Anti-Terrorist Watch List ...
/forum/topic/1093778/0

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RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11957
Country: United States

So, I'm taking pictures of a trestle bridge that goes across some train tracks out in a rural area about 5 miles from town.

Sheriff's deputy pulls up and informs me that I can't be taking pictures of railroad tracks due to the Post 9-11 TSA Anti-Terrorism Act (or something like that) and that he is now obligated to report me to the 800 Anti-Terrorist Hotline.

He goes on to say that I can only take pictures of a train or its tracks from a distance of 550 feet (1/10 mile) or more.

This comes on the heels (two days ago) of my discussing with a museum curator the possibility of doing a project to document some local history as a possible exhibition next year or so ... that would include railroad, coal & oil ... three industries that have been historically instrumental in the region.

I'm really at a loss as to what to say, think or do regarding this. I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when the officer informed me he would be reporting me to the Hotline. I'm a disabled war vet, former state official and was actually performing contract work on a Penatgon Project when 9-11 occured. Suffice to say, I consider myself to be a loyal American. The thought of being on the Anti-Terrorist Watch List is absolutely appalling to me. I don't mind being "checked out" for my peculiar photography ... but I can't quite get my head around this one ... or what / where to do / go regarding it.

I'm not wanting to open a "bashing" dialogue (as we've had plenty of those in the past) ... but would truly appreciate some input should anyone have any sincere & legitimate information on how I might proceed.



Thanks.



brockwhittaker
Registered: Oct 10, 2011
Total Posts: 546
Country: India

I guess I don't really have much valuable input, but that sucks! That must have been nerve racking. Is this Post 9/11 law everywhere in America? I have taken photos of tons of railroad tracks, and no one has ever gotten upset. I guess I'll stop to then..

I think that the guy really took it to far. Maybe you should go in and report the incident?



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11957
Country: United States

The officer was very cordial, and even apologetic that he would be making the report (i.e. no "power trip") ... yet, he was likewise sincere at informing me of the duty that was bestowed upon him to make such a report. I can't find any fault with the deputy at this juncture for performing his duty.

For reasons of national security (for real), I am obligated to not discuss any details regarding members of my family occupation ... but this concerns me for how it might likewise impact their security clearances, as well as my future security clearances.



colinm
Registered: Nov 21, 2005
Total Posts: 1949
Country: United States

Call your local ACLU office. They should know what, if anything, actually applies in your particular situation.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11957
Country: United States

The ACLU crossed my mind ... never have dealt with anything like this ... didn't know if it would be appropriate or not. Not sure where the nearest one would be ... but Google is my friend.

IRONY ... the banner ad below this is for an online "counter terrorism" degree.



Monito
Registered: Jan 28, 2005
Total Posts: 9710
Country: Canada

Big profits corporately and politically in selling fear. Sorry you had to be a victim.



jeraldcook
Registered: Dec 29, 2009
Total Posts: 521
Country: United States

That officer is misguided to say the least. Perhaps well intentioned, but misguided.

http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/aclu-calls-maryland-transit-authority-cease-unconstitutional-harassment-photographers



alohadave
Registered: Jul 26, 2005
Total Posts: 842
Country: United States

RustyBug wrote:
So, I'm taking pictures of a trestle bridge that goes across some train tracks out in a rural area about 5 miles from town.

Sheriff's deputy pulls up and informs me that I can't be taking pictures of railroad tracks due to the Post 9-11 TSA Anti-Terrorism Act (or something like that) and that he is now obligated to report me to the 800 Anti-Terrorist Hotline.

He goes on to say that I can only take pictures of a train or its tracks from a distance of 550 feet (1/10 mile) or more.

This comes on the heels (two days ago) of my discussing with a museum curator the possibility of doing a project to document some local history as a possible exhibition next year or so ... that would include railroad, coal & oil ... three industries that have been historically instrumental in the region.

