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Secret Buildings You May Not Photograph, Part 643

If you happen by 3701 N. Fairfax Drive in Arlington and decide you have a sudden craving for a photograph of a generic suburban office building, and you point your camera at said structure, you will rather quickly be greeted by uniformed security folks who will demand that you delete the image and require that you give up various personal information.

When Keith McCammon unwittingly took a picture of that building, he was launched on an odyssey that has so far involved an Arlington police officer, the chief of police and the defense of the United States of America.

McCammon could not have been expected to know when he wandered by the building that it houses the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a low-profile wing of the Defense Department that conducts all manner of high-tech research that evolves into weapons systems and high-order strategery.

DARPA's presence at 3701 N. Fairfax is hardly a government secret--Google finds nearly 10,000 pages listing the agency's use of the building. But there's no big fat sign on the building, so how was McCammon to know that this was a building he dared not photograph? And why would the government care if anyone took a picture of the exterior of an office building? This is as silly and hypersensitive as the now-common harassment of people who innocently take pictures of random federal buildings in the District.

McCammon decided to fight back. He demanded to know why he had been stopped, why the government needed his personal information, and why any record of the incident should be kept in government records. He got quick, polite responses from Arlington officials.

"I hope that you would agree that the security of any such building is of great importance and every law enforcement officer is duty bound to investigate all suspicious activity," wrote Arlington Acting Police Chief Daniel Murray. "I am certainly not implying that a person taking photographs is inherently 'suspicious,' but when the appearance is that the subject of a photograph is a government installation, officers have a duty to ensure the safety of the occupants of this structure."

Hmmm. Any government installation? This overly broad approach to security is why we end up with ridiculous horror stories about innocent tourists getting hassled for taking photos of the Lincoln Memorial or the Department of the Interior. The good news here is that Arlington police didn't take a report or create a file on McCammon. The bad news is that they did pass his information along to "the internal security agency for this installation." Which means that somewhere in the vast security apparatus that we have constructed since 9/11--utterly ignoring the fact that the Soviet empire collapsed under the weight of its own paranoid security apparatus--there is now a report on Keith McCammon, photographer.

The bottom line is that McCammon was caught in a classic logical trap. If he had only known the building was off-limits to photographers, he would have avoided it. But he was not allowed to know that fact. "Reasonable, law-abiding people tend to avoid these types of things when it can be helped," McCammon wrote. "Thus, my request for a list of locations within Arlington County that are unmarked, but at which photography is either prohibited or discouraged according to some (public or private) policy. Of course, such a list does not exist. Catch-22."

The only antidote to this security mania is sunshine. Only when more and more Americans do as McCammon has done and take the time and effort to chronicle these excesses and insist on answers from authorities will we stand a chance of restoring balance and sanity to the blend of liberty and security that we are madly remixing in these confused times.


By Marc Fisher |  July 17, 2007; 7:25 AM ET
Previous: Pants Update: Cuffed Again! | Next: Don't Light Up In Here: Marion Barry in Wax

Comments

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Obviously you and Mr. McCammon hate America!

Notice has been taken!

Etc. etc. etc.

Posted by: wiredog | July 17, 2007 7:49 AM

3701 N. Fairfax Drive in Arlington is not a generic suburban office building. The exterior of the building is actually an advanced hologram of what appears to be a generic suburban office building generated by a highly-classified DARPA project. The actual structure of 3701 N. Fairfax Drive bristles with spikes and dishes like something out of that Transformer movie. The naked eye and conventional photographic film cannot detect this, but it becomes obvious through digital analysis by advanced decryption programs such as Photoshop. Keith McCammon is headed for Gitmo. So am I, for revealing this and you for reading it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:02 AM

3701 N. Fairfax Drive in Arlington is not a generic suburban office building. The exterior of the building is actually an advanced hologram of what appears to be a generic suburban office building generated by a highly-classified DARPA project. The actual structure of 3701 N. Fairfax Drive bristles with spikes and dishes like something out of that Transformer movie. The naked eye and conventional photographic film cannot detect this, but it becomes obvious through digital analysis by advanced decryption programs such as Photoshop. Keith McCammon is headed for Gitmo. So am I, for revealing this and you for reading it.

Posted by: Mike Licht | July 17, 2007 8:03 AM

Well, it was a good ride while it lasted. Thanks, Mike Licht.

On the plus side, I'll have health insurance with no copay...

Posted by: Lindemann | July 17, 2007 8:29 AM

I always thought something fishy was going on in that building, since there is always a cop car parked outside of it.

And don't start taking photos of that building right next to the Clarendon Metro (the one with the running store on street level). I've always heard that that building had a bunch of NSA activity in it.

Posted by: Reid | July 17, 2007 8:42 AM

I'm glad the cop stopped him. God forbid there was every a bombing in this city and it was discovered that the cops hadn't stopped a guy taking pictures of the building a week before. Marc would be the first one on the warpath. If he was stopped and informed it was a government building that should be the end of it. What is with all these nuts lately that think they should just be able to take pictures of whatever they want? You cant take pictures in the Pentagon City Mall does that stop you from shopping there? Sheesh, arent there more important things going on in the world than who can or cant take pictures of an ugly ass office building?

Posted by: DC | July 17, 2007 8:44 AM

So, Arlington is only out to protect Government buildings. Those apartment buildings and other 'soft targets' don't really matter?

