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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Do US Cities Need More Surveillance Cameras?

Posted by on Sun, Apr 21, 2013 at 4:35 PM

My brother Michael called me early on the morning of 9/11 with three messages: Turn on the television now; oh my god this is happening; and brace yourself for a war, violent racial profiling, and the disintegration of Constitutional standards for searches and trials. Here we are 12 years later, and his predictions were dead right: Afghanistan, Iraq, a spike in mortal hate crimes, the Patriot Act. I don't think those changes made our nation altogether safer, honestly. In many ways, they make this place more dangerous for lots of law-abiding people. But I don't disagree with everything we did, either. The US military should try to dismantle Al Qaeda. But all in all, I'm skeptical of our government's knee-jerk security.

It's as if the US had an allergic reaction to terrorism almost as bad, or in some cases worse, than the antigen that triggered it—a sort of anaphylaxis that suffocated civil liberties and rational discussion.

But ever since last Monday, since the Boston bombings, I've been doing something I don't usually do: hoping that cameras were videotaping every action along Boylston Street, along the entire marathon route, and, hell, every street in that city. I hoped that ocean of footage would be combed by law enforcement, who could crosscheck it with massive databases—databases that contain god knows what—that include every clue about the suspects' identities and every record the federal and local governments had on file, from cell phone calls to light bills.

I went to bed thinking about how, possibly, the FBI could sift through the files to catch those motherfuckers. But that's not normally how I want federal law enforcers to behave. And if I could feel that way—a civil-liberty crusading liberal who harbors a fairly deep distrust of federal law enforcement, particularly when it involves tracking the movements of innocent civilian in public—hundreds of millions of other people probably did, too.

The choppy, low-resolution videos of the two suspects the FBI initially posted Thursday were disappointing. They didn't show the suspects head-on because, presumably, they didn't have those images yet (and thus may not have been able to run the sort of facial-recognition software needed to compare their faces to other records). Was that really the best we had? Shouldn't we have had more footage, better footage?

That line of thinking has since spurred an outcry for politicians to engage in more video surveillance. Even though some US cities already have cameras, many of them private, the apparent usefulness of the video in Boston is compelling folks to say we need more of them to fight terrorism and even day-to-day crime.

"I do think we need more cameras," GOP Representative Peter King of New York said on Tuesday, responding to the bombings. He called cameras "a great law enforcement method and device" that "keeps us ahead of the terrorists, who are constantly trying to kill us."

"We Need More Cameras, and We Need Them Now," said a headline across Slate on Thursday. "Cities under the threat of terrorist attack should install networks of cameras to monitor everything that happens at vulnerable urban installations," says the piece by Farhad Manjoo, who also points out that "we should think about how cameras could help prevent crimes, not just solve them once they’ve already happened."

That's a romantic proposal: Affix these gadgets to every cornice in America and prevent crimes from happening in the first place.

President Obama's speech Thursday concluded with what almost sounded like a dare to terrorists and a challenge to America, a challenge to gird ourselves sufficiently to prevent another attack: "This time next year on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon," Obama thundered. He promised that America would be back along that 26.2-mile route—and I'm certain that we will. I'm also certain that every inch of it will go recorded. And don't plan on taking your backpack. But like Manjoo says, it's not just Boston that must arm itself with digital eyeballs. It's every city vulnerable to attack, which, of course, is every city.

Like Chicago.

“I will say, as I always have, because we have continued to put cameras throughout the city for security… purposes, they serve an important function for the city in providing the type of safety on a day-to-day basis—not just for big events like a marathon, but day-to-day purposes,” said Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday.

Cameras are relatively inexpensive, storing data gets easier and easier, and law enforcement has never met a camera it didn't like. England has four million cameras and London has an estimated half-million cameras. By comparison, US cities have very few. In response to 9/11, about 3,000 surveillance cameras were installed in Lower Manhattan for the "Ring of Steel." And it showed that after 9/11, America's traditional resistance to casual surveillance—a resistance to being videotaped because our culture defends privacy, believes in anonymity, and champions free association—got blown up by the terrorists, too.

