I had to pick my pictures up from the police station (kinda long)

Watson: So tell me Holmes, how did you figure out that the woman wasn’t a terrorist?

Holmes: Elementary my dear Watson. She offered to show me her Circle Lines tickets. It is inconceivable that an actual terrorist would take a guided tour of their intended targets. And even if one did, would they have the brains to offer to show me their tickets?

Watson: Brilliant! Another case neatly wrapped up.

Foil terrorists? Last time I flew to NYC, I wrapped my camera and film in 3 layers of aluminum foil, and I put it in checked luggage. No security hassles, no film damage.

Political satirist Al Franken says he carries 3 baseballs in his carryon bag. In the event of a hijacking, he figures, he can bean a terrorist. :stuck_out_tongue:

So, am I the only person who, as a result of this story, feels less safe?

So, I’m the only Doper with the spine to post in here and say that there’s nothing funny about any of this?

Not one single fucking thing.

Looking for patterns is a part of the effort to create a safe country. It’s fairly sickening that so many find that to be only fodder for satire contempt and rebuke.


What? And let the terrorists take over a base?

I agree with you.

I disagree with you. I don’t see this as making anything safer. I see it as promoting an atmosphere of fear and suspicion, and creating worthless busy-work that ties up law-enforcment man-hours that could be better spent in other, actually productive (although not necessarily terrorist-related) ways. This doesn’t make any one safer, it makes us more exposed, because our already limited pool of law enforcement personnel is now wasting time investigating tourists on the say-so of a clerk at Fotomat. That, I think, is eminently deserving not only of satire, contempt, and rebuke, but also of fear and anxiety about exactly what sort of people we have running this country, and what sort of country it will be once they’re done with it.

No, it’s fairly sickening that any human of average intelligence thinks vacation snaps are a matter of national security.

Heh. I have some Indian friends (grad students) who were touring through the city about a year ago, and of course they went to see the former WTC site among other things. While they were there, they took a few pictures (surprise!) and were promptly stopped by a police officer. Said officer asked for their IDs, confiscated all the film they were carrying, and told them to leave the area pronto to avoid any further entanglements with the law that might lead to their visas being revoked. I wonder how many other tourists had the same experience that day - I’m willing to bet that ayone who looked like they hailed from Nebraska or some such place didn’t get treated that way. :dubious:

Like the OP’s exerience with her Circle Line photos being held up, I find the whole thing ridiculous - it’s not as if numerous images of landmarks don’t already exist. I’d much rather have money spent on behind-the-scenes stuff that would actually make a difference in security than this all-too-visible foolishness.

No, you’re apparently the only Doper naive and stupid enough to believe that the OP’s experience made the United States even one tiny bit safer.

As Miller said, this really isn’t a funny story. But it is so troubling, and so indicative of over-zealous and pointless attempts at “security,” that the only satisfying way to deal with it is through ridicule.

And what pattern, pray tell, does the OP’s behavior fall into?

The sinister pattern of visiting New York City on vacation?

Or the pattern of taking holiday snapshots, perhaps?

Or maybe the pattern of going to the drugstore to get one’s pictures developed?

If you believe that the OP’s experience did anything at all “to create a safe country,” then you really do live in your own little Cartooniverse.

What the hell did he think they were going to do? Blow it up again?

I mean, seriously, how can this not have come up before with the clerk or the detective? I mean, I understand the rationale for examining such pictures, but is there any single tourist who DOESN’T photograph every monument? Shouldn’t there have been a crowd of people at a dedicated ‘how was I supposed to know taking photographs wasn’t allowed’ desk?

Ah. Just the post to bring me out from lurking – umm, sightseeing. Hi!

Mr ReadMore frequently carries firearms when he travels – being in the military can do that for ya.

When Mr R. left for Iraq last summer, the folks at his departure point (St Louis) freaked out about his M-16. Uhhhhm, this is a major port for Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard units. Mr R. has orders to travel, orders to carry a specific firearm, the firearm in question, his military ID, drivers license, etc…

Sadly, the TSA folks didn’t know what to make of it. They had him open his M-16 case – in a HEAVILY trafficked area of the terminal – and they SWABBED it for EXPLOSIVES. (slight pause for my blood pressure to go back down…) Our heads nearly exploded as we tried to explain that something that looks, feels, sounds, and SMELLS like a firearm is gonna very likely BE a firearm. The swab came out positive, a few TSA brain cells linked up enough to say, “Oh yeah! Firearms = explosives!” and he was sent along his way.

