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DHS Sends Tourists Home Over Twitter Jokes 709

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the it's-not-like-anyone-would-miss-la dept.
itwbennett writes "In a classic case of 'we say destroy, you say party hard,' the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security detained a pair of British twenty-somethings for 12 hours and then sent them packing back to the land of the cheeky retort. At issue is a Tweet sent by Leigh Van Bryan about plans to 'destroy America,' starting with LA, which, really, isn't that bad an idea."
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DHS Sends Tourists Home Over Twitter Jokes

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  • by zAPPzAPP (1207370) on Monday January 30, 2012 @09:25PM (#38872403)

    They were not joking about it.
    It is slang.
    They were clearly stating something and were very serious about it (the intent to party hard).
    Just the other guys don't understand the language.

  • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Monday January 30, 2012 @09:45PM (#38872635)

    In British English, "I'm going to destroy LA" can be taken to mean "I'm going to party my ass off and see/do everything possible"...

    If I said "I'm dying for a cigarette" would you immediately put me on suicide watch or would you recognize the cultural meaning of "I really need a cigarette"? In British parlance, they'd say "I could murder a fag" (fag means cigarette there, and the usage of "destroy" or "murder" can mean "ravenously consume"

    It's cultural context here...

    They weren't doing the equivalent of saying "I'm going to bring a bomb on this plane, ha ha ha" they were saying they were ready to go party and have a great time "painting the town red".

  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Monday January 30, 2012 @09:49PM (#38872683)

    I don't think I'd say that. It's been in the works for almost 100 years now. The fast track has been tried in other countries, and it hasn't turned out to be sustainable in the long run. I think they're hoping that if they do it more slowly it will work better.

  • Re:The next time... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuantumLeaper (607189) on Monday January 30, 2012 @09:59PM (#38872755) Journal
    Clinton didn't start two Wars and he did leave office with more money in the bank than any other President. How may of those laws or activities were started by him?
  • by Aryden (1872756) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @12:34AM (#38873851)

    Oh, that's right, the Brits live under constant surveillance that would never be tolerated here...

    Never tolerated here? I'm looking out my window at cameras recording the movement of vehicles. I have the patriot act in one of the tabs open while reading this article. I drove passed an AT&T facility everyday to my father's house, a facility that was utilized for the tapping and storage of private phone conversations. You have got to be joking...

  • by Deep Esophagus (686515) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @01:01AM (#38874023)

    When I was in high school in 1980, I had a friend who went to college while I finished my last year of high school in a remote rural town in East Texas. We stayed in touch by writing letters, and as soon as I learned his mail was left at the front desk in the dorm and lots of people got to see the envelopes before he picked them up (he really should never have told me that) I made it my life's work to embarrass him. I would address the envelopes to FirstName "Embarrassing Nickname" Lastname, or follow his name with "c/o some embarrassing fictitious organization"; I would put even more bizarre things on the return address. We also were trying to learn Russian for kicks, and each of us had a dictionary we used to translate a few words or phrases. And to further confuse one another we would often the rearrange words random at.

    I told you that story so I could tell you this one: Once I got it into my head to address a letter to him care of the C.R.A.P. I had been reading about Nixon and his Committee to RE-Elect the President (CREEP), so I thought the Committee to Re-Assassinate the President, spelling out the acronym CRAP, was a hilarious parody. Now, this was back in 1980 when domestic terrorism was the farthest thing on anybody's mind, and remember I was in a backwoods rural town. STILL, despite all that and the obviously childish scrawl on the envelope, the local postmaster notified the Secret Service. Only then did my friend's previous letter make sense -- he had said something about "I suppose you have heard from the SS no I don't mean the German kind but the American kind" and I had no idea what he was talking about. Out of the blue I got a call from a guy in the "big" city a few counties over (population 50K to our 10K) identifying himself as an agent with the Secret Service and he had to come out and interview me about a letter I had sent threatening President Carter's life. He came out and grilled me on the subject thoroughly; my mother had me show him other letters we had exchanged. To make it more exciting, I had drawn a big hammer-and-sickle emblem on the top of the page... I have no idea why... AND written the first paragraph in as much Russian as my little dictionary could provide... AND transposed a bunch of the words, making it look to your average antiterrorism unit like some secret code. I had to get out my dictionary to look up the words and translate it for him; it said something like "You idiot, I got a headache trying to understand all the gibberish in your last letter so this is my revenge on you". Oh, and there was also a joke filling half the last page, where I had drawn an imitation of a memo paper-clipped to the letter giving instructions from the FBI to keep an eye on these troublemakers and don't forget to throw this memo away before you re-seal the envelope.

