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PATRIOT ACT - does it really allow this?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by BB62, Oct 26, 2004.

  1. BB62

    BB62 Well-Known Member

    A friend of mine travelled to ********** recently with his family (Americans since birth, of no discernable ancestry) and told me of a disturbing encounter which he attributed to the excesses of the Patriot Act.

    I would very much appreciate some input from those more knowledgeable than myself **if his perception is reality**, and comments or citations on just what the Patriot Act changed.

    I did not question him in minute detail about events, not thinking at the time that this was right up THR's member's alley, so excuse the fuzziness!

    The story is this: He was taking pictures at some open air square (in Los Angeles I believe) in which there were a number of "art" pieces and/or architectural items of interest. He was approached by a presumed LE individual who asked that he stop taking pictures. He was then asked what he was taking pictures of, and for his driver's license. At some point in the "stop" more presumed LE people arrived, evidently of another agency.

    My friend was asked what the derivation (ancestry) of his name was. He asked what was the problem and was told that he was taking pictures on Federal property, and that doing so was against the law. He said that no signs were posted to that effect. The serial number of his camera was recorded by the "officials".

    Evidently the square has a prison and some sort of building housing legislators. My friend was told that had he been taking pictures facing the other direction, there would not have been a problem. He asked if he was going to be charged, and was told "no". He asked if he was going to be fined, and was told "no". He asked if his film was going to be confiscated and was told that "the law still considers that private property".

    BTW, my friend is about 5 foot 5, heavyset, no tattoos or anything.

    Are the official's actions described above something newly allowable because of the Patriot Act's passage? Is it illegal to take pictures of Federal Property? (I guess the Grand Canyon is off limits then! LOL) , and does doing so open you up to detainment and questioning?

    I would greatly appreciate it if knowledgeable individuals can speak to the legality and source of powers used during the "incident", and if you like, what really does the Patriot Act allow?

    As you might imagine, my friend turned away my suggestions of contacting his elected representatives and making noise, preferring to "spread the word" among coworkers about the evil Patriot Act (is it??).

    I realize that most of us would be greatly irritated were we stopped as my friend was, so please don't simply chime in and agree.

    If we can get some knowledgeable comments here about the matter, I would love to refer my friend to this thread for his reading pleasure!


  2. Gordon Fink

    Gordon Fink Well-Known Member

    This wasn’t a PATRIOT Act matter. However, under said act, a search warrant could easily be obtained in the “terrorism†investigation of your friend, his camera could be seized (perhaps without his knowledge), and he would be barred from discussing any of it.

    ~G. Fink
  3. cordex

    cordex Well-Known Member

    I've read many similar stories from photographers - both professional and amateur.

    Very worrisome, but I'm tempted to test this if given a chance.
  4. Zrex

    Zrex Well-Known Member

    Not being a smart ass, but you might want to ask some of the resident LEO's here like Coronach their opinion about this before you go and get your camera confiscated.
  5. WT

    WT Well-Known Member

    Don't know if it is part of the Patriot Act but it happens quite often in the NYC area. They have discovered illegals taking pictures of important bridges, government buildings, tunnels, etc.

    New Jersey Transit has a policy of no pictures of facilities or trains without a permit.

    They want to extend the ban to NYC subways but Mayor Bloomberg is against that. He doesn't want tourists going thru a stop and frisk as part of their NYC experience.

    Unlike the rest of the country, NYC & Northern NJ are still in Orange Alert. We still have National Guardsmen on duty protecting public areas.
  6. cordex

    cordex Well-Known Member

    If I'm reading this right, you seem to be accusing Coronach of supporting this kind of police intimidation of photographers.

    I've been on this board a little while now (since a few hours before it actually opened, in fact) and on TFL for a couple years before that. I've always enjoyed reading Coronach's posts in particular because from what I've read he's about as fine an officer as exists. I may not always agree with 100% of what he says, but I've never seen him unfairly rush to judgement or support overly statist laws. He presents a sane view from the other side of the badge and I respect him and his opinions highly. He routinely and calmly brings up good, valid points even when wrongly under attack by people who blindly hate all police. He's a Good Guy, and I'd buy him a drink any day.

    This is not to say there aren't police apologists and statists on THR, but you really picked a poor example if I read you right.

    Still, I'd love to ask Coronach's opinion. Mike, what do you think of this? Am I missing something? If I decide to take pictures of my local courthouse, should I leave my turban at home? ;)
  7. Zrex

    Zrex Well-Known Member

    You are reading this wrong. The reason I put the disclaimer, "not being a smart ass" is because I am being serious. There are LEO's on this board who could probably give valuable advice on things like this. Just because I like to argue, and just because I may not agree with him on some subjects or dont always see eye to eye, does not mean that I do not value his opinion, ESPECIALLY when he works in a relevent field!

    So, seriously, have people like Coronach received any guidance on things of this nature from their departments?

    ^^^^ That is what I meant by my post.
  8. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Let's review the steps behind a terrorist plot

    --Cell organized in the US
    --Cell receives instructions to go to flight school and learn how to fly, but not land.
    --FBI appraised of this, but ignores it
    --Cell members assigned to a series of coordinated flights and given major targets in NYC and DC.
    --Cell members board jets and thanks to FAR's are able to take them over with tiny box cutters and the assistance of the flight crews, as required by federal law.
    --Cell members crash planes/fuel bombs into major buildings.

    Federal response?


