US surgeon booted off cruise ship, accused of sending terrorist tweet

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order, Social networks, Twitter

US neurosurgeon and low-carbohydrate diet guru Dr. Jack Kruse found himself unceremoniously plucked off a cruise ship and deposited on the shore after a tweet including his name mentioned a bio-terrorist attack against the ship.

According to NewsChannel 5, in Tennessee, the Nashville, Tenn., doctor was supposed to deliver a talk about the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet aboard the Carnival Cruise ship Magic.

Magic was scheduled to sail from Galveston, TX Sunday afternoon, NewsChannel 5 reported.

That changed when Galveston police knocked on Dr. Kruse's cabin door prior to the ship's departure.

Police asked him about tweets that he had sent but "wouldn't tell me any of the data around the tweets," Kruse told NewsChannel 5.

Later, Kruse was told that the cruise line had been tipped off to a suspicious tweet several hours earlier. The tweet tied Kruse to a bio-terrorism attack on the boat.

NewsChannel 5 reported that the tweet came from the account @shitkrusesays. It read:

security confiscated dynamite. talk won't be as explosive as one at PaleoFx. still have vial of Legionnaires for epic biohack. #lccruise12.

The @shitkrusesays account, apparently, has since been disabled. Kruse has said that he has no connection to the account.

Investigators searched Kruse's stateroom and his electronic devices. Kruse told NewsChannel 5 that they "fairly quickly" determined he wasn't planning an attack on the boat.

Regardless, after an FBI special agent in charge spoke with the ship's captain, Carnival Cruise security removed Kruse's luggage from the ship and escorted him back to shore.

According to Kruse's account, the FBI agent, Homeland Security and the Coast Guard all seemed to glean that he was the victim of an error and told Carnival Cruise just that.

A Carnival Cruise spokesperson responded to inquiries by sending a statement to NewsChannel 5 explaining that all security threats are "taken seriously and fully investigated."

Since the investigation was ongoing, the statement said, and the ship had to get under way, it was "in the best interest of all guests and crew to err on the side of caution and not allow him to sail," Jennifer de la Cruz wrote in the statement.

Kruse told NewsChannel 5 that the FBI, which declined to comment, is investigating the origin of the threatening tweet, which was sent in his name. The doctor was told that agents had made progress in their investigations.

That's not surprising. Searching Twitter for @shitkrusesays reveals plenty of tweets from users who seem to know who the guilty party is.

Kruse was also told that a conviction for this type of crime could carry a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years.

If anything, Dr. Kruse's Twitter scrape reveals one of those corners of the Internet where interesting things—in this case, passionate people, carbohydrates and bananas—get all smushed together.

One of the tweets I came across when trying to find the bogus one (Kruse's Twitter handle is @DigiSurg):

@AskBryan: We donate dozens of bananas to the kids. If no one else at least Durian Rider would be impressed. Certainly not @DigiSurg though.

And some responses to his blogging, included in a post titled Aren’t You Going To Respond To The Negative Attacks Against You?:

@livinlowcarbman Your so fat and regaining like a mad man. How can you look yourself in the mirror while preaching LC? Sniff what U shovel.

What's the tie-in to security, here? Dr. Kruse's Twitter feed wasn't actually hacked. His name was simply tied to a fraudulent, terror-related tweet.

Of course, there's nothing "simple" about it when your travel plans are so abruptly upended.

One would hope that the bogosity of the perpetrator's action would be glaringly obvious. After all, who would tweet a legitimate terrorist attack with a name attached to it?

Beyond that, who would take at face value anything from an account that's specifically dedicated to undercutting somebody, as is any account that's couched in the naming convention of "@shit[Fill In Name Here]says"?

Evidently, not the FBI or Homeland Security. If anything, the incident reflects well on the agencies, given that agents advised Carnival Cruise that it all looked fake.

What it says about Carnival Cruise Lines is another matter. But let he who isn't responsible for the safety of passengers and crew throw the first stone.

cruise ship courtesy of ShutterStock.
water danger sign courtesy of ShutterStock.

