Rep. Peter King, Mayor Bloomberg Agree: Boston Bombing Shows We Desperately Need MORE Surveillance

from the several-CCTV-contractors-nod-in-sage-agreement dept

You knew it was coming. Former DHS official Stewart Baker got the ball rolling with his atrocious attempt to portray the ACLU and the EFF as hacker-and-terrorist sympathizers. A few politicians bravely read the tea leaves (while the tea was still brewing!) and declared the Boston bombing to be Exhibit A in the argument for tougher immigration laws.

Now it’s time for those who love surveillance cameras to stand up and claim a piece of this tragedy as their own. An article in the Wall Street Journal collects a few quotes from some political camera enthusiasts who believe this successful manhunt justifies increased surveillance by law enforcement.

“They had to piece together I don’t know how many thousands of videos,” said Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican who is on the House Committee on Homeland Security. “I think CCTV [closed-circuit television] cameras are much more needed in urban areas.”

The FBI and police already had “how many thousands of videos,” and yet it’s still not enough. More cameras are “needed.” King continues this line of thinking in an interview with MSNBC.

So, I do think we need more cameras. We have to stay ahead of the terrorists and I do know in New York, the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, which is based on cameras, the outstanding work that results from that. So yes, I do favor more cameras. They’re a great law enforcement method and device. And again, it keeps us ahead of the terrorists, who are constantly trying to kill us.

Constantly? That’s an interesting ridiculous take on reality. (The odds of an American being killed by a terrorist attack are effectively zero.) King must spend plenty of sleepless, terrorized nights chatting with Mike Rogers, whose fear of hackers prevents him from catching any shuteye. Either that or he’s been chatting with the FBI and the NYPD who it seems can barely go a week without creating and shutting down another terrorist “plot.”

[Peter King worries about terrorists… but only if they’re Muslim. He’s perfectly fine with white Irish terrorists, seeing as he went on record during the 80s stating his support for the IRA, which notably bombed a shopping center during the Christmas season, killing six and injuring 90. He was very concerned about their civil rights. Those were his kind of terrorists. These ones, not so much.]

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg also feels the bombing in Boston justifies extensive surveillance in New York City… or more than it already has.

“The Boston bombing is a terrible reminder of why we’ve made these investments—including camera technology that could help us deter an attack, or investigate and apprehend those involved,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this past week. He added the network now has the ability to “alert police to abnormalities it detects on the street, such as an abandoned package that is left on a corner.”

Personally, I could do without the “terrible reminders” and the “investments.” Bloomberg claims the tragedy justifies the surveillance, but there’s very little effort being made to curtail either sides of this false equation. New York law enforcement seems to spend most of its time hanging out in mosques or shoving non-white male youths up against the nearest wall for a little of the old stop-and-frisk.

There’s a chicken-and-egg thing going on here. Apparently, we “need” to increase surveillance because awful things happen. But when awful things fail to happen, no one in the surveillance “community” takes the time to wonder if perhaps the current surveillance efforts might be excessive. Surveillance, like any other vehicle of government control, only expands over time. Various government agencies will once again be asking you to trade privacy for security. The problem is these agencies can’t promise security. The only thing they can truly guarantee is “taking” your privacy.

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Comments on “Rep. Peter King, Mayor Bloomberg Agree: Boston Bombing Shows We Desperately Need MORE Surveillance”

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Beta (profile) says:

Re: Re: smile

It’s more than that. They chose the finish line of the Marathon because they knew there would be hundreds of cameras there. They wanted a big audience– why else choose that street on that day? They weren’t indifferent to camera coverage, they wanted it. To suggest that more cameras could have deterred them is idiotic, even for surveillance maximalists.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: What about rights and money?

For the very first time, I clicked Insightful on an out_of_the_blue post.
If you are the real blue, THIS is how you comment. Think things through, use logic and reasoning and come up with a point that no-one else has said. Thank you for not ending with an ad-hom or that loopy tour link. You’re more likely to get people to think about what you said when you don’t insult them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Did it even help?

It seems to me like none of the policework actually did anything to help capture these guys. They went on a robbing spree (which was probably sparked by their pictures being shown), but they came out of their vehicles guns blazing and it was a local resident who found the second brother.

