Startling “Doh!!!” Moment In OPSEC
By C. Watson aka Redhorse_Ronin
I was reading a post a few minutes ago concerning a Reuters article about prepping. As I read the article and then responded to the post, I had a Homer Simpson epiphany. As preppers we are very much in the retail and, more importantly, bulk retail market. We may look like our neighbors and friends but we are blessed or burdened with the conviction to prepare against a multitude of disastrous scenarios. As a result, we buy in quantities that our peers do not.
With my former life’s associations with LE and intel, I have scratched the surface of the black world of government overreach in the guise of combatting drugs, terror, obesity, et al. The fact is profiling is a very effective tool and it IS used, despite protestations otherwise when the ACLU or NAACP raise objections. We saw the beginning of the prepper profiling under the Bush the First and Clinton administrations, when “domestic terrorists” were the boogeymen flavor of the decade. Eyes blackened from blowback from the Randy Weaver, Waco, and Elian Gonzalez debacles, the government sought to vilify the so-called militia movement which was rising in popularity due to a dangerous policy shift toward decreased sovereignty with the United Nations and onerous 2nd Amendment attacks, such as the Brady Act and Anti-Terrorism Act of 1996. The media dutifully glommed onto the militias and began painting them as racist rednecks that were the outgrowth of the hermit-like anti-social Ted Kazynski-esque cold war era survivalists of the 70’s and 80’s. In the military and in LE, we were briefed on them as public enemy number one, even as history would show, Al Queda was planning 9/11 and executing attacks on embassies and the USS Cole. The military, in the political peacetime cutthroat environment under Bush and Clinton would, would actually start edging dangerously into Posse Commitatus territory and even began training units for occupation and administration missions, as well as property and arms seizure, explosive ordnance disposal, and urban assault missions. We were given a profile of the domestic terrorist that matched 2nd Amendment advocates and the rare political conservative as potential terrorists and enemies of the people.
9/11 took a lot of the focus away from the government’s war on our kind and instead gave the government more ability to wage war on the people in a broad social engineering capacity with its unprecedented and ever encroaching powers. As fickle sound bite driven Americans with cultural AD/HD, the Islamist threat is receding in terms of fear generated so how long until the federal government equipped with its new usurped powers turns its attention upon us again?
This time we are more mainstream and many of us might be complacent enough to believe that there is little about us individually to merit government attention. After all, we do not protest in the streets, we do not wear camo to church, there are no Confederate Battle or Gadsen (sp) flags in our lawns and we pay our taxes. So WHAT would be a new profile for us? How about people who have posted on sites like APN? People who are registered as libertarian or independent? People who have carbines registered? OR, people with Sam’s Club or Costco memberships?………….
What if something were to happen that allowed the government to “justify” looking into our purchases? How many of us have memberships to wholesale or warehouse markets? How many own firearms or buy from survival oriented websites? How many of us use discount cards at our grocery store chains or give our contact information to retailers? How many people give this information out reflexively when asked?
This data serves a simple and potentially scary purpose. It allows marketers to track our purchases and to cater to customer needs, but this data is available to the government via subpoenas or less legal means. So what if the government wanted to subpoena records from Costco to find out who buys dried beans in amounts greater than 15 lbs a year? Insert ANY item in that question and the government has a pool of people that potentially fit their “criminal prepper” profile.
What can we do? While I have bristled at the privacy intrusions of these retailers and the government over the last couple of decades, I have been remiss in not always refusing to capitulate. Sometimes, saving $0.20 per can of corn is just so enticing that I give in. I have to stop this. When I apply for discount cards or supply contact information in the future, I will be using false information. I need to mitigate the damage I have done to my family’s OPSEC. It is not a panacea for OPSEC but it is an impediment to those who might have ulterior motives for my information.