Photographers aren't terrorists and vice-versa

Discuss

65 Responses to “Photographers aren't terrorists and vice-versa”

  1. Baldhead says:

    Photography may be used for surveillance. This is very true. but the idea of surveillance is much older than cameras are. A couple thousand years older.

    I liked the one about the guy documenting the bridges to Manhattan- all of which have been standing, and been photographed, for some 50 years.

    I can see banning photography of the still under construction Freedom Tower.. at least until it’s built- but even then.. what about a terrorist construction worker?

  2. Antinous says:

    I remember people doing exactly the same thing when they were estimating the odds that their area would be targeted by an ICBM.

    I was raised by someone who spent several decades setting up a system to detect Soviet ICBMs. She never seemed in the least bit worried about it. The neighbors, on the other hand, had a bomb shelter, which was our playhouse. Facts aren’t nearly as scary as rumors.

  3. Antinous says:

    You’ll pardon me if I don’t think that we should make our human rights and policing decisions based on the apprehensions of someone styling him or herself Easy2Panic.

  4. Takuan says:

    “I have no knowledge of what happened to any seized video,”

    thank you

  5. Antinous says:

    How do we protect our society from those that promote Unlawful threats or violence, driven by ideology with the intention of coercion?

    You’re referring to police thugs and private security thugs, right? Right?

  6. echolocate chocolate says:

    I don’t think Takuan is questioning whether it was a plane or not, I believe he is questioning why the video is unavailable in the first place, if as #60 says, “there really wasn’t anything much to see on it”. They think would-be terrorists might study it to find the optimal trajectory for flying a plane into stuff? No, they want us accustomed to secrecy so we stop asking questions.

  7. Marketblogger says:

    I don’t know who’s harassing who, but I can say that Schneier may be wrong about terrorists and their interest in photography.

    I live near Keystone and Breckenridge, CO. We have reservoir up here at 9000ft elevation that is owned by the city of Denver, CO and supplies water to the city. There’s a road over the dam and when the weather is really bad, blowing snow, the road is closed.

    Now this is a popular place for people to practice their interest in photography with the lake and mountains as a backdrop. Last winter when the road was closed two men were apprehended who claimed to be shooting footage for a music video on top of the dam. The problem was they were both of Afghani origin, here on work visas, one working for the Denver International Airport. It’s just a fact that we don’t have a lot of middle eastern tourists up here, let alone ones from Afghanistan shooting music videos in snow storms on our public works.

    The FBI was involved, and who knows who else. The water company shut down the road for a couple of weeks, barricading off ever possible way on to the dam. The whole thing has been kept very secretive. The names of the suspects have never been released. And recently the water company has stationed 24-7 security on the dam.

    Photography may have just been a front, but what there is little doubt about is that activities and /or vulnerabilities have got officials spooked and the events that have transpired have been highly out of the ordinary.

    Also, quite the opposite from what most comments have stated here, officials have gone out of their way to keep things under wraps, for whatever reason they may have. They’ve certainly done nothing to spook us. I’d rather we would have been fully informed, if it not harm an investigation, because the public could be policing the structure more effectively than anyone else if they were told what to be on the lookout for. Instead we’ve mostly forgotten about it and basically been led to be believe that there’s nothing going on.

  8. easy2panic says:

    #29 Antinous, I agree. I wasn’t there, I didn’t see what my mother saw. I am just taking her believe at face value.

    #34 jere7my, I agree with the predicament as well. I however do believe a worker would be wearing a uniform. When my mother looked at him odly, he moved into another car and appeared to be non-confronting.

    #36 cavalaxis, please read all my updates before responding to just the first one. I will state again that I know skin color or country of origin has nothing to do with the “evilness” of a person. I do not always glance suspiciously at Middle Eastern people, in fact in the past several years I have been more suspicious of Caucasian people. (Background info: I am Hispanic by law, but everyone thinks I am Caucasian based off my skin color.)

