DHS Forced To Reveal Words They Track On-line

Having a cookout this Memorial Day? Are you serving pork? Be careful that you cook it long enough, you don’t want anyone to get attacked by salmonella. I hope it’s not delayed or cancelled due to the weather. A storm could cause problems, and cause a power outage. What’s this about? Cyber security. Perhaps even Cain and Abel.

(UK Daily Mail) The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.

The intriguing the list includes obvious choices such as ‘attack’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘dirty bomb’ alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like ‘pork’, ‘cloud’, ‘team’ and ‘Mexico’.

Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats.

The words are included in the department’s 2011 ‘Analyst’s Desktop Binder’ used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify ‘media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities’.

Department chiefs were forced to release the manual following a House hearing over documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit which revealed how analysts monitor social networks and media organisations for comments that ‘reflect adversely’ on the government.

A good chuck of the words I used in the opening would flag DHS. Want to discuss violence and kidnappings in Mexico on Twitter? DHS knows. How about extreme weather, snow, or a hurricane? Flagged. Did you write on Google+ about crossing a bridge before taking the metro to the airport? Flagged? The Electronic Privacy Information Center first filed an FOIA request, then had to sue to get the information (all the words are included over at the Daily Mail story). But, good news

However they insisted the practice was aimed not at policing the internet for disparaging remarks about the government and signs of general dissent, but to provide awareness of any potential threats.

And I’m sure we all trust the government, right? Yet, according to the above story, they monitor the Internet for items that are about DHS and other agencies. Under section 1.2, we get

4) Identifying media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities

Part of this is simply wanting to know so that the DHS Secretary can respond. Yet, it seems rather creepy. In section 1.3 Item of Interest Categorization we learn about

13) Reports on DHS, Components, and other Federal Agencies: Includes bothpositive and negative reports on FEMA, CIS, CBP, ICE, etc. as well asorganizations outside of DHS.

Down in (2) we learn about Items Of Interest, which are kicked up to higher levels. If it is simply negative about DHS, well, just kick it to your supervisor

Note – Reports that pertain to DHS and sub agencies – especially those that have a negative spinon DHS/Component preparation, planning, and response activities should be reported tomanagement before being sent to the distribution list. Senior TSI personnel will decide whetherthe information should be reported through normal channels. If there are ANY questions aboutwhether an incident or other reported item is a valid IOI article check with management

An incident that could create an Item Of Interest?

Policy directives, debates, and implementations related to DHS

Be careful in criticizing Big Sis!

Crossed at Right Wing News and Stop The ACLU.

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3 Responses to “DHS Forced To Reveal Words They Track On-line”

  1. Gumball_Brains says:

    HOLY CRAP!!! Isn’t that just “da bomb”? And yeah, you can tell it is solely for the purpose of tracking terrorists chatting up on twitter. Because we all know, that they wouldn’t use code words on a public forum. Maybe a forum in a town in Mexico that got hit by a very bad storm and that storm blew up their bridge? And the only way that these poor people can communicate with certain individuals that they may know is via twitter.

    Now, don’t get me blasted wrong or anything. I am all for the gov’t intrusion and detection and spying on our lives like the next member of an elusive and terror organization (Tea Party), but at some point in time (like a bus schedule), this needs to be stopped.

    If we can’t discuss tearing up a good BBQ with a creatively created dirty BBQ sandwich which we affectionately call a “dirty bomb” for the heart, then hasn’t our rights for expression and privacy been trampled down? Shouldn’t the bad, reprehensible, disparaged and down-right mean DHS just go away?

    And, they are not led very well either. Who comes out with a public announcement that they will no longer give people over 75 as much security scrutiny as before?

    TSA agent #1: “Oh, Hello Mr. Mohamed Sir. I see that you are 77 years old. Please, walk right over to our less-secure line and board the plane right away. It is our public policy after all! (giggles)”

    TSA agent #2: “HALT!!! STOP THAT BABY!! SHE’S ON OUR TERROR WATCH LIST! Forcibly remove her from that plane we just let her on and detain her until we can confirm who she is, how old she is, what she has hidden, and why she feels she needs to fly on OUR planes!!”

  2. April Martin says:

    If they’re serious about catching these people whom are almost entirely Muslims(sorry that’s not PC but true) then they’d be tracking militant religious words (infidel jihad etc?) Was “Allah Akbar” even on there? Wasn’t that what terrorists generally scream before they kill a bunch of people?

  3. Gumball_Brains says:

    DHS: “Hello. I’m from the DHS department of coded terrorist word watch. Your comment has been flagged as possible terror related. Please be advised that further use of the word(s) “bunch”, “these people”, or “religious” will cause a determination of “Terrorist of undetermined origin” to be placed within your FBI file.

    While you will still be free to vote, such a designation would cause you to be under a stricter surveillance scrutiny.

    Have a Happy American Day!
    Yours Truly,

Pirate's Cove