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January 26, 2012

Experts' Experts: NSA's tips for travelers


Excerpts from Al Kamen's "The Fed Page" column in yesterday's Washington Post follow.

We recalled some instructions we got a while back from the National Security Agency — the super-secret cryptography operation at Fort Meade that monitors international communications — explaining the do's and don'ts of "defensive travel."

The agency reminds super-spooks that even "if you plan to travel ... for vacation" you’ve got to submit a "UFT" — Unofficial Foreign Travel — request, which is Form K2579.

Once you've gotten approval and are off on vacation, you’re advised to "vary your routine as much as possible. Predictability equals vulnerability!" After all, "If an adversary doesn’t know your next move — it makes their job much tougher!"

Okay. So, if you’re in, say, Beijing, don’t go out to the Great Wall. In Shanghai, avoid the Bund and the early-morning ballroom dancing.

"Try to avoid crowds and demonstrations," we’re told. That means forget going to Tahrir Square in Cairo and most any city in Syria.

Finally, "internationalize your appearance." No paisley burqas, for example. 

Most of all, remember that "reporting contact with foreign nationals is a requirement you agreed to when you were indoctrinated."

So you've got to "report the following," we're told:

• Close and continuing association with non-U.S. citizens.

• Contact with an employee or representative of a foreign government.

• Sexual contact with a non-U.S. citizen.

Fair warning.

[photo at top via Roderick Mallen]

January 26, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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Once upon a time, my employer told me "No, you cannot take a course in Russian language. It might draw attention to you that we don't want."

Posted by: antares | Jan 26, 2012 7:51:04 PM

What? Foreplay involves examination of long-form birth certificates?

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Jan 26, 2012 10:20:48 AM

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