"I think the public, because of how spectacular these kinds of events are in terms of the imagery, they have the capacity to really incite a lot of fear," says Adam Molnar, a PhD candidate who is conducting research on security for major sporting events at the University of Victoria, in a phone call. "Typically, there is a public response to try to throw everything we can at a problem like this so it doesn't happen again. After an event like this, you often see a dramatic push to increase surveillance, which usually includes the government, the public, and private-sector emergency management professionals."

Nobody I've spoken to says video surveillance isn't useful or doesn't have its place. But whether or not surveillance cameras make us significantly safer is a matter of debate:

  1. Their efficacy catching criminals is limited. The BBC reported recently that for every 1,000 cameras in London, only one crime is solved. And as Molnar at the University of Victoria points out, in the case of the Boston bombings, it remains unclear if "it actually was the [closed circuit television cameras] that broke the case."
  2. Whether they prevent crime is even more highly disputed, which gets to part of the argument in that Slate article that said the cameras could deter crime. Despite spending the equivalent of $807 million on cameras in London, the crime rate didn't drop. The New York Times also reported in 2009 that "New York University says they do not deter it much, if at all" and out of four other studies, one found a decrease in serious crimes while "the other three studies, which ranged from 1978 to 2002 and focused on lower-crime situations, found that the cameras’ impact on reducing crime was statistically inconclusive." A USC study found camera had no "statistically significant effect in reducing the overall monthly crime rates" and found mixed results for displacing crime to other areas. But that doesn't get to the heart of the terrorism argument—which is essentially about "turning on" all cylinders of our surveillance system to catch the perpetrator of serious crimes.
  3. The problem, critics point out, is that people out to commit serious crimes may avoid cameras. "For someone who is concerned about having their image caught, what we are seeing is that after the initial investments, there is a displacement of where terrorist attack occur," Molnar explains. This may be supported by a study, as cited by Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen's University: "In San Francisco, a study by the City and the University of California Berkeley found violent crime decreased within 250 metres of ‘open-street’ surveillance cameras, but increased beyond 250 metres." Displacement is still very difficult to measure, as the ACLU explains.

In many of the county's past major instances of domestic terrorism, the crimes were apparently solved largely without them. Eric Rudolph, who was convicted for the Atlanta Olympics bombings of 1996, was nabbed in part thanks to a photograph (in which he was a blob), but mostly thanks witnesses. Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh was caught essentially by chance, after a cop pulled him over for driving without a license plate. Ted Kaczynski's bombing career was halted when family members recognized his writings. And the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City was solved after investigators found a vehicle identification number in the rubble, then followed a trail of clues. Video surveillance didn't solve those crimes, but, then again, it's entirely possible that more surveillance would have helped solve those crimes more quickly.

In the case of the Olympics, more cameras seem pragmatic. The games practically scream "international target." Marathons are in a similar category. Same goes for federal buildings and trade centers—the government has an interest in surveying them for safety. But what about everywhere else: every city corner, every park, every coastline? Put them up now, put them everywhere, and leave them up indefinitely? Lots of people are saying, yes, yes, absolutely.

"We're concerned about America becoming a place in which cameras are so pervasive that we can't go about our lives without being tracked by the government," responds Jamela Debelak, technology and liberty director for the ACLU of Washington. She acknowledges that "there may be reasonable grounds for the government to have cameras in certain very high-risk areas, but these need to have controls on how long data is stored and there should be public input on the policies."

None of this is to say that cameras don't have their place. Everyone I spoke to acknowledges they can help identify suspects in some cases (for instance, they helped find suspect in the 2005 London bombings, but none of those cameras prevented the attack). Potentially volatile sporting events and incidents where violence is expected are good examples.

So the question isn't whether they are ever beneficial or should ever be used (again, everyone agrees that sometimes they should be), but how much America throws itself whole-hog and billions of dollars into blanketing the nation with a permanent video surveillance network. The ACLU's Debelak warns that "such persistent monitoring would have serious costs to our freedom." Most troubling for the ACLU is misappropriation of the footage to spy on political protesters, and using high-level surveillance for low-level crimes that, in essence, criminalize poverty.