I really don't know if I should laugh or cry at the amount of security paranoia.

Posted by: Snide | July 17, 2007 8:44 AM

at 8:44am "DC" asked, "Sheesh, arent there more important things going on in the world"?

Actually, sir or madam, I can't think of any "more important things going on" than the protection of my constitutional rights and civil liberties.

As the quote once attributed to Ben Franklin (but historians now think it may have originated with someone else) reads, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Posted by: Arlingtonian With A Camera And I Know How To Use It | July 17, 2007 8:58 AM

I believe that the Clarendon building is actually DIA, not NSA.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | July 17, 2007 9:01 AM

No reason to protect the condo canyons and apartment buildings in Arlington since they either house illegal immigrants or left wing, liberal, Hillary lovers, Ann Coulter leg hating scum who dont deserve to have tax dollars spent to protect them.

And dont take photos of 875 N Randolph either.

Seriously where is the ACLU when you need them probably out protecting child rapists.

I wouldnt have deleted the photos or complied with the pigs requests. Show me the law donut eater! What about Google Chief? Moron. I can walk down the 3700 block of North Fairfax and take photos all day and pigs will never know. Ever heard of camera phones Chief. Bad police officer no donut for you.

And BTW I work for DOD in CI. The Chief and this law are doing nothing to enhance the physical security and force protection of this building. Now taking photos of the individuals coming out of the building would be a different issue but not of the building.

Posted by: vaherder | July 17, 2007 9:09 AM

That building always has a police car parked on the corner in front of it. It took me more than 5 years to figure out why. There is absolutely nothing about the building that says anything remotely secret is going on inside. Until I found out what was there, I thought it had to do with the bank across the side street.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:15 AM

The subject building is right across No. Fairfax street from my Bank of American branch.
I noticed that Arlington County Police Dept officers are across the street in their squad cars. When I sent an email to the police department complaining that the police were guarding a private building instead of a private company/using my too-high taxpayer dollars, the police said that the officers were guarding a "sensitive govt building" and they're on their own time..hah, they're in uniform and they're in the county squad cars. That means they're putting wear and tear on the squad cars at my expense vice the govt. agency, and those officers should be guarding legal Arlington residents/taxpayers not guarding a govt agency. Let the agency hire private guards.
I'm smuggled this message out of Gitmo in the hopes that it will cause Michael Chernoff some more "gut feelings."

Posted by: Arlington resident | July 17, 2007 9:17 AM

I had a similiar incident after taking photos of a sculpture which was outside of a government building. After shooting my photos, I walked 6 or 7 blocks back to my car and drove home. The next morning at work, my boss told me that the FBI had contacted him, and wondered why I was taking photos of a government bldg. The spooky part is that I must have been followed back to my car, where they got my license number to identify me. Nobody harrassed me, but it was amazing how they found out who I was, and my place of employment without my knowledge. Now I too, have a file somewhere.......

Posted by: George | July 17, 2007 9:40 AM

What's so dumb about this is I could drive by and take pictures with my cell phone camera and they'd never know. Or go to google maps and get a nice satellite image of the rooftop. Or walk by every day and memorize the information I wanted.

Posted by: Arlington | July 17, 2007 9:42 AM

I find it ironic that they get on people with the picture taking when google earth is out there.

I am looking a detailed photos of the roof structure online right now.

Posted by: Silver Spring. | July 17, 2007 9:50 AM

"Seriously where is the ACLU when you need them probably out protecting child rapists."

Wow. You're an idiot.

Posted by: Rabid Rabbit | July 17, 2007 10:11 AM

Barracks Row has a Secret-Government-Building-That-Everybody-In-The-Neighborhood-Knows-About. Hint: the only place on 8th Street SE, other than the Marine Barracks, that isn't a restaurant, bar or boutique. A few years ago someone tripped the alarm while exiting this Secret Building. Pennsylvania Avenue and the Eastern Market Metro Station were closed, six different kinds of police milled about, and locals were not told why. Secret conclusion of the secret investigation: Operator error. Oops.

Posted by: Mike Licht | July 17, 2007 10:56 AM

You are such an evildoer, Fisher! If you keep reporting about things like this, then we may need to lock you up. In fact, maybe everyone should be locked up. It's the only way for us to be truly safe!

Posted by: Dubya | July 17, 2007 11:20 AM

Had a thing like that this morning. Some rent-a-cop wanted to see my ID so I could enter my son's daycare. I asked why he needed my ID when I already had a parking pass. He said, "because we said so."

Oh. So if you ask for my wallet I'm supposed to hand it over without question? Hell no.

F all these ignorant rent-a-cops and overeager wanna-be Barney Fife types. While you harass people who are going about their business, the people who want to do damage still get to do their thing. And that's no gut instinct.

Posted by: dirrtysw | July 17, 2007 11:21 AM

There is no law requiring you to carry ID on your person. You are not required to identify yourself to a police officer (or anyone else) unless s/he has a reasonable suspicion that you are involved in a crime. Since the acting police chief says "I am certainly not implying that a person taking photographs is inherently 'suspicious'," where is the justification for demanding that the photographer identify himself, let alone recording this information?

