Intel Hub, Mar. 21, 2012
If you thought the criteria for suspicious activity in terms of potential terrorism couldn’t get any more broad and ludicrous, prepare to be taken aback.
The culture of citizen spying and pervasive paranoia in the United States is getting to the point of patent absurdity, yet somehow many American nonsensically seem to continue to treat it as gospel.
According to a document entitled “Terrorism Awareness and Prevention: Participant Guide” distributed by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security Preparedness (which you can see embedded below), almost every single action should be treated as suspicious.
These include glances, wide open eyes, cold penetrating stares, trance-like gazes, exaggerated yawning when engaged in conversation, protruding or beating neck arteries, repetitive touching of face, tugging on or covering ears, increased breathing rate, panting, excessive fidgeting, clock watching, head turning, pacing or jumpiness, trembling, unusual perspiration, goose bumps, and/or rigid posture with minimal body movements and arms close to sides.
In other words, if you’re late for something or in a rush (“excessive fidgeting, clock watching”), you might be a terrorist. If you’ve been exercising (“increased breathing rate, panting,” “protruding or beating neck arteries”), you might be a terrorist.
On the other hand, if you’re tired (“trance-like gaze,” “exaggerated yawning”) you also might be a terrorist. Yet, if you’re energetic or perhaps drank too much coffee (“wide open ‘flashbulb eyes,’” “pacing or jumpy,” “trembling,” “unusual perspiration,” “excessive fidgeting”), you might also be a terrorist.
You’d better not be too energetic, too tired, in a rush, plagued by a wide range of medical conditions, returning from exercise, or generally display almost any bodily behaviors as someone might consider you a suspicious person and report you for possible terrorist activity.
But it doesn’t stop there! Other suspicious activities when it comes to vehicles are “unusual behavior,” which is undefined and could mean just about anything, “signs of fear or stress,” or “refusal or disregard of directions.” It gets even more insane when they go over signs which make a vehicle itself suspicious. These include, “Unusual items clearly visible inside or attached to the outside [of the vehicle],” “stopped or parked in strange or out-of-place locations,” “parked close to agency assets such as terminals, rail lines and bridges,” “missing or altered license plates,” “visibly overloaded or sagging.” This means that the ultimate potential terrorist might be someone who has a brand new truck with temporary tags overloaded with paint removal equipment or anything else “unusual” or with an off-road driving kit on the outside who happens to be stopped in an “out-of-place” location, perhaps in order to go hiking, or maybe parked near a bridge, perhaps to remove graffiti.
Keep in mind that I – and I’m sure most other thinking people – could come up with hundreds of different situations that fit all of the above criteria yet are wholly innocuous. Also, any “unexpected mail from a foreign country” should be treated as suspicious, along with any packages with restrictive markings like “personal or confidential” and anything which is “poorly printed” with “excessive tape or string” and “misspelled names,” among other laughable indicators of suspiciousness.
Continuing on with some ridiculous examples of “suspicious activity” are people who are “drawing or taking pictures in areas not normally of interest,” “taking notes or annotating maps,” or even just “sitting in a parked vehicle.” Some choice tools used by terrorists for surveillance, according to the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security, are: “Cameras – video, still or panoramic,” “laptop computers or PDA’s (Personal Data Assistants),” “diagrams or maps,” “binoculars or other vision-enhancing devices,” and “GPS (Global Positioning System) Devices.”
Apparently, the government even considers “Staring or quickly looking away from personnel” and “Vehicles entering parking areas or leaving designated facilities” to be indicators of possible terrorist activity. The document encourages people to report everything they see and they make a point of emphasizing that, “Staying alert is NOT paranoia.”
Contrary to all of the information they give previously, they claim, “No one is asking for block wardens who log every activity in their neighborhood or workplace. No one wants you to spy on people. This isn’t about informing on ‘disloyal’ Americans or people who are ‘different’ or don’t fit in.” That is, of course, unless you display any of the massive list of behaviors which marks you as a possible terrorist.
Hilariously, they even claim that if a UPS truck drives down a street three times during the holidays and they have several delivery trucks making different deliveries, it might be a terrorist. They cite Timothy McVeigh who allegedly rented a truck to carry out the Oklahoma City bombing, even though McVeigh’s vehicle was allegedly a rented Ryder truck, not a UPS truck which is not available for public rental.
So, if you’re lost or trying to find a parking spot in a truck, you’d better be aware of the fact that someone might report you as a potential terrorist. With this culture of voluntary surveillance expanding into the world of smartphones, it will only be easier for the government to encourage people to report any and all activity as suspicious and potential indicators of terrorism. If you come across similarly ludicrous guidelines and recommendations, please do not hesitate to send them my way so I can cover them.
This article originally appeared on End the Lie