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A Practical Guide to Dealing with Government Surveillance

11 Nov

Worried the government is watching you?

Wondering what you can do about it?

Should do about it?

Well, first off, don’t let those friendly Feds intimidate you.

They’re just ordinary working Joes like you and me.

Except they have guns and can get all into your business.

But other than that, really nice folk.

Sure, I was a bit surprised when the NSA agents pounded on my door at 3am this past Saturday, sternly informing me it would be best for all involved if I didn’t publish this blog post.

Surprised and impressed. I hadn’t written this yet, or even planned it, and still they knew.

They knew…

But I wasn’t intimidated.  Inconvenienced by the need to change my underwear? Yes.

But intimidated? No, sir.

The first thing to accept, if you ever hope to cope with being under the extrajudicial microscope, is that you aren’t going to beat the government.

They have the Terrorist card, see? They play that one, and they can do just about anything they want.

So once you’re in Uncle Sam’s crosshairs, you better hope you’re wearing your best, sharpest bulletproof vest.

You know, the one that goes so nicely with your foil top hat.

If Auntie Samantha has decided to keep a worried eye on you, get used to the unwanted gaze.

She isn’t shy, and that gaze ain’t going nowhere.

That said, you can still have fun.*

So achieve acceptance as quickly as possible, find a clean pair of tighty whiteys, and look for the positive.

For no matter how tarnished it may be, there is a silver lining.

There is at least one civil servant, and more likely several, for whom you are the center of the universe.

Think about that.

Relish in the thought of all those tax dollars being spent on you.

You.

Makes you feel kinda special, doesn’t it?

And just because you’re being shadowed by CIA spooks doesn’t mean you can’t have a joke or two at their expense.

They’ll love it. All the three-letter acronym agencies of the government are famous for their highly developed senses of humor.

Here’s what I recommend, to keep those spies on their toes and a spring in their step:

When you go for a walk, always bring along a piece of chalk.

I do.

I like to stop in front of a light pole, or a utility closet on a street corner, or the entrance to a pedestrian underpass, and draw an inconspicuous mark with the chalk.

The local anti-gang squad here refers to me as “The Russian” because of my trademark scythe and hammer drawings.

Pro tip: if your mark is in paint, the cops can beat you and then arrest you on graffiti charges.

If it’s in chalk, they can only beat you.

And then call in the Feds, who arrest you on espionage charges and makes you do a perp walk on the steps of the Hall of Justice.

Boy, that was a laugh a minute!

(I wasn’t kidding about wearing your best, sharpest bulletproof vest. There are a lot of press photographers at those perp walks.)

Assuming you don’t get taken down by a division of rogue cops after leaving your mark, you can smile as you walk off, secure in the knowledge that someone just got tasked to watch that spot and photograph everyone who walks by it.

24/7.

Which is why I always leave three marks on my walks.

Any more than that, and they begin to suspect you’re trolling them.

And if, unlike me, you’re in prime physical shape, why not give that FBI tail a workout?

You know, long, meandering walks (often called ‘bracing’) punctuated with sudden, all-out sprints.

Nothing gets the old Federale heart a pumping like the belief that the subversive you’re following is trying to shake you.

Or better yet, run up to said agent and, while hugging her, slip a note with some random numbers on it into her pocket.

Now she’s got extra paperwork to fill out, and she’s under a cloud of suspicion too.

Share the love!

I also recommend saving your household garbage and trash.

The nastier, the better.

If you’ve got young children, save those poopy diapers.

Each day, before you go out of the house, stuff some of that nasty refuse in a nondescript, brown paper bag.

Hug the bag tight while you walk.

Better yet, hold it under your coat.

If you own a trench coat, wear it.

A trench coat totally seals the deal.

Then, when you reach a public trashcan (maybe next to that underpass entrance?), look around furtively before dropping the bag, gingerly, into the waste receptacle.

Those government bastards won’t just get their hands dirty; they’ll tie up a lab for weeks analyzing the contents of that bag.

On second thought, if you don’t want to get arrested on a weapons charge, better not use the dirty diapers.

For those of you less inclined towards physical activity and open spaces, you don’t have to go outside and get all sweaty if you want to mess with ’em. You can do it from your own home!

(Don’t do this from the office.)

(Seriously, don’t.)

(You will lose your job.)

(Took me three times to learn that lesson!)

When you’re surfing the web, browse Amazon for biohazard suits.

The supple fabric breathes, allowing me to breathe. Which is way better than that plastic bag I was using before.

I wear this because I am a Science ninja! Also, the mask is surprisingly comfortable.

Don’t buy one – the good ones are expensive (…I’ve heard…) – just make sure your browser cookies are turned on and…linger over the different models of protection against biological and radiological weapons.

Believe me, that gag’s a real gas.

I also highly recommend posting random messages on Craigslist, to give those poor saps at the NSA sniffing your network traffic something to ponder:

Danish Red cow seeks Vespa motor scooter to ponder this truth: the owls are not what they seem.

You could also encrypt all your emails, but let’s face it, the NSA cracked PGP years ago.

These are but a few of the things you can do to lighten the mood and break the tension when you’re suspected of being a dissident or worse.

But I am hardly the epitome of imaginative or creative. I’m sure you can come up with far better suggestions.

In fact, I’d love to hear your ideas. Feel free to share them here in the comments.

Let’s make subversive activity funny again.

* All of this assumes, of course, that you have nothing to hide.

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