Posted by: Zee | July 17, 2007 11:27 AM

Looks like another occasion ripe for a mass protest by local photographers. It would be interesting to see if there are enough shutterbugs out there willing to go mano y mano with DARPA and its security apparatus as there were willing to do the same with the rent-a-cops in downtown Silver Spring.

Of course, the federal goverment is probably less likely to capitulate in the face of bad publicity than a private firm, but it may be worth a try.

Posted by: Bud Omsman | July 17, 2007 11:37 AM

I have one better for you people. I'm not really sure which of the 4 buildings on the corner it is but take a look at how clear this pic is http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&cp=qgdg4q8k75nj&style=o&lvl=2&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&scene=2984460&encType=1

Posted by: Random | July 17, 2007 11:45 AM

So basically, all a terrorist needs to do is go around snapping photos of nondescript buildings, until a cop or security guard comes out and tells him, "You can't photograph this building. It's a sensitive government installation," to come up with a list of targets? Fascinating.

Posted by: Huh | July 17, 2007 11:54 AM

Hysteria grips a small community as a photographer is suspected an invader from outer America disguised as a tourist. My "GUT FEELING" tells me we have entered a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind, a place between the pit of Man's fears, and the summit of his knowledge - The Twilight Zone.

Relax, remember, that building has never been attacked during the reign of King George. Complaining about your losses of civil liberties only shows your disdain for America.

Posted by: opita | July 17, 2007 12:01 PM

I was once stopped by a security guard for taking a picture of the metal 'A' at the Department of Agriculture. He didn't tell me to erase it. Just told me I couldn't take a picture. I even showed him the picture I took saying I just wanted a picture of the letter 'A' (my first initial...it looks kinda cool)and he said even that wasn't allowed...from a public sidewalk.

Stupid paronid world we've created!

Posted by: FfxGal | July 17, 2007 12:09 PM

"I have one better for you people. I'm not really sure which of the 4 buildings on the corner it is"

It's the one in the top center, with two white police cruisers clearly visible on one side and another out front.

Posted by: Zee | July 17, 2007 12:20 PM

I am going to write to the government to stop taking pictures of my house from its stupid satellites. I do not want my private property photographed. Plese join in my protest.

Posted by: bkp | July 17, 2007 12:31 PM

We all need to go down to that building and take pictures. It's the only way to stop this foolishness.

Posted by: ksu499 | July 17, 2007 1:13 PM

I didn't know about the neighborhood secret government building. But, at least now I know how to find it. Walk down the street taking pictures of all the buildings until I get harrassed by the government.

Not a restaurant, bar, or boutique. Is the meth clinic a cover? ;).

Posted by: hill_east | July 17, 2007 1:22 PM

I know that building - I bank right across the street at Bank of America so I'm near that building at least twice a month. Before, 9/11, 3701 N Fairfax looked pretty much like any other office building in the Virginia Square area. No casual observer would ever have paid any attention to it. After 9/11, the parking meters on the side of the building were taken out and now there is always at least one Arl. Co. police car parked there; sometimes more. I always thought that this defeated the purpose. Before 9/11, who knew it was anything special? Now, thanks to all the "security" measures, anybody can tell that something quasi- secret is happening in that building.

Posted by: lcd57 | July 17, 2007 1:24 PM

Not being able to take pictures in Pentagon City is pretty stupid too. But, that's private property so they can make all the stupid rules they want.

Posted by: another dc | July 17, 2007 1:29 PM

Don't bother coming in to work tomorrow. You're fired.

Posted by: vaherder's boss | July 17, 2007 1:32 PM

I actually used this building to explain to my mom how safe the "big city" was. "See mom? I live by a building that has 24-hour security detail, security cameras, and a cop car parked out front!"

Posted by: Virginia Square | July 17, 2007 1:37 PM

We have a term called "probing". Research it, you might learn something. Most intelligence is collected by completely legal means. There's nothing wrong with security/police querying people to gather information that could later be used to establish a pattern of behavior around similar targets. There's no way to distinguish the innocent guy from the terrorist who's collecting information. This is not paranoia, it's an established practice that has been used to great effect in order to collect information about targets both in the US and abroad.

Know your rights and exercise them. There's nothing wrong with the police or security politely asking you some questions about why your taking pictures.

Posted by: security guy | July 17, 2007 2:26 PM

there's also nothing wrong with not answering those questions either. Until sworn in under oath, one has the right to not say anything to anyone.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:29 PM

Hence, "know your rights."

Oh, the trouble some people wouldn't be in if they had paid attention in civics class. The Bill of Rights is a wonderful thing, but it's not going to help you much if you don't know what it says.

Posted by: security guy | July 17, 2007 2:36 PM

You can add the World Bank and International Monetary Fund buildings on 19th Street NW, DC, to the list of buildings one must not photograph. I had a security guard come out of one of the buildings and attempt to take my cell phone away from me when I tried to take a picture of a fountain on the public sidewalk in front of the building. There is no sign prohibiting photography. As far as I can tell, the sidewalk is still a public sidewalk... despite the fancy posts that the Bank/Fund has spent months disrupting traffic and pedestrians to put up.

Posted by: dfy | July 17, 2007 3:02 PM

To Security Guy,

Security guards, those private employees who check ID's and the like in buildings have no basis in law for stopping anyone on public property and asking them anything. They have no "police" powers. They have no more law enforcement rights than you or I do as citizens.