As most everyone online knows, cameras are a very small part of the government's growing surveillance network: More significant is the vast, largely invisible, mines of electronic data.

Every day, we're all generating loads of records: bank transactions, bus passes, text messages, tweets, and probably lots of other trails we're not even conscious of. The CIA seems intent on sweeping all of that data and saving it indefinitely. The CIA's chief technology officer, Gus Hunt, spoke last month about their strategy, saying, "The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time. Since you can't connect dots you don't have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever." The CIA has also reportedly committed $600 million to Amazon for cloud computing services—apparently to save all those data.

The result is sort of what we we saw this last week: The federal government turned on its surveillance system (for a good cause). But it's the vastness of that system and public support to expand surveillance that has privacy hounds concerned (that it could be used for bad). And since we don't know how much data the government is tracking, it's nearly impossible to file a complaint in court to challenge it. It's like going bow-hunting for deer in a dark forest.

Yes, yes, yes.

I know.

Privacy is already lost, cameras are already around, our activity is already recorded. What's it matter if the government installs a few million new cameras in urban centers? What's left to give up? Why even have the conversation?

There are plenty of surveillance experts and critics who could answer those questions in ways much more intelligently than I ever could. In fact, I contacted several experts for this post, and many asked not to go on the record. The national ACLU declined to be interviewed last week because "we're not commenting on this today," a spokesman told me; I interviewed an expert who later asked not to be named or quoted. And I get that: Anyone who questions a surveillance state in this rah-rah environment risks being ridiculed as a naive Pollyanna liberal (I'm sure some comments on this post—if anyone even reads this long, boring, hand-wringing post—will accuse me of practically being a terrorist sympathizer). But so what if raising these questions is politically toxic? The liberals protesting the Iraq War were mocked (even by this newspaper), and anyone who questioned the Patriot Act was considered a traitor (it was called the "Patriot Act" for a reason). But those dissenters were right. They weren't Pollyanna, they were Cassandra.

Terrorism is about instilling fear, about wanting you to believe that menace is behind every bush. To be played by a terrorist is to behave like menace actually is everywhere, to prepare for crime behind every corner by stationing a camera or willingly relinquishing all digital privacy.

"Even though this [bombing] is a very rare event, we tend to exaggerate the threat going down the road," Molnar points out. "There is very little that closed circuit television can do to actually prevent an attack. We are not just introducing technology to prevent, deter, or enhance possibility for arrest and capture, we are also changing the way we relate to one another."

"We turn communities of trust into communities of fear," he warns.

Before we do that, we should take a lesson from 9/11. Hold on a second. Look at the evidence. We should question government before capitulating to every sheriff and politician who proposes a larger, permanent surveillance network. Again, I'm not saying I oppose all new surveillance; I just hope we don't have another allergic reaction we'll regret in 12 years.


Comments (51) RSS

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yelahneb 1
Should the government record every phone conversation, every email, every everything, because "privacy is already lost"?

I want the government to have the tools they need to catch criminals as much as anyone - but I don't want to live in a society that's essentially become a well-appointed prison, no matter how nice the warden might be.

Despite the old cliche, freedom *is* free. It's security that bears a cost. I can't say for sure where the line should be between the two, but it needs to be drawn with reason, not fear.
Posted by yelahneb on April 21, 2013 at 5:00 PM · Report this
seatackled 2
We probably need to install cameras in every vagina so that we can record the terrorists as they're being born.
Posted by seatackled on April 21, 2013 at 5:03 PM · Report this
seatackled 3
I was at Sea Tac Airport the other day. One sign said that if you're under 12, you can keep your shoes on. Another said if you're over 75 you could keep your shoes on. What makes someone more of a threat once they hit 12 and less of one after they turn 75?
Posted by seatackled on April 21, 2013 at 5:05 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 4
Did you know that the fence surrounding the White House wasn't always there?

Early Presidents would invite the general public to join the President at the White House for brunch. Anyone and everyone was allowed in. People used to hold picnics on the White House lawn during good weather. It was the People's House, and therefore, public property.