I'm really at a loss as to what to say, think or do regarding this. I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when the officer informed me he would be reporting me to the Hotline. I'm a disabled war vet, former state official and was actually performing contract work on a Penatgon Project when 9-11 occured. Suffice to say, I consider myself to be a loyal American. The thought of being on the Anti-Terrorist Watch List is absolutely appalling to me. I don't mind being "checked out" for my peculiar photography ... but I can't quite get my head around this one ... or what / where to do / go regarding it.

I'm not wanting to open a "bashing" dialogue (as we've had plenty of those in the past) ... but would truly appreciate some input should anyone have any sincere & legitimate information on how I might proceed.



Thanks.


Call the chief of police and complain to him. Then call the Mayor's office and tell them what happened. Then call the newspaper and tell them what happened. Then the TV station. Be the squeaky wheel and assert your rights.

Your personal history is unknown to the police, and really not relevant to your rights. Don't feel like your patriotism is being questioned. You need to separate your personal feelings from this, and approach it like a consumer who has a valid complaint. Keep escalating until you get satisfaction or resolution.



gridironphoto
Registered: Mar 28, 2010
Total Posts: 791
Country: United States

That officer is complete moron. Call his superior officers and file a formal complaint for harassment. You would be doing all of us a favor. There is no law against taking pictures of railroad tracks, federal buildings or any other entity that is in public view.

BTW, I am sure if he was stupid enough to actually call some hot line they would have laughed him off of the phone.



trenchmonkey
Registered: Oct 22, 2004
Total Posts: 34502
Country: United States

Is it April Fools already Thought we just set the clocks ahead today
Methinks the guy was totally yankin' your chain.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11957
Country: United States

I have to admit that I'm not well versed in "Homeland Security" rules. I know that I was on the RR property @ the crossing to get the angle for the shot I was looking for. A case for "trespassing" could be plausible ... but Anti-Terrorist Watch List and 550 feet away for pictures seems over the top. But I got caught being a bit "ignorant" at the actual rules, so I wasn't in a position to defend myself as well as I usually am.

I guess I could go the the police department to ask for clarification (this was the sheriff's department) before I file a complaint @ the sheriff's department. It's not often that someone catches me off guard regarding my activities ... as I've been questioned so many times that I'm used to it by now with my "peculiar" endeavors ... but this one threw me for a loop.



Bill Weaver
Registered: Jun 13, 2005
Total Posts: 899
Country: United States

Rusty,

Take a look at this page this links to, I think you'll find it interesting:

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

Bill



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11957
Country: United States

Thanks.

I'm pretty well versed in my rights and don't get pushed around very often, even though I do inspire many inquiries. The thing about THIS one that caught me off guard is that I am not versed in the Homeland Security / TSA / Anti-Terrorist laws enough to have been able to distinguish between correct application and BS.

I've been a strong advocate and defender of law enforcemnt authorities being appropriate in making an inquiry and still feel the same regarding this isntance ... I was on RR property without authorization, so the inquiry is certaiinly appropriate.

HOWEVER ... IF a tax dollar paid, public servant took it upon himself to fabricate a story in an attempt to impose fear into a member (me) of the public in which he serves that PISSES ME OFF. As a servicemember, state official and federal subcontractor, I was always REQUIRED to be truthful in my conduct in the performance of my duties with others ... DIRECT as need be, but still abiding by the factuality of the laws under which I was either subject to or required to uphold.

If the officer says "You're trespassing on RR property and you have to leave." I say, "No problem. Thank you officer." I pack up and go and move to pulbic property and shoot from there. I understand the difference quite well.

The thing here that threw me for a loop was the stated 550 Feet distance requirement. That was a specification that I knew I was unaware of, either by my own ignorance of that specification ... OR ... by its non-existence.

I guess the root issue here is whether or not such a specification exists anywhere. With a chance to "sleep on it" and get my head a little more clear thinking, I'm strongly doubting that such a specification exists ... but would certainly like to find what/where it actually does address the issue @ photographing TSA (planes, buses, trucks, trains, etc.).