Not that I’m faulting anything the cops or FBI did in the investigation, but these guys basically outed themselves with their second attack.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Did it even help?

But they would have found them sooner if there was a camera on EVERY street! And pointed at everyone’s backyards! And in everyone’s houses, just in case!

… actually, having cameras in all those places probably WOULD have helped. It’s just not worth it. And I say that knowing that people DIED.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Did it even help?

If the police could monitor everyone all of the time, a child?s life would become so controlled as to destroy their childhood. This would happen because every minor infraction they committed would be reported to their parents, who would then exercise strict control over them all the time to avoid police visits, and fines for not keeping their children under control.
Adults would also be repressed, because the authorities would soon use the cameras for fining every minor breach of every regulation. Sharia law would be anarchistic compared to what would be imposed on a heavily monitored society.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Did it even help?

If the police could monitor everyone all of the time, a child?s life would become so controlled as to destroy their childhood. This would happen because every minor infraction they committed would be reported to their parents, who would then exercise strict control over them all the time to avoid police visits, and fines for not keeping their children under control.

Police don’t have the time or money to do that. They don’t even have the time to investigate all the real crimes going on.

But companies like Google and Facebook do have the ability to monitor us all and are doing so. If someone will pay enough to get info on who is likely to cause trouble or commit crimes, I am sure they can cut a deal with big data companies for that info.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Did it even help?

Given a statistic driven management, where crimes solved is seen as a measure of effectiveness, how long before the police monitor cameras to find minor crimes to solve? How long before face recognition and automatic ticketing with statutory fines becomes a money making means for governments?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Did it even help?

Maybe it’s just me, but use facts…
Look at the UK, which is probably the greatest surveillance state in the world.
Now let’s compare that to the crime rate in the country:

The studies have been done already, why mimic a failed project.

MikeC (profile) says:

Despite all the cameras??? It's all about power/control

Let’s see, we had bunch of cameras – the bombing still happened? But we caught them. Obviously of course from there we can quickly then progress to the thought that more camera’s will prevent the bombing – George Orwell must be smiling in whatever place his soul might or might not be. Nailed it he says !!!

Just like a billionaire that can’t have enough money, a company that can’t have enough market share, the politician can’t have enough power. They all see the cameras as adding to their lust for control, if they can just see a little more of what everyone is doing it will be better.

Can’t you just see Mayor Bloomberg diving into his vault of virtual video tapes with his 3D virtual reality glasses — ala Scrooge McDuck and his vault of coins. (I was going to say video tape vault but that is so dated)….

The quest for power is ongoing. Like the proverbial frog in a pot of cold water – heated to boiling. Said well by Lord Chesterfield:

?Arbitrary power has seldom been introduced in any country at once. It must be introduced by slow degrees, and as it were step by step.? Lord Chesterfield

Take our recent history from the 70’s to now — as we slowly proceed step by step.

That more things change the more they seem the same:

?The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.?

Plutarch, Historian of the Roman Republic (46-120AD)

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s painfully obvious at this point is that it’s all about control. They also tend to get pissy when their tax slaves are threatened, kind of like how farmers don’t like when their livestock gets attacked but have no problems fencing and feasting on them.

I also love how they panic over terrorists trying to kill us when they’re the ones threatening us on a daily basis. These politicians have taken away more freedoms in a year than the typical terrorist organization has in their entire foundation. They have no high ground in any of this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Smarter security, not more security

One of the biggest fallacies involving surveillance in such situations is that “more is better”. This is not true, the FBI was almost overwhelmed with the amount of potential photo evidence it had.

Furthermore, with all the cameras on the Boston marathon, it was not a camera, but a pair of human eyes that provided the key breakthrough. A man, who had had his legs blown off by the blast, had seen the older brother set the bomb, and was able to identify him.

(Full disclosure: I am uncertain as to the origin of this story so it may not be completely accurate)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Smarter security, not more security

I agree with you but there is one little problem with your analysis. The guy that identified him had to have identified him from a photograph of possible suspects, so although the cameras didn’t capture the act of placing the bombs, they did provide law enforcement with images that could be used for the witnesses to identify the suspects.