    #37 Takuan, are you referring to the “plane” that looks like a missile? I highly doubt that the US attacked their own center of operations.

  9. Bob Doles Communist Doppelganger says:

    Takuan, I can’t argue with you anymore; we just have no common basis of “why we think the things we think” that we can use to communicate on this (or quite possibly any) subject. You probably find my thought processes similarly bizarre. Sorry.

  10. Takuan says:

    I would think they would have released it immediately if there were nothing to see. Wouldn’t you?

    I also ask why it was necessary to “seize” it in the first place? Did they think everyone around the Pentagon was an accomplice in the attack?

  11. TwoShort says:

    Takuan: The “object” that struck the Pentagon was an Airplane. I (slightly) knew one of the passengers. I mean, I can’t prove “they” didn’t shoot the Pentagon with a missile while simultaneously disposing of a airliner and dozens of passengers by some other means than crashing it, but come on, how many drugs are you on? For the moment let’s take it as assumed that 9/11 was perpetrated by different shadowy forces than it seems to have been. Why does it have to be shadowy forces with a fetish for impossible complexity? If Bush’s secret alien masters wanted to get rid of a plane while damaging a bit of the pentagon, why couldn’t they crash the thing just like the real hijackers did?

  12. Takuan says:

    argue? When asking a question is “argument”: beware.

  13. Takuan says:

    fine. Where are the videos and images from the numerous private cameras around the Pentagon?

  14. Keneke says:

    True story.

    The missile defense company I worked for at the time had a rash of trespassing photographers, usually two bearded men, in 2001. The same thing occurred at other missile defense industry sites in town (with the exception of the government facility which was fenced and guarded.) Even taking into account the fact that people see what they want to see, I can’t discount the fact that it could have been spies as easily as it could have been reporters or pranksters.

  15. David Bruce Murray says:

    Don’t you people ever go to the movies? If you did, you should KNOW that when they catch the bad guy, he ALWAYS has a wall full of photographs depicting his intended target(s).

    Good night…

  16. Bob Doles Communist Doppelganger says:

    @37

    By putting quotes around “aircraft”, are you seriously suggesting that something other than a plane hit the Pentagon?

  17. semiotix says:

    @45 and 52: while not a Believer myself, I’ve always thought it was a little gauche to use reason to abuse a person’s deeply held articles of faith, even ones that seem bizarre or offensive or dangerously backward. But in the special case of magical thinking that is the conspiracy theorist, it’s also useless.

    You’re not going to get any further pushing Occam’s Razor or the impossibility of proving a negative on a 9/11 Truther than you would by trying to use Nietzsche to convince Mohammed Atta that there weren’t virgins waiting for him in paradise after he crashed his plane. I know how frustrating it is, but all you can do by “arguing” the point is to reinforce the underlying belief of all conspiracy theorists: that I (or we few) get it and you don’t. Better not to sully your hands with it in the first place.

  18. nigel1965 says:

    I live in a college town where students come from all over the country and all over the world. In the days/weeks following 9/11, everyone seemed convinced that their hometown was the NEXT target. It seemed every hometown had a large public works project, or a military base, or a defense contractor, or an oil refinery, or a factory producing something “critical” to our way of life. So any talk of increased security was welcomed with open arms because everyone seemed to believe they were preventing a personal attack against their own family, living in their hometown, near said hometown’s critical piece of infrastructure. I always thought the attitude was immensely paranoid, especially if you heard some peoples’ definitions of critical i.e. “My hometown makes carpet for guvmint office buildings!” Terrorism is only effective if we let it scare us. Is that too simplistic?

  19. Takuan says:

    what little video (seized) that has been released shows nothing. Ockham’s much abused shaving accessory can also be used to say that the pentagon is sure as hell going to have lots and lots and lots of cameras on it 24/7. Others seem to want to drag in all manner of things to the question. The basic question is and remains: where are the images?

