Friday, June 08, 2012

“Homeland Security”


c. 2012 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(5-12)




My recent feeling of uneasiness began with a series of odd messages on Facebook.
Shortly afterward, someone hacked my Yahoo account. The invader used it to send out viral spam, which upset friends from coast to coast and beyond.

I have written many tongue-in-cheek columns for this newspaper, talking about secret messages through my bank ATM, black helicopters landing in my yard, secret plans hatched by the Illuminiati, and a field of mysterious white tubes, east of my home in Thompson.

But a recent morning in the home office brought everything into focus.

I read about a government dossier that covered Washington’s secret plan to spy on everyday citizens who have unwittingly attracted the attention of Big Brother:

“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 organizations for comments that 'reflect adversely' on the government. 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.” – 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… 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. 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.” - www.dailymail.co.uk

As I scanned the list of trigger terms, like ‘fundamentalism’ and ‘nationalist,’ one word caught my attention. It was my family name.

‘Ice’ had been included on the HSA list.

Immediately, I pondered past statements about Ron Paul, the Hutaree Militia juxtaposed with ‘Hatari’ the John Wayne movie, and faux calls to the White House switchboard.

Had someone really taken these adventures-in-print seriously?

Amusement over the coincidence made me smile.

But later, as I was getting fuel at the Get Go in Chardon, a friend appeared to have taken the story more seriously. Her warning was immediate and direct.

“Rodney!” she screeched. “What are you doing out in public?”

It was my long-time cohort, Carrie Hamglaze.

Carrie was an erstwhile schoolteacher, tennis coach, and city council member who now wrote for our local newspaper. I had trusted her advice for many years.

She was glad that our paths had crossed, yet concerned for my safety.

“Come over here, out of the light!” she commanded.

I took a seat in a dark corner of the store.

“Didn’t you read the story about Homeland Security that hit the Internet, today?” she hissed, fearfully. “The Huffington Post and Drudge both ran with that link.”

“Yes,” I confessed. “Too funny.”

“No!” she disagreed. “Most certainly not funny at all. Your name is on their list. Didn’t you see that, Rodney?”

“Yes,” I said again. “Great material for a column…”

“No, no, no!” she whispered. “Cause to go into hiding. Didn’t you ever watch ‘The Prisoner’ with Patrick McGoohan?”

“Of course,” I replied. “Always loved that show.”

“Beware, my friend!” she warned. “They’ll appear out of nowhere. Then it’s off to the village for you!”

“Carrie, please!” I laughed. “You sound paranoid.”

“If just searching for your name will arouse surveillance by the government, then what about owning one of your books?” she said quizzically.

I coughed out loud. “C’mon now. Are they really going to investigate people who read about bologna recipes and UFO sightings?”

My friend took a deep breath. “What about interviewing with the New York Times? And being visited by the ghost of Ronald Reagan?”

“A bit of political humor,” I grinned. “Nothing more.”

“The Tea Party rallies?” she said in desperation. “And Occupy Wall Street?”

“Everyone has written about those movements,” I opined.

“But… not everyone has their name on the list!” she declared.

I bowed my head. “Okay, you win.”

“You need to disappear,” she advised. “Before the government makes it happen. Go far, far away, Rodney. As far as you can run!”

Before I could answer, she stood up, and spun around to face the door.

“They are watching us, even now,” she said. “I can’t stay here… and neither should you! Just remember that I am your friend!”

She was gone before I could put down my coffee.

On the television screen overhead, CNN repeated the Homeland Security report. I resolved to re-read the story when I got home. And, to begin my next column for the newspaper.

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to: icewritesforyou@gmail.com
Visit us at: www.thoughtsatlarge.com

1 Comments:

Blogger unigami said...

I find it interesting that someone hacked into your yahoo email a few days ago and sent out spam, because the exact same thing happened to me two days ago. I had a strong password that was composed or random numbers and letters, and I use LastPass to automatically fill in my passwords. I'm beginning to think that Yahoo had a security breach and we are not being told about it.

9:23 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home