We are all free to photograph the exteriors of whatever buildings we want from airplanes, sidewalks, wherever. There is not a single law, regulation, or presidential finding to the contrary.

We don't yet live in a Nazis or Communist state, but we're sure getting close to it. There is currently a very fine line separating us from despotic regimes from the past or currently in existence.

Posted by: Don't Tread on Me! | July 17, 2007 3:50 PM

If it is such a sensitive building then why is it downtown in a business district?
Sounds like the govt is putting its interests above the safety of the citizens. Move the operation so it is away from prying eyes.

Posted by: Tired of it all | July 17, 2007 3:55 PM

Pictures of this building are on google maps. I guess they'll have to get a list of everyone who works at google.

Posted by: Matt | July 17, 2007 3:59 PM

You're right, they have no police powers. But it is, however, a free country. There is nothing illegal about a security guard walking up to you and asking for ID. There's also nothing illegal about you telling that security guard where he can put that ID. They can't "stop" you in a legal sense but they are free to approcach you and politely ask questions. Some private "rent-a-cops" are a little over-zealous when it comes to their turf--I've heard stories of them confiscating film and telling people that certain things are illegal when they are in fact, not. You get what you pay for, I guess.

Posted by: Security Guy | July 17, 2007 4:01 PM

re: "There is nothing illegal about a security guard walking up to you and asking for ID."

Actually this activity is illegal if in doing so the private security guard is attempting to give the impression that they have law enforcement powers and intimidating into believing you are supposed to submit to their request. This is like impersonating a police officer.

Lastly, police are only allowed to question you if there is probable cause. Constitutionally we are protected from unreasonable questioning from the police unless they believe a crime is being or about to be committed. Until taking photographs of buildings from public spaces is made illegal, and signage is appropriately erected indicating so, then all the off duty police officers have the constitutional right to is to note the observation and record it.

If they have probable cause due to other "suspicious" behavior you may be showing, like chain smoking cigs while stopping by every Tuesday and taking pictures, in that case then there is probable cause that you are casing the joint so to speak and then that would rise to the level of suspicious behavior, and then a duly sworn police officer has the right to approach you and I hope they would.

Posted by: Don't Tread on Me! | July 17, 2007 4:18 PM

The Pentagon has clear signage that you are not allowed to take pictures. Here, we know not to take pictures. If DARPA dosen't want pictures taken, they should ask the Pentagon where they had their signs made.

Posted by: FfxGal | July 17, 2007 4:33 PM

The Pentagon has clear signage that you are not allowed to take pictures. Here, we know not to take pictures. If DARPA dosen't want pictures taken, they should ask the Pentagon where they had their signs made.

Posted by: FfxGal | July 17, 2007 4:34 PM

Huh, I always assumed that police car was there watching for speeders or waiting for a call since the location offers easy access to the major roads in the area.

The response seems overboard though. Originally the post 9/11 response for most of these places was a guard/officer would approach you, tell you that you did nothing wrong, but ask if you knew what you were taking pictures of, ask if there was a particular reason you took the pictures, ask if he could see the pics but clarify that you did not have to show them.

Just the conversational type approach gives the government all the counter intel they really need without making citizens feel like they live in East Berlin.

Posted by: ugh | July 17, 2007 4:35 PM

I've recruited three dozen people. We'll be meeting on public property near the building this Saturday at 9:00AM to photograph this model of modern architecture.

Posted by: corbett | July 17, 2007 4:36 PM

So remind me again...who hates freedom?

Posted by: Patrick Henry | July 17, 2007 4:59 PM

Wait, something doesn't make sense. If they aren't on duty (as a previous poster pointed out), then they are private security, right? And private security wouldn't have the right to do these things on public property, right?

So what authority do these non-cops have?

Posted by: kt | July 17, 2007 5:02 PM

The DARPA building? That must be where all the intertubes connect!

Posted by: tartare | July 17, 2007 5:03 PM

I give up. It's obvious the Bad Guys have already won. One of the chief objectives of any terrorist activity is to disrupt the "everyday activities" and lifestyle of the prospective target nation(s) or people. Well, based on our reaction since 9/11, the Bad Guys have won.

Think about it: try to take a plane flight -- now you practically have to allow a strip search just to get into the airport. Got a tube of toothpaste in your carry-on luggage? Ooops...better be one of those itty-bitty travel size jobs or Out It Goes.

And yet, is anyone really any safer by all this nonsense? I doubt it. So now we can't even take pictures of buildings for pity's sake? It would be different if the building in question was on a government reservation or military base. But this one is right between a bank and apartments. So I, standing on PUBLIC PROPERTY, and doing NOTHING that is illegal can get a file opened and all kinds of security issues posted in my "permanent record"?

Like I said, I give up. The insanity of it just stupifies me.

Posted by: tenryuu | July 17, 2007 5:55 PM

Corbett, are you serious? Sat at 9? I would like to come too. Put it on Craig's List if you are serious!

Posted by: Leila | July 17, 2007 7:08 PM

Back in '97, I visited an ancient fort in Lahore. This Barney Fife-type (he even had the pants up to his belly button) who was a Colonel(!) walks out and demands I stop making video because he didn't know what kind of malicious uses the enemy (India?) could make of it. Right, so the Indians haven't been able to scope out the place in the last 400 years? And it's a public tourist site! I thought what a backward stupid-a** country. We are now that country too. Sad....

