Video: Homeland Security Recruits Hotel Guests to Spy

| by Michael Allen

Starting today, welcome screens on 1.2 million hotel television sets in Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn and other hotels in the U.S. will show a short public service announcement (video below) from the Department of Homeland Security.

The 15-second video encourages guests to call law enforcement if they witness something suspicious.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says that reaching "millions of guests that stay at hotels and motels each year and this is a significant step in engaging the full range of partners in our Homeland Security efforts."

The federal government gained access to hotel TV sets by forming a partnership with the hotel industry's trade group, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, which connected the Department of Homeland Security with LodgeNet, the industry's largest TV-content provider.

LodgeNet says 98% of hotel guests turn on their hotel TV, and the average guest keeps it on for more than three hours per day.

Ann Parker, a LodgeNet spokeswoman, describes the PSAs as "well done and professional" and adds "it's about everyone doing their part to help keep each other and the country safe." Parker did not mention if any terrorists had stayed at high-end hotels.

Josh Meyer of the Washington-based National Security Journalism Initiative predicts it will generate "a huge amount of potentially baseless tips that will inundate local, state and federal law enforcement authorities."