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28 Responses to US surgeon booted off cruise ship, accused of sending terrorist tweet

  1. amazed uk · 896 days ago

    yes there are genuine threats out there, but this was a case of gross incompetance from the cruise company & I amazed that with the Americans love of the courts a case for slander has not ben taken against them.

  2. Anon · 896 days ago

    I like to think I'm fairly on the button with current affairs but I'm at a loss to recall a time when a genuine terrorist attack threat has been tweeted.
    #massive_overreaction_to_justify_huge_defence_spend_much

  3. EdT. · 896 days ago

    It would appear that those with an axe to grind have now found a new form of Denial of Service attack (albeit one which could have severe consequences for them, if caught.)

    ~EdR.

  4. Mikea · 896 days ago

    Paranoid morons...

  5. LB1 · 896 days ago

    Magic is a Disney Cruise Ship not Carnival

    • caroletheriault · 896 days ago

      Thanks for the tip. We looked into this and think we might just be right on this occasion. The Galveston website states: "Today, three cruise ships call Galveston home: The Carnival Magic, The Carnival Triumph, and Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas. In the fall of 2012 Galveston will also be home to the Disney Magic and Pricess' Crown Princess."

    • STEVEN · 896 days ago

      ACTUALLY IT THE CARNIVAL MAGIC IT SAILS OUT OF GAVALSTON TEXAS

  6. Wile E Coyote · 896 days ago

    We need to be cautious and not jump to too many conclusions.

    "The fog of war" can easily cause problems like this. Deadlines to sail mixed up with unclear or equivocal responses from the FBI or Homeland Security could easily lead to the wrong decision being made (in hindsight).

    The Agent escorting Dr Kruse may have known it was a fake, but if the cruise company had asked FBI or Homeland for an official statement would they have got the same answer?

    The cruise company had to play safe until everything was clear.

    • Dan · 896 days ago

      What indication did they have that an account that simply contained "kruse" actually had anything to do with the guy? By allowing things to be handled this way, anybody in the world could claim to be someone they aren't just to cause them grief.

      This was a huge overreaction, plain and simple.

    • Playing it safe and protecting careers is where all our freedoms disappeared to.

      No one in the system (incl. cops, lawyers, judges, etc) will make a decision that might come back to haunt them. They therefore "play it safe" and arrest people for no good reason, put people in jail for no good reason and destroy our liberties --- for no good reason. Other than to play it safe and protect their positions.

      You know the saying...

      "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

      Ben Franklin

      Liberty and the illusion of safety cannot co-exist.

  7. williamtparis · 896 days ago

    @Amazed UK: There are more lawsuits per capita in the UK than there are in the USA by more than 100%. Have a google and figure it out. The UK £ for £ is far more litigious than the United States.

    Here's the deal. It was the captain's call. Whilst I agree it was a gross overreaction what would have happened if her had been a terrorist? Captain and Carnival would have then got the blame.

    That said, they could have temporarily taken him off ship. Verified its bogosity and then flown him to the next port of call or back to the ship itself. He is indeed owed some compensation of some ilk.

    • Andrew · 895 days ago

      Not according to this document from rasmusen.org, which quotes 60% more lawsuits per capita in the US. The reason may well be that you can get better payouts in the US...
      http://www.rasmusen.org/papers/litigation-ramseye... http://www.rasmusen.org/recent.htm

      • Jonathan · 895 days ago

        Conservatives carry water for the oligarchy, which prefers to externalize the risks of their activities while internalizing the profits. One of their favorite goals to this end is to limit the court's right to make victims of corporate negligence whole, and the impression of "too many lawsuits" is their usual "evidence" advanced in support.

        Conservatives in the US have created their own mythology and live deeply in it. They simply cannot be trusted with facts.

  8. GhostHin · 896 days ago

    If I was the one in charge, I would make the same call. Its better to be safe than sorry when my entire career on the line. Lets say you are school principle and you get a visit from the local police who respond to a threat to your student body, would you remove the accused student? Would anyone blame the police or the principle for that?

    Just so happened it was on a ship and it was due for leaving the port.