Posted by: JAM | July 17, 2007 7:28 PM

Most people would have never suspected anything about the building if there were no police cars virtually permanently stationed outside the building. If you wanted to provide security, you would think that you would NOT have the police car continually sitting in front of the building, making you wonder why the police car never moves (or is never ticketed). And, there is a valid point above, that if the building is so sensitive that it's a security issue that people are in the area, the immediate area should be restricted (to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic) the police car should be removed or replaced by a continual changing of unmarked (and seemingly unmanned) cars, or the building should be relocated. You (they)can't have everything without a little give or take.

Posted by: Dungarees | July 17, 2007 7:55 PM

Here's a suggestion for all of these various public locations where people are seemingly prohibited from taking photographs: flashmobs! Gather several dozen like-minded individuals at said locations and simultaneously all start taking pictures! How could the authorities possibly respond to all of those people at once? (Well, I guess they could round 'em up into buses and hogtie them like at Pershing Park, but not likely.)

When I was a kid, one of the things I heard many times that was supposed to show the absolute paranoia and lack of freedom in Soviet Union was that people were not allowed to take pictures of KGB headquarters. Looks like we've gone to the next level.

Interesting question: when Google gets around to having street view pictures in the DC area, will DARPA have this street censored?

Posted by: Chris | July 17, 2007 9:07 PM

Flashmobs! That is the word I was trying to remember. I wish Corbett would come back and say if the flashmob he/she hints at on Saturday is for real or not.

Posted by: Leila | July 17, 2007 9:47 PM

I've been tempted for months to take my DSLR and take all the pictures I want from across the street. But it would put my security clearance at risk and that would be a problem - and the fact I go to that DARPA for business on a regular basis would be ackward to say the least. Those DARPA bastards are way out of line.

Posted by: Shadow | July 17, 2007 11:25 PM

I'd like to know a place that what happens will be posted, if a flashmob does occur...

Posted by: Weissensteinburg | July 18, 2007 1:09 AM

Flashmobs Rule!

My favorite comment:

The Pentagon has clear signage that you are not allowed to take pictures. Here, we know not to take pictures. If DARPA dosen't want pictures taken, they should ask the Pentagon where they had their signs made.

Posted by: FfxGal | July 17, 2007 04:33 PM

I'm worried that this might be too simple for DARPA to figure out.

Posted by: Count Bobulescu | July 18, 2007 1:44 AM

So many 'smart' answers, and yet no one discussues how little power we have to do anything about it. Peasants with Starbucks, that's what we are.

Posted by: Jason Covert | July 18, 2007 6:37 AM

There's a Starbuck's across the street from DARPA.

Posted by: MIB | July 18, 2007 8:41 AM

"Lastly, police are only allowed to question you if there is probable cause."

Actually the basis for a police "Terry" stop is reasonable suspicion, which is a lower standard than probable cause.

Posted by: security guy | July 18, 2007 10:16 AM

Security guy, are police allowed to make you show identification if you are a pedestrian and not being arrested? The ACLU site suggests not, ie. we have no obligation to carry, show, or state our ID. Is that too optimistic in these times?

Posted by: Leila | July 18, 2007 10:21 AM

There's not a whole lot police can "make" you do unless they have probable cause for an arrest, in which case they also have to tell you (or make it clear through action) that you are actually under arrest. If police have a reasonable suspicion you are involved in something illegal, then they can perform a Terry stop, but even if a police officer legally stops you, I'm pretty sure you don't have to surrender any information if you don't want to. The basis for police conducting a stop is pretty low--the police have to justify it by stating a reasonable person could suspect you are involved in criminal activity. The only time you need to give any information about yourself to police is during the booking process, and that's after you've been arrested. Obviously, you NEVER have to provide information to the police that might incriminate you in a crime.

I'm also not a lawyer, so some of that info might be wrong. The ACLU won't do you wrong, but remember, they also wouldn't be too heartbroken if you got arrested following their advice and they got a test case out of it.

Posted by: Security Guy | July 18, 2007 11:17 AM

Posted by: google | July 18, 2007 12:16 PM

3 rules:

#1)No photos,
#2) no questions,
#3)comply with all requests,

Yes we can arrest you and suspend your rights. See Patriot act.

WE know what is best.
We are here for your protection.

Got it?

See rule #2)

Posted by: barb | July 18, 2007 2:00 PM

@Marc: Thanks for the coverage.

@Everyone else: Thanks for the comments.

This has received quite a bit of coverage--much more than I expected. I'm glad to see so many folks (whether they agree with my point of view or not) taking an interest in this incident and others like it.

Posted by: Keith | July 18, 2007 3:27 PM

Posted by: Joanna | July 18, 2007 3:30 PM

Hmm, I guess telephoto lenses should be banned, or at least registered for your own protection. We are all being slowly trained for the new age of Amerika. It's classic Stalinistic training, set absurb rules, wait for the backlash, cut the rules back to a slightly less than absurb level. Wait for acceptance. Repeat until the level of control is where you want it.

