Not The Onion: Hundreds of common words that could get you in trouble

The Daily Mail reports that federal thought police have compiled an "intriguing" list of words and phrases to be used to "monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S." 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'."

The Dept. of Homeland Security was forced to release the list by a privacy watchdog group that filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act. Although DHS claims it only employs the list to detect legitimate security risks, "[t]he 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'."

Note that the avoidance of many of these words would make public discussion of security and military issues -- to say nothing of the weather -- impossible. But note also that your continued insistence on discussing such matters may attract the security state's interest.

Of course, you could decide to mess with them by putting references to "pork," "snow," "bridge," "tremor," "Tucson," "worm" and "metro" in all your communications.

The rest of the story: Revealed: Hundreds of words to avoid using online if you don't want the government spying on you by Daniel Miller (Mail Online 2012-05-26).

*Even "redacted," 'Analyst's Desktop Binder' makes for interesting reading.

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