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Thursday, 05 June 2008

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I agree in large part with Bruce. For most of these things, they've either not needed to do surveillance, or they've done it by eye and memory.

If after the next attack we do find that they've actually done photographic surveillance, I suspect we'll find that they used a cell phone camera or a hidden camera. Thinkgeek.com had a $99 sunglasses camera for sale a few weeks ago. My former employer had somebody take video footage inside one of their facilities using a pen camera.

For some reason the UK media has really been pushing this theme in various guises - initially due to a community office (unpaid volunteer) over stepping the mark and preventing a journalist getting a shot. Of course, once the story is started, loads of other incidents are reported - some verifiable, some not.

Amateur Photographer has made the suggestion of threats to photographer's rights a sort of campaign - perhaps there is some truth to this, perhaps not. Doesn't hurt circulation though.

As a photographer who has shot on the streets, and extensively at and around airports for many years, (I've been stopped and 'carded' a few times, but never prevented from shooting) I thought I would check with my MP (John Denholm if any one cares)

The relevant section of the reply I received goes as follows

"The Home Office has advised me that there is no legal restriction on photography in public places, and there is also no presumption of privacy for individuals in public places.

It is for the Chief Constable to ensure that Officers and the Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are acting appropriately with regards to photography in public places, and any queries regarding this should be addressed to the Chief Constable.

However decisions may be made locally to restrict photography, for example to protect children. Many schools have now also adopted this approach."

Yes, there is paranoia - aircraft passengers may be understandably nervous to look out the window and see a giant telephoto pointing at them. But it works both ways - a polite request from a Police office to see some ID when I'm pointing a lens over an airport fence does not seem unreasonable, but it appears there are those who think it is and scream "harrasment" and "persecution".

Yes, there have been instances of unwarranted interference with photographers, but there have also been many instances of photographer's being intrusive, trespassing and causing criminal damage.

Media hype is turning what used to be a "live and let live" relationship between photographers and authority into confrontation, which is in no one's interest.

Cheers,

Colin

I remember reading an article about East Germany in _National Geographic_ back in the early '70s, in which the author describes being harassed by the Volkspolizei for having taken a photograph of something he "shouldn't" have--a bridge or some other public edifice, as I recall.

I remember thinking "Boy, I'm sure glad that sort of thing can't happen in the USA!"

Just a few years ago, some colleagues of mine from Germany were taking in the sights along the Mall in Washington DC, taking pictures of the grand public edifices. Apparently they took a photograph of something they "shouldn't" have, as they were stopped and questioned twice by police, and were obliged to delete several shots from their digital cameras.

It was a nice country, while it lasted. Perhaps it isn't too late to take it back.

A nice and thoughtful article. But... ewww, why do I follow links from such stories? It only makes me depressed because of all the little Hitlers, Stalins and Pol Pots among us.

Amen!! This is the clearest, most obvious explanation of this that I have ever read. It's a tragedy to think of the rich cultural histories that we're losing because people are afraid to take pictures out of fear. I hope stories like this pervade society's consciousness so we can stop this silliness.

Few people combine an in-depth knowledge of security issues with common sense the way Bruce Schneier does. If you want to understand security -- computer or physical security -- read Schneier.

But there is one element of the current situation that he didn't mention, and that is that law enforcement has to be seen doing SOMETHING about "the terrorist threat," even though that threat is vastly overstated and even though addressing the threat EFFECTIVELY would be difficult and more disruptive than the public is likely to allow. Instead, law enforcement justifies their increased budgets by executing procedures and buying equipment that are unlikely to be of much use in the next terrorist event -- whatever it may be. The usual rule applies: Follow the money.

But we surely should assert our rights. Not aggressively, but not passively, either.

