British Couple Ejected From U.S. For Tweeting About Wanting To Dig Up Marilyn Monroe and Destroy America On Vacation

Ever since Benny Hill Americans have had a difficult time getting British humor. However, British tourists Leigh Van Bryan, 26, and pal Emily Bunting, 24, claim that the Department of Homeland Security not only lacks a sense of humor but does not recognize a joke from the quintessential American comedy show, Family Guy. Upon arriving at Los Angeles, they were interrogated for hours about tweets that they sent and eventually ejected from the country. Before their deportation, they say that they were held in a cell with narcotics traffickers for twelve hours.

The agency appears to have picked up tweets from Van Bryan. The first on January 3rd said “3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA pissing people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!” Then on January 16th, he tweeted: “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America.” They say that they repeatedly explained that it was a joke. They explained that “destroy” is a common expression for getting trashed and partying. They further said that Monroe statement was a quote from Family Guy. Bunting said that she tried not to laugh when agents asked if she was going to be the look out as Van Bryan dug up Monroe.
Their passports were confiscated and they were told that they were under investigation for coming to our nation planning to commit crimes. Buntings charge sheet reads: “It is believed that you are travelling with Leigh-Van Bryan who possibly has the intentions of coming to the United States to commit crimes.” It mentions the conspiracy to dig up Monroe.

On Van Bryan sheet, the following notation was made: “Mr Bryan confirmed that he had posted on his Tweeter [sic] website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe. Also on his tweeter account Mr Bryan posted that he was coming to destroy America.”

It appears that there is no other evidence relied upon by DHS to support the deportation but two tweets that read as obvious jokes. None of this makes us safer, of course, beyond assuring terrorists that we are doing a pretty good job hurting ourselves without their involvement. This case should be investigated by DHS as well as Congress. For everyone of such cases, there are many others that go unreported. The response of DHS seems to follow the myth put out by TSA that even an obvious joke at a security gate is a crime at airports.

The treatment of this couple reflects more than a lack of humor but a lack of logic. The DHS appears to have worked hard to avoid the use of common sense and judgment. Based on these facts, I am pretty confident that the final resting place of Marilyn Monroe was never in danger. By the way, the tweet itself shows that the couple did remarkably little research if they were planned to dig up Monroe. She is in an elevated crypt so you cannot dig her up. She is located at Corridor of Memories, #24. By the way, Hugh Hefner owns the rights to the crypt next to it. Even if you can get inside, she was placed in an heavy gauge solid bronze casket lined with a locked down lid.

Of course, it does appear that Al-Qaeda has trained personnel with the use of Family Guy episodes. That may have been the problem:


Source: Daily Mail

38 thoughts on “British Couple Ejected From U.S. For Tweeting About Wanting To Dig Up Marilyn Monroe and Destroy America On Vacation

  1. What myth? Signs have been posted in airports since the ’70s, warning people not to joke about hijackings or bombs.

  2. Professor Turley,

    I think you’re missing an important point here. You said:

    “The agency appears to have picked up tweets from Van Bryan.”

    How?

  3. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/11/us-usa-homelandsecurity-websites-idUSTRE80A1RC20120111

    Homeland Security watches Twitter, social media

    A monitor displays an attacking team’s progress during a drill at a Department of Homeland Security cyber security defense lab at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho, September 30, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

    By Mark Hosenball

    Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:15pm EST

    (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news and gossip sites including the Huffington Post and Drudge Report, according to a government document.

    A “privacy compliance review” issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a “Social Networking/Media Capability” which involves regular monitoring of “publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards.”

    The purpose of the monitoring, says the government document, is to “collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture.”

  4. @slartibartfast: Not that hard for DHS to pick up Tweets; just set up search filter for certain keywords like “destroy America” then peek at the timeline.

  5. justme2,

    I’m well aware of what is possible in this regard–I was just making note that it was being done.

    Anyone at DHS or any other agency or corporation monitoring this blog,

    Hello!

  6. YAWCGSCC (Yet Another Well Connected Guy’s Sub Contracting Company) monitors social networks for the DHS.

    Fun thing not to do:
    Create a Twitter account and use the name of someone you don’t like as the name. Tweet some nonsense that contains keywords and might seem evil to a complete moron. That will trigger the name to be put on a watchlist. All people with similar names will be subjected to Secondary at airports, some metro & bus stations, and random VIPER checkpoints on highways.

    If I were planning to travel to the US in order to assassinate the President, I would tweet before hand that I was NOT going to assassinate the President.
    That way, if someone discovered documentation in my luggage suggestive of an assassination plot, I could point to my Twitter posting to prove that I was completely innocent.

    This might not make sense to you, gentle reader, but it would make perfect sense to the morons that stopped the couple in question.

  7. Bette Noir:

    Just because they put up signs at the airport, doesn’t make them true. There simply is no law against making jokes about bombs at airports. Follow the link in the post.

