First, the facts. The FBI did indeed recently publish a series of pamphlets, one which is particularly directed at Internet cafes and the like. In this document, the FBI outlines some things that common people might should regard as suspicious. One of the comments in the FBI document in particular has caused a bit of an Internet sensation, but as always, we here at Common Sense Conspiracy are on top of it and want to set the record straight.
One of the things we hate the worst here is when things are taken out of context, and in these circles, it happens a lot. The myriad of “Cash for Coffee” websites and blog posts is designed to spark outrage in us civilians by indicating that paying with cash money for coffee at an Internet cafe indicates that you may be involved in terrorism. While the message these sites are purveying has some credibility to it (we’ll go into that a little later), the way they are expressing it is actually deceitful. What they do is they write a big booming headline, just like the one above. A provocative one that sucks you in and makes you read. Then, they outline the egregious actions of the FBI in making this insinuation. At the bottom or on a sidebar, you’ll see a little very official looking document that is from the FBI. No one clicks on it or takes the time to read it. We simply assume that what our friendly local blogger is telling us is in there. While we grudgingly hate to steer traffic this way, a great example of one site using this tactic is here. This is just one of the many stops with a similar message and setup. Our friend here runs a good blog and we hope he enjoys some of the traffic he gets from this article. However, we found that if you look a little further, you might find that these blogs and sites are getting a little carried away with what the document actually says. That’s why we are going to take a second here to blow it up a little large so you can read what it actually says. This document is very much real and taken from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s very real website. We’re not special; you can download it yourself. Anyway, take a look.
Now, you see the part about always paying with cash. This is what the blogs are pointing too for their provocative title, but they are insinuating that the FBI document actually says something about paying cash for coffee. In reality, it means paying cash in general. I don’t believe that a reasonable person necessarily reads that line and automatically assumes they are talking about coffee. Many blogs are extrapolating this out further, saying that if you go into Starbucks or your average coffee shop and pay with cash, you go on a government watchlist or some other nonsense.
What the FBI is really getting at is that if a person regularly stops by your Internet cafe, downloads crazy s**t on a flashdrive, is overly worried about anyone knowing anything about him, like, I don’t know, his identity, walks in each day with a different smartphone, has a guy outside that gives him the thumbs up before he walks outside, or starts laughing maniacally while watching slow-motion videos of the September 11 terrorist attacks over and over, you might wanna say something. This could be a terrorist.
If he dropped four bucks on the counter for his coffee…he’s probably thirsty.