  20. buddy66 says:

    Terrorism is usually understood as violence against civilians to make a point against an oppressor and to gain the attention of the wider world. It is usually seen as ineffective as well as morally reprehensible. Lenin condemned it as counter-revolutionary and self-defeating. In waging total war against an enemy, as in WWII, civilians are seen as legitimate targets. Osama bin Laden’s terrorism is actually retributive: he says the West owes him X number of eye-for-an-eye deaths. He sees himself as an avenger, not a terrorist.

    The best way to combat terrorism is not to create terrorists, but in our arrogance and ignorance that’s what we did and continue to do. That flapping sound isn’t the wings of eagles—it’s chickens coming home to roost.

  21. Takuan says:

    where is the CCTV footage taken by many privately owned cameras of the “object” that struck the Pentagon? Where is it?

  22. Bob Doles Communist Doppelganger says:

    Bewre of what, exactly? “Argue” was probably a poor choice of words on my part, since you’ve not put forth a position, and I’ve just made some general comments about questioning the veracity of exceptionally-complex theories when a simpler theory satisfies all the same requirements. But it does seem like we’re just moving in completely different directions here.

    If you’d like to discuss, or argue, or whatever, here’s my position: I have no knowledge of what happened to any seized video, other than the official explanation of “there really wasn’t anything much to see on it”. I don’t consider that entirely implausible, since cameras are mostly crappy and pointed at doors and sidewalks and stuff, and not the airspace in front of the building, though there could well be some sort of cover-up going on, too.

    And based upon the evidence I’ve seen, I think it’s pretty likely that someone flew a passenger plane into the building. I don’t know whose control that plane was under, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable that it was terrorists who hijacked it with the intent of doing so.

    So now that I’ve stated my position, feel free to disagree with it and present an alternate theory of what happened. Or we can just agree to disagree and go our separate ways. Either way is good for me.

  23. jere7my says:

    Marketblogger (@31): How would you tell the difference, given the information you have, between Afghani wanna-be terrorists who were intercepted by the FBI and Afghani music video producers who got deported by overzealous and paranoid authorities? Terrorism is remarkably rare in this country — certainly much rarer than filmmakers without a permit.

    Easy2Panic (@1): How would you tell the difference between a passenger-counting terrorist and a Middle Eastern train employee taking a passenger survey, or a public transportation buff curious about ridership? Do you think an accurate count of passengers was essential to the bombings, or would “crowded” vs. “uncrowded” suit their purposes?

  24. nigel1965 says:

    #46 – if 1 in 10,000,000 is a potential enemy spy, then behave as such. Do not behave as if that number is one in three.

    #55 – As proponents of surveillance are so happy to point out, “If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear”. What is the government afraid of?

    #51 – Facts aren’t nearly as scary as rumors.

    I thought these points were brilliant. As far as what the UK and US govts. are afraid of, they both understand the dynamics of revolution based on first-hand experience. Citizens with brains (and without stock portfolios)may actually try to change things.

  25. cavalaxis says:

    @Easy2Panic: At the time of the Oklahoma Federal Bldg Bombing, there was much wild speculation about the large Arab population surrounding OKC, and whether or not it was an Arab that had committed the attack.

    I remember thinking at the time, because it was the anniversary of Waco, “Wow, aren’t they gonna be stunned when it turns out to be some blond haired, blue eyed, good ol’ boy who did this.” No one was more amazed than I when I was RIGHT.

    Think about that the next time you glance suspiciously at someone of Middle Eastern origin.

  26. Avram says:

    Meyer — It’s easy. We should bring the troops home.

    The 9/11 terrorists were mostly Saudis, outraged at the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. The 2005 London bombings were a response to British involvement in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Palestinian terrorists attack Israel in response to Israeli occupation of their land.