Then came the Pierce Administration. A group of drunken Whigs attacked the White House after the POTUS threw his support behind a national bank. So, they erected a security fence.

The Secret Service came about after Lincoln had been assassinated. When labor struggles turned violent in the 1880's, the Pinkerton Detective agency found a new market, and they later gave rise to the FBI.

Every time we have made a step in this direction, that step was spurred by an act of mass violence. And only a few times has that mission creep been checked, such as when the Church Committee investigated the CIA and Ford passed an executive order banning assassinations. But it took the Nixon Scandal to create the public pressure that brought all that about.

Your brother wasn't psychic. He knew this was coming because this is how it always comes. And if you're afraid that civil liberties will be further abrogated in response to this bombing, you are correct.

I imagine that if the news about Seattle drones had broken after this bombing rather than before it, opposition to the drones would have been nearly nonexistent.

Posted by Tacoma Traveler on April 21, 2013 at 5:05 PM · Report this
Americans are pussies, which explains all the guns.
Posted by DOUG. on April 21, 2013 at 5:14 PM · Report this
McBomber 6
Thoughtful post with some tough questions. I don't know where to draw the line either, but I care less about cameras in shared, public spaces than I do about surveillance of my private, personal actions like phone calls, emails and Internet use.
Posted by McBomber on April 21, 2013 at 5:25 PM · Report this
Screw background checks. The government should have a drone for every gun owner. Freedom isn't free.
Posted by MisterAdeline on April 21, 2013 at 5:33 PM · Report this
Why should I be under surveillance if I don't own a machine for killing other humans?
Posted by MisterAdeline on April 21, 2013 at 5:37 PM · Report this
sperifera 9
It's a fine line between being tracked and being trackable. I'm all for the latter, but don't know how you get to the latter without providing opportunity for the former.
Posted by sperifera on April 21, 2013 at 5:39 PM · Report this
originalcinner 10
I'm totally fine with surveillance cameras. But then, I grew up in Britain. No one ever used a street-snoop camera to take away my freedoms.
Posted by originalcinner on April 21, 2013 at 5:41 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 11
Have you read the book "The Four Lords of the Diamond"? I love me a world were every fart and burp is recorded, just in case...
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on April 21, 2013 at 5:41 PM · Report this
Better to sink that state and federal money into better food/meat inspection. Lord knows we need that! People feed themselves and their families potentially hazardous materials everyday. I'm way more concerned about Listeria than some boogeyman around every corner.
Posted by PapaKipChee on April 21, 2013 at 5:52 PM · Report this
@11 Doesn't everyone record every burp and fart already? What else would we all post to youtube?!
Posted by PapaKipChee on April 21, 2013 at 5:54 PM · Report this
Original Andrew 14
Chicago is only on its 21,351st unsolved murder this year, so Emperor Emanuel's camera plan must be working great!
Posted by Original Andrew on April 21, 2013 at 6:04 PM · Report this
mmmm so much that could be said here, but I think I'll try and keep it simple.

1. I don't have a problem with government cameras in high density areas monitoring traffic, be it auto, bicycle or pedestrian traffic. i.e. watching the streets and sidewalks. I do have a problem with them spitting out traffic fines but I get it, you have to pay for them somehow. It should also be noted that traffic enforcement is the backbone of law enforcement, the trenches, where most of us interact with law enforcement.

2. The first surveillance pictures of the Boston Marathon suspects released by the FBI came from privately owned cameras. I think that is a good thing, video from privately owned cameras has to be willingly turned over or the government needs to jump through a few hoops and have a reason to get them.

3. Cloud storage of private internet data should likewise be protected. Want it Mr. Government man get a search warrant.

4. Stop calling the perpetrators of these CRIMES terrorists, enemy combatants and what have you. Call them CRIMINALS, it is what they are. The Bush administration did this nation and the world a grave disservice in how they responded to 9/11.

Al Qaeda was and is not a government, it is not a State, it is not a Religion, it represents no State, it represent no Religion anymore then Phelps and his idiot family represents Christianity. Stop giving them status they do not deserve. Treat them as a common criminal gang which is what they are.

