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Tourists Taking Pictures Are The Latest Targets of Homeland Security, Which is Recruiting Hotels to Report 'Suspicious Activity'

Tourists are the latest target of the federal government's domestic terrorism watch.

The "If You See Something Say Something" anti-terror campaign is now expanding to America's hotels.

Fair enough, but consider that the "See Something" initiative was originally launched in conjunction with the Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, itself an outgrowth of the LAPD's own anti-terror guidelines, which include ...

... the idea that people taking pictures or scribbling notes around significant public buildings, plazas and landmarks are suspicious and should be detained for questioning.

(Wait, isn't that what tourists do? We're getting back to that 9/12 baseline where everyone is suspicious. Why discriminate based on megapixels?).

That policy has gotten other departments, including Long Beach's and the L.A. County Sheriff's organization, in hot water.

Tourists Taking Pictures Are The Latest Targets of Homeland Security, Which is Recruiting Hotels to Report 'Suspicious Activity'
Jonathan Castillo

The ACLU, which told us that photography was first considered suspicious activity under the LAPD's own pioneering policy, is suing the sheriff's department for what it alleges is aggressive and unconstitutional policing against people who are simply snapping photos.

So, let's add it up: "See Something Say Something" announced a new partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Association, LodgeNet Interactive Corporation and even the W Hotel chain (recently "occupied" in Hollywood, BTW) to report suspicious activity (e.g. taking pictures of tourist attractions) among tourists.

Huh.

Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano:

... Time and again, we have seen the value of public vigilance in thwarting terrorism. Sending the simple but effective "If You See Something, Say Something™" message to the millions of guests that stay at hotels and motels each year is a significant step in engaging the full range of partners in our homeland security efforts. America's hospitality industry is a vital engine for job growth and sustainment--and with partnerships like this it is also becoming an increasingly important partner in our nation's security.

The DHS rolled out TV ads that it says will be seen in 1.2 million hotel rooms. (Samples here).

So remember folks: Tourists with cameras on Hollywood Boulevard? Suspicious. Report them immediately. If they're contacted by L.A. County sheriff's deputies they might even be handcuffed simply for snapping pics.

And that is something to write home about.

[@dennisjromero/djromero@laweekly.com]