    And did I mention I'm a Canadian citizen, complete with green card? Let me tell you, "shitting bricks" doesn't even begin to describe how I felt. He took samples of my handwriting to put on file for comparison against anything else I might ever write; he took all ten fingerprints; he had my entire letter preserved in plastic folders around each page. His job was to put the fear of God and Jimmy Carter into me, and he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. My mother told me afterwards that as he walked back to his car he literally had to stop, he was doubled over laughing so hard. Of course since they had already talked to my friend they knew it was just kids being funny, but he wanted to make sure it never went beyond that point.

    Now: think about how thoroughly they pursued that incident in the peaceful 80s, and think about what would happen to kids today who did exactly the same thing. Never mind that my mother was born in the US or that I had been here since I was six years old... I'd be on the train back to Toronto faster than you could say "Fuddle duddle!"

  • Re:Zeig Heil (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @01:16AM (#38874089) Homepage Journal

    Look at the differential rates of incarceration, depending on what race you are.

    That predates the Internet age by more than a century.

    Or, just look at this guy, who just spent TWO YEARS in solitary confinement, after having had NO TRIAL.

    Again, nothing that hasn't been happening for almost as long as the US has been around.

    My point was that this notion that, "OMG! Everything is turning to shit overnight!" is wrong and a distraction. The panic in that notion actually does more to prevent people from improving things than it does to induce people to improve them. The US has not turned into some slave-state in the past decade, it was born as a slave state. Which by the way, does not make me pessimistic about the future. You can only work with what you've got.

    That's just a few small examples of how law & order have broken down in this country.

    See, that's the problem. You believe we have crossed some threshold and things have "broken down" and I see that things have been broken from the start. If you start looking around for something that happened recently to make everything break down, you're going to miss the fundamental mistakes that we've been making all along as a society (and maybe as individuals).

    You're panicking. Don't panic. It doesn't help to panic. Think about what you can do to make things better. This is not some crisis situation that has just arisen, it's part of an age-old battle. Panic will most likely get you to do nothing.

    The most effective way to stop things going in a direction you don't like is to get in the way. It's always been like this. People with power don't let go without a good reason, and it's up to people who want things to go differently to give them a good reason. There are people who have lost all fellow-feeling and who have decided to get what they can while the getting's good. Again, this is not new. We have to get in their way. Make them think that maybe it's less trouble to do the right thing. And even if you think you don't have any resources and you have no power, you can always do something to get in the way. But you can't be a pussy about it, running around in a circle and screaming "Oh shit oh shit oh shit nazis are coming" and clutching your pearls and saying "what ever shall we do?!?"

    In the absence of a plan, at least get pissed off. It's not a solution, but it might be enough to get you off your ass. Because one thing we know for absolutely sure, if we all just stay on our asses, the chances of things going the way we want approaches zero.

    Start by cultivating some fellow-feeling. Realize the people around you are scared too. If you're part of a community, even if it's just being a good neighbor, you're less vulnerable. If you worry about getting carted off to the gulag by the Belgian military, first make sure there are people around you who would notice if you disappeared. It's a start.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @02:00AM (#38874305)

    All depends on which part people are upset about. I'm pro immigration, so aliens (spare me the martian jokes, please) are quite welcome. I have tremendous respect for people who will give up their home, extended family and friends to make a new life in a new land. Now the illegal part, there I have a problem. If part of making your new life is disregarding the laws of the land, that's not good. Should we really welcome with open arms those who come here saying the hell with your laws, I'll do what I want?

    The sentiment is just a consequence of the fact that we're not resolving the issue either way. We don't make it legal for them to be here, and we don't send them home. Pick one.

    Well that's how the country was founded, so what's good for the goose?

  • Re:This proves that (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @02:10AM (#38874355)

    We've a long history of terrorists. If George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry were alive today they'd all be on the no-fly lists.

    Well, you've not only managed to engage in vile libel against some of the key founders of the United States, brave and honorable men, but you've also managed to get some very simple things completely wrong. They joined their states in a revolution against King George the III of Great Britain. They were trying to change the government reporting structure, not engage in mass murder of innocent civilians. They wouldn't have been on "no-fly lists", they would have been taken into custody if found and hanged for rebellion, for treason against the Crown. They weren't anti-government, they wanted a different government (the Continental Congress vs the Crown of Great Britain). You are very badly confused. You ennoble people trying to engage in mass slaughter of Americans, Britons, Europeans, Australians, and many others when you utter such nonsense.