More importantly refer to them that way, minimize their importance do not give them the status they crave. That of a stature of a nation State on the world stage. That of a representative of a particular religious creed.

It is far past time to dump the Bush/Chaney mindset on how to deal with these things. That mindset has shown itself to be a spectacular waste of time, money and lives.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on April 21, 2013 at 6:09 PM · Report this
Just Jeff 16
I say bring on the cameras. If they happen to catch Dominic jerking off in Denny Park, tough shit.
Posted by Just Jeff on April 21, 2013 at 6:28 PM · Report this
runswithnailclippers 17
Maybe a camera would have caught all the grammatical errors in Dominic's post????
Posted by runswithnailclippers on April 21, 2013 at 6:54 PM · Report this
Josh Bis 18
I'm not sure thnk I have problem with security cameras, depending on how they're used. But oh, for the mental flexibility of republicans clamoring for a total surveillance state while refusing to require background checks for gun buyers.
Posted by Josh Bis on April 21, 2013 at 7:05 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 19
Well, on the one hand, I was raised to behave a certain way in public, camera or not: no nose picking, head scratching, or shoplifting (among other offenses) and I think that is still a good standard.

On the other hand, I've definitely done some don't-tell-mama stuff right there in the right-of-way, that I am glad there were no cameras to see. But it was aways, on balance, very low impact. No pressure cooker bombs or anything like that.

So I guess it all depends, doesn't it?

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on April 21, 2013 at 7:16 PM · Report this
“I will say, as I always have, because we have continued to put cameras throughout the city for security… purposes, they serve an important function for the city in providing the type of safety on a day-to-day basis—not just for big events like a marathon, but day-to-day purposes,”

Pfffft. The cameras are all unmanned due to cuts at the OEMC.

@14 doesn't know shit, but welcome to the internet.
Posted by Oh internet on April 21, 2013 at 7:19 PM · Report this
@3 testosterone?
Posted by ry coolage on April 21, 2013 at 7:30 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 22
There's also the problem of "drinking from the fire hose."

Recording may be cheap and storage may be plentiful, but there are only so many hours in the day for people to watch footage.

More information is not necessarily more useful information.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on April 21, 2013 at 7:30 PM · Report this
I feel like I should be paying tuition to tacoma traveler
Posted by ry coolage on April 21, 2013 at 7:32 PM · Report this
"But ever since last Monday, since the Boston bombings, I've been doing something I don't usually do: hoping that cameras were videotaping every action along Boylston Street, along the entire marathon route, and, hell, every street in that city."

Think about what that would mean for any protest that you support.
Like OWS or whatever.
Now count back through the past 12 years.
How many protests were there that you supported?
Compared to how many terrorist attacks?
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on April 21, 2013 at 7:48 PM · Report this
It seems to me that there are a couple of essentially opposite approaches we could take to greatly increase surveillance without empowering a secretive Big Brother. We could make all the records publicly available, along with the records of who is accessing them. Or we could require that the records be kept intact for a significant time, sealed, and accessed only as part of a formal investigation with a court order and oversight.

The latter approach might also help in other situations; for example, to address questions of police brutality and veracity, we could have badge cams generating sealed records.
Posted by Warren Terra on April 21, 2013 at 7:55 PM · Report this
treacle 26
"law enforcement has never met a camera it didn't like"

Sure it has: Police car cameras, & individual officer cameras.

If we're going to have cameras everywhere, let's make sure that everyone can see through them, not just one class of people. (or class of robots, for that matter.)
Posted by treacle on April 21, 2013 at 7:58 PM · Report this
"The latter approach might also help in other situations; for example, to address questions of police brutality and veracity, we could have badge cams generating sealed records."

What about recent cases where video of certain incidents was "lost" by the Seattle police?
If you allow the government to record it then you MUST trust the government to handle it correctly.
Even in circumstances where it can be used against people working for the government.