    We’ve (the US has, and the UK and Russia have before us) been mucking about in the Middle East for well over a century, treating those people as pawns on a giant chessboard. (Literally. The competition between Britain and Russia for Middle Eastern resources was called “the Great Game”.) It’s long past time for us to stop doing that.

  27. easy2panic says:

    It is my belief that the London transport bombers actually rode the subways one year previously during the summer to count how many people were riding in different trains at different times.

    It is my belief because my mother visiting London riding the subways then saw a 20 or so year old man of Middle Eastern origin counting people and writing numbers on a small notepad. She told a police officer when she got off the subway, however I don’t know if they connected that event with the bombings a year later.

    I would be a lot more worried about someone who appeared to be of Middle Eastern origin who is counting people in a public place than an old grandma taking pictures of her grandchildren in front of a building.

  28. Lilorfnannie says:

    Why? Because it’s not about “preventing terrorism”, it never has been. It’s about control.

  29. 0xdeadbeef says:

    Isn’t terrorism just a pretext anyway?

    These people have had a hard-on for squashing sousveillance before 9/11, before Steve Mann even coined the word. Only now they can use terrorism to cloak the patent absurdity of banning photography at tourist landmarks, because when people accept limitations to their rights in a casual context, they’re more willing to dismiss the rights of “troublemakers” when there are real stakes involved.

    Or, in other words, “You have to be fingerprinted! Everyone has to be fingerprinted!”

  30. Takuan says:

    why shouldn’t Americans be mucking about in the Middle East? If the House of Saud chose the American leader of the past seven years isn’t that just tit for tat?

  31. techbear says:

    Photographers are considered a menace to our current government because they can capture, preserve and disseminate the slow erosion of our democracy into a police state. They provide a visual record of the “little murders” that are happening to our civil liberties on a daily basis.

  32. Torporous says:

    @55 Semiotix

    “But in the special case of magical thinking that is the conspiracy theorist, it’s also useless.”

    You’re referring to the official conspiracy theory I assume? And you’d be right in that case. The evidence that those 2 planes and fire brought down those three towers in NYC does require magical thinking. I don’t think its useless though. More folk every day believe that the official story is as full of holes as it sounds.

    To those who still do believe the official conspiracy theory, does it not give you pause to think that a group like Architects and Engineers for 911 truth exists and boasts just about 400 members (with membership growing at a healthy rate). These professionals don’t claim to know who brought the towers down, but they do believe, based on the evidence, that the towers were demolished and not brought down by those 2 planes and fire. Given their credentials, shouldn’t their involvement in raising questions be reason for more inquiry?

    As Takuan asks…where indeed have all the video tapes of the object that hit the pentagon gone? There are a number of witness statements of Government agents confiscating video surveillance tapes shortly after the attack. One gas station owner has said that his camera had a perfect view of the whole incident.

    And where is that NIST report on the building 7 collapse?

    So very many questions remain unanswered without touching on the issue of attribution.

    As proponents of surveillance are so happy to point out, “If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear”. What is the government afraid of?

  33. easy2panic says:

    1984 = 2084 ?

  34. acx99 says:

    It’s got nothing to to with “terrorism”. it has everything to do with creating a climate of fear in order to stop the populace from getting too many ideas and asking too many questions about what’s being done in at home and abroad in their name and with their tax dollarpounds.

    Note how Mr Schneier talks about the “manufactured” terror plots. Let’s repeat that one – MANUFACTURED TERROR PLOTS – manufactured by the government in order to maintain said climate of fear.

    Why aren’t the “manufacturers” of these manufactured plots answering for their crimes right now?

  35. Nobilis says:

    “We can * you, you can’t * us.”

    Insert any verb you like.

    Record. Photograph. Censor. Silence. Vanish.

    CONTROL.

