After more than a decade of profiling citizens with cameras as potential terrorists, law enforcement officials are now hoping these same citizens with cameras will help them nab the culprits behind the Boston Marathon terrorist explosions.
Adding to the hypocrisy is that these same authorities will most likely start clamping down on citizens with cameras more than ever once the smoke clears and we once again become a nation of paranoids willing to give up our freedoms in exchange for some type of perceived security.
After all, that is exactly how it played out in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks where it became impossible to photograph buildings, trains or airplanes without drawing the suspicion of authorities as potential terrorists.
In fact, the Department of Homeland Security along with the FBI routinely advises that photography in public must be treated as suspicious activity – even after a federal lawsuit forced DHS to acknowledge there is nothing illegal about photographing federal buildings.
The truth is, there is no evidence that terrorists use cameras to plan their attacks as security expert Bruce Schneier wrote in 2008.
Since 9/11, there has been an increasing war on photography. Photographers have been harassed,questioned, detained, arrested or worse, and declared to be unwelcome. We’ve been repeatedly told towatch out for photographers, especially suspicious ones. Clearly any terrorist is going to first photograph his target, so vigilance is required.
Except that it’s nonsense. The 9/11 terrorists didn’t photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn’t photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn’t photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren’t being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn’t known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plotsthat the US government likes to talk about — the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 — no photography.
Given that real terrorists, and even wannabe terrorists, don’t seem to photograph anything, why is it such pervasive conventional wisdom that terrorists photograph their targets? Why are our fears so great that we have no choice but to be suspicious of any photographer?
The source for this was an officer at the briefing. The police department was located in the Midwest and the city has a population of around 300,000.
DHS advised select PD brass that they were expecting a total economic collapse as early as the end of April. They suggested departments stock up on supplies, including that individual officers keep supplies of non-perishable foods should the need arise.
The officer also mentioned that a firearms confiscation protocol would be used and BATFE would assist via dissemination of ATF form 3310.4 data as well other info gathered from gun show surveillance.
The officer was previously clueless to any of this and is basically just your typical PD bureaucrat. He was surprised that these instructions were being issued.
I, however, am not surprised. Even a cursory look at U.S. and world economic data, as well as the fact that a chunk of the world’s billionaires are dumping blue chip stocks such as P&G, tells me we are toast economically. Looks like DHS is finally getting ready for SHTF day in earnest.
This is the kind of fear mongering speculation that doesn’t help anybody. I’ll put money on it not being true.
Homeland Security sees the role of the military as a subset of its own mission. A right wing position paper from a think tank noted how the Army has taken critical steps to broaden its mission to include homeland security tasks. But the thinking was that the Army needs to redirect its focus and broaden its mission to augmenting its capacity to operate in the “Homeland” and broaden the reach of DHS.
In s sort of “hedging strategy”–read that; a way to bypass posse comitatus, the Army, under the authority of the Deputy chief of Staff For Operations and Plans (G3) sponsored a RAND Corporation study to explore the idea. The study noted that the nation places primary and immediate homeland security operations with civilian organizations and the National Guard and proposed a hybrid model to blend military support with civilian authority structure.
According to this report, the the military has taken steps to hedge against an inadequately prepared civilian “civil defense” model. This response is a hybrid approach which focuses on dealing with competing requirements of foreign wars and domestic security issues. In this approach, the military undertakes to improve National Guard inadequacies by providing funding and asset sharing through DOD Title 32 funding.
This is one of the reasons our police forces have been militarized. After all, you do not give big boys toys without expecting them to play with them. And so we have small town cops riding around in armored personnel carriers, big city cops trying to fake out drug dealers by putting tanks with police logos on them in “high crime” areas.
Some of you may be having a problem wrapping your minds around the idea that Homeland Security is absorbing the military in the US, but look at the way the DHS has spread military funding around to local and state police agencies. Look at the way DHS is carving an empire out of federal law enforcement and reaching out to other agencies, via funding, grants, and equipment giveaways.
But, as the old saying goes, beware of Trojan horses. The military equipment comes with a price, namely fostering a militaristic mindset in our police forces, an US vs. them mentality which is not compatible with community policing, or domestic law enforcement.
“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the colors of justice …” —U.S. v. Jannotti, 673 F.2d 578, 614 (3d Cir. 1982)
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