It's Official DHS & the FBI consider people taking pictures to be criminals!
DHS/FBI Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) November 2012:
Terrorists and criminals may use photos or videos of potential targets to gain insight into security operations and details of facility operations, including traffic flow through and around facilities, opening times, and access requirements. In late 2000 and early 2001, convicted al-Oa’ida operative Dhiren Barot took extensive video footage and numerous photographs of sites in downtown New York City and Washington, DC in preparation for planned attacks. Photographs and video useful in planning an attack may include facility security devices (surveillance cameras, security locks, metal detectors, jersey walls and planters); security personnel; facility entrances and exits; and other features such as lighting, access routes, gates, roads, walkways, and bridges.
(U//FOUO) The following SAR incidents reported to the Nationwide SAR Initiative (NSI) shared space demonstrate types of suspicious photography and videography consistent with pre-operational activity and attack planning. Although none were ultimately linked to terrorist activity, they are cited as examples for awareness and training purposes:
(U//FOUO) An individual took photographs of several buildings, a control tower, and lighting system poles associated with an elevated runway approach at an aviation facility.
(U//FOUO) An individual was encountered videotaping in a well-known retail complex while in the garage. The individual had video of the building’s ventilating system. The individual was
arrested when he returned to the area after; having been directed to leave.
(U//FOUO) An individual took photos and video in a mall while holding the phone close to his body at waist level. The photographs and video footage included the mall storefronts, upper mall structures, bridges, exit doors, and closed-circuit television cameras.
(U//FOUO) Indicators of Potentially Suspicious Photography
(U//FOUO) The following activities are consistent with suspicious photography. Although a single indicator may not be suspicious, one or more in combination may signify suspicious activity:
- (U//FOUO) Photography or videography focused on security features, including cameras, security personnel, gates, and barriers.
- (U//FOUO) Repeated visits by the same individual(s) taking photographs or video of vulnerable features, or security features of critical infrastructure.
- (U//FOUO) Individuals encountered with photographs of critical infrastructure, iconic buildings, or other sites not of tourist interest.
(U//FOUO) First Ammendment-protected activities should not be reported in a SAR or ISE-SAR absent articulable facts and circumstances that support the source agency’s suspicion that the behavior observed is not innocent, but rather reasonably indicative of criminal activity associated with terrorism, including evidence of pre-operational planning related to terrorism. Race, ethnicity, national origin, or religious affiliation should not be considered as factors that create suspicion (although these factors may be used in specific subject descriptions).
While some of that photography would indeed be quite suspicious, the individuals who compiled the document apparently were only capable of compiling incidents which in fact had nothing to do with terrorist activity whatsoever.
“In late 2000 and early 2001, convicted al-Qaida operative Dhiren Barot took extensive video footage and numerous photographs of sites in downtown New York City and Washington DC in preparation for planned attacks.”
Although Barot was convicted of planning attacks, authorities could not connect a video he recorded of the World Trade Center to the actual 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Barot undertook reconnaissance missions in the UK and US in 2000 and 2001, during which he filmed buildings including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank headquarters in Washington DC and the Stock Exchange and Citigroup buildings in New York.
Although there was no evidence that he had foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks on the US, one clip, played in court, showed the World Trade Centre with someone imitating the noise of an explosion in the background.Barot was also known to visit public libraries to plan possible attacks, so perhaps visiting your local library will soon be regarded as suspicious.
“Although none were ultimately linked to terrorist activity, they are cited as examples for awareness and training purposes,” the document states.
This makes one wonder why on earth they are listing incidents that were in no way linked to terrorist activity as examples of suspicious activity potentially linked to terrorism?
One might point out that this likely will just continue to encourage the production of worthless intelligence by fusion centers and other entities supposedly aimed at fighting terrorism.
By far the most absurd of the indicators of potentially suspicious photography includes, “Individuals encountered with photographs of critical infrastructure, iconic buildings, or other sites not of tourist interest.”
The obvious issue here is, “iconic buildings, or other sites not of tourist interest.” Wouldn’t iconic buildings be, by definition, of tourist interest or at least of interest to someone? If not, why would they be iconic?
The most laughable aspect of the document is the clear attempt to preemptively shield the agencies from the obvious criticism, namely, that these recommendations would clearly endanger legitimate activities protected by the First Amendment.
“First Amendment-protected activities should not be reported in a SAR or ISE-SAR [Information Sharing Environment-Suspicious Activity Reporting] absent articulable facts and circumstances that support the source agency’s suspicion that the behavior observed is not innocent, but rather reasonably indicative of criminal activity associated with terrorism, including evidence of pre-operational planning related to terrorism,” states the document.
When the document gives examples which are admittedly completely irrelevant and in no way linked to terrorist activity, how can they honestly believe that recipients of the document would be prepared to present “absent articulable facts and circumstances that support the source agency’s suspicion that the behavior observed is not innocent, but rather reasonably indicative of criminal activity associated with terrorism”?
Labeling photographers as potential terrorists has been rampant since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but in 2010, after forcing a man to the ground for video recording a federal courthouse in New York City, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to a settlement, acknowledging that photographing federal buildings is not a crime.