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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 29, 2012/ 8 Sivan, 5772

Sticks, stones and dangerous words

By Wesley Pruden




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The scholars and wordsmiths at the Department of Homeland Security leave everyone who aspires to good citizenship perfectly speechless.

Some of the wordsmiths put together a manual for agents who track the Internet, looking for evil-doers and those who aspire to evil-doing. These agents are assigned to pick up suspicious words for further investigation. Some of the worst of the evil-doers have been caught after their schemes, plots and intrigues were detected in e-mails intercepted by agents of the Department of Homeland Security.

Long lists of words the innocent should never use were acquired by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy watchdog group that obtained the lists through a request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act. It's clear that federal agents who conduct Internet searches for offending words can succeed only if they have a lot of time on their hands.

Some of the words, like "attack" or "terrorism" or "dirty bomb," are so obvious that a cave man could detect them. Others, like the words cops, police, riot, emergency landing, powder (white), swine, pork and 'flu, do not seem so obviously dangerous. Your Aunt Evelyn in West Gondola, scribbling an affectionate note at the bottom of a birthday card, could invite federal scrutiny without intending to harm anyone.

Other words suspicious to the feds include airplane, subway, Port Authority, grid, power, electric, port, dock, bridge, delays, cocaine, marijuana, border, Mexico, kidnap bust, Iraq, Iran, nuclear, tornado, tsunami, storm, forest fire, ice, snow, sleet, Cain, Abel, China, worm, anthrax, cloud, North Korea, and "lightening," presumably meaning "lightning."

The suspicious words are included in something called the Analyst's Desktop Binder, used by agents at the National Operations Center to identify "media reports that reflect adversely on [Department of Homeland Security] and response activities."

The existence of the verboten list emerged from the bowels of bureaucracy only after a hearing before a House subcommittee looking into how analysts monitor newspapers, magazines, Internet sites and social networks. They're looking for "comments that 'reflect adversely' on the government.

This covers a lot of ground, sinful, criminal, harmless and otherwise, but the Department of Homeland Security reassures one and all that it is not looking for disparaging remarks about the Obama administration, the government or the bureaucrats who work for the government. They're not looking for signs of "general dissent." Of course not. Who would suspect the government of poking its nose into the business of private citizens? Would Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, do that?

The government can nevertheless be dull and dim-witted. An investigator for one of the many government security agencies, a young man with the requisite 1950s haircut and polite manner, one day called to ask whether I would vouch for the character of a young man, just out of Harvard Law, who had applied for a position with a Senate committee. I knew him to be exactly what the government should be looking for, Harvard trained or not, and said so.

"Well," the agent replied, "we have information that he lived abroad for several years. Do you know why?"

I looked at the dates he had indeed lived abroad, in a large European capital famous for its spies, furtive nocturnal liaisons and dark diplomatic intrigues. "Yes," I said, "that is roughly the time his father was the American ambassador there, and the young man would have been between 2 and 6 years old."

The agent was not persuaded. "Still, that is a long time to live abroad. He may have had a good reason to spend so much uninterrupted time in a foreign capital, but we would like to know why." I assured him that 2-year-olds in that particular family were discouraged from traveling alone, particularly on overseas flights. The young man was finally cleared for duty several months later. The stain on his baby character was overlooked.

The watchdog group that obtained the list of suspicious words complained to the House subcommittee on counter-terrorism and intelligence that the Homeland Security list is "broad, vague and ambiguous," and includes "vast amounts of First Amendment-protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters."

The bureaucrats trying to keep the homeland secure, even at the cost of damage to the First Amendment, now concede that its language is vague and should be "updated." In the hands of normal speakers of English, the lists can be harmless enough, but computers are only as smart as whoever is punching the keyboard. That's not always very smart. The hands of government agents are heavy on all of us. That's why watchdogs come with teeth.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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