New Jersey nonsensically claims DHS-funded “Text Against Terror” program is a success

By End the Lie

Despite the fact that there isn’t a single act of terrorism prevented or hindered by the Department of Homeland Security-funded “Text Against Terror” program in New Jersey, the state is hilariously claiming that the program is a success.

This $5.775 million federally funded endeavor is quite similar to the myriad of programs operating under the banner of homeland security that prove to be a complete failure like the fusion centers which put out “a bunch of crap” according to a recent Senate panel.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a propensity for funding fear mongering campaigns, a truth which is hardly surprising given their obsession with the notion of “see something, say something” or, in other words, citizen spying.

This culture of fear is created by making anyone and everyone into a potential terrorist based on nothing more than bodily movements or, according to the military, complaining about bias and believing in government conspiracies.

This truly illogical fear has surfaced in an interesting way in New Jersey where they used a $5.775 million DHS grant to create a program that allows commuters on the New Jersey transit system to “Text Against Terror.”

This program has resulted in 307 messages, 71 of which have “referred to something regarding homeland security,” since the program was launched in June 2011, according to New Jersey Transit Police Chief Christopher Trucillo.

In other words, only roughly 23 percent of the messages mentioned something related to homeland security. The majority of that small percentage of the texts did not lead to any further investigation.

“Someone saw something that made them uncomfortable that required us to take secondary action, like an unattended bag or someone taking pictures in a particular area,” Trucillo said to Asbury Park Press.

According to Trucillo it is only rarely that they “need to follow them up and refer them to the (state) Joint Terrorism Task Force.”

This task force referred to by Trucillo is made up of the DHS, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey Transit Police, Port Authority Police and others.

According to Asbury Park Press, the messages are processed at the New Jersey Transit Police’s communication center.

When a text message is received, the computer screen of the operator turns red and an alarm sounds at which point customers receive a confirmation text regardless of what they said in the message.

Much of the millions of dollars (which we don’t have, of course) provided by DHS were used to pay for advertising on radio, television, trains and buses.

Oddly enough, some of the ads aired on radio and television in New York City, which, according to Homeland Security News Wire, “has some of the highest advertising rates in the country.”

Using the federal funds, they ramped up the number of commercials promoting the campaign from August 27 to September 8, airing a whopping 4,023 ads on radio and television during that period.

“We live in a dangerous world and in an area where two significant terrorist events happened (in 1993 and 2001),” said Trucillo. “We ask people to understand that we do it with their best interests in mind and to make the public aware of counterterrorism efforts, so we can keep mass transit safe.”

Unfortunately, in the process they’re diverting non-existent funds from vital needs to advertise a far-from-necessary fear mongering campaign promoting an irrational fear of terrorism.

According to Trucillo, the texts they have received include messages regarding alleged suspicious activity, texts requesting customer service information and even accidental messages.

“Our customers are in a closed, tight environment; we’re asking them to report suspicious behavior, but we have to make it safe for them,” said Trucillo in explaining the rationale behind the program.

“They may not feel comfortable picking up the phone when someone is sitting two seats away,” Trucillo said. “Text tips are convenient.”

Perhaps the most troubling part of this is that Trucillo states he is hoping that the three-year grant will be renewed by the federal government in order to push the program forward.

Trucillo said that they have already started using Facebook and Twitter to allow commuters to send tips, but clearly he wants to see this expand with more funds in the very near future.

Personally, I find it tragic that people like Trucillo would rather see the non-existent funds of the United States government go to useless texting programs to fight an imaginary terrorist threat rather than to schools, healthcare, housing, etc.

I guess that’s just par for the course in today’s ultra-paranoid terrorism obsessed homeland security industry.

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2 Responses to New Jersey nonsensically claims DHS-funded “Text Against Terror” program is a success

  1. Anonymous October 15, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    It’s all about making you and all americans live in constant fear thinking everyone around you is a terrorist

    Reply
  2. Pingback: A failure to communicate « All Tied Up and Nowhere to Go

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