Just to note that in the UK this has been the subject of an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, sponsored by Austin Mitchell, a Member of Parliament who is a keen photographer. My own MP has signed it, as has an ex-colleague now also an MP and it seems to have general cross-party support. Difficult to predict how effective it might be. Text and signatories here: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=35375&SESSION=891

The Metropolitan Police (London's police force) issued a statement a couple of years ago at the behest of various organisations representing photographers: http://www.epuk.org/News/10/bppa-nujcij-herald-new-deal-with-met

Although this applies mainly to working photojournalists, it contains one of two references to points of law that would be equally applicable to any citizen.

This, on the other hand, is not so good: http://www.met.police.uk/campaigns/campaign_ct_2008.htm

Nor is this: http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=816

It is hard to see where the hysteria has come from, but in general people seem to be much more wound up about this at a personal level than they ever used to be. I've been threatened on a couple of occasions recently for perfectly innocuous photography, nothing intrusive at all. My instinct is that we are developing (at least in this country) a generic "short fuse" that is permitting people to get angry about not much at all whenever they feel like it.

It's a convulsive reflex induced, as the author himself acknowledges, largely by exposure to the entertainment industry's products. From the article: "Terrorists taking pictures is a quintessential detail in any good movie. Of course it makes sense that terrorists will take pictures of their targets. "

Harassing photographers is just one example of feel-good behaviors that really have no true efficacy. But it makes security workers feel (and appear) like they're doing something more productive than talking on their cell phones.

Here in Chicago the level of harassment in public places has greatly moderated during the past year or two. I suspect that the police here have bigger fish to fry right now, between corruption scandals and daily wild-West shoot-outs on the ever-miserable south and near-west sides of our city.

Why would we not pass article this along to our friends and (especially) elected officials? Some people might feel that it's futile to contact elected officials. One person is merely a voice in the wilderness. Few people will make time to do so, so there is no point in my doing so.

However, to reason this way makes us part of the problem. It's important to take action in order not to become part of the problem. And if more people take action, the problem is reduced. Even a one-line letter to an elected official is infinitely better than no letter at all.

Photographers are wusses.

Ask that mangy, obnoxious teen-aged skateboarder next door about how many times he's been ticketed or arrested for skateboarding. You'll be embarrassed about how unfair you thought it was when that cop took away your camera and made you pick it up at the station.

If you really want to know what it's like being harassed by the police, take up skateboarding. Or better yet, become a skateboard photographer!

I firmly believe that the "war on terror" is inept, superficial, and counterproductive, but that's no excuse for anyone, especially Bruce Schneier, to write such a sloppy and illogical article.

Unless, of course, his expertise in cryptography (I'm assuming it's the same Bruce Schneier) has somehow allowed him to gain inside knowledge of all these well-known terrorist groups and individuals far beyond what the 9/11 Commission and anyone else has found out.

Has he forgotten the rigor required to prove a negative statement?

There are arguments to be made that photography should be allowed in many places where it's now prohibited, but Schneier's argument is so weak that I'm embarrassed to think that I agree with his point.

What would make good reading would be an article about how he uncovered the complete record of every action ever taken by all these nefarious operatives.

--Marc Rochkind

I made two copies of Krage's PDF - one for each camera bag.

It's the same game; only the names have changed. Remember the story you linked to about some Arkansas trooper convinced he arrested a Communist spy?

I've been hassled. I ALWAYS carry my Fuji F10, and usually an Oly 300. I'm asked all the time 'Why do you have a camera?'

If they are a private citizen, I reply "Why do you ask?" When I went into the Federal Building here in Philly, a guard asked me why I had a camera. I replied that was my major in college, and I always have it with me. "Well, all right, but no pictures in the building, or we'll take it from you."

On some discussion forum someone posted "Obama is a Communist." I replied "The Soviet Union ended in 1989." He replied back "He'll bring back Communism."

I figured it out: there are two kinds of people: artists and everyone else.

And of course, most targets are already highly visible on satellite photos, are well described in old books and journals, or are of very conventional construction anyway.
In other words, you don't need to take another of something to attack it. You don't even have to visit it before the attack.

It's not that your average P&S or cellphone photographer is perceived as a threat, it's the few who wield $3000 DSLRs that seem to make the authorities most uncomfortable.

