Junior G-Men

by wjw on March 16, 2012

Friend of the blog Ralf sent me this useful document telling us how to spot terrorists and spies in Internet cafes.

Suspicion should be directed, for example, at people who are attempting to maintain privacy while browsing (in a public cafe).  Or folks who use ciphers, or who travel long distances in order to use the cafe. Or who pay in cash.

I’ve done all of these things.  I’ve used Internet cafes in places far from home, like Prague, Lyon, and Ankara.  I’ve made efforts to maintain my privacy in these public settings.  I’ve even used public-key encryption now and again. I’ve been seen in the company of a  “lookout”— well, a friend— who hung around the cafe while I was doing my business.  And I’ve paid in cash, because handing over a credit card for twenty minutes’ worth of Internet time didn’t seem like the best use of the card.

(But then, I am a suspicious character.)

You know, I could give one of my usual long, sarcastic rants at this point, but in fact I’m not opposed to involving the citizens in matters of national security.  Generally I’m more in favor of it than not.

(Think about it, now.  Who would you rather be involved in security matters: an active and informed citizenry, or a group of government elites who act in secret and talk to no one but their peers?)

As a document, it’s fairly unexceptional.  It has sensible disclaimers.  It doesn’t say, “Report all foreigners and weirdos.”  It gives a list of things to look for and hopefully suggests, rather than urges, common sense.

It’s also unlikely to be effective, because this is an exception.  For the most part our elites want to keep this stuff away from ordinary people.  “Move along,” they say. “We decide policy.  Nothing to see here.”  It’s not like they want to see us suddenly pay attention.

This sort of thing works only as part of a concerted campaign designed to catch and focus the public’s attention.  In Israel, for example, even children’s programs come with public safety announcements about terrorism, and they’re pitched not to frighten the kids, but to make them feel empowered.

You can make yourself and your families safe, they say, and here’s how.

Can we do that sort of thing here?  Can we even tell students what to do if an “active shooter”— a Dylan Klebold or an Eric Harris— walks into a classroom with a gun?  (Hint: hiding under a desk until they get bored and decide to leave is unlikely to be effective.)

Nope.   We aren’t to be trained in how to defend ourselves, we’re trained to be consumers . . . and victims.  Which are often the same thing.

Ralf The Dog. March 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm

It’s funny, where I live, if you don’t walk around with a gun, the crazies call you sheep and talk about how they are heroes for protecting the defenseless Libtards. The first thing I do, invite them to the local gun range, where I show them I am a far better shot than they are. The next thing I do, show them several moves designed to kill a person drawing a gun (unfortunately, not at long range). Then I tell them, if anything bad happens, please stay calm and let the unarmed sheep take care of it.

What really pisses them off? They tend to turn all kinds of pretty colors when you inform them that they have no ability to judge relative threats. “It’s not the guys running around town breaking into people’s houses with an AK, shooting everyone that will kill you. It is sitting in front of the TV while eating two pizzas and smoking three packs. Don’t fear the exchange student from Iran, fear the Twinkie!

Nathan March 16, 2012 at 3:34 pm

“show them several moves designed to kill a person drawing a gun (unfortunately, not at long range)”

When someone develops the long-range killing move . . . well, that’ll be a day for the books.

wjw March 16, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Ninjas have, of course, developed the long-range killing move. Though you have to walk around with a mouthful of whole yellow peas, which can be a social disadvantage.

Of course, if it’s long range, you’re better advised to run like a bastard and hope the guy isn’t a good shot.

Jerry March 17, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Dear Mr. Williams,

I really liked the spin you put on the FBI flyer. In typical YOU fashion, it starts off with a “Junior G-Men” tag, setting us up to expect another government, ad absurdum, waste of ink. [You know: “Our tax dollars, hardly at work!”] I fully expected another WJW tirade as the punchline, even though I thought the flyer was actually quite reasonable, and might marginally raise the conciousness of those who might see it. And then, instead of another raving rant, you gave us thought, clarity, and ultimately a positive and hopeful spin. Why, WJW, you sounded more like the astonishingly brilliant Author Williams than the Demented Bizzaroid Blogger Williams! 🙂 And the fact that you wound up supporting the opinion that I developed as I read the flyer — why, that just proves that Great Minds do indeed run in the same channel! You rock!

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