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The US government has developed massive surveillance capabilities to monitor communications, travel and financial transactions in this country and abroad. But, even the government cannot monitor everything Americans do—not directly, anyway. Thus, it created the Communities Against Terrorism (CAT) program to enlist your friendly local businesses as spies for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The CAT program, funded by the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training program (SLATT) is described as a “tool to engage members of the local community in the fight against terrorism.” The program interprets “local community” to mean businesses, and only registered businesses may access the program’s flyers listing “potential indicators” of terrorist activity.
Each flyer is designed for a particular kind of business. For example, this list was prepared for owners of internet cafes. Unquestionably, someone planning a terrorist attack has engaged in one or more of the “suspicious” activities on that list. But so, too, have most of the estimated 289 million computer users in this country.