People who know how to take a good photograph usually have a level of concentration that goes beyond the basic snapshot taker. They are going to spend more time composing and taking multiple shots from various angles, in other words, they hang around the area longer than normal, and are therefore more "suspicious" looking.

Would it hurt the authorities to simply strike up a conversation with a photographer to see if he or she is doing anything more than taking an innocent photo instead of immediately flying off the handle and shooing them away? I thought law enforcement people were supposedly trained to identify elusive or suspicious reactions to their inquiries.

Sure photography can be a threat to national security. I don't think there is any doubt about that.

The real issue in my mind is not about inappropriate use of photography, but about the government fostering a permanent state of fear and anxiety among the citizens it is pledged to serve. Any government, democratic or otherwise, that employs obvious racial profiling and asks citizens to inform on their neighbors is employing fear as a means of control. Sorry, I don't buy the ends justify the means argument used to condone this sort of policy.

Trying not to be too biased here. Did I fail in my effort?

Devil's advocate for a second: exactly how many photographers have been unlawfully stopped by law enforcement officers in England and America? A couple of dozen? A hundred? Out of how many millions of photographers? I can only think of about ten cases in the last year. Who's being more paranoid, the police or the photographic community?

Actually, Puplet, I'd be willing to bet that it's MUCH more common than that, but people don't realize that they're not doing anything wrong, and don't report it.

I myself have been stopped from taking photos twice - and both times I think it was just a confused security person and I didn't press the issue (maybe I should have?).

The first time was in JFK airport, taking pictures of the South African Airlines plane I was about to fly on for vacation picture purposes. Someone from airport security told me to stop taking pictures of it, so I did. I wasn't sure if an airport terminal constituted a public place, so I didn't press the issue. However, there was no mention of taking my camera, or making me delete pictures.

The second time was in Pittsburgh, taking pictures of PPG Place, which I believe contains the Pittsburgh FBI field office. A security guard told us that pictures of the top of the building (the most iconic part) weren't allowed. Made no sense to me, but I'd gotten the shots I wanted and moved on.

Both times were pretty innocent, but I think at least the second one was unlawful since I was in the public street (or would have been had I not complied and he tried to stop me). It just makes me wonder how many other thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?) of people are now confused by being told similar things.

This is an addition to my earlier comment in which I expressed doubt that Bruce Schneier could prove that terrorists "didn't photograph anything."

Ten minutes of research into the 9/11 Commission Report provided two examples that they documented, one on p. 68 and one on p. 214. I can't copy and paste the text here, as the PDF I downloaded doesn't allow copying of text. But, you can see excerpts graphically here:

http://basepath.com/images/911report.jpg

So, in fact, there's clear evidence that terrorists do take photographs of intended targets.

Marc,
The obvious logical flaw with your line of reasoning is that a thousand OTHER people ALSO take pictures of the same "target," which means that a person taking a picture of a building is absolutely not a reliable determinant of malign intent. The fact that one photographer out of a thousand (or ten thousand) might in fact be a terrorist is not an adequate rationale for harassing every photographer.

Mike J.

Puplet,
A couple of dozen incidents?!?

I would venture to claim that every photographer who photographs extensively in public has been harassed at least one. If there are exceptions, then that's all they are.

Mike J.

The hysteria works both ways. If you want to be aggressive with authority and cause problems it is really easy.

I get asked all the time by various people here in Chicago as to why I am making photographs. Occasionally by the cops when someone is nervous about children being photographed.

In most cases it is really just people doing their job. It seems a load of this is coming from the UK where the powers that be ironically have more cameras poised to catch your every move. Photography is not a crime and not in my opinion threatened.

We live in a period of time that is a bit shaky. It's fine that people are worried about their rights being trampled and yes it's good to open this discussion BEFORE it really becomes an issue not after the jack booted uniforms start imprisoning street photographers. But I see this also as reaction to the digital revolution that has rekindled and introduced people to the genre. People just want to know what your doing, they don't want to send you to the gallows to rot for being an artist. Take a moment to explain what the heck it is your doing instead of screaming BLOODY MURDER THAT IT'S MY RIGHT TO TAKE PHOTOS!!!