  8. Looks like the terrorists achieved what they wanted. America’s gone insane, off her rockers. The land of the free is no more.

  9. A “privacy compliance review” issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a “Social Networking/Media Capability” which involves regular monitoring of “publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards.”

    BLOGS?!? LIKE THIS ONE!?!

  10. “Welcome to America, where we will DEPORT YOUR ASS FOR BEING FUNNY”

    That explains why Russell Brand is allowed to stay.

  11. Well, while the girls and boys of DHS were busy interrogating the would be Monroe pranksters … I wonder how many actual terrorists walked through the gates unnoticed?

  12. Every time something like this makes the news Ron Paul picks up a couple of new converts. DHS has entirely too much money.

  13. “dig up Marilyn Monroe” … “vacation” …

    Damn … the dizoids at TSA did not realize the poetry of the situation … just had to do a literal interpretation while fondling the G spot (a.k.a. “We feel much better now”) …

    “I feel much better now” that the big car drivers are takin’ care uh bidness for us …

  14. They also turned this band away for saying “The company was gay” … “a turrissstsss house” … “too up to down”

    gotta be Al Q. Eida …

  15. NUKE ENGLAND!! They are obviously a clear and present danger to these united states and must be dealt with quickly and decisively. This was only the first wave. Vigilance is the price of freedom people.

  16. The theme one-liner said by the hero, wrongly accused, behind bars in a small town.

    “Hello. Is anybody out there?”

    This was in 1956. The only thing that worried us was small-town fascism.
    Where Pink Floyd picked up their version, I have no idea.
    Who wrote the one-act we produced is also unknown to me. Faulkner?

    But there was great lighting. Done by me of course.

  17. Blouise
    1, January 30, 2012 at 1:04 pm
    Well, while the girls and boys of DHS were busy interrogating the would be Monroe pranksters … I wonder how many actual terrorists walked through the gates unnoticed?
    —————–
    Exactly.

    Also, this appears to have been handled incompetently. I realize that a common reaction would be, “well, better off being careful.” But the underlying problems (inability to understand non-US colloquial speech, in this case in English, apparent lack of supporting intelligence) means that this decision was taken effectively randomly or arbitrarily. That says that when they get someone who really is a threat, but they don’t have much to go on, they will act in an arbitrary and random manner with that person also. They will roll the dice and might let him/her in but not based on solid intelligence and/or good analysis of the situation.

    In this case, these tourists probably didn’t try very hard to manipulate the system, whereas someone with malicious intent would be highly motivated to lie and manipulate to get through.

    There are limits to how far you can stretch the metaphor of computer security to meatspace security, but any computer network that operated at this level would be ripped open in hours or minutes of it being connected to the internet. (actually, anyone taking it over intending to use it for nasty purposes would immediately upgrade its security so the next bad guy doesn’t steal it from him.)

  18. The moral of the story is if you’re a real terrorist don’t twitter your plans or the DHS will bust your ass. ^^

    All this tells me is US intelligence are doing a piss poor job, relying on twitter feed to identified potential terrorists when the sneaky terrorists use innocuous code phrase is a fools errand. If I were the CIA or NSA I’d be very embarrassed by this incident.

    Next some poor Brit will be hauled off to Gitmo for tweeting that he’s bringing his ex-pat relatives some British tea bags “taking the PG to USA so we can have a proper brew” being translated as taking the WMDs to the USA so we can distroy New York.

    Guess that’s me on the no fly list.

  19. Had my two twenty something year old sons tweeted comments like “we’re going to dig up Queen Elizabeth, and destroy the Old Bailey” after arriving in Britain I would have been abolutely shocked if they weren’t on the next plane home. I’d be more shocked if I didn’t meet them at the airport with a long lecture on the time and place for this kind of “humor.”

  20. “yeesh.. what if they weren’t tourists, and just regular Americans. Indefinite detention?”

    Absolutely. Had they been US citizens, this would be a crystal clear case for Expatriation. They should be stripped of their citizenship and detained indefinitely by the Military as mandated by the NDAA.

    Lame humor is an insidious influencer that has to be stamped out. The whole fabric of American society is under threat from militant lame-humorists who are determined to impose their way of laughing.

    I call on Homeland Security to ban so-called “TV shows” like The Family Guy and The Simpsons. These are clearly part of the conspiracy. Everyone involved in producing that propaganda material should be detained until hostilities cease.

  21. AN,

    There is more out there than we know…..and the agency’s will find that too…

    mespo,

    I agree with you…totally….

  22. I was going to make a joke about DHS preserving state secrets regarding Marilyn being killed by the Kennedys, but my effort fell apart. :(

  23. Be Careful What You Tweet
    TPM
    1/31/12
    http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/01/be-careful-what-you-tweet.php?ref=fpnewsfeed

    Excerpt:
    With two stories in the past two days of sarcastic ‘“tweets” being taken seriously and landing the account-holders in various forms of trouble, it’s time to raise the alarm: Be careful what you tweet.

