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article imageOp-Ed: Words used by DHS to target citizens

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By Gar Swaffar     May 28, 2012 in Politics
The Dept. of Homeland Security was the focus of a Freedom of Information Act request; the yield was a list of words used to troll the internet for the "bad guys", and folks discussing clouds in the sky, exercisers, or even those who discuss tornadoes.
The list of "Words" which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is using to search the internet, social media sites, and by some reports our emails too, is apparently all encompassing.
One might believe that if there are enough people, spending enough time to go through all of the internet 'hits' the list offered up by the Mail Online should offer, there would be an unemployment rate near zero in the United States.
While the list has all of the obvious tagged words, such as; terrorism, militia, hostage, bomb, domestic nuclear detection, explosion and the rest, there are a number of what seem like very innocuous words. Words which might possibly be used by those who are instigating trouble, planning an attack, recruiting fellow terrorists and other forms of mayhem or just talking to friends online.
Words such as cloud, tornado, leak, wave (gonna catch a few surfers with that one?), swine and pork (futures traders discussing prices are in trouble now), mudslide or even the word ICE?
With the list above, this article is also bound to be flagged and checked to find out just how crazy or dangerous this former Viet Nam veteran might happen to be. (crazy - perhaps, dangerous - nope)
The list includes words in several categories; Domestic Security, HazMat & Nuclear, Health Concern + H1N1, Infrastructure Security, Southwest Border Violence, Cyber security and of course the ever popular Terrorism. From that point the problems begin, when the category of Weather/Disaster/Emergency is included.
Picture yourself discussing weather problems with a friend in Kansas, Oklahoma or Missouri about the tornado last year or the next tornado heading their way. Now picture how interesting that might be to DHS, especially if the email or Face Book posting included more than a single "Hot Word".
Bob; (to Ted who lives in Joplin, Mo) Ted, how's the new house going? I know the tornado tore up your old house, the hail broke your car windshield, and the ice, sleet and snow storm the next week practically destroyed all of your family photos, but how are you doing after such a disaster?
Ted: (to Bob who lives in California) Well Bob, it really was a disaster, but at least the ground doesn't move around on me. I hear you had a magnitude 5.7 earthquake last night and the temblor was a strong one with more tremors this morning! I hope the interstate gets reopened soon, in case the wildfire gets any closer, and you have to evacuate, those forest fires must be a terror!
But I think we're both better off than Carol in Florida who puts up with hurricanes, power outages, lightening, and floods.
With the upcoming threat of CISPA, reported at DJ, on the horizon, it would seem perhaps we should all refrain from discussing anything with any of the "Hot Words" in the title, body of the email, or even in the comments section of your local online newspaper.
The List: First page
Freedom of Information list of words searched.
Freedom of Information list of words searched.
Mail Online, DHS, Freedom of Information
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This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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