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Monday, July 9, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the NYT: New York Plans Surveillance Veil for Downtown

By the end of this year, police officials say, more than 100 cameras will have begun monitoring cars moving through Lower Manhattan, the beginning phase of a London-style surveillance system that would be the first in the United States.

The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, as the plan is called, will resemble London’s so-called Ring of Steel, an extensive web of cameras and roadblocks designed to detect, track and deter terrorists.

[…]

If the program is fully financed, it will include not only license plate readers but also 3,000 public and private security cameras below Canal Street, as well as a center staffed by the police and private security officers, and movable roadblocks.

Given that we are primarily concerned about suicide bombers, it is unclear to me how these cameras are supposed to act as a deterrent. If being blown up in the act of the crime isn’t enough of a reason not to act, I somehow doubt being photographed while so doing will discourage the actors in question. Even those perpetrators who don’t engage in suicide bombing are so certain of their reward in the hereafter that it would seem that the possibility of being caught is not all that much of a deterrent–certainly the presence of all those cameras in London didn’t deter the 7/7/05 attacks, the 7/21/05 attempt nor the recent car bombing attempt . As such, I am not sure I buy the argument that such a system actually dissuades attacks.

That thousands of cameras can be useful in solving a crime after it happened I do not doubt. However, I can’t help but wonder whether that is worth the trade-offs that we have been engaging in post-9/11 wherein governmental authorities gather enormous amounts of data on the activities of the innocent.

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Filed under: US Politics, War on Terror | |

1 Comment

  1. Dr. Taylor,

    BOY DID you say it. The only lives that have been changed by Sept. 11, 2001 have been OURS. The so-called ‘terrorists’ are skipping along all the same, eh?
    I have my doubts that most of these folks are ‘terrorists’.
    Just more rhetoric and fear from the bushites. Anyway, thanks for your article of common sense and clear thinking.

    Comment by voxpopuli — Tuesday, July 10, 2007 @ 7:19 pm

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