That video you posted a couple months ago was a perfect example. I think that both the photog and the cop/bobby (funny name) acted in an overly confrontational way. Cops are cops and that guy could have taken 10 seconds with his camera away from his face and told the cop what he was doing. Instead it took the second cop to put a stop to the nonsense coming from both of them.

People are protective of what they own and what they are responsible for. They just need a bit of education....

I feel very strong about this cutting both ways. Maybe we should all write a letter to the local police and local media about the increased popularity of photography these days. Tell them that some people practice something called street photography and that they are harmless dorks just trying to get a good shot that makes the cut.

Can I see a list some place of all the people detained and truly hassled? Based on all the many thousands (millions?) of people posting photos online every second of the day from all over the world on Flickr and the like I dare say this phenomenon is MUCH smaller and less wide spread than a lot of photographers think it is.

Just post this on the open forum and you will within an hour have dozens of people declaring an emergency of historic proportions. Artists and Photographers unite!!! Your days are numbered and the MAN IS AFTER you and your Nikon camera. Write CNN and your Congress person NOW! This questioning of photographers must STOP!

Gimme a break. Go take some photos and if someone asks what your doing, kill em with kindness and just explain. I'd be willing to bet that the odds of you getting in any sort of trouble is minimal at best.

If the person questioning you is a bumbling wanna be, don't do him the courtesy of being aggressive with him.

Keep your wits and keep your cool.

Happy shooting.

Mike--

Of course, I agree with your statement: "The fact that one photographer out of a thousand (or ten thousand) might in fact be a terrorist is not an adequate rationale for harassing every photographer."

But Schneier's argument goes like this:

1. Terrorists never use photography in their terrorist activities.
2. As proof, here's a list of well-known terrorists who didn't use photography.
3. It therefore follows that prohibiting photography doesn't prevent terrorism.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that #1 and #2 are false, as proved by the 9/11 Commission.

Furthermore, #2, even if true, wouldn't prove #1. It could be (logically speaking) that all terrorists who tried to use photography were stopped. But, this doesn't matter, because #2 is false, thereby disproving #1.

What I was saying in my post is that I don't appreciate such a poor argument being used to support a position, no matter how meritorious that position happens to be.

Had someone used such poor reasoning to support a position we disagreed with, we would be jumping all over it. Let's at least be consistent in our standards.

Since Schneier's overall point is correct, he should have been able to support it with a sound argument. If one can't support a "correct" position with a sound argument, that's usually a sign that the position ought to be reconsidered. If one supports a position with a weak or unsound argument, that's a signal that the position may be wrong.

Since the position is not wrong, it deserves a proper argument.

--Marc

Jon Bloom wrote

It is called security theater. Bruce Schneier talks about it a lot on his blog. Security theater is beneficial to some politicians. Allocating money for more guards, fences and cameras makes the politician look responsible to the voters. Voters are fooled and money gets spent foolishly.

Mass hysteria is a good thing for governments. It let them pass laws which are pure harassment of its citizens and the tourists to that country.
Harassing photographers is one of many. The extensive restrictions on airlines is another, registering travelers in advance is yet a new one. Tracking and tapping of every move we do and every word we say is probably the worse of all.
Yet all these measures did not stop any of the major terrorists acts of the past. Most of the prevented events reported in the media never make it to court because of lack of evidence, or are charged with much lesser charges.
We citizens everywhere let our freedoms be taken without protest.
These are rights that our ancestors have fought for and died for having.

The terrorists are wining the war, they don't have to kill us, they just slowly and surely change our way of life. Everyday that passes we become less trusting of other people, we loose the faith that people are generally of good nature, and we restrict ourselves from doing things we or our parents used to take for granted.