Posted by: Rob | July 18, 2007 5:32 PM

Just a plug. We are trying to collect many of these stories, too. If you have an actual photo of a situation like this, or want to see photos of similar situations: http://www.flickr.com/groups/dcphotorights/

Posted by: katmere | July 18, 2007 9:05 PM

Here's a view of that intersection from live.com, doesn't look so secret to me.

http://tinyurl.com/yvp7dd

Posted by: j | July 18, 2007 9:27 PM

Our Cowardly Country has fallen away from one of the most famous quotes of all time."We have nothing to fear,But FEAR itself!".

We need to get a grip as a country again, limit our government as it should be. And take responsibility and take it away from politicians and lawyers!

Let's get back to being Americans again. Land of the free and home of the brave!
The fear of America is causing us to lose our freedom, one step at a time.

I am tired of being called left wing or right wing. We need to be concerned about the Eagle, not just one or the other wings that the bird has.

Wake up America, before there is no America to wake up to.

Posted by: Jim | July 19, 2007 12:03 AM

I wanted to comment but the first reply was so witty and hilarious that I may need to be resuscitated. *passes out from pleased laughter.*

Posted by: Tinu Abayomi-Paul | July 19, 2007 1:28 AM

It's where the governement's logistics for it's extensive drug import and distribution operations are housed. They also make drugs such as MDMA and LSD there. They also grow ultra-potent strains of marijuana, such as G-13, there. But as stated above it's protected bt holographic images.
Nothing to see here. These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.

Posted by: me | July 19, 2007 1:31 AM

It's where the governement's logistics for it's extensive drug import and distribution operations are housed. They also make drugs such as MDMA and LSD there. They also grow ultra-potent strains of marijuana, such as G-13, there. But as stated above it's protected bt holographic images.
Nothing to see here. These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.

Posted by: me | July 19, 2007 1:33 AM

Irresponsible reporting...........You should be fired! You do not have a right or a need to know everything. Brat.......Mind Your Business!

Posted by: p | July 19, 2007 4:49 AM

I suggest D.C. shooters do what NYC photogs did when the Metropolitan Transit Authority tried to ban pictures in subways: Arrange for 300 photographers to show up at the same time in front of the place, snapping away like mad. That'll get their attention!

Posted by: PJ | July 19, 2007 9:50 AM

Remember how we used to ridicule the Soviets for this sort of idiocy? It wasn't just KGB HQ. Photographing a bridge or just about any other infrastructure was illegal. Remember the "home of the brave and land of the free"? It looks as if both the Soviet Empire and that magical land have both vanished. What was that Pogo saying? Something about we have met the enemy and . . .

Posted by: Ray | July 19, 2007 1:28 PM

Posted by: Hank | July 19, 2007 2:14 PM

Wahoo! Now I can take that copy of The Trial to the used bookstore for some other sap to keep on the shelf-I'm gonna stick to reading the newspaper!

Posted by: Heather | July 19, 2007 5:30 PM

If you search for the address with yahoo the first result is DARPA's own web page!
Silly.

Posted by: James | July 19, 2007 7:54 PM

Do popular articles like this usually get so many repeat comments?

links to areal views, their website, etc.

Posted by: Weissensteinburg | July 19, 2007 8:52 PM

Posted by: Dan | July 19, 2007 11:43 PM

In the immortal words of an Arlington wino, "Da whole damn place musta gone plumb crazy!"

Posted by: Anonymously From Sweden | July 20, 2007 12:55 AM

We look forward to the next time Keith wants to board an airplane. As part of new homeland security measures, all agencies now "talk" to each other. muhahahahaha

Posted by: TSA | July 20, 2007 3:49 AM

Imagine the scene if thousands of photographers turned up at the same time to take a photograph of this building. If only there was some way of organizing this.

Posted by: mjf | July 20, 2007 4:27 AM

How about everyone who walks past there today takes a picture with their cellphone, camera or mobile device?

Posted by: mjf | July 20, 2007 4:28 AM

If you stop to think about it, it's not all that unreasonable. Think about it, you're sitting in your office doing what you do at DARPA, NSA, etc. and look out a window at some guy taking pictures of a nondescript building. I know i'd be on the phone with security straight away. It's the same reason that if you sit at the end of a runway of an air force base taking pictures you're going to meet security forces rather quickly.

Posted by: C.Bilyeu | July 20, 2007 10:40 AM

Why do pages on washingtonpost.com cause Internet Explorer 7 and FireFox to crash? It's got to be a fault in the Javascript. The browsers repeatedly freeze. Why have made the site like this? It's terrible!

Posted by: Peter Thomas | July 20, 2007 10:45 AM

Well, in NYC, they are proposing that individuals obtain a license just to photograph for over 20 minutes (i.e. EVERY tourist!) Needless to say, this will likely be used selectively on Arabs and colored people. Freedom is dead.

Posted by: af | July 20, 2007 10:50 AM

It's sad that stories like this keep me from saying whats on my mind about things online or even visiting websites about antiwar or contacting my representative about issues. I don't want them to have a file to use against me.

Posted by: Anon | July 20, 2007 10:51 AM

The main problem is.. drum roll please...

apathy.

Yep, no one cares, or thinks enough about any of the essential rights being robbed from us every day.

If only there was some way to slap some sense into the sleeping drones.

