Indiana Police Refuse To Hand Over Stingray Docs Because Someone Might Attack The Annual Mule Day Parade

from the not-doing-much-to-keep-flyover-country-from-looking-like-uncultured-hicks dept

Another state agency is refusing to release Stingray documents. This time, it's not just about the not-even-a-secret-anymore "means and methods" or the supposed jeopardization of ongoing investigations. Nope, this time the nexus is terrorism, as Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar reports. And not just any terrorism, but the "blowing up a cornfield" variety.

[T]he reason for the denial is a bit strange—the department seems to claim that releasing the requested information constitutes a possible risk to terrorism or even "agricultural terrorism."
The refusal, given to privacy activist/Stingray doc enthusiast Mike Fitz-Lacabe, cites a state statute that limits disclosure of documents related to terrorism mitigation, including the sort of terrorism that apparently never has actually happened anywhere in the US but is still a great matter of concern for the state. Not that the concern makes any sense.
"Months ago, I hadn’t seen the myriads of reasons that agencies and their lawyers give for claiming records are exempt," Katz-Lacabe told Ars. "I think the reference to agricultural terrorism is perplexing and perhaps ludicrous. Maybe it’s a Midwest thing."
Possibly. The Midwest is heavily-reliant on agriculture. Indiana, it seems, is more heavily-reliant on existential threats. Farivar points out that Indiana has been voted "Most Likely to be Attacked by Terrorists" by local law enforcement and its DHS branch office. Farivar links to a 2006 New York Times article that shows the state has designated nearly 8,600 sites as potential terrorist targets in the National Asset Database. What's included on the list suggests state fearmongers simply added any place that might draw a crowd of two or more individuals.
It reads like a tally of terrorist targets that a child might have written: Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified “Beach at End of a Street.”
To put it in context, Indiana claims nearly 3,000 more terrorist targets than the big daddy of terrorist-targeted assets, New York City. And that's a state that has actually been hit with a terrorist attack. It also claims almost 1,500 more "targets" than the next most dangerous state to live in… Wisconsin.

So, the National Asset List is largely comprised of bullshit. As is the excuse given to Fitz-Lacabe. Many agencies have acquired Stingrays with counterterrorism grants from the federal government. And almost every agency uses their Stingrays to tackle mundane criminal activity ranging from drug dealing to misdemeanor theft. Terrorism is the always-handy excuse. As long as the federal government continues to justify its own overreach with cries of "terrorists!" state and local agencies will do the same.

Filed Under: indiana, police, stingrays

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2015 @ 12:48pm

    Where is Rudy?

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.