Beta (profile) says:

Re: Re: Think of the children!

It’s a little more nuanced than that. When a messed-up teenager sees that shooting up a school gets you instant nationwide attention, and shoots up a school, it’s the guns’ fault. When a messed-up teenager sets off a bomb at a time and place where there will be lots and lots of video cameras– we need more cameras.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Think of the children!

And a limit on how much cooking equipment can be bought within a month, with every purchaser’s name and personal info entered into a database accessible by law enforcement. If that doesn’t work, then cooking equipment should be made available only to those with a doctor’s prescription.

Ninja (profile) says:

Excuse me but in my point of view if you keep asking for more power, control and surveillance and after over a decade of getting precisely that you can’t provide security then there are a few steps to be taken. It is obvious that it is not working and it’s making people angrier and angrier at you which may lead to more attempts to blow things up in spite of and actually because all your abusing. So it’s about time a few agencies get dissolved and/or rebooted, powers taken back and surveillance made reasonable. You had enough time to prove the efficiency of a hard handed approach. And it does not work.

special-interesting (profile) says:

Its more likely that each of these so called officials (worried sympathizers) asking for surveillance plans/cameras are more interested in new taxes or outside federal grants to beef up their bureaucracy. (thus patronage jobs and power)

If these guys are really worried about the normal kooks and nut-heads that happen several times a year they would provide better community protection if they just did their jobs and let the citizens be the eyes and ears. It was a citizen who spotted the Boston terrorist suspect after they were let out of their sequestration. (read jailed in their own homes for obvious government bureaucratic stupidity)

Just as mentioned in the earlier TD article; Let the citizens out of their homes and live and work normally. This in itself will provide the needed eyes, ears and intelligent aware minds that are needed. It would be more logical to conclude that all the present surveillance cameras and networks was a wast of good taxpayer cash. More cameras wont help.

Its the logical observation that an inept bureaucracy is covering for itself at the expense of democratic values. Incompetency breeds only more incompetency. As pointed out an earlier TD article the economic expense and loss of citizens awareness was a critical point. (it reminds me of when Bushy boy jr shut down the entire US airline industry for 9/11 at an untold of cost for state, national and international business.) Its seems like a loud and vociferous cover for clear mistakes.

Its law enforcement and intelligence agency mistakes like this that are one of the main reasons GDP and business is in the crapper.

?More taxes and less privacy? has got to be the rally cry of a failed politician or government policy. Good money after bad was always a solution to loose more money. (Yes. It was necessary to point that out.) And there is more to loose here than just money but basic constitutional rights. It would not be worth it.

The greater problem is that once idiots (or worse corrupted) people get elected its hard to toss them out. Even those who voted for them don’t want to look like they were fooled and might undergo some symptoms of denial. Because of reasons of personal pride. Nobody wants to look like a fool so only a politician who has gone way, way, way beyond societal bounds will be impeached.

The average constituent who voted for these (lower life form?) politicians might find it easier to nose down and meekly drink their totalitarian tainted kool-aid. Surveillance is the low road that lead down and down.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

The surveillance is already happening

With so many people already filming their surroundings with their cameras, we’re getting far more captured on camera than ever before. And if you put the public onto crowdsourcing crime solutions, you have lots of eyes monitoring the situation.

The bigger question is probably how to prevent these mass murders than how to identify people once they happen. Each time something does happen, we re-engineer security, safety, crowd control and response, and so on. Each incident undermines trust and encourages us to watch people around us more closely, looking for the crazy/suspicious people in the crowds. I assume technology is going to provide some solutions because it is compiling massive amounts of info on everyone. We are tracking people all the time now, so it’s a matter of fine-tuning that to increase overall safety.

Drones flying overhead recording everything seems likely in our future. Not because government wants it but because businesses want it. Businesses want to monitor everything we do. It is happening. It will continue to happen.

Kept in mind that those cameras watching you in stores are put there by businesses, not by government. Cameras on every corner doesn’t have to come from government. It can easily come from private property owners. Webcams for everyone.