As can be seen by past actions, our current government does not meet that criteria.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on April 21, 2013 at 8:09 PM · Report this
Sure, but there could be penalties, and investigations. The data could be safeguarded at the end of each shift, out of the control of the local precinct, and immediately secured upon the establishing of an incident investigation. Moreover, if there is a presumption that the officer carrying out of their official duties will be recorded, a claim by the police that the dog had in this rare instance conveniently eaten their homework would be received as less than credible.
Posted by Warren Terra on April 21, 2013 at 8:25 PM · Report this
I always supported drones and cameras. I never understood the brouhaha, although this post does a good job of spelling it out: Infringrement on freedom of speech as well as political persecution. Good points, though I was just thinking about crime solving. Petty stuff, like vandalism, robbery, and drug dealing. I see the issue of cost-vs-benefit. For me, that's my biggest concern, specially when there's so little government revenue to go around. I have no problem at all with the government taking a picture of me at a protest or some public spot and keeping it forever? What's the worst that they'll see? And wouldn't the ocean of data make anonymous me essentially invisible?
Posted by floater on April 21, 2013 at 8:46 PM · Report this
@"What about recent cases where video of certain incidents was "lost" by the Seattle police?
If you allow the government to record it then you MUST trust the government to handle it correctly.
Even in circumstances where it can be used against people working for the government."

Well if that is your concern I suggest you donate to your local chapter of the ACLU.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on April 21, 2013 at 9:01 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 31

My tuition rates are quite low. One cup of coffee, the pleasure of your company, and some warm conversation are all that I require.

And thank you for the wonderful compliment
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on April 21, 2013 at 9:01 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 32
Oh yeah, and I must make a correction: It was John Tyler that was in office during the Attack of the Drunken Whigs, not Franklin Pierce.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on April 21, 2013 at 9:34 PM · Report this
In Boston I got the impression that a lot of businesses and individuals handed in their pics and videos. I have less problem with a lot of cameras if they aren't part of some massive always on, always centrally recorded system.

It seems to me a little effort being required both slows down investigation some and improves privacy a lot over a single system.

Also the balance keeps shifting. Cheaper, higher resolution cameras, covering more spectrum, better automated tools, as pointed out in the article is worrisome and hopeful at the same time.

Posted by david on April 21, 2013 at 10:34 PM · Report this
@33 Agreed. Cameras, video, audio recordings, storage, and transmission are today's 2nd Amendment arms.

Guns? Meh, whatever, get over it. The pen is still mightier then the sword.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on April 21, 2013 at 10:54 PM · Report this
auntie.ir0ny 35
Cameras won't work until you outlaw all brimmed hats. Do you really want to live in an America with no trucker caps?!?
Posted by auntie.ir0ny on April 21, 2013 at 11:55 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 36
See gang? A little bit of martial law is a good thing!! Cameras on every street corner are coming..may as well get used to it. Though the real fun will begin when we implement curfews for all good citizens and have to travel with our papers.

The only way to be free is to be treated like a potential suspect.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on April 22, 2013 at 3:23 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 37
And expect Congress to pass (and Obama sign) legislation for "Freedom Eyes" to be installed on every street corner of major US cities.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on April 22, 2013 at 3:53 AM · Report this
How exactly would more cameras have prevented this bombing?
Posted by dirge on April 22, 2013 at 5:05 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 39
Wait, I've got it "Liberty Lenses!" Your eyes on FREEDOM!!

@38, you're not supposed to ask. In theory it would let law enforcement go back to the footage and find out who did it, which given the fact everyone has a phone with a camera now seems to be a waste of money, but cameras don't prevent anything.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on April 22, 2013 at 6:24 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 40
Cato, you outdumb yourself with each new post. You and everyone who says Boston went into martial law the other day.

It's not about prevention, it's about finding suspects quickly and getting solid evidence.

Jesus, people, it's not that hard to understand.

This discussion needs to be about the parameters - where they go (we don't need them everywhere), how much video will be stored and for how long. The footage should be accessible to everyone with a valid legal reason, and not just be reserved for law enforcement.
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 22, 2013 at 6:49 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 41
Matt in Denver...your stupidity is what has no bounds. You live in a fantasy world where Big Brother is okay as long as it's a Democrat pushing it. And need we remember you equated killing American's without trial as the morally okay as long as the candidate doing it was for gay marriage?

