Homeland Security recruits jittery coffee drinkers to spot terrorists

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
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Big Brother is watching you while you drink your coffee, or at least imploring you to watch others while you drink your coffee.

Coffee addicts getting their morning fix may notice an advertisement on their coffee-cup sleeves with a helpful message from the Department of Homeland Security. “If you see something, say something,” the ad says. “Report unattended bags and unusual behavior to police or transit personnel.”

A DHS spokesperson said the Maryland Transit Administration started the coffee sleeve campaign. According to the sleeve, the ad was “purchased with funds provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”

Part of the Department of Homeland Security’s guidelines for suspicious behavior include individuals “acting furtively and suspiciously” and “avoiding eye contact.” The side effects of heavy caffeine use include irritability, anxiety, tremulousness and muscle twitching.

The sleeves are distributed by BriteVision Media, a company that sells ad space on coffee sleeves and then provides the sleeves free to restaurants and cafes.

DHS first launched its “If you see something” public awareness campaign in July 2010. The campaign’s website touts it as “a simple and effective program to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and violent crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper state and local law enforcement authorities.”

The trademarked “if you see something” slogan was coined by Allen Kay, chairman and chief executive of the Manhattan advertising agency Korey Kay & Partners, shortly after the 9/11 attacks. It was originally used by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York City.

BriteVision did not immediately return requests for comment.