    That being said, FBI did looking into the one who respond for causing all the trouble. The accuser who post that tweet should be brought to trial and held responsibly for causing grief. I don't think anyone could be blame for this, nor the FBI, the cruise company, or the captain.

  9. fewiii · 896 days ago

    Sure, they have to err on the side of caution, but it sucks when someone can just up and screw you like that.

  10. Jan · 896 days ago

    So this is about Dr. "Kruse" supposedly making terroristic threats on a Carnival "Cruise" with statements for the cruise line by Jennifer de la "Cruz"? Interesting.

  11. anaonymous · 896 days ago

    What else do you expect from paranoid Americans?

    • A10 · 896 days ago

      You not only hate Americans but you are a coward for posting as anonymous...by the way you are also an illiterate, check your spelling.
      An American

      • Jay · 896 days ago

        Hark at the pot calling the kettle black ..... I do not hate Americans - I just do not trust them ....

        AND - by the way - it would also appear that you are not over endowed with intelligence yourself if you see any errors in his spelling - or are you making it up as you go along?

        • MockingJay · 895 days ago

          Hello Jay!

          It is evident that it is you that is not over endowed with intelligence as A10 is referring to the spelling of his username...

          Kudos on the save :)

          • Stacie · 895 days ago

            The original poster spelled anonymous wrong. You should be more observant MJ before bashing.

          • Jonathan · 895 days ago

            If my name were Ana, I'd consider "anaonymous" a quite reasonable handle.

            It's unsurprising that Americans, taught to work *instead of* think, to scream louder *instead of* discuss, to stand by their country, drunk or sober, would so unironically and so laughably stumble into such a lame pratfall.

  12. JHS · 896 days ago

    A note - the issue here isn't the tweet so much as the fact that someone called the tweet into Carnival to alert them to a planned attack. THAT is the false threat that is most likely the heart of this investigation, as it is nearly certain the call was placed by somebody with an axe to grind against Kruse, someone who knew there was no such planned attack. The tweet account was a parody account and not the real problem.

    Another note - the @livinlowcarbman note you posted was directed at Jimmy Moore, not at Jack Kruse.

    The issue is that when Kruse first started blogging, he did so in a lazy, haphazard manner that left some feeling he was an incompetent idiot. While he has since spent some time editing his blogs (often about complex neurotransmitter interactions), those who felt from the start that he was an idiot have gone on to take issue with his contention that carbohydrate eating should be seasonal & that it should usually be limited in those with diseases, and as a result, have gone on to accuse him of lying about various "bio-hacks" (self-experimentation) he's claimed to have done, and the results of said experiments, and the subsequent effects of applying his results to clinical practice as a neurosurgeon. There's your backstory.

  13. NB80 · 896 days ago

    This reminds me of a speech given by Marcus Ranum of Tenable Security that I listened to either earlier this year or late last year.

    His whole speech was about the reactions people have when threatened, whether there is a real threat there or not.

    As an example he suggested ringing a company saying you'd hack them at midnight on a particular date. At 12:01 you'd ring them back and say, "sorry, it was a hoax". Meanwhile the company had spent susbtanial man hours and resources strengthening their position in readiness for the attack.

    In this day and age it is far too easy to use fear as a weapon rather then actually attacking someone and that is exactly what has happened in this case. Someone knew that using "bio terrorism" as a threat would get the Doctor kicked off the ship, causing a great deal of frustration and embarrasment, and thats exactly what happened.

  14. Nigel · 895 days ago

    I didn't notice the byline before I started reading the article, but as soon as I read the word "bogosity", I knew. "Lisa wrote this!" Just another reason why no one can accuse me of being a Lisa admirer and get away unrewarded.

  15. Freida Gray · 893 days ago

    I'm sure that if something like this had happened to me I wouldn't find it as laughable as I currently do.The fact that the authorities actually believed this is the part I find laughable.
    So,if I wanted to cause trouble for somebody, all I would need to do is post a terroristic tweet on Twitter using their name or a part of their name in my hash-tag,then call the authorities & give them a heads up on my own tweet then sit back & watch the fun.
    After all it is so much easier for the authorities to go after a person who is named in a tweet than it is for them to try to find who the un-named real tweeter is.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.