  9. Ktulu

    Ktulu Well-Known Member

    We need a to pass a law banning certain types of "Assault Cameras." Kiss your auto winders and telephoto lens goodbye!

    In a hand basket boys...in a hand basket!
  10. cordex

    cordex Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry for misunderstanding you, Zrex.
  11. HankB

    HankB Well-Known Member

    If I were approached by a presumed LE individual who began asking me questions, I would - politely - ask to see said individual's LE credentials.
  12. buzz_knox

    buzz_knox Well-Known Member

    No, this has nothing to do with the Patriot Act. It happened more than once prior to the Patriot Act. It sounds more like an LE officer got a "bit" overzealous in his actions. Maybe he read one too many security alerts about individuals (including Arabs wanted by the FBI for illegal entry) photographing such items as power facilities, bridges, dams, etc.
  13. mack69

    mack69 Well-Known Member


    One thing in the story bothers me.....the fact that you mentioned presumed LE's...WTH is that?? Did your friend not have the stones to ask for ID?? This is not a part of the Patriot act...If those guys were LEO's they may just be hyped up by their departments due to all the publicity of "terrorists" taking pictures of important buildings, attractions etc....
  14. riverdog

    riverdog Well-Known Member

    Everyone knows you don't go to Dzerzhinsky Square with a camera and start taking pictures of KGB Headquarters. Where you been all your life?

    ... Ohh, Los Angeles -- never mind :rolleyes:
  15. R.H. Lee

    R.H. Lee Well-Known Member

    What's even more worrisome is the potential of a hypothetical "President Kerry" armed with the Patriot Act(s). :what:
  16. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Sad to say, I think it's being made up as we go along. The so-called "Patriot Act" is dangerous enough in the Bush administration's hands; in leftist extremist hands, it could prove a civil rights disaster.
  17. bcbr

    bcbr Well-Known Member


    We were stopped to photo the old Memphis Arkansas bridge on the Arkansas side on a county public gravel road that circles out and under the bridge on continues on to a section of land we here about call Dacus lake. This was Dec last year. I was watching the misses take her photos and lo and be hold here comes a car from the bushy area I had seen as we went past.
    A large man got out and said You cannot do that. I listened to his reason and told him I under stood ,But we were almost done and told the Misses to carry on. The man was a wackenhut security guard and @zz ho...
    Any way The misses was afraid and very nonconfrontational. I told him to call for some help. We are on a public road off to the side on private property and to not approach us or interfere with me, I was very armed and was and still not going to personally put up with it no way no how.
    Any way we were done and the Guuarrdd was busy writing down tag numbers and what ever else he was doing. We drove on off and for the next 3 hrs I guess we talked about all this and more. She knew I am rite but was scared to death to do any thing but comply? Me ,I wont take another step back for any one much ,I felt soorrry for the IGNORANT BASS fishing whew, anyway we have nice pics of the bridge and went on down thru Ark and crossed back at Helana , We went over and asked a fella down there could we lurk about and photo, was not a problem,all up under that bridge taking pics ,I donot know the difference except the Helena side was on a boating docking co property,I played with a big lab while she photographed.
    I wrote to the Wacken nut folks about this incident,sent them copies of our pic as well as a list of Bridge Web Site detailing everything about the bridges, assurring them of the ridiculous event and the meaning of my right to travel freely and unimpeaded.
    Wrote the Gov of Ark. as well about this ,ain't heard Jack SHoot from any of them.
    My point is to answer you ,YES . It is happening more and more and I cannot stand it one little bit. It scares the Misses,stuff like this ,but she knows I mean it ,I am already sick and just almost dont care anymore to vote and write the letters to the congressmen,both senators and representative,senators donot like to be called congressman I found out.
    Sorry for the semi rant and lecture, we must all live free. If we are at war then kill the enemy,hurt him bad,kick him while he is down to keep him down,seize his stuff, make him pay a horrible terrible price, I will support you and the govt. at every step and turn,Just git it right and do not mess with the home bodies ,and citizens here.
    If it can be done I will have her post some of her photos from that trip.
    I apologize if this seemed to take the thread some where other than the original post.Bobby
  18. Sead0nkey

    Sead0nkey Active Member

    This sadly is exactly what the terrorist want. They have changed are day to day lives (mine anyway). :fire:
  19. BB62

    BB62 Well-Known Member

    "One thing in the story bothers me.....the fact that you mentioned presumed LE's...WTH is that?? Did your friend not have the stones to ask for ID??"

    I said it that way because at the time my friend was recalling the events, I did not try to pin him down on every detail, with the thought that it would be great grist for THR - that came later, hence the fuzziness of my description.

    I am disappointed that so many responses are off-topic - I dreaded that.

    What I am read I summarize as follows: the "stop" was not related to the Patriot Act, but rather to a general unease about potential terrorist activity. LE are free to question a person about their activities, and that person should (is?) free to not go along and be free to go unless the officer can voice reasonable suspicion.

    Is my summary accurate? PLEASE anyone, tell me how or if the PA fits into the events described. In what ways does the Patriot Act affect Joe Tourist/Joe Citizen?


  20. BB62

    BB62 Well-Known Member

    Standing Wolf,

    "Sad to say, I think it's being made up as we go along. The so-called "Patriot Act" is dangerous enough in the Bush administration's hands; in leftist extremist hands, it could prove a civil rights disaster."

    Can you elaborate? How can the PA be used, as you understand it, against your average innocent Joe Tourist/Joe Citizen?



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