Andrew Norton (profile) says:

more relevent IRA bombing

Rather than the christmas bombing, Tim. A more relevant one would have been the Warrington bombings in March 93.
Again you had two bombs, close together, in a public place, designed for shrapnel (these were in trash cans). Similar death+injury toll too, from what I remember (although mostly what sticks through me there was the sound of the explosion and the feel of a piece of shrapnel as it missed me by inches, as the bomb detonated at a place I’d passed moments earlier.

Anonymous Coward says:

and as per usual, those that know next to nothing and do next to nothing have got to grab the limelight and try to remove even more privacy and freedom. i just wonder why it is that no one in Congress has actually come out and said what they really want to happen? that everyone has to be monitored 24/7, regardless of who they are, where they are what they are doing, how they are doing it and what they are saying! i wonder how quickly those going through the video footage will get fed up of seeing how many times a person uses the crapper? i really dont understand why any terrorist would be interested in trying to do in the USA whatever it is they do, when the government is making such a good job of doing it on their own

zerostar83 (profile) says:

I personally wouldn’t mind if my boring life was recorded, just to be able to rewind back to when I got mugged, when I was hit by a hit-and-run driver, when I was…etc. The issue I have is that it will cost lots of money, and who will be paying for it in the end. Same reason why the cop I called didn’t go all CSI on my car after it was vandalized, even though there were hand prints on it. It’s just not worth the time and money.

Androgynous Cowherd says:


The FBI and police already had “how many thousands of videos,” and yet it’s still not enough. More cameras are “needed.”


I wish I could come up with as perfect a scam as convincing deep-pocketed needle-finders that the solution to difficulties with finding needles is for them to buy bigger haystacks! Guaranteed repeat business in perpetuity.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Haymakers

I wish I could come up with as perfect a scam as convincing deep-pocketed needle-finders that the solution to difficulties with finding needles is for them to buy bigger haystacks! Guaranteed repeat business in perpetuity.

The Boston situation demonstrated the value of citizen taping, citizen ID input, and cellphone tracking (that’s how the police knew where the hijacked Mercedes was going). The tech tools are out there and in this case operated in useful ways.

Elected officials probably haven’t caught up to that fact yet, but I think they will in time. Before cities budget to put more cameras on the streets, there will likely be some smart tech folks figuring out to provide the same services as a grassroots operation. (Google is already mapping the world and tracking as many people as it can. Crimestoppers might be a handy little side project for someone or some company.)

I don’t think the issue at this point will be too much government surveillance. It’s already happening outside government. The bigger issue might be making sure that as citizens are empowered to become involved in fighting crime themselves, they don’t use this power to harm those they just don’t happen to like. Mob rule can be quite ugly.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Haymakers

I hope this is where our discussions focus. Private and citizen monitoring already go on. So now we need to figure out how to prevent damage from that.

Knowing Where to Focus the Wisdom of Crowds – “On Monday Reddit officially apologized for its role in spreading misinformation. ‘Some of the activity on reddit fueled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties,’ wrote Erik Martin, general manager of Reddit, on the company?s Web site. ‘The reddit staff and the millions of people on reddit around the world deeply regret that this happened.'”

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“More surveillance, ‘selectively’ bypassed judicial procedure, harsh punishment, etc, ad nauseum” is the underlying cause.

I don’t think terrorists particularly care what happens in this country. I think they are more interested in what happens in their countries. If the US had no global influence/power, do you think most citizens of other countries would pay much attention to what we do here? Assume the US was involved in no international wars and no international trade during the 20th century, and everything we did was confined within US borders? To what extent would terrorists even bother with us, if we presented no threats to what they value?

If the US had no influence in the world, why would we assume they would care about what happens to US citizens, especially if they had their own issues to focus on?

Androgynous Cowherd says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

  1. Many attacks have been by domestic terrorists with grievances directly related to the government’s domestic policies.
  2. The foreign ones seem mostly to be motivated by the wars and similar aggression, and aggressive foreign policy seems to be linked with aggressive domestic policy — both are part and parcel of the government listening more to large and influential corporations than to individual Americans. And that, ultimately, is fueling both domestic and international terrorism.

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