    It is indeed a pitiful foolishness to confuse the meaning and consequences of "Give me Liberty, or give me death!" versus "Allah Akbar!!".

    The demands [guardian.co.uk] Bin Laden was fighting for included that the US convert to Islam, and scrap the Constitution and institute Islamic Sharia law.

    Keep in mind, the struggle against real, not imaginary rhetorical terrorists, continues.

    FBI’s Top Ten News Stories for the Week Ending January 27, 2012 [fbi.gov]

    Denver: Man Arrested for Providing Material Support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization

    Jamshid Muhtorov was arrested by members of the FBI’s Denver and Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Forces on a charge of providing and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic Jihad Union, a Pakistan-based designated foreign terrorist organization. Full Story

    Baltimore: Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Use of a Weapon of Mass Destruction in Plot to Attack Armed Forces Recruiting Center

    U.S. citizen Antonio Martinez, aka Muhammad Hussain, pled guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against federal property in connection with a scheme to attack an armed forces recruiting station in Catonsville, Maryland. Full Story

    Washington Field: Man Pleads Guilty to Shootings at Pentagon, Other Military Buildings

    Yonathan Melaku, of Alexandria, Virginia, pled guilty to damaging property and to firearms violations involving five separate shootings at military installations in northern Virginia between October and November 2010, and to attempting to damage veterans’ memorials at Arlington National Cemetery. Full Story

    FBI’s Top Ten News Stories for the Week Ending January 13, 2012 [fbi.gov]

    1.Tampa: Florida Resident Charged with Plotting to Bomb Locations in Tampa

    A 25-year-old resident of Pinellas Park, Florida was charged in connection with an alleged plot to attack locations in Tampa with a vehicle bomb, assault rifle, and other explosives. Full Story

    2.Baltimore: Former Army Solider Charged with Attempting to Provide Material Support to al Shabaab

    A man who secretly converted to Islam days before he separated from the Army was charged with attempting to provide material support to al Shabaab, a foreign terrorist organization, and was arrested upon his return to Maryland after traveling to Africa. Full Story

    FBI’s Top Ten News Stories for the Week Ending December 9, 2011 [fbi.gov]

    Seattle: Man Pleads Guilty in Plot to At

  • Re:Zeig Heil (Score:2, Interesting)

    by myowntrueself (607117) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @03:49AM (#38874689)

    All people seem to just be born as scared-to-death xenophobes, and most just don't learn any better as they age.

    This is wrong.

    Xenophobia is almost certainly a biologically based trait [wikipedia.org].

    Interesting. This may explain why xenophobia is common throughout the English speaking world. I grew up in the UK and lived in some other parts of the Anglo-Saxon world. Today I cannot think of a single English-speaking, Anglo-Saxon country that I'd want to live in. Give me continental Europe ANY day.

  • Re:Weeks before trip (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oloryn (3236) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @04:06AM (#38874737)

    A critical detail absent from the summary is that these tweets took place weeks before their trip -- they weren't done at the airport.

    This itself I find interesting. This isn't just the TSA involved here, you have to have some of the U.S.'s intelligence apparatus involved, possibly including the NSA(for capture of communications). This essentially exposes the fact that U.S. intelligence has the capability of taking minor tweets (and no doubt other forms of internet communications), correlating them with the real-life identities of their authors, and matching them to people entering the U.S. These statements weren't made where TSA statements could hear them. That the TSA agents knew about them at all implies some sort of ECHELONish mechanism for collecting even minor tweets such as this and matching them to people entering the U.S.

    To some degree, this isn't surprising. Give a government organization the task of keeping terrorists out, and this is the type of capability you would expect them to develop. But why 'spend' this kind of capability on such a minor, harmless target? This implies to me a couple of things:

    1. Over reliance on technology vs use of actual human analysis or review. An actual human analyst might well have spotted the cultural references and noted that they were harmless. The implication seems to be that intelligence collected via technical means are presented directly to minor TSA agents who don't have the training or analysis skills to correctly understand them. This is likely done to speed up 'getting the information to where it needs to be used', but increases the risk of failure due to poor quality of information or interpretation..
    2. Is it possible to go from a tweet to the real-life identity of the sender in this kind of time-frame (hooking up a tweet to the identity of a person entering the country within a week or two) without the cooperation of Twitter? Note that there's no questioning if they got it right - the couple in question acknowledge they actually sent the tweets.

