Sunday, July 18

Lebensraum and Homeland Security

I am not even sure where to start. Stuff like this just knocks the wind out of me. Here's the background: A student in a photography class has an assignment, chooses a local bridge as the subject of said assignment. Later he responds to a knock on the door to find two of Seatle's Finest at the door, requesting an explanation and identification. He returns to the bridge for more photographs and gets to meet more of Seatle's finest and some honest to goodness Homeland security agents. His blog is here. His detailed account of the incident here and an article on the subject here.

Realizing that I’d have to settle and just go for the grade, I considered things that were less exciting, but more familiar and accessible. I finally decided to take photos of boats over at the Ballard Locks. Who knows, maybe I’d get lucky and even get a passing train into my composition.

I suppose a little background would help. The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks are a bit of a sore subject with me. I’d been over at the Locks earlier in the quarter, back at the beginning of April, taking photos of the picturesque landscape surrounding this prominent local landmark. I’d even left my subject and returned with more film just to try to get the right shot. Being new to photography, I made careful notes of my camera’s settings.

Within a half an hour of my returning home I found myself confronted by two uniformed Seattle Police officers, both of which had their hands casually resting on their sidearms. (This is definitely not something you want to see at the door of your home.) I was sincerely surprised and alarmed to learn they were looking for me!

They asked if I was taking photos of the train bridge, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I quickly pulled my notebook from my back pocket and explained that I was a new photography student over at Shoreline Community College, and showed them all of my notes — a list of exposures, subjects, f-stops, and shutter speeds. I think I talked to them for about five minutes, setting things straight and giving them all of the background information I could. They clarified that I hadn’t done anything wrong. I thought we were done.

“Can I see some ID?” one of the cops asked. I was really confused by this request. I’d already provided all the information I’d felt I’d needed to. If I hadn’t done anything wrong then why did they need to see my ID?
I might add at this time that Ian Spiers is of Scottish-African American ancestry. Combinations like this, and I am one of them, lead to much confusion among the mono-racially challanged. I am often asked "what are you?" generally after the conversational ice has been broken. I like to refer to people like myself as being of Indeterminable Racial Origin, or IRO. I am not at all suprised by Ians tale, I half expect myself to be phoned in for suspicious activies because some yokel will determine that I might be from Jewrabistan and therefore al-queda. I get worried about crap like the latest bulletin from the Department of Fatherland security because I just might end up fitting this profile in the mind of some enthusiastic law enforcement officer.
WASHINGTON - The FBI (news - web sites) is cautioning local authorities the al-Qaida terror network may be recruiting non-Arabs less likely to attract notice as they carry out attacks in the United States.

Al-Qaida especially wants operatives who have American citizenship or legal residency status, the FBI's counterterrorism division said in its weekly bulletin to 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide.
How exactly are "local authorities" going to determine what constitutes
"recruitment related program activies"? I mean even the "beer cooler related explosive program activities" and the previous "almanac related research program activities" made sense in a stupid assed kind of way.
The FBI bulletin does not mention a possible time, place or method of attack. Security is expected to be especially tight at this summer's political conventions, which begin July 26 with the Democratic Party's gathering in Boston. The Republican convention is Aug. 30-Sept 2 in New York.
We have no idea what they have planned or when they plan to carry it out, or where. Kind of like "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."