As responsible citizens we must make sure everyone we know understands those ideas. Understand that "having nothing to hide" is not an excuse for spying on everyone. Treating everyone as a criminal is something society take years to recover from. We cannot afford these years, life is just too short.

Mike, Before I take your word for it, I'd like to see some kind of pooling of evidence, if not hard stats, then a good series of anecdotes that at least begin to voice a good cross-section of the photographic community. How about a post where you get everyone who's ever been harassed by a raw enforcement officer, in a public place, because of their photography to post their stories?

Marc Rochkind:
Not to nitpick on your argument, but the p.68 excerpt you outline deals with the Nairobi attack, which B. Schneier does not mention afaik; and the second excerpt deals with the assassination of Massoud a few days before 9/11, and certainly does not suggest that the 9/11 terrorists took pictures of the twin towers in NY. Plus it involves a (fake) cameraman (the bomb was hidden in the camera), not a photographer.

More generally, I read B. Schneier's arguments as meaning that there is no proof, in any of the cases he mentions, that the bombers took extensive photographic documentation of their target. Not that he has "inside knowledge far beyond what anyone else has found out."

I found his argumentation quite well constructed. Obviously he does not support every single claim with references--this is a newspaper article, not a scientific or encyclopedic paper. Anyone is free to provide evidence to the contrary if they can find some, but apparently it is not that easy...

I've been stopped a couple of times. Nothing too serious. One cop told me "you can't be too careful these days."

Marc, I'm kind of curious as to what the 9/11 hijackers took pictures of (as well as to what sort of value they got out of them). Airport security?

Cyril: Good to find out that I wasn't the only one who checked the report! But, Schneier isn't confining his argument to only the cases he lists. His claim is larger: "Given that real terrorists, and even wannabe terrorists, don't seem to photograph anything ..."

mwg: I don't know what the hijackers might have taken pictures of. In the movie United 93, the pilot is shown looking at a picture of his target. (OK, of course, there are lots of pictures of that particular target.) I understand this detail is based on fact.

The main issue, though, is that it's hard to prove a negative statement which, in this case, is that a group of people never do something. The way to prove it is to compile a list of everything they have done and then to check it.

The easily-found cases in the 9/11 Report indicate to me that Schneier hasn't really checked his claim, but is only guessing something that aids his argument.

I hope everyone understands (as I made clear in my original post) that I don't disagree with Schneier's point. My criticism is that he supports it with a faulty argument, when so many good arguments are available.

--Marc

The basic problem lies in how individual police officers and security personal interpret their briefing. A lot of these guys now have to produce periodic contact statistics and if time has been quiet then they may be tempted to boost them by hassling people when they shouldn't.

Apart from my horrendous experience in England last year, which I re-counted on an earlier post, I have had very pleasant interactions with law enforcement personnel in a variety of countries. A few jokes and a helpful demeanour go a long way to reduce conflict.

All right, I've got to get in with my security story.

The county government in Washington County, Minnesota (where I live) decided in the wake of 9/11 to increase security at the government center. They did this by closing one parking lot to the public, so the public would all go to a second lot, and funnel in through one set of doors. They did not explain how this would increase security, since there are no guards or other checks on the public doors.

However, one thing the change certainly did was to provide government center workers with the parking lot most convenient to both the government offices and city streets. Not a small matter with Minnesota winters...

They really do think we are stupid.

JC

Dear Marc,

Bruce's argument is not faulty; your expectations are. This is a short newspaper article. Do you really expect him to write an article filled with nuances, lines of evidence and supporting documentation? That's not the function of such an article, and it's not even a remotely reasonable requirement.

You assume Bruce does not have data because he fails to present it. As you said, hard to prove a negative, so prove to me he doesn't have the data, OK?

But it's not impossible. For instance, in all the Unabomber materials that were released-- the notes, the plans, the journals, ad near-infinitum-- did we get shown a stack of target photographs? Not so's I recall. Which is pretty good evidence that wasn't the Unabomber's M.O. (Unless you've got a convincing argument why that bit of evidence would be officially suppressed.)

