Posts Tagged 'Osama bin Laden'

“Suspicious” Photography A Renewed Concern?

Uh-oh. According to this article, Bin Laden’s death means everyone is on high alert for terrorist activity and, naturally, photographers.

Since the attacks, law enforcement officials have identified about 16 potential terrorist behaviors, such as taking photos of “high-value” terrorist targets. The tips, known as “suspicious activity” reports, are vetted by counterterrorism experts who are trained to know the difference between “tourism and terrorism” behaviors, officials said.

But as anyone who values civil liberties knows, the mandate at the top doesn’t always translate perfectly to the streets. Despite the article reporting that the tip gatherers are more interested in trends, police and security officers hear “people taking photos” and will often enforce the rule indiscriminately.

… Michael German, a former FBI agent who now advises the American Civil Liberties Union, said the program gives officers such wide discretion that innocent people are being questioned and even arrested based on behaviors that are not illegal.

“Innocent people” like one T.S. Bye, who took a photo of the Federal Reserve’s seal with his camera phone last week in downtown Minneapolis. The StarTribune reports that he was confronted by a security guard, questioned and asked to delete his photos, which he did (although the phone backs up all photos immediately). When asked for comment, a Fed spokeswoman told the paper this:

Our Law Enforcement staff asked what he was doing. He informed us he was taking photos of the Bank seal. Initially, our Law Enforcement officer told him that he was in a secure area and that we would prefer that he delete the photos. When the second Law Enforcement officer arrived on the scene, he informed this individual that he did not have to delete the photos and all we really needed him to do was move his vehicle to an appropriate parking space. The individual then drove away.

And we all know how many plots have started with a photo of a government seal….

Source: McClatchy News and StarTribune

Watching the Situation in the Situation Room

Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011.

Bin Laden Dead

Osama bin Laden is dead, and from the looks of this roundup of the newspapers today, everyone is pumped. You gotta love the enthusiasm and crassness of the tabloids: “We Got the Bastard!” and “Rot In Hell!”

When reports said he was hiding out in a $1 million compound in a modern Pakistani suburb, this is not what I pictured. A million dollars, and they didn’t even have a phone or internet connection? I guess it all went to the 18-foot walls.

It was a good idea to have the special forces kill him directly — what must that have felt like? — instead of flattening him with a bomb. But still, I need some proof. (This photo of a dead bin Laden has proven to be a fake.) Remember when  Saddam Hussein’s sons were killed in 2003 there was much disbelief and skepticism from the Muslim world. I’d be shocked if the same thing didn’t happen here.

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