security,” the memo states. “These benefits apply to both courts and law firms.”

The amended petition comes eight years after voluntary e-filing became widely available, a system 51 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have embraced to some degree.

“However, the volume of filings remains very low and litigants and courts have not yet seen any increased efficiency as a result of e-filing,” the memo says, testimony that was contradicted by county court clerks who had already transitioned to voluntary e-filing.

The committee thus convened a subcommittee to study ways to increase e-filing, their memo states, and found other jurisdictions have succeeded with mandatory e-filing.
“Training and technology will be rolled out county by county over a three-year period,” the committee said. “At the end of that period, all circuit court files will be electronic and all attorneys and high-volume filing agents will be required to file electronically.”

Pro se litigants will still have the option to file on paper, a two-tier system that mirrors that of the Milwaukee branch of the Federal Court system.

Wirtz, who intended to give a brief overview of updates since the petition’s last hearing in March 2015, said further delays would be a waste of the money and work already done on the project.

“We’re at a point that we need to make a decision,” he told the court.

“As a wise person once said, there is no free lunch,” Wirtz added, foreshadowing significant attention to the funding aspect of the change. “We do have to pay for this somehow.”

The current scheme is a $20 charge per party, per case, paid upfront by the filer, usually an attorney.
“But the lawyers do not pay the fee,” former chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson said. “The client does and the loser does,” referencing the assignation of court costs in a lawsuit.

Wirtz and Sankovitz reasoned that attorneys also charge for the costs associated with paper filings, such as copying and mailing, which may cost parties more than $20 per case.

Further, Sankovitz said, attorneys are increasingly including fee considerations in their hourly rate and not assessing the costs directly upon clients.

Another issue that took up significant time was the question of public and press access to new filings.
Attorney Robert J. Dreps from Madison-based Godfrey & Kahn spoke on behalf of several media outlets – including Courthouse News Service – to advocate changes to the proposed rule to protect timely open-records access.

“We are only trying to prevent deterioration of that access,” Dreps said. He noted that Wisconsin reporters regularly visit circuit courts and review paper documents the day they are filed, and this access has been slowed down by days in jurisdictions that have implemented mandatory e-filing.

The clerk of the Dodge County Circuit Court testified that access is improved with e-filed cases in her experience, and clarified for the court what constituted a “filed” and “accepted” case – the difference is between handing it to the clerk and the clerk stamping it as complete and paid.

“In other words,” Justice Annette Kingsland Ziegler said, “it’s not a case until the clerk makes it so.”

Capitol Digs Out After Winter Storm Jonas

Capitol Digs Out After Winter Storm Jonas

It took 345 workers using 100 pieces of gear and “countless shovels” working through the weekend, but the Capitol campus’ roadways and sidewalks are now clear of the snow dumped by the weekend blizzard that walloped the region.

While most federal offices remained closed amid snow removal efforts in the District of Columbia, Capitol crews cleared nearly two feet of snow from parking lots, plazas and road for members of Congress who begin returning Tuesday.

According to the Architect of the Capitol website, crews are responsible for clearing 14 miles of sidewalks, 7 miles of streets and drives, and more than 20 acres of parking lots and plazas during the winter.

The AOC office has 500 tons of rock salt and 20 tons of de-icer on hand to keep roads and sidewalks safe to traverse. AOC spokeswoman Laura Condeluci said did not yet have information on how much was used for the weekend blizzard or how much the clean up would  cost.
Inside, the Capitol was quiet enough to hear water dripping from the roof on the third floor. Lawmakers, staff and the media were still digging out at home, but one senator was spotted heading into his Capitol office.

“I figured as a Vermonter I better come by my office for a while,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., as he entered the Capitol. He also took advantage of his office’s beautiful view of the Washington Monument and snapped some photos of the snow-covered National Mall.