Caution – Reading This May Place You on a Watch List

Innocent words - the soul of our language, the heart of human communication, but also the tools of terrorism and targeted by DHS.

Exercise.  Exposure.  Wave.  Airport.  Amtrak.  Power.  Smart.  San Diego.  Home grown.  Crest.  Ice.  China.

What do these twelve words have in common?

These dozen words – and dozens more like them – are on a list of words that are watched for by Department of Homeland Security analysts working at the National Operations [Security] Center, scouring through websites, blogs, Facebook, and other information sources for these and other trigger words that imply potentially suspicious messages.

It is unclear what happens when such suspicious messages are found, but you just know it can’t be good!

You also know, for sure, that The Travel Insider has to be on that list – not because we are seditious, but simply because we report on these issues.  And don’t you also wager that they know more about who reads our articles than we do, ourselves.

On the other hand, there is safety in numbers, and if you choose to look at the full list of targeted words, you’ll soon realize that probably every website in the world has now been deemed suspicious by the Department of Homeland Security.  You don’t believe us?  Well, here’s another twelve words :

Response.  Southwest.  Recruitment.  Blizzard.  Aid.  Closure.  Mexico.  BART.  Metro.  Delays.  Bridge.  Pork.

Sure, maybe these words could be suspicious in some contexts, but so too could ‘the’ and ‘and’ and just about any other word, too.  Here’s the full list of naughty words.

And now the FBI is getting in on the act too, forming a new cyber intelligence and ‘research’ unit with the Orwellian name of the ‘National Domestic Communications Assistance Center’.  Hmmm – assistance?  Is that like ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to assist you’?

It is ridiculous to set such a broad range of target words, because the analysts will be swamped with false positives.  While they are interestedly reading our weekly articles (and good for them if they do), they could be missing out on something of true relevance.

But maybe that is why the DHS employs so many people, and keeps adding more.  For our own safety and security, of course.  Ooops.  There’s another one of those pesky words – yes, ‘security’ trips a red flag, too.

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David.