The Department of Homeland Security’s Guide to Forwarding News Stories, Searching Tweets

A FOIA request from the Electronic Privacy Information Center yielded a 39-page booklet that details how the Department of Homeland Security collects media reports and social media references as part of its National Operations Center’s  “Media Monitoring Capabilities.” Most of it is a pretty bland read: sources like Fox News and CNN are most credible, news that’s made it to air but not yet made it to print is the most urgent, information from blogs (“even if they are of a serious, political nature”), news from partisan outlets (like or “agenda driven” organizations (like Amnesty International) has to be verified by a “first tier” source such as Fox News, CNN, USA Today, or the Washington Post.

Maybe the most interesting part of the report is the listing of keywords for social media searching. There are about 378 of them, divided into 9 categories: “DHS & Other Agencies,” with keywords like FEMA, ICE and the CIA, “Domestic Security,” with keywords like  assassination, attack, prevention, militia, shots fired, police, and gangs, “HAZMAT & Nuclear,” with keywords like  suspicious package, powder (white), spillover, and North Korea, “Health Concern + H1N1,” with keywords like  contamination, Ebola, Salmonella, human to animal, and agro terror, “Infrastructure Security,” with keywords like airport, collapse, metro, and body scanner, “Southwest Border Violence,” with keywords like marijuana, heroin, Juarez, Tijuana, decapitated, MS-13 and Calderon, “Terrorism,” with keywords like Al-Qaeda (all spellings), eco terrorism, dirty bomb, enriched, IED, jihad, pirates, and Somalia, “Weather/Disaster/Emergency,” with keywords like emergency, hurricane, ice, stranded, wildfire, and lightening [sic], and “Cybersecurity,” with keywords like botnet, DDOS, cyber command, spammer, Cain and abel, and brute forcing.

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  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "sources like Fox News and CNN are most credible"

    Obama administration regards Fox as credible news at 11.

  • T||

    They regard USA Today as a first tier source.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Way to go, Democrats.

  • anon||

    Nothing to fear, nothing to hide! /sic

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Yeah! No one ever got their home SWAT-teamed based on bogus information!

    /Brett Kimberlin

  • BarryD||

    I believe "San Diego" is also a suspicious word.

    Good thing I graduated years ago; I went to school down there and I'd hate to have the cops shoot my dogs because I invited my friends to a party in San Diego, and to dress up as pirates, or something.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Hey Ed! You missed my favorite word on the list, pork. Seriously, pork is on that DHS list.

    I guess I should stop inviting them to my barbecues. They never show up anyway.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Oh, they show up... you just don't see them.

  • anon||

    So, they are watching us! Also, Assassination.

  • Loki||

    The interesting thing is how many of those words routinely show up on HR posts. At this point DHS probably has to have at least 2 full time agents monitoring this site 24/7. That's 2 jobs "created or saved" right there.

  • anon||

    Dare I say He Who Shall Not Be Named was a DHS troll?

  • juris imprudent||

    Cool, so EMP apparently is not a threat signal.


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