Yawn, pace, or stare into space? Ridiculous DHS List: You Might Be a Terrorist If...

Have you ever yawned during a conversation? How about clock watching? Oh yes, that makes you a potential terrorist according to New Jersey Homeland Security.

When at work or waiting for an appointment, do you ever glance at the clock? Have you ever been lost in thought, zoned-out and staring? Wow, you are not going to believe this, but that makes you suspicious since those innocent behaviors are now flagged as potential terrorism indicators.

If you have ever spent any time staying with a family member in the hospital, then you know all the beeping machines and nurses in and out all night are not conducive for sleep. Once you reach a certain point of exhaustion, you might get hit with an attack of the killer yawns. Yawning when 'engaged' in conversation? Oh yes, that is a sign that you might be a terrorist. Now let's say you are trying to work in that way-too-tired state. You might glare at people who continue to interrupt your attempts to work. If that glare was misinterpreted as a "cold penetrating stare," then that too means you might be a terrorist. At this point, let's say you are still trying to work and in a moment of aggravated impatience you clamp your hands over your ears in an attempt to hear yourself think. What does that make you in the eyes of New Jersey Homeland Security? You guessed it, you potential terrorist you.

Let's go with the hospital scenario again, and this time your family member has been taken into a surgery that is estimated to last about 10 hours. Could that make you jumpy or could you imagine pacing or sweating in such a situation? Might you "fidget" or watch the clock during such a time? I can assure you that the answer is yes. While I don't like to share tidbits of my private life, I can say thank goodness this hospital is not in New Jersey or else some "well-meaning" see-something say-something citizen might shout, "Terrorist!"

The newest list of suspicious behaviors indicating you might be a terrorist includes "signs of nervousness" that are "particularly evident in a person's eyes, face, neck and body movements." This includes the following signs that, depending upon what is going on in your private life, anybody might have: "exaggerated yawning when in a conversation, protruding or beating neck arteries (let's hope so or you might be dead), repetitive touching of face, tugging on or covering ears, increased breathing rate, panting, excessive fidgeting, clock watching, head turning, pacing or jumpy, trembling, unusual perspiration, goose bumps, trance-like gaze, wide open 'flashbulb eyes', or cold penetrating stare."

Photographers have long been allegedly suspicious as potential terrorists, but if you own a smartphone then you too have in hand some of the "tools" for suspicious surveillance. Your mobile phone has a camera for photos and can record videos; it has maps and GPS. Other "terrorist" surveillance tools are laptop computers or PDA's. What is your smartphone if not a small computer so . . .? Does that mean all of us walking around with smart mobile devices are potential terrorists on a surveillance mission?

But wait, there's more! The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has been busy crafting more ridiculous lists including the eight signs of terrorism [PDF].

Journalists, reporters and bloggers, hey even students, if you are responsibly reporting for an article, then it's likely you are seeking information. But if you ask the "wrong" questions then guess what? You might be a terrorist. White hat penetration testers, you too fall into this category since the second sign of terrorism [PDF] "is the attempt to gain information through inquiries. This includes anyone attempting to gain information about a place, person or operation. Elicitation attempts can be made by mail, fax, telephone, or in person."

Basically, these ridiculous you might be a terrorist if lists have grown so that any behavior could be misconstrued and get you flagged. It almost seems like the people making up these fear-mongering lists are the terrorists.

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