And it is a strong two-pronged argument. One prong is that photo recon is not the normal pattern for terrorists (and I'm sure Bruce *can* support that, even if you're not). Second is that it is the normal mode for innocent activity, which outnumbers the malign a billion to one. It's a lousy indicator of terrorism, both in terms of innumerable false positives and precious few false negatives. That's his point. And it has consequences:

Every time a photog gets harassed for making photos, time and money and energy and resources (all of which are in limited supply) are being diverted into a nonproductive effort. Security is not improved, it is diminished. Useless work displaces worthwhile effort.

It also creates a "boy who cried wolf" situation. This is a well-understood problem of false alarms-- they degrade attention and performance. People, including trained pros, are inclined to ignore or even disable (physically or psychologically) warning systems when they almost always prove false.

If you believe there's any value to the security monster we've created (I don't, but that's not important) this overkill is profoundly counterproductive. It HURTS security.

That policeman was a typical fool about such things-- you *can* be too careful.

Which is yet another reason for not cooperating with inane security demands whenever possible and safe.

pax / Ctein

Just an aside but English polices are called "Bobbies" because the founder of the police force was Sir Robert (Bobbie) Peel.

For the same reason they are also sometimes called Peelers.

Terrorist attacks occur on a daily basis, so I think I will wait for a little more research before reaching any definitive conclusion on the untoward use of photography or videos. And I ask this not to be facetious, but just sincerely curious, are there any terrorist experts on this site? Any insight you might want to impart?

Ctein--

The way I see it, Bruce's argument is indeed faulty, and that's not because he was space limited.

His primary point is that terrorists don't take photographs of their targets, and therefore restrictions are unnecessary.

As so many people said here, especially Mike, even if terrorists did take photographs, that would not be a reason to prohibit them. That's fault #1. (Terrorists also drive cars, wear eyeglasses, etc.)

Fault #2 is simply that his premise is false: Some terrorists do take photographs, as 10 min. with the very accessible 9/11 Commission Report would show.

As I think I made clear in all my posts, I totally agree with Bruce's larger point, so please don't put me in the group of people who favor restrictions. (I'm going to assume that you did not do so.)

--Marc

Some people drive when they're drunk. Simple solution... ban everyone from driving.

Dear Marc,

No, that is NOT his point. You've misunderstood his argument. His argument is as I presented it--I've heard him make it many, many times. His recurring theme is that wasting limited resources on security theater chasing very-low-false-positive, high-false-negative events is counter to good security. That is what he's trying to get across to the readers.

That is not merely my take on this--it's what Bruce has been hammering at over and over again for seven years. I'm just paraphrasing his primary security points. If that's not what you're coming away with from the article, you missed the point.

Unfortunately, most people do, which is why he keeps reiterating it in as many different ways and for as he has the opportunity.

He did not say there should be no restrictions on photography. He did not discuss restrictions. He wrote about the situations where there AREN'T restrictions, but the populus takes it upon itself to interfere with photographers because they think there should be.

(And, no, I didn't put you in any group. Not even by remote implication.)

The most important message you failed to get is that security is not black and white. Premises are never simply true or false. It's never, ever about absolutes. It always involves odds, risks and threats, and it's always probabilistic.

Bruce is not trying to prove an absolute fact, because it ain't what he ever does, and for the purposes of a newspaper article he doesn't have to and shouldn't. It's not just about length, it's about style.

