Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm Baaack.....

I’m back. I really would rather not be, but every time I read the paper or watch the vapid “reporters” on CNN hold forth on important topics like the “staycation” and the second Phil Specter trial, I start frothing at the mouth and my left eye starts twitching. I think holding in all of my anger at the fascist oligarchs running this country is going to start causing me health issues. So, it’s back to ranting and raving on the internet for me.

A random survey of the morning papers produced one item of immediate interest. In a spectacular victory for the 911 terrorists, the City of New York is now completing its transition to a police state with its plan to scan and archive the license plates of every car that crosses into Manhattan through the tunnels and over the bridges. The invasive program is desperately needed in order to “strengthen the city’s guard against a potential terror attack,” according to the NYPD’s chief spokesman. (I suppose it should pass without mention-but I’m going to mention it anyway- that such a plan, had it been in effect on 9/11, would have done nothing to deter the hijackers who flew the planes into the Towers. After all, they didn’t fly the freaking planes through the Holland Tunnel, did they?)

The plan to take snapshots of the subversive bumper stickers on your minivan is part of a much larger operation with the Orwellian name “Operation Sentinel”. The backbone of this plan is the integration of various frighteningly intrusive new technologies with the goal of encasing Manhattan in a web of surveillance. In addition to photographing and scanning the license plates of cars and trucks at all bridges and tunnels, and using sensors to detect the presence of radioactivity, data on each vehicle “including its time-stamped image, license plate imprint and radiological signature — would be sent to a command center in Lower Manhattan, where it would be indexed and stored.” (NY Times). Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, flush with Homeland Security dollars that would arguably be better spent on classrooms and improved transportation infrastructure, “has been urging the creation of a London-style surveillance system for the financial district that relies on license plate readers, movable roadblocks and 3,000 (!) public and private security cameras below Canal Street, all linked to a coordination center called the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative. The goal, according to Kelly, is to save the financial center from a possible disruptive terrorist attack. From what I’ve seen of the economy lately, I’m more inclined to think that the people need to be protected from the financial center rather than the other way around.

Operation Sentinel is also part of the NYPD’s 39 page vision for security at the 9/11 site. Call me crazy, but I kind of remember that right after 9/11, before the country went completely mad, the thinking of designers and politicians alike was that the public space that would rise on the ashes of the World Trade Center site should reflect the angels of our better nature; wide pedestrian spaces, a vibrant streetscape, etc. I am forced to admit that the current plan, with a dozen guard-booths to control pedestrian traffic and placing the entire area of the former WTC within a security zone in which only specially screened taxis, limousines and cars would be allowed through barriers staffed by police officers, to be much more reflective of the small-minded, paranoid, mean-spirited, war-mongering fascists we have become in the last seven years.

It's good to be back.


martin j. cummins said...

good to have you back

reuben said...

These cameras were one of the few things I hated about living in the U.K.... now we're going to have to start dealing with them in the States, in order to keep the monsters at bay"???!!???

I'm with you on it, think money can be spent on better stuff, like training. Also, the van that was used in the first Twin Towers attack was a rental, so how are these cameras going to make a difference?

Thanks for your postings!