He called after he’d gotten through Atlanta security (his departure point from the U.S.) He was glad to say the only thing THEY were worried about was his fingernail clippers.

Sigh. He is back safe ‘n’ sound (YAYYYYY!). Meanwhile, I got of the travelling-with-firearms gambit by retiring from the service.


Some guys in a local band told me recently about making an amateur video for one of their songs. They decided that it would be pretty cool to have a train in the video (Memphis is riddled with train tracks), so they went out to the tracks and, when a train came by, I guess they filmed themselves standing around looking all moody and sensitive or whatever one does in a music video.

They spent the night in jail.

I don’t understand… Can’t terrorists scoping out targets just buy digital cameras?? :confused:

This thread is very odd:

  1. There are 9 posts (including the OP) from late March of 2003.

  2. After a two-week hiatus, there are another half-dozen posts.

  3. There is then one post after a nine month pause.

  4. After another four month pause, the thread suddenly starts up again today.

This is clearly highly suspicious. Nobody move; I’m calling the FBI right away.

I would direct you to do a SDMB Search on the phrase “Everything Changed”. After reading it twice, think about what you just wrote.

Not only am I not naive and stupid, but I stood there on the morning of September 11th, 2001 with the blood and flesh of strangers on my hands. Seems to me that I might just know a thing or two about cause and effect that you don’t.

Patterns. Like people registering to learn to fly but not land aircraft?

Patterns. Oh, you mean like lots of people degrading and humiliating and torturing and murdering prisoners under the guise of Freedom Fighting? Yes, recognizing patterns and acting upon them is an important concept.

Yes. I feel it’s very appropriate to keep one’s eyes open, and remain alert. It doesn’t matter much if you disagree, this is the United States, you have your right to free speech.

So do I. I decline to attack you personally as you have done me, however. I would suggest that I’m neither naive nor stupid.

If you’re desperately casting about for an adjective, try "veteran of 9/11 ".


Hogwash. Even if you were catching people as they jumped from the twin towers, you would have no more insight into the cause and effect of terrorism than someone who witnessed it on tv.

My biggest concern is WHO issued the directive to drugstores to be alert to film containing pictures of monuments.

And still you fail to explain how taking pictures of public monuments, in plain view, in one of the world’s largest and most-visited cities, constitutes some sort of pattern that we need to worry about.

How, for example, does this in any way similar to someone learning to fly, but not land, an aircraft?

And how does using police resources to question someone over their holiday snapshots aid in our security. In fact, it seems to me that wasting law enforcement time on ridiculous cases like this is more likely to compromise security by laving gaps elsewhere in the system.

Hell, the OP could probably have found more detailed and comprehensive pictures of those same monuments all over the internet. For example, this site has a virtual tour of the Empire State building, and offers multiple viewpoints of many key part of the structure. And this site allows you to download detailed three-dimensional models of the building. Surely something like this would be much more useful to a terrorist than a grainy snapshot taken from a boat in the East River. And guess what the first of those websites is? It’s the Official Empire State Building website.

I’m not interested in searching for your search term, because it has no bearing on the issue at hand. And you can cut the whole “veteran of 9/11” schtick. As samclem rightly points out, this gives you no monopoly on understanding the motivations of terrorists or the logistics of security.

Disregarding, just for a moment, the reactionary responses above, I had the following thought:

grettle, if the same thing had happened to me, I would have derived extreme pleasure from purchasing a high-quality digital camera* (along with the means of producing quality prints therefrom) and taking it to the film developer’s business. I would choose a time when both the manager and the dope who reported me to the police were working there. I would then go in, ask to speak to the manager and explain how wonderful their employee was for finally convincing me they were doing well enough to do without my business, and explain why.

“So long and thanks for the fun afternoon!” :wally


*Provided, of course, I had the means to do so.

And the patterns of someone taking pictures of monuments and probably people standing in front of the monuments as if they are tourists means…?

I would tend to think they were tourists myself. Honestly if I were to be doing research for terrorist purposes I would be getting shots of entries to analize them for soft points, guard posts, alarm panels, useful things like that. If I were just getting images of monuments to point them out as targets I would probably buy postal cards or picture guide books to cities with pictures of the targets in it and save the cost of developing generic pictures…and i would be using a digital camera. I know that the enemy isnt supposed to be techno-savvy…but they could be=)

I would be worried about someone who is interested in flying but not landing, and that was sheer stupidity on theat idiots part as he should have silently gone along and learned to land to allay suspicions…but then again, stupidity happens=) Just like the shoe bomber…moron!