Posted by: polese tate | July 20, 2007 11:11 AM

I am a hobbyist photographer, mainly specializing in urban photography, and 3 times now I've been dragged (Once litterally dragged with my $1000 camera ripped out of my hands) into a building to the security department. In none of the instances were there signs or verbal warnings. The sad part is that they did not make me delete my photos because I told them I was a college student at (worked in 2 different cities). The one building that dragged me in made me fill out a form (I lied about all of the info I wrote down) and wanted to check my drivers license, but the woman on the phone with the police (I dialed 911 as they were dragging me in) said they had no right to be doing any of that and was willing to dispatch an officer if they didn't release me straight away.

These were not government buildings though. They were Bank or privately owned 30+ floor office buildings. Is everyone is so overtly paranoid of terrorists? After the first time this happened to me, I went a block down the road and snapped 50+ pictures with my 300mm lens just for spite.

Posted by: MichaelP | July 20, 2007 11:13 AM

The security of any government building is no more important than the security and freedom of each and every citizens home. This is another blatent abuse of power by government and law enforcement againt those whom they are supposed to protect and serve. Instead they continue to take away our freedoms because they are the ones that are afraid that the people may rightfully someday retake control. Government has grown way to large and is now on a feeding frenzy so that they can continue to needlessly grow even larger.

Go Ron Paul!

Posted by: Bruce | July 20, 2007 11:33 AM

"The security of any government building is no more important than the security and freedom of each and every citizens home"

Call me when your home is worth a few hundred million dollars and housing launch codes.

Posted by: C.Bilyeu | July 20, 2007 11:38 AM

It depends whether the building was designed in such a way that clearly would not attract architectural interests. Anyone should be able to take photos of buildings that are of interest but if designed in such a way that no one would be interested then anyone that is interested can be suspected of something suspicious.

Posted by: boon@angelwrose.com | July 20, 2007 11:48 AM

It depends whether the building was designed in such a way that clearly would not attract architectural interests. Anyone should be able to take photos of buildings that are of interest but if designed in such a way that no one would be interested then anyone that is interested can be suspected of something suspicious.

Posted by: boon@angelwrose.com | July 20, 2007 11:49 AM

all I know is I took pictures of myself and friends outside the Kremlin and other buildings in Red Square just a couple years ago. We were approached by an FSB agent that asked if we spoke english...why? ...because he offered to show us (and translate) the markers on graves of the honored dead for the equivalent of about 7 bucks. And in the US they have their panties in a knot about taking photos of non-descript buildings? My, how things change....

Posted by: disappointed | July 20, 2007 11:53 AM

Google Maps has it, and a good view of it too. That means that Google Earth probably has ground-level photos too. I'm sure we can spread the images all over the internet.

Please post more photographer stories and the legions of internet geeks will gladly post every image we can find. Give me a website, and I'll fill it.

This is not the government I fought to protect, this is the government I fought to destroy. [USSR]

A Navy vet

Posted by: Democritus | July 20, 2007 12:24 PM

Google Maps has it, and a good view of it too. That means that Google Earth probably has ground-level photos too. I'm sure we can spread the images all over the internet.

Please post more photographer stories and the legions of internet geeks will gladly post every image we can find. Give me a website, and I'll fill it.

This is not the government I fought to protect, this is the government I fought to destroy. [USSR]

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=3701+N.+Fairfax+Drive+Arlington&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=70.315091,111.621094&ie=UTF8&ll=38.88326,-77.104253&spn=0.001084,0.001703&t=k&z=19&om=1

A Navy vet

Posted by: Democritus | July 20, 2007 12:28 PM

Communism marketed as a 'war on terror' is still communism, and you idiots who truly believe communism is for your own good deserve everything you're going to get from your so-called 'leaders.'

Posted by: A. Magnus | July 20, 2007 12:45 PM

Communism marketed as a 'war on terror' is still communism, and you idiots who truly believe communism is for your own good deserve everything you're going to get from your so-called 'leaders.'

Posted by: A. Magnus | July 20, 2007 12:45 PM

Communism marketed as a 'war on terror' is still communism, and you idiots who truly believe communism is for your own good deserve everything you're going to get from your so-called 'leaders.'

Posted by: A. Magnus | July 20, 2007 12:45 PM

I'd walk past with 300 Japanese tourists.

Posted by: LightWave | July 20, 2007 12:55 PM

I have every name of every employee that works at that office.

http://dtsn.darpa.mil/webrequest/contact_selection.asp

K thx! Government can kiss my ass!

Posted by: Aaron | July 20, 2007 1:11 PM

what happen when the google street view team takes pictures of whole neighborhoods for inclusion in google maps? do they skip or later delete the forbidden buildings? if so, how do they know or find out whether they are permitted to photograph said buildings?
so many questions...

Posted by: lars | July 20, 2007 1:14 PM

The companies that own some buildings will sometimes purchase the entire block said building is on - including, sometimes, the sidewalks - making the whole block private property.

If you know a certain building has a no pictures policy, keep an eye out for which side of the street you are snapping from. :)

Posted by: another security guy | July 20, 2007 1:31 PM

And yet, you can get directions to the building from the internets.

http://www.darpa.mil/body/information/location.html

Duh.