  36. Mitch says:

    Last week a nice woman who appeared to be of middle eastern origin answered my Punjabi vocabulary questions for me and then translated the titles of the 3 cds I bought. I was hired for a very interesting job by a man who appears to be of middle eastern origin, and he has been a very fair boss for me. His wife, who also appears to be of middle eastern origin, runs an Indian classical dance school which enriches the culture or my community by putting on several performances per year, and I’ve seen many free concerts of Carnatic music organized and performed by people who appear to be of middle eastern origin. When I lived in Haifa my best friend was an Arab girl who appeared to be of middle eastern origin, and her parents, who also appeared to be of middle eastern origin, fed me every day and took me along to Nazareth to spend Christmas with her grandmother. And, yes, Grandma appeared to be of middle eastern origin. So, I’d really have a hard time being frightened of people who appear to be of middle eastern origin.

    What really frightens me is American Apache helicopters being used to fire American missiles at apartment buildings in Gaza and British soldiers pissing on Arab prisoners in Basra.

    I’m not too worried about photography. I’m more concerned about the US and British governments provoking terrorism through the foreign policy decisions they have made.

    I’m not supporting terrorism. It is the wrong response to injustice, and only feeds an endless cycle of violence, but I think people who want to plan terrorist acts are smart enough not to do it by visibly taking photograph.

  37. Bob Doles Communist Doppelganger says:

    @42

    No idea. Considering the quality of most CCTV cameras and the fact that they’re usually pointed at places and things that aren’t the airspace in front of the Pentagon, I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t any good footage of something flying by at 500+ miles an hour.

    Honestly, I have no direct personal knowledge of what happened at the Pentagon (though I do have a good friend whose sister saw it firsthand, and says it looked like a passenger plane), but it just seems to me if you’re in charge of a conspiracy, and you’ve got a plane that you could fly into a building, it would be sort of silly to rig up a missile so that it explodes in a huge jet fuel fireball, then knock over a bunch of light poles and truck in some airplane debris to produce an amazingly accurate simulation of someone flying a plane into a building, when you could just, you know, fly the plane into the building.

    I don’t really have a problem with the idea of a government conspiracy, it’s just that most of the theories I’ve heard involve the conspirators engaging in overcomplicated schemes while being simultaneously super-competent and incompetent.

    Nobody much espouses the theory, “The government hired some people to take over planes and fly them into buildings and kill a bunch of people”, because it’s sort of boring.

  38. JJR1971 says:

    Every day it seems as if the USA and UK are morphing to include all the worst features of the USSR (surveillance society, de facto one party state, utterly pliant media subservient to gov’t), and none of its good features (universal health care, ample paid vacations, clean, efficient, public transport). The paranoia of photography and photographers is yet another step.

  39. easy2panic says:

    Mitch : You are right. I apologize, I should have been more clear about my thoughts.

    I take it for granted that I know people who appear and also are of Middle Eastern origin. I didn’t mean to stereotype. I in fact hate stereotypes which I why I should have chosen my words more carefully. Also, not every terrorist is of Middle-Eastern origin, Timothy McVey was Caucasian.

    The terrorists that we believe, behave the way they do because of their radical religious beliefs. Not everyone who is Islam believes that killing innocent people will give them 72 virgins inn their after life. Dammit, I don’t want to turn this into a religious discussion, I just want to express that the terrorists we believe of today do their actions based on their beliefs, not their skin color or country of origin.

  40. Bob Doles Communist Doppelganger says:

    @65

    I did some research on this, and it looks like the two videotapes that were known to have been confiscated and were not returned, those being the Citgo gas station across from the Pentagon, and a Doubletree and/or Sheraton hotel. Both of these were eventually obtained by Judicial Watch after a court battle in 2006. They released the videos, and
    neither show the impact at the Pentagon.

    I’m not at all surprised that they would seize videos after something like this happened, but I’ll agree that not releasing them sounds like they’re up to something.

  41. Takuan says:

    yeah,ya gotta wonder

  42. snackcake says:

    This is what they are talking about when you hear the kids say; “The terrorist have won.”

