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US government advises sociopathic paranoia when traveling abroad

US government advises sociopathic paranoia when traveling abroad

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Foreigners! They're weird, and scary, and they talk different. What are they talking about? Is it you? It must be you. They want your secrets! Your amazing American secrets, the files and documents on things like fleet movements, spy satellite capabilities, and other national security questions that every upstanding citizen carries with them everywhere they go. Do you really want a foreigner looking at your delicious secrets, with their foreign brains and foreign eyes?

Luckily, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is here to help, via the medium of patronizing and poorly produced short film. The 7-minute YouTube clip is titled "Know the Risk — Raise Your Shield: Travel Awareness" (more like Know the Risk: Excessive Punctuation, am I right?), and follows American everyman Frank as he travels from the United States, where information is always safe, to an unnamed foreign country, whereupon he's immediately put under state surveillance for the crime of having too much goddamned liberty.

More like Know the Risk: Excessive Punctuation

His troubles start in his arrival airport, where a surly and suspicious border guard checks his passport for yummy secrets. Finding nothing, he decides to put Frank under blanket surveillance with the touch of a button instead, some kind of magic Bat-signal that can apparently notify the entire populace of a country to follow an unremarkable dude around at a moment's notice. Side note: I'm fairly sure they can't actually do this in real life — the last computer I saw at customs was running Windows XP.


It gets worse for Frank when he arrives at his hotel. The woman at check-in has apparently received the reply-all memo from the border guard to everyone in the country, and notifies a spooky unknown figure of Frank's soon-to-be room number. Her accent offers the best clue yet as to which country this is meant to be taking place in, but it oscillates between American and British so much I'm not totally sure. I want to say she's Irish, but having been to Ireland many times, let me tell you, Frank — they do not care about your electronic devices. Not one bit.

A ghost man appears in Frank's room

After sitting down at his desk with his tablet for a spot of light pornography, Frank dons his jacket of freedom and steps out of his hotel room, at which point another scary foreigner arrives. Foreign countries are full of them! Leather jacket scary foreigner rifles through Frank's stuff, and even gets into Frank's safe, allowing him to check and be appalled by the internet history on Frank's tablet.

It's at this point that reason prevails, coming — as reason always seems to — in the form of a confident white American man. Introducing himself as "the part of you that knows better," the guy that apparates in Frank's room tells him to leave all his electronic devices at home while he's away, chastises him for mentioning his upcoming trip to his family and friends on Facebook-a-like "Face Basket," and directly blows up a blossoming relationship between Frank and a foreign woman.

The smug ghost man plays himself off as the sensible side of Frank's mind, but he acts more like the personification of gnawing paranoia, telling Frank that there's no chance that people would be nice to him unless they wanted to steal his nuclear codes/Facebook login. Not satisfied with destroying Frank's self-worth, he even moves on to toying with the poor guy, telling him first to avoid talking to new people, then to "get out there" and "live a little," rather than do the job he was flown over to the sinister land of Foreignia to do.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence may just want to help Americans avoid being targeted for crimes overseas, but the approach is so comically heavy handed that the only safe option seems to be to crawl into your well-stocked fallout bunker and wait until all the foreign countries go away. Personally, I'd be far more worried if a beefy dude in a white shirt turned up on my bed uninvited and proceeded to sabotage my relationships with family, friends, and new people in a bid to get me to stay with him forever, but maybe I just don't understand freedom.