Fast Food and Terrorists

Usually, I’m proud to be a resident of San Francisco, with its food, freedom and great views. Last week, though, with help from the FBI, our city was reminded that stupidity lurks behind every corner.

Jeff Stein at the Congressional Quarterly reported that a couple of FBI agents came up with a brilliant plan to track potential terrorists: using new data-mining tools, they could identify concentrations of falafel sales. Enemy combatants and hungry suicide bombers beware…we’re watching what you eat!

The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area.

The brainchild of top FBI counterterrorism officials Phil Mudd and Willie T. Hulon, according to well-informed sources, the project didn’t last long. It was torpedoed by the head of the FBI’s criminal investigations division, Michael A. Mason, who argued that putting somebody on a terrorist list for what they ate was ridiculous and possibly illegal.

A check of federal court records in California did not reveal any prosecutions developed from falafel trails.

Thank goodness bad ideas like this get shot down by someone who knows from idiocy.

Author: Thy Tran

San Francisco-based writer specializing in history and culture of food.

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