Toward New Modes of Terrorist Identification: Potential Research Targets in Eye Analyses

When we asked our researchers about the kinds of eyes that were out there, we were pretty stunned. There are only a few kind of eyes that strike one upon reflection, as the poet Wallace Stevens put it, "movie quality eyes, long hooded ones on Frenchmen with their cigarettes [...] the grazing and lashed, big-sized eyes of cows and cow-looking women that you could walk by forever until they actually do something cow-like. Brazen eyes, bright and blight eyes." These eyes are, gentlemen, only a very small portion of the eyes available. Worse, all of the traits we have been able to observe in eyes are considered present in the sort of eyes that bring us here this morning, eyes dangerous to the future of the Republic.

The eyes we are looking for have to be considered apart from their observed traits, or the observed traits we are used to seeing in eyes. Color is apparently irrelevant. Large and bugling eyes, contrary to expectations, actually signal away from potential terrorists. My own hypothesis is that the extra information allowed by bulging eyes might make it easier for their owners to find successful and productive ways to assist society, but it doesn't really matter except to say that our instincts about these kinds of things are terrible. Even corneal quality, when adjusted for childhood nutrition or presence and quality of sand and dirt in the subject's country of origin, do nothing but generalize about Arabs and Africans, gentlemen, precisely the coordinates I am trying to move this organization away from.

The attempts in this area made by the previous regime were ingenious in their own way, a shift away from material toward the behavioral. The first efforts were an attempt to isolate the famed "shifty" eye, movements of some significant nervousness. This, along with their extensive studies of facial tics, led to a body of data which proved that they were well down the wrong track. However, we don't have to abandon their general method; I think their interesting tactics could still be useful in our current endeavor.

Suppose we too abandon materiality. I understand your resistance. Findings on material are still the easiest to rigorously plot and categorize. Weight is still weight, across every eye, there's no disputing that. The follow concepts will, I hope, be supplemental to a science of eye composition yet to arrive.


1) Perception Analysis

Avoiding for the moment any psychological hypothesis, suppose we assume that the material and skill-based composition of the terrorist-subject's eye-system is genuinely different. Part of the ideological chasm between us could be interestingly explained through different appraisals of the same potential visual stimuli. With this method, we will accumulate a series of color estimations, rates of shape recognition, maps of pupil movement against a broad spectrum of two and three dimensional scenarios, both still and moving images, as well as some textual analysis on the introspective observations on the part of the terrorist-subjects themselves.

2) Resolute Vacancy and Steel-Eyedness

Because the "shifty-eyed" hypothesis failed, this is supposed to provoke a bit of laughter, gentlemen, but also to raise a certain point. Something like shifty eyes is possibly of a different generation, or the targets have become so aware of it that they train themselves to retain and straight-forward point of view. Certain other modes are also possible, however. Especially if we consider that we are not entirely alone in these prejudices and that certain gazes or stares could be venerated within the ranks of the terrorist in the same way shiftiness is suspected here. Something like "steel-eyedness", or "resolute vacancy", which are considered good physical indicators of commitment within the organizations we are targeting, as well as shibboleths unavailable to "infiltrators", could be modes of wearing the eyes that are more usefully explored with these methods.

3) Stress Induction

All eye studies heretofore have focused on the normal behaviors of the eye, reactions under conditions familiar to the general body of eye studies. What I am proposing is a series of alternative scenarios, from irritants, extreme temperatures, poking, pressing, and puncturing the eyes of the subjects. I do not have an hypothesis as to why this might reveal certain traits, except to note that many of the terrorists and plotters have odd strengths and weaknesses in other areas and there's no reason to suspect that the eye is a place of normality.

4) Sight-geist

A reductive method where we might propose a series of possible foundational divergences, hypothetical eye conditions which we feel approximate one or more features of the potential terrorist eye, and then derive ways of training this eye and its presuppositions to blend in. We have to consider that the terrorists have also explored these angles and are more advanced in this terrain. If this is possible, maybe devising methods of our own will show some special peculiarities which, while relatively common in our eyes, are essential to the eye of the enemy. Or we might approach an understanding of the weaknesses of this style of training, ways of quickly undoing or revealing prior eye behaviors.


Even if these methods do not work to reveal something about terrorist eyes, there are many ways in which they could still be successful in our counter-terrorist procedures. A simple example would be a Psyops model, where a common eye movement is publicized as deviant or suspicious, but is supposedly absent in those without exposure to certain conditions. Isolate some compound in the sand of Afghanistan which causes slightly increased blinking for several years after exposure. Let the terrorists train themselves to have abnormally long blinking capacities and observe for this trait instead of our fictive ones. The existence of these programs will only give credence to these publications while possibly furthering real experimental aims.

In closing, gentlemen, I propose a panel be convened immediately to investigate what level of funding we can release for such a design. If sufficient funds exist and can be awarded to our cutting-edge work, I suggest we proceed. I am confident that the fruits of this attempt, however far we fall from our ultimate goal of immediate identification of the state's enemies, will be innumerable in the longer term.

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