Friday, 6 June 2008

The War on Photography

Bruce Schneier is a security expert, civil libertarian, and all-around interesting guy.  I like his blog ("Schneier on Security"); he has a fresh, conversational writing style and isn't condescending to non-experts.  His writings on "security theater" have brought him a lot of media attention since September 11.  Lately, he's been writing a lot on what he calls The War on Photography.

This week brings two especially good posts.  On Tuesday, he discussed a network news crew that was accosted by the security team at Union Station in Washington DC.   The security guard instructed the crew to stop filming — interrupting an interview with an Amtrak spokesman who was explaining that the station has no policy against photography.  Left hand, meet right hand.  (Video here.)

On Thursday, he wrote a more general essay about the illogical ban on photography in public places.  The whole post is worth reading.  Here's a taste (links in the original):

Since 9/11, there has been an increasing war on photography.  Photographers have been harrassed, questioned, detained, arrested or worse, and declared to be unwelcome. nbsp;We've been repeatedly told to watch 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 plots that the US government likes to talk about — the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 — no photography.

Posted at 1:39:06 AM | Permalink

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Topics: Civil Liberties, Politics
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