He could have written "The overwhelming majority of the time, photography is not a part of the terrorist MO. It's not just an unreliable indicator, it's hardly ever an indicator." It wouldn't change his arguments one single bit. It'd make you happy, but his logic would be exactly the same. But short newspaper articles are not places you waste space on unneeded nuance and equivocation. You're focusing on a single statement that just plain isn't important.

pax / Ctein

Marc is completely right.

look, I'm a NY'er. I find a lot of security measures insane.

it's also a simple matter of record that al qaeda, al jihad, hezbollah, the defunct abu nidal group etc. etc. all engaged in standard intelligence gathering (i.e. "casing") of targets, both actual and potential. this included the first bombing of the WTC, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania etc. etc. this intelligence gathering always included taking photographs....usually with P&S's. numerous such photographs have been recovered from safe houses and hard drives.

this whole "terrorists don't use photography" thing is inane. of course they would. they'll use anything that makes sense. taking photos is the first thing you'll do when studying a target. and posing as a tourist is how you'll do it. do you really think they're idiots?

all this is a matter of public record.

now, your average cop or security guard isn't likely to be able to do this...but, in the abstract, it makes perfect sense to keep an eye on photographers who show an unusual curiosity about structural elements, exits....that sort of thing.

"this whole 'terrorists don't use photography' thing is inane. of course they would. they'll use anything that makes sense. taking photos is the first thing you'll do when studying a target. and posing as a tourist is how you'll do it. do you really think they're idiots?"

On the other hand, a terrorist apprehended in 1997 didn't know how to capitalize sentences (seems the English instruction in Schools for Terrorism is substandard, owing mainly to the students' propensity to cut their teachers' heads off whenever they're displeased). Therefore, whenever anyone is observed not capitalizing their sentences, a Homeland Security agent is dispatched to bash down their door and administer a standard grammar test. Flunk it, and it's off to Gitmo with you!

Mike J.

Some terrorists, in fact many, are "idiots" by the very nature of their pursuit, but that does not necessarily detract from Nathan's overall point. In late 2001, Singapore authorities detected a Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) cell planning to strike a number of diplomatic missions and military sites The JI used videotapes for reconnaissance, and I hardly believe that the faction's methodology was unique. Like I stated earlier, more research would be beneficial.

The issue, as Nathan noted, involves securing sensitive sites, particularly those involving government offices, security forces, and vital infrastructure. An overt display of security has and can divert a terrorist attack, whether the measures simply include a few security guards, closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs), mirror checks under approaching cars (such as at hotels), and bag checks. It is unequivocally an imperfect and inconsistent approach, but inaction could prove far more detrimental.

Of course, most sensitive installations fall into the category of "hard targets," and many terrorists or militants do not like dealing with them, so they direct their efforts at "soft targets," such as nighttime venues and shopping complexes, and this is what confounds local authorities. In an effort to display vigilance, perhaps misguided at times, mixed in with, as some have noted, overzealous security officials, harassment occurs, which only waste resources and undermines the very freedoms we are trying to protect.

Even so, with full respect to the magnitude of the 11 September attacks, Western countries have actually escaped the majority of the world's terrorism, so to completely dismiss current security measures as superficial or a product of politically-contrived machinations would, for me, require further proof; it's easy to be cynical, fine, but let's not be spoiled, not when more than 20 people just died in Sri Lanka following a roadside bomb attack against a bus in Colombo.

It isn't, at root, a war against Photographers...

It is a war against Accountability, Evidence, & Witness ( of authority's abuse ).

Notice when the military discovered that its abuse of prisoners was photographed,
its response was to put an absolute ban against cameras.

Not against abuse, but against *evidence*.

You want to have ANY rights in 5 years?
Wear your camera,
USE your camera,
& make public evidence exist...

protecting the RIGHT to public evidence.

Stalin's ( & Hitler's ) puppies are wanting a world where
every petty tyrant can murder/rape/rob/molest anyone without any interference,
and accommodating that has consequences.

Since their actions show their true motivation
( they break the law to prevent objective evidence,
& to prevent legal photojournalism,
& legal street-photography recreation/study )
any denial on our part, simply assists in their removing of all our rights for their "importance" games,
or authority-theater.

http://yro.slashdot.org/
Your Rights Online
for some eye-opener stuff.

Work to MAINTAIN your human rights,
while you have 'em still.

I've been questioned more then once about taking pictures. I really want to tell them that if someone was going to attack an area and take pictures first it's going to be with a little point and shoot pocket camera so they don't stand out. Of course people often don't think first......

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