B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Photographers Are Not a threat

with 4 comments

Photos on your screen are nice, but photos on your wall are better!
Framed, ready to hang prints, as well as licenses for reproduction in print and online, are available for order from my photography site — click here.

Architectural Photography Forbidden
[Architectural Photography Forbidden – at Riverside Plaza aka The Daily News Building, built 1929]

One of these days, I’m organizing a Flickr meetup to take photos of the ‘forbidden ‘ buildings. Photographers are not terrorists.

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. 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.

Given that real terrorists, and even wannabe terrorists, don’t seem to photograph anything, why is it such pervasive conventional wisdom that terrorists photograph their targets? Why are our fears so great that we have no choice but to be suspicious of any photographer?

[From Bruce Schneier: Are photographers really a threat? | Technology | The Guardian]

For instance, check out these Flickr groups –




(see also here, here, here , here, for more news stories about this topic, if you have time to read). Irks me to no end.

Photography is not legal at Boeing either
[Photography is not legal at Boeing either – the guy on the left probably a Blackwater employee]

Written by Seth Anderson

June 6th, 2008 at 9:15 am

4 Responses to 'Photographers Are Not a threat'

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  1. If a terrorist did photograph their target, wouldn’t it make more sense for them to do it in a non-obvious way, with something small like a cell phone camera, rather than a huge DSLR and a tripod?


    6 Jun 08 at 3:01 pm

  2. […] be as conspicuous, even if they wanted to photograph industrial machinery (and there is exactly zero evidence that any terrorists have ever done so – it only happens in the movies). Photography is not a […]

  3. I think you post some marvelous points on your site!


    18 Oct 09 at 12:43 am

  4. […] photos of architecturally and culturally significant buildings before planning their attack? None, remember? It’s just a movie plot, never happened in real […]

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