  43. Angstrom says:

    @Meyer #25

    Let me ask the question another way:
    How do we protect our society from those that promote Unlawful threats or violence, driven by ideology with the intention of coercion?
    In this case, who defines the line between innocent picture taking and spying?

    Answer : I can’t stop that. Some things are not totally preventable. ‘Being seen’ is not totally preventable.

    Reduce it to the personal:
    Assume there are a group of 20 anonymous people, intent on making a note on my actions on some random day in the next 5 years.

    So I have a few choices
    1: hide in a windowless room confident in my freedom
    2: go about my business, but view anyone who looks at me as a potential enemy
    3: simply go about my business

    The current mentality is that the last option is unthinkable, that simply behaving normally will inevitably lead to mass deaths. Especially if I know that the target WILL be spyed upon by the enemy. But looking at it rationally the odds in my example are rediculously small … 1,824 to 1 that they will be observing me on any given day (in 5 years). That’s 1,825,000 potential note-takers if I view everyone I encounter during that time as a threat. But only 20 really are the potential threat, not 1,825,000. I ought to measure my response accordingly.

    Similarly, out of the world population I bet only a very tiny minority are are on surveillance missions. What would the percentage be?
    0.00001% would be my guess. That equates to 30 disgruntled individuals in the population of the USA.

    So, treating every person like a potential enemy is ridiculous because the odds say it simply isn’t required. Behave in a measure manner.

    if 1 in 10,000,000 is a potential enemy spy, then behave as such. Do not behave as if that number is one in three.

  44. Teapunk says:

    Because it is not the fear that is great but the stupidity.

  45. Neko says:

    My gods… GOOGLE STREET VIEW!

    Google is clearly planning the extermination of all life as we know it!

  46. LauraJMixon says:

    …and, can I just say? For Christ’s sake! photos of public buildings are all over the damn internet. Even if seeing photos of the buildings did them any good at all, all they have to do is use google images or flickr. Grrrr. Arrrr.

  47. Ryan Waddell says:

    Great post… How about a “all photographers are not child pornographers, and vice-versa” post? Because I’m more concerned about angry parents attacking me if I come within 200 yards of their children with my DSLR, than I am about security guards hasslin’ me.

  48. Takuan says:

    @24

    whatever did happen to all the CCTV footage of the Pentagon “aircraft” strike? You know, all the stuff they grabbed from local businesses etc?

  49. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Everybody’s sure their small town is uniquely a target for terrorists. Almost all of them are wrong.

    I’m about to show my age: I remember people doing exactly the same thing when they were estimating the odds that their area would be targeted by an ICBM. Bitty old Air Force training field on the outskirts of town, built during WWII, given minimal maintenance since then, with runways too short for modern planes? The locals were sure it would be a target.

  50. rg says:

    Maybe it’s simply the quest for a monopoly on surveillance?

  51. dapxin says:

    I took a random shot of a visiting cousin and a baby at Brixton station few days ago.

    2mins later, a station attendant came around to inform me how the anti-terrorism laws could be used to arrest me.

    I deleted the 1 of 2 pictures and laughed.

    I am still laughing. The idiocy of the UK politicians, seems to grow in factorials.

    Something about george bush somehow infected this world, thru Tony Blair.

    Osama must be feeling good, somewhere :(

  52. bfields says:

    “It is my belief that the London transport bombers actually rode the subways one year previously during the summer to count how many people were riding in different trains at different times.

    “It is my belief because my mother visiting London riding the subways then saw a 20 or so year old man of Middle Eastern origin counting people and writing numbers on a small notepad.”

    That sounds extremely far-fetched to me.

    But even if that were true, the solution in this case wouldn’t be a ban against people writing numbers on notepads in the subway, because a) security people who could otherwise be doing something actually useful would be wasting their time enforcing the ban even in cases where the behavior was clearly innocuous, and b) even if the bombers did do that it’s unlikely that it was really an essential step, so it’s hard to believe a ban would have upset the plot. (In fact, if writing down numbers really were some kind of terrorist tell-tale, then a ban might lose you a useful clue.)

