Do you own flashlights? Or pay with cash instead of a credit card? And do grocery shopping for the week? I do. You probably do – and guess what, according to the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, that could make both of us terrorists.
Recently, a Department of Homeland Security video has been making its way around the Internet; it tells people in no mixed terms that “paying cash is suspicious and weird.” In an assertive, yet calm voice, the narrator tells viewers that, “if a patron appears nervous or anxious, or insists on paying cash, contact security personnel. This IS suspicious behavior.”
So basically, if you’ve had a stressful day and don’t have a credit card, you’re done for.
This suggestion, and many others, has been sent out to hotels across the United States as part of the DHS’ ongoing “See something, Say something” program. It even includes an 84-page manual, grandly titled, “Protective Measures Guide for the US Lodging Industry” – which points out that asking for privacy, among other things, is a red flag.
And that’s really what this boils down to: a war on privacy. A potential terrorist, argue the US security agencies, is much easier to track if he uses a credit card. Credit card use provides Big Brother instant access to the buyer’s contact information, purchase history – and, if need be, the ability to cut off his financial supply in an instant.
But the implementation of this idea is a rather grim prospect: instead of using an existing system to aid their efforts, agencies like the DHS and the FBI are effectively taking away the freedom of choice guaranteed in a supposedly free country.
Don’t want to live on credit? Potential terrorist. Nervous? Potential terrorist. Don’t want to be disturbed? Potential terrorist.
And it gets worse. In an FBI pamphlet distributed to military surplus stores, people who “make bulk purchases of items including weatherproofed ammunition or match containers, meals ready to eat or night vision devices including flashlights” should be reported. Because all those things are “potential indicators of terrorist activities.”