Posted by: jk | July 20, 2007 1:33 PM

A few years back there was this traveling exhibit in Portland. It was a big red ball, and everyday they put it in different locals around the city. I took as many photos at as many locations as I could.
One day when it was on the support structue for a skybridge, I tried to take a photo, and was immidiatly stopped by a security guard. He was friendly enough because he knew what I was doing, but he still wouldn't let me take the photo. His reason? Technically the building was a power plant because one of the local power companies has an office in the building. WTF!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 1:35 PM

I got stopped in Northern Jersey for taking pictures "around" an oil refinery. Me and a friend, both of us semi-professional photographers (and students at the time), were riding around looking for interesting things to photograph. We found an odd road condition (its new jersey, nothing else to see there), got out of our car, and started taking pictures. Granted, it was night time. But by the amount of photographic equipment, it should have been obvious that weren't there for "informational", or "suspicious" purposes.

Ten minutes later FOUR police cars show up.
1) Linden Police
2) Linden Oil Refinery Security
3) New Jersey State Troopers
4) Some FEMA-like generic looking automobile

Me and my friend are so confused we just stand there while they surround us. Everyone gets of of their cars, and start asking us rude questions as to what we're doing. Then they tell us that we're not allowed to take pictures of the power plant... which is 2 miles away. You can barely see it over the other structures. So we tell them the truth: we don't know of any power plant, we're photographers, out here for a photo project for school. Then they try to confiscate our cameras, which for me was simply not an option, so they take our film instead.

So we stand on public land, on a grassy hill next to a public road, for about a half hour. The state trooper runs a background check (calls our university...) Thankfully two of the officers had a sense of humor, so they weren't trying to intimidate us by this point. So we are having a friendly conversation with two of them, when the third (idle) uniform, hears what we're joking about how much of a mix-up this is, and starts yelling at us "HAVEN'T YOU HEARD OF 9/11". I calmly say: "I saw it with my own eyes, from 4 blocks away. I hope your TV set gave you a nice perspective"

Posted by: harrased | July 20, 2007 1:50 PM

They don't like tourists taking pictures of the building but it's still on google earth

Posted by: Andrew | July 20, 2007 2:14 PM

that building is a red herring. delete this post.

Posted by: sean | July 20, 2007 2:54 PM

Hmm sounds like an opportunity for one of those mass gatherings organised over the web where everyone shows up at a certain place at a certain time... Oh & bring a camera! Track that!

Posted by: Nunya | July 20, 2007 3:30 PM

I know you can't take pictures of fort knox. even from the highway that it is on

Posted by: durham4556 | July 20, 2007 3:46 PM

Information is the greatest of all weapons

Photographs provide information

The people working inside the building have a right to be safe, and they have the right to protect thier interests....if they are handling sensetive matters inside thier workplace, than they too, have a right, to ask that security ensure thier safety, and not allow any random person to take pictures of thier building

it may not be the photographer that is the culprit, but someone may use those photographs for the wrong reason unknown to the photographer

even photographers can be killed if they have photographs that are valuable to someone so inclined to use them for such a purpose....

The people that work there just want to be safe, and who can blame them when they work for a place such as that? Thier safety and peace of mind takes precedence over your superficial desire to photograph thier workplace

Posted by: thinkaboutit | July 20, 2007 3:53 PM

A similar episode happened with my husband who was innocently filming the coastline of Baltimore. The FBI (not in uniform) swooped down on him, searched his car, took him to a remote area for four hours of intensive questioning, checked his background, asked him if he was a Moslem( thankfully, he is a Hindu),asked him his views about Pakistan, Kashmir, etc etc and finally let him off after confiscating his film.
This episode shook him up badly and he could not sleep at night for months after that. The FBI lets the real crooks get away and always catch the innocent ones and shake them up! Good job!

Posted by: Eternalsoul | July 20, 2007 5:52 PM

I hate to ruin everyone's conspiracy theories and general hatred of government, but in the interest of some sort of balanced reporting, would it be fair to ask if there's ever a justification for maintaining secrecy in the interest of our national security. Just because there are many news reports about something doesn't mean the government should have an obligation to publish a list of sensitive buildings, that any reasonable person could aassume to be logical targets for someone seeking to harm our nation. Many Democratic Presidents have enacted security standards around government buildings, in fact, President Clinton blocked off Pennsylvania Ave for much of his adminstration. Where was the public outcry then?
I'm not suggesting that a person should be arrested for taking a picture when they didn't know they couldn't. But this somewhat biased news article doesn't shed much light on the photographer's response when the police asked him to stop taking pictures. Maybe his actions contributed to the situation.

Posted by: Brad | July 20, 2007 7:18 PM

Why on earth would a government department put a sensitive building in a public place? Just so that than it can harass citizens and deny them of the freedom they claim to protect! If they want secrecy then they should put the security on the inside and let people do what they do on the streets, all the attention that their stupid behavior has gained has made this building less secret than most.

Posted by: Andrew | July 20, 2007 7:56 PM

this generic building is in fact the undisclosed location of dick chenney... here mary chenney and her life partner can bring the baby to sit on grandpa's lap, mrs. chenney can do her online shopping undisturbed and the V.P. can work on his Big Buns Big Guns coloring books.

Posted by: wildorchid | July 20, 2007 9:05 PM

C.Bilyeu: True. I can totally understand. It's not that unreasonable to not want people to take pictures of government buildings. What's unreasonable is to expect that anybody making an effort to do this secretly (ie. 'the bad guys') will be caught.
This will do nothing more than annoy