    Finally, does anyone else get the feel of something out of Person of Interest, except that the computer isn't actually capable of spotting malicious intent?

  • Re:Zeig Heil (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eggstasy (458692) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @05:05AM (#38874961) Journal

    Obviously I can't know if you're gay or simply poking fun at them, but for the benefit of the general population:

    1) Not all gay men enjoy anal sex.
    2) All my gay friends would resent being stereotyped as mere sodomites! :)
    3) A gay man is a man who FALLS IN LOVE with men, not some pervert with a fetish for having anal sex with other men.

    That sentence alone was the tipping point that made me truly accept gay men as being a normal part of the population.

    Thanks for listening :)

  • Re:This proves that (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @05:48AM (#38875131)

    The difference is that George Washington wanted to restore and build upon a classic liberal democracy which the King had infringed upon, and for which reconciliation didn't seem possible*. Bin Laden wanted to destroy a classic liberal democracy with constitutional guarantees of personal liberty and turn it into a severe Islamic state through coerced religious conversion and imposition of the harsh Taliban style of Islamic law as favored by Al Qaeda.

    Another difference is that George Washington engaged British armies on the field of battle to achieve his aims. Bin Laden repeatedly sent his minions on missions to engage in mass slaughter of civilians in office buildings, hotels, and markets to achieve his aims.

    Osama Bin Laden was a terrorist. George Washington was an American patriot, a rebel against the British Crown, and not a terrorist.

    If it makes you feel better, Bin Laden would have ultimately wanted the British Crown to fall, something the Americans didn't want. The fate for Britain, as well as the rest of the world, would be the same as for the United States.

    I would have thought all this was clear. Are you still baffled?

    * I seem to recall the Parliament took some stern actions against more than one British monarch over the years as well.

  • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:05AM (#38875493)

    As for your Muslim co-workers, they may not be worried about getting shipped off the Gitmo, but ask them if they have been mistreated by racists and bigots over the last 10 years.

    2:191 And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.

    2:192 But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

    When you willingly believe in shit like this, you automatically lose all credibility with me. You say that you are immediately accepting of hateful beliefs, and you either do it without thinking or, even worse, do it consciously.

    I don't advocate assaulting or discriminating against people because they are Muslim, but I absolutely understand why it's done.

  • by Phrogman (80473) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:14AM (#38875797) Homepage

    It seems very common on /. to find people who associate both "Fascism" and "Communism" with the political left - leaving I suppose the political right as the only "good" form of government in their eyes. I cannot understand this level of ignorance and I assume its either willful, or the result of constant repetition by other political conservatives who want to distance themselves from any fascist associations.

    Once more though:
    * Extreme Left Political position: Communism
    * Moderate Left Political position: Socialism
    * Middle of the road - the term to use varies considerably (Up here in Canada we use "Liberal" but down in the USA "Liberal" usually is associated with "Socialist" which in turn means "Communist" to most people apparently). I suppose you can use "Democrat" in the US, but since the Democrats (from a Canadian perspective at any rate) seem to be rather rightwing generally, perhaps that is incorrect.
    * Moderate Right Political position: Republicanism
    * Extreme Right Political position: Fascism

    Personally I think the Democrats in the US are by and large Moderate Right, and the Republicans are somewhere between Moderate Right and further Right but not quite Fascists.

     

  • Re:Zeig Heil (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:25AM (#38876213) Homepage Journal

    What i read that as is .. "we the Members of the AmerAryan Race are just fine thanks, it's just everyone else we want to treat like second class and bomb and put in concentration camps" (anyone remember Gitmo, it's still there you know!)

    You've got me wrong. If I were the rest of the world, I'd vote the US off the island. I can understand the concern the rest of the world has about us.

    But please don't pretend that this is all a sudden occurrence. We've been cause for concern since before July 4, 1776 and for good reason.

    But we've also been the source of a fair amount of good. It comes with being, as we were for a while, the biggest swinging dick on the block.

    Oh, and I am not anything like "aryan" you piece of shit. That nazi shit was not an American innovation. That was home-grown Central European "feature not a bug" stuff. Again, I only know it from reading history, but not all of the countries of Europe (or of the World) thought Third Reich was all that bad. And I've got a late father with a bronze star to prove that the US was at least a little helpful in regard to getting rid of those concentration camps.

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