    So it seems a better use of security people’s time to let them take that behavior as one among many (small) clues, and have them follow up (politely and discretely) if they really think it’s useful.

  53. zikzak says:

    Cops have had a long-standing hatred for cameras. Years before 9/11, I would do “cop watch”, which consists of walking around your neighborhood and taking notes and pictures about whatever the police are doing whenever you see them.

    Cops /hate/ it when you take pictures of them. Even when they aren’t illegally searching someone, when they’re just giving a traffic ticket or something, they get really aggressive and outraged that you think you can just take pictures of them, a public servant on the job in public.

    “Street-level” authority figures have an instinctive aversion to photography because they realize it could make their lives difficult. So when they get a vague pretext like the “War on Terror” to antagonize photographers, they’re all about it.

    p.s. Do cop watch. It’s your patriotic duty.

  54. demidan says:

    It is because of all the movies where the spy sits around in a car and takes pics. So if “they” do it terrorists must also.

  55. mattxb says:

    it’s not about “preventing terrorism”, it never has been. It’s about control.

    Really? It’s not just about people trying to create jobs for themselves?

  56. bfields says:

    (And, by the way, I’m not claiming anyone was advocating a ban on writing down numbers in notepads on subways; the analogy to photography just seemed too good. And I believe in the past Schneier’s answer to the question “how to stop it?” has been to hire curious, well-trained people who know what to look for, instead of instituting blanket bans and searches that require wasting a lot of manpower on showy but easily circumvented measures.)

  57. bolamig says:

    well said angstrom.

    The best way to prevent terrorism is to ignore it. Treat it as the minor threat that it is… more likely that you’ll get killed by lightning than a terrorist. Much more likely that you’ll get killed fighting against terrorism (thousands of our troops), or by being in the way of those who are fighting against terrorism (hundreds of thousands of civilians killed directly or indirectly by our troops).

    If we really want to do something about it, then lets start with reducing the conditions that cause hate… starting with education, attacking poverty, even making healthcare more universal.

    Our spooks need something to do, and working on old fashioned intelligence is a good way for them to keep busy. Not setting up huge indiscriminate data collection juggernauts, but rather using human intellect and labor to understand the connections that are already in front of us.

  58. Dark Cloud says:

    I’d like to suggest getting yourself a handy photography badge at fd flickr toys:
    http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/badge.php
    I did and it looks super. Can’t wait to get it laminated!

  59. Angstrom says:

    @ Mayer #15

    Everyone seems to have many brilliant ideas of how not to stop terrorism.
    How about a discussion about how to stop it?

    Terrorism is roughly and briefly defined as : Unlawful threats or violence against societies, driven by ideology with the intention of coercion.

    Now, that may be truncated, but it’s not far from the dictionary definition.

    We see that it covers all kinds of human behaviour: coercion by violence has been used unlawfully by many governments and groups since human history began. The only difference in the current case is that the violent coercion is aimed against your own society.

    “terrorism” is a fact of life, because humans will try and violently coerce other humans. Everybody is doing the same thing to everyone else, but calling it different things.

    You may as well ask “how do we stop the Regime Change?”

  60. Torporous says:

    @60

    “I’ve just made some general comments about questioning the veracity of exceptionally-complex theories when a simpler theory satisfies all the same requirements.”

    As a general question, why does this meme get trotted out all the time? The only reason the official conspiracy theory seems simple is because it is spoon fed to to the public so that the public will read it and say “OK..that sounds like a reasonable movie plot to me” and move on.

    Is the simplicity or complexity of what happened on 911 really the issue? Isn’t the issue having an actual inquiry into what did happen. That seems to be the issue for most of the truthers whose words I’ve read and it seems to be a big issue for many 911 survivors and families.

    It’s simply jaw-dropping to start to add up all of the inconsistencies and unasked/unanswered questions in the official theory.

