One of the lessons one learns in military basic training is “situational awareness”, a term that reflects the importance of watchfulness in combat. It can mean the difference between life and death. Police practice this as well, looking for people who seem out of place in a neighborhood.
The average citizen blithely ignores this when shopping or just going about their life, though many purchase private monitoring services to protect their homes against fire or theft or put up video surveillance systems to protect their businesses. I doubt there is any public place that does not have television cameras watching.
When it comes to protecting the nation, situational awareness is an essential element to spot a potential individual or group that might pose a danger. There is, of course, the potential for misuse or abuse, but that applies to everything government does.
The upside of such monitoring is contained in a short item from the Heritage Foundation’s January 12 Morning Line dispatch. “His plan was to rip apart nightclubs with explosives, unleash a wave of destruction on bridges, and open fire on police officers—all in sunny Florida. This was the murderous intent of Sami Osmakac, 25, an American citizen from the former Yugoslavia who was determined to spill blood, foment destruction, and bring terror to the United States all in the name of Allah. Fortunately, undercover FBI agents thwarted his efforts, making this the 44th foiled terrorist plot against America.”
I am a regular contributor to Harold Wylie’s excellent website, BorderfireReport.net. On a daily basis he gathers news about the effects of illegal immigration and related topics. He recently wrote to say that “my website has been placed on a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Operations Center Media Monitoring Initiative.” He learned about this during a visit to World Net Daily.com.
Is this a good or bad thing? Candidly, I thought it was a good thing because it suggests that someone at DHS recognized what an excellent “open source” of information Wylie’s site provides.
A government agency that’s “snooping” on Americans is not likely to issue such a notice and the sites listed represent, in government-speak, the opportunity “to collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture.”
When one considers the billions the government spends on covert intelligence gathering, this is a far cry from “Big Brother.” Simply stated, DHS thinks that Wylie’s his site is performing a valuable service for their own Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement operation.
The cliché is that “being paranoid does not mean someone is not watching you.” There are so many sources of information available to individuals and groups regarding everything about your life that it bodes well to conduct oneself in conformance with common sense and the law. Meanwhile, your credit rating and other data are easily accessible.
Like millions of others I am on Facebook and DHS monitors both it and Spacebook. The occasional nutcase uses these social networks to announce to the world that he or she has bad intentions.