Subsequent to that is regarding the HS rules @ hotline reporting and being placed on the watch list ... as to what constitutes provocation for doing so ... and at who's discretion / requirement.

Like I've said before, I'm fairly well versed @ my rights, but like to think I know which battles vs. wars to pick and win vs. lose. I typically choose to not pick a battle of arguing with law enforcement (my town is too small to make a name with the establishment for being difficult an confrontational. Of course, I still retain and exercise my rights to shoot. I just smile and say "Hi, how are you doing officer."

Last week, I was taking some test shots @ sky/sunset/lighting relative to calibration efforts @ meter/camera. I just happend to be in a parking lot across from the police station. An officer comes out and asks me what I'm doing (go figure) and why I'm taking pics of the police station/officers/cars/etc.

We chat, I laugh ... he goes back inside ... no biggie. I'm fine with the inquiries as I've had enough that I handle them very well and recognize them as being dutiful inquiries (mostly to satisfy the nature of their profession's curiousity at peculiarity). The officer even divulged to me that they had been inside watching the "PI" across the street on their monitors. Me, a "PI" ... yeah right, but hey whatever floats your boat. Minor inconvenience, but nothing earth shattering or problematic.

So, what I don't know is whether this was a "BS smokescreen" that I bought into in a moment of ignorance (@ the existence of such TSA specifics) ... or have I really been placed on the Anti-Terrorist Watch List. The latter is all I really care about. I and my family are on good terms with the "MIB" (yes they've been to my house) relative to our security clearance issues.

So, now I have to figure out how "Verify or Flushout" the matter.

Thanks guys ... still looking for specific info (i.e. actual law) regarding the matter if you've got anything else. I prefer to go into a gun fight with a couple of loaded six-shooters and a fully stocked gun belt. It usually only takes one well-placed shot, but it's always good to have more ... it gets in your opponents head that they are better served to pick a different adversary if they don't want a "real fight" on their hands. I haven't lost one yet that I've been properly prepared for. They might get first salvo ... but so far, I'm still standing.



Ho1972
Registered: Dec 02, 2007
Total Posts: 1192
Country: United States

Better get started on those phone calls. Once your name gets on the list...



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11957
Country: United States

Ho1972 wrote:
Better get started on those phone calls. Once your name gets on the list...


THAT's what I'm concerned about.



Eyeball
Registered: Jan 11, 2005
Total Posts: 3584
Country: Mexico

RustyBug wrote:
Ho1972 wrote:
Better get started on those phone calls. Once your name gets on the list...


THAT's what I'm concerned about.


. . . especially if you are ever going to need to fly.

I agree with you about being OK with an officer checking out what you're doing but it gets pretty ridiculous when they go over the line.

I suspect that nine times out of ten, these situations happen because:
- the law enforcement/private security officer is bored out of his or her skull and is looking for anything to break the monotony.
- a "concerned neighbor" has reported you and the officer feels the need to take "action", either to appease the "concerned neighbor" or in retaliation for being bothered by a nuisance call.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11957
Country: United States

So far ... I've talked with "first observer" org, TSA & FBI ... none of which have heard of such a thing. Waiting on a callback from Homeland Security.

The FBI agent commented "If everyone that took a picture of the railroad tracks were placed on the watch list, it would be a pretty useless thing."

Hopefully I can get a callback this morning from Homeland Security before I get over to the Sheriff's Office to address this with them.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11957
Country: United States

I'm applying for a Federal Position that requires travel ... ya think this might be an issue for me



mdude85
Registered: Apr 12, 2004
Total Posts: 4388
Country: United States

I've never heard of such a law (why 550 feet? that seems rather arbitrary).



jeraldcook
Registered: Dec 29, 2009
Total Posts: 521
Country: United States

Well according to David Hobby from The Strobist there is indeed a list.

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2012/02/how-to-avoid-dealing-with-police-when.html

"My friend won the argument, but lost the war. The security guard/terrorist detection specialist turned out to be a vindictive jerk. The photog is now on an "increased scrutiny list" that adds a long and special wait at TSA any time he flies."



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