Really Matt, you're a third way Democratic Hack who has zero credibility. Now, get back to your job. You're gonna need it with Obama chaining Social Security to the CPI
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on April 22, 2013 at 6:55 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 42
@ 41, I'm not a Democrat. Never have been, likely never will.

What else are you wrong about? Just about everything. You have a whole lot of fears and feverish fantasy, but nothing else supporting you or any of your positions. You used to only disdain Obama for his foot-dragging on LGBT issues, and only then - only then, when he became more of a champion on that front - did you bring up the drones and civil liberties. You're so full of shit your eyes are brown.

If I have zero credibility with you, that's a good thing, as it gives me credibility with those who think and understand.
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 22, 2013 at 7:03 AM · Report this
@40 So then cameras are about prosecution, not prevention?
Posted by dirge on April 22, 2013 at 7:36 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 44
@ 43, well, they can be about prevention of further crimes by those identified as perpetrators, since police and the community will know who to look for (as opposed to vague descriptions about, say, a white male, 5'9-6' tall, wearing jeans, sneakers, and a hoodie). But in my opinion, their value is in identifying suspects.

It might be moot, though, in this age of ubiquitous smart phones.
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 22, 2013 at 7:49 AM · Report this
@44 I think that's the important question: Should the government be actively watching us, trying to stop crimes or their consequences, or is there a believable middle ground, where warrants and FOI requests are required to search us in this data?
Posted by The sun in your eyes made some of the lies worth believing on April 22, 2013 at 8:54 AM · Report this
Point being, the FBI was tipped off by Russian intelligence, secondary reports claiming 2011, but first news reports claimed 2009, when they first interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and again in 2011, and then Tamerlan took a trip to Chechnya, and returned to create an extremist Islamist Youtube site, following the classic random terrorist profile so no amount of cameras would have helped in the Real World, other than to provide us with those highly suspicious photos of what appeared to be either Navy SEALS, or former SEALS working as private contractors?

Regardless, with state-of-the-art fully automated intelligence platforms such as the Trovicor Monitoring Center (please see links below), they can monitor the telephones and emails, whilc accessing a target's DNA database, and healthcare database and financials database, then intercept their e-mail, re-word it, and automatically dispatch a kidnap team, or worse, to the meeting place of the re-worded email, etc.…………

And a most excellent report from Reporters Without Borders:…

Posted by sgt_doom on April 22, 2013 at 10:53 AM · Report this
"Moreover, if there is a presumption that the officer carrying out of their official duties will be recorded, a claim by the police that the dog had in this rare instance conveniently eaten their homework would be received as less than credible."

It is already seen as "less than credible" but that does nothing to stop it from happening.
When the video supports the government's version of events, the video is easily found and widely distributed.
When the video contradicts the government's version of events, the video is often "lost" or "accidentally destroyed".

If you allow the government to record the video in the first place, you have to trust the government to keep it safely and to provide it upon demand.
I do not trust the government to do that.
And claiming AFTERWARD that it is "less than credible" does nothing to alter that.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on April 22, 2013 at 11:27 AM · Report this
Fear of terrorism is highly irrational.

More Americans win the lottery than are killed by terrorists.

On average more people won the lottery that DAY.
Posted by Dirk7 on April 22, 2013 at 11:42 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 49
If you're living in Fear, you're doing it wrong.
Posted by Will in Seattle on April 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM · Report this
treacle 50
@48 - Fear of terrorism IS irrational. That's why it's so useful, and so promulgated.

Far more people die at the hands of either State or Religious violence than are killed by "terrorists" in any given year or decade.

In the spirit of 'reducing the most harm', what would make the most sense in light of that fact?
Posted by treacle on April 22, 2013 at 1:06 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 51
@ 47, hence the need to strictly define what they can do with the video. I trust them to adhere to clear laws, but I have trouble trusting either the executive to ask for those kinds of laws, or Congress to write them.
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 22, 2013 at 1:16 PM · Report this

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