    In the first case, originally reported Monday by UK newspaper The Sun, 26 year-old Irish bartender Leigh Van Bryan was blocked from entering the United States for a trip due to tweets he had posted in the weeks before embarking reading “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America,” and “3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA pissing people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!”

    “Destroy,” is common UK slang for partying and the “diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up” tweet was a quote from Family Guy, according to The Sun.

    Bryan told the Sun that he and his travel companion Emily Bunting were intercepted by U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) upon arrival and refused entry to the U.S.

    The DHS agents reportedly questioned Bryan and Bunting for five hours, handcuffed them, placed them in a van “with illegal immigrants” and “locked [them] up overnight,” before sending them back to the UK. Bryan told The Sun, “they were treated like terrorists,” as the paper paraphrased him.

    On Tuesday, British travel industry group Abta issued a warning about the incident to the BBC.

    As the BBC reported:

    “Posting statements in a public forum which could be construed as threatening – in this case saying they are going to “destroy” somewhere – will not be viewed sympathetically by US authorities,” [Abta] told the BBC.

    “In the past we have seen holidaymakers stopped at airport security for ‘joking’ that they have a bomb in their bag, thoroughly questioned and ending up missing their flights, demonstrating that airport security staff do not have a sense of humour when it comes to potential risk.”

    Meanwhile, Gawker on Tuesday reported of an entirely separate tweet that led its author, a California police officer, into trouble — this time with the hacker group Anonymous.

    As Gawker reported:

    Richmond Police Department Sgt. Mike Rood became a target after he offered his support on Twitter to UFC President Dana White, who has been engaged in an entertaining feud with Anonymous over his vocal anti-piracy stance.

    The escalating conflict between people under the hacker banner Anonymous and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was sparked by the takedown of the UFC website on January 22 by hackers unaffiliated with Anonymous in retaliation for the UFC’s support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). White has responded by bashing Anonymous on Twitter and in video interviews, and Anonymous returned fire by hacking and posting White’s personal contact information online.

  24. The first question that popped up for me is exactly what SlartiBartFast queired

    I think you’re missing an important point here. You said:

    “The agency appears to have picked up tweets from Van Bryan.”

    How?

  25. “How?”

    Simple. My Twitter account regularly sees new followers whose profiles indicate that they are bots auto-following based on ‘commercial’ trigger words.
    These bots are not being run by mega-corporations. They appear in the main to be mom-and-pop level spammers.

    One would expect considerably more sophistication and reach when the trawling of tweets is done by a big-budget outfit – like Homeland Security or like General Dynamics when paid by DHS to do so. http://epic.org/foia/epic-v-dhs-media-monitoring/

    The tweets in question
    – appeared under a username and profile name that looked ‘real’ (in a Google+ sort of way)
    – indicated the date of arrival in LA

    So that name, already “of interest/on watch” because of the tweets, was put on a day list because of the intended travel date.

    Once that happened, there was *absolutely nothing* that could prevent what happened. That would be “nothing” in the reality of Patriot Act madness.
    The guy is flagged by the system.
    If someone looks at the situation and decides that the tweets that triggered the process were merely lame humour, they have two choices.
    1) Let the system run. Pass it on to the next stage. Rinse and repeat at each stage. The pair get deported.
    or
    2) Put their ass on the line. Their name goes on file as the person who decided to let those people in. If that pair do anything that brings the attention of law enforcement, questions could get asked. “Hey! These people were on a watch list. Who let them in? Who’s gonna get fired?”
    All that couple have to do is get into a situation where a cop runs their names through a computer. Maybe they might make some lame remark that gets misinterpreted.

    Since it appears that they were on a day list, it appears that a human eye looked at those tweets after the account got automatically flagged.
    That eye would have the same choice as did the TSA operative in LA. If anything happens, “Aw it was just lame humour” won’t cut it. “He was flagged, and you decided to ignore it. Your ass is so fired.”

  26. I wish I could say that I’m surprised TSA is full of dumb people…or that a gaggle or idiots would gather here to defend their actions…but this country is full of morons. There is nothing threatening in those tweets…its f’n talk. Its british slang and obviously NOT threats to a country….what a joke. Why do we have to deal with all this stupid crap because of a handful of really really dumb scared people.

  27. TB:

    “but this country is full of morons. There is nothing threatening in those tweets…its f’n talk.”

    ********************

    If a person dressed as a firefighter rushes into the theater you’re in and tells you the building is going to collapse, you’ll respond. If your physician tells you to get your affairs in order before your next colon exam, you’ll have some reaction. If a group of wackos –after 9/11– tells you they’re going to destroy something in your country, as a symbol of authority you’ll react, too.

    It’s all just “f’n talk” but, if you believe it, you still react.

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