Thursday, November 3, 2011

Homeland Security Dept. protecting from Mumbai-style attack

WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security is putting hotel guests in New York and around the country on the lookout for terror.

The agency's snazzy "See Something, Say Something" public service announcements, which encourage viewers to speak up when they see suspicious activity, started airing this week on hotel room welcome channels at more than 5,000 sites around the country.

The Homeland Security Department licenses the slogan from its originator, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Set at a train station, the 15-second spots show travelers alerting authorities about an unattended bag and a squirrely cabbie prepping a bomb in the trunk of his taxi.

The hotel campaign, coordinated through the American Hotel & Lodging Association, will reach 1.2 million rooms operated by major chains including Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt.

Last year alone, more than $48 million visitors traveled to the city.

Hotel patrons not only have millions of eyes often used for sight-seeing, they are targets themselves.

In November 2008, terrorists directed by Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit struck ten locations in Mumbai, India, including two hotels frequented by Westerners, killing 164 people.

The 9/11 Commission recommended a nationwide system to track and analyze behavior that -- while legal -- could foretell terrorist attacks.

The result was the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, with the "See Something" campaign as its public face.

Proponents say the effort is critical to thwarting terror.

Critics like the American Civil Liberties Union see a springboard for racial profiling and harassment of innocent people, like recreational photographers. 

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