We’re hearing more and more about various US agencies monitoring social media sites in their ongoing efforts to keep us all safe.
A spectacular example of our being ‘kept safe’ was revealed today, showcasing how our illustrious border police managed to waylay an evil pair intent upon destroying America. Clearly deranged, this couple were also apparently planning to ‘dig up Marilyn Monroe’.
So, which Muslim extremist group did these two would-be terrorists belong to? And what super-sleuthing caused their evil plans to be uncovered and thwarted?
Well, actually, it turns out they were not terrorists of any type at all – well, at least, reasonable ordinary people would probably consider them to be perfectly harmless and ordinary.
Instead, they were a very ordinary middle class pair of twenty-something year old British tourists.
So how did the DHS have such a case of mistaken identity? Well, one of them – Leigh Bryan – had published a message on Twitter as part of his excited chatter about his upcoming vacation to the US, saying
Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?
He had also tweeted
3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up
So when Leigh and his girlfriend arrived in Los Angeles, armed guards detained them, handcuffed them, and locked them up for twelve hours in, shall we say, unpleasant conditions.
Our alert border patrol also searched their suitcases for spades and shovels that might be used to dig up Ms Monroe’s remains (such as there may be – she died almost 50 years ago) and conducted full body searches on the couple (who knows what for).
The couple tried to explain to the border guards that :
- In popular parlance in Britain, when you talk about going to destroy something, that doesn’t necessarily involve explosives. It more likely involves getting very drunk and having an extravagantly wonderful time, with little or no damage at all to the venue that one ‘destroys’. The tweet message was simply a suggestion of meeting up prior to going to have a wonderful time enjoying a US vacation.
- The reference to Marilyn Monroe was a quote from the US television comedy series Family Guy and had no meaning other than indicating that they were excitedly looking forward to their US trip in three weeks time.
alert paranoid border forces refused to believe them, and after five hours of interrogation and twelve hours in holding cells, deported the couple. The story of their mistreatment is now being widely circulated in Britain, where yet again, the country in the world we claim to have the closest ‘special relationship’ with is left blinking in disbelief at our stupidity, our paranoia, and our aggressive unfriendliness.
Did this sorry episode make the US any safer? Or did it simply reduce the opinion that our friends have of us even more, while causing our enemies to roll on the floor, laughing out loud at our stupidity?
Will the people involved with this appalling mistreatment of two would-be tourists be fired? Or is there no-one with any degree of sense in the Department of Homeland Security?
One more question needs to be asked as well. How much time and resource went into tracing back the two nonsense ‘tweets’ on Twitter (an online environment designed to encourage casual throw-away joking comments) and finding out the identity of the person who sent them?
There’s not only an element of paranoia in this, but also an element of vindictiveness. If the DHS and their sub-agencies decided not to allow the two people into the US; and noting that they knew who the people were and their travel plans, couldn’t they have communicated that decision to the couple before they left the UK (or to the airline that was to fly them here), rather than tricking/trapping the couple into coming all the way to the US and then giving them an appalling treatment to ‘teach them a lesson’?
Lastly, far be it from me to offer advice, but does the DHS really think that terrorists intent on destroying the US would post tweet messages about their intention for the entire world to read prior to their visit?
Actually, scratch that last question, because, sadly and self-evidently, the answer is clearly yes, this is indeed what the DHS believe.