    The entire fabric of the US is being shredded based on this event. Why are those who ask questions treated as dangerous or traitorous?

    During a presentation about the frightening “Radicalization and homegrown terror act” the very website I mentioned above, Architects and Engineers for 911 truth, was singled out for discussion as being a potential fomenter of terror and radical thinking.

    This quote seems appropriate…”In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. … ”

  61. Thinkerer says:

    All issues of civil liberties and a thuggish police presence aside, the extraordinary contradiction that most people seem to miss is that the first thing that any law enforcement body (civil or military) wants after an incident is any kind of photographic evidence that might exist — tourist snapshots, cell photos and the like.

    Restricting photography actually restricts evidence that may be used after an actual attack, and reduces the number of sharp eyed people looking at their own photographs (“hey, what’s that guy doing there?).

  62. Mitch says:

    Thanks for your response, easy2panic. Counting
    subway passengers might be alarming no matter
    who does it. It is ironic that when religous
    extremists commit certain criminal or terrorist
    acts, they are acting against their religion.
    Islam does not condone the killing of innocent
    people. Christianity does not condone disrupting
    the funerals of young people killed in the war
    to protest our society’s tolerance of homosexality.
    Hinduism does not condone attacking Christian
    missionaries. Yet all these things are done
    in the name of religion.

  63. jhollington says:

    The reality is that we really are relatively powerless to stop terrorism or many other violent crimes. Some preventative measures can be taken in certain cases, but the reality is that most serious well-organized plots are going to be very difficult to stop.

    The solution for the politicians and others in authority who must at least provide the appearance of maintaining the public trust is to go after a convenient issue that on the surface may seem to be a reasonable preventative measure. This makes people feel better, and reduces the fear that would otherwise be exhibited by the “bewildered herd.”

    To the average citizen who pays little attention to the more insidious details of government, vague cries like “Something has to be done! Won’t anybody think of the children?” are shouted from the rooftops. Who cares if the solutions being proposed by the government have anything to do with solving the actual problem. No matter how ineffective and toothless a proposed “solution” is, the reality is that it’s merely enough that it provides the appearance of security and safety for Joe proletariat.

    Pick just about any major out-of-control issue, and you can find politicians and other government figures coming up with all sorts of non-solutions to the problem that serve to do little more than placate the masses into believing that something is being done.

    Here in Toronto we see the same type of issues with gun control. The average citizen is scared by a sudden increase in gun violence. An overwhelming majority of the guns used in these crimes are illegal firearms smuggled in across the border, and have nothing to do with local gun collectors or gun clubs. The mayor’s solution, however, is to deal with the only thing that is an easy, in-his-control situation: Shut down the gun clubs, shut down the gun stores, shut down anything in the city having to do with legitimate gun ownership. It won’t solve the problem, but it will placate the masses into believing that “Something is being done to protect us.”

    Hollywood suggests that spies and terrorists sit around and photograph things. The real intelligence services know better, but the reality is that to Joe proletariat, hassling photographers who are taking pictures of landmarks presents the illusion that the government actually is in control of the situation, when the reality is that nothing could be farther from the truth.

  64. angusm says:

    Back when the British were in India, they employed Indians known as “pundits” (origin of the word) as spies in neighboring countries such as Afghanistan and Tibet. Among other things, the pundits were clandestine map-makers: they would pace out distances, counting off paces using prayer beads or other devices, and then secretly record their measurements and observations at the end of the day. They gathered huge amounts of intelligence without needing cameras, recorders, laser rangefinders, or GPS devices.

    If the pundits could map whole regions this way, don’t you think that people who took over four jets with knives might learn to gather all the information they need about a potential target using just their own eyes, ears and memories?

  65. ablestmage says:

    Oh course no photos are found. There’s this hand little chemical process called FIRE that photos usually end up nefore being found ^_^;; That, or 4chan.

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