Thursday, May 16, 2013

"The battle will go on for the rest of our lives" 2

The story on the PBS Newshour the other night (Boston Attacks Inspire Use of Surveillance Cameras in Cities Nationwide) nicely captured important viewpoints on the cameras-versus-privacy debate. The people from the ACLU viewpoint were completely unconvincing. They seem to be living in a world before 9/11 and the Boston bombing when most of us liked to think that there was some kind of presumption of privacy when we were in public, even though legally that was not necessarily true.

The world we live in now permits no presumption of either privacy or safety in public.

Police Chief Suhr has reasonably proposed doing a survey of existing cameras on Market Street---the city's main parade route---to locate any blind spots.

From the PBS story:
SPENCER MICHELS: American Civil Liberties Union attorney Nicole Ozer is also worried about cameras invading privacy in a politically active city where that has long been an issue.
NICOLE OZER, American Civil Liberties Union: Cameras are ripe for abuse. They're taking footage of people engaged in political protests. Cameras don't prevent terrorism. They don't reduce violence. Cameras didn't prevent or reduce violence in London. They didn't prevent or reduce violence in Boston, and it's essential that we not trade our privacy and free speech rights for just the illusion of safety.
SPENCER MICHELS: Ozer maintains that San Francisco's cameras installed to prevent crime, like those in many other cities, have not achieved their goal. And she cites a study made by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, led by assistant professor of information Deirdre Mulligan.
DEIRDRE MULLIGAN, University of California, Berkeley: What we found in San Francisco with respect to this set of cameras is that they didn't have the desired effect, which was really about reducing violent crime. And one can imagine, if you deploy cameras, for example, to deal with terrorists, many terrorists are planning to die anyway, right, and the fact that they're being filmed in their moment of martyrdom isn't really going to deter them.

Rob's comment: Yes, the San Francisco cameras have been ineffective in reducing crime, but it's not clear that those cameras have anywhere near the enhanced capabilities of the present technology. And real-time monitoring of security cameras is no longer the point, which is to identify the perps after the fact and then to bring them to justice.

No, security cameras can't deter terrorist violence---especially suicide bombers, who by definition can't be deterred---but cameras allowed London to identify and capture the men who bombed the London subway, just as cameras enabled the authorities to identify the Boston bombers.

The ACLU point of view on the issue doesn't seem to understand that, with the Islamic terrorists, we now live in a different world, and it's going to be this way for a long time. 

The late Christopher Hitchens in December, 2009:

What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims. The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don't get the point prefer to whine about "endless war"...

This is the same point that Spencer and Geller were making, much to the distress of city progressives, with their ads on Muni buses: This is just the beginning. These Islamic fanatics are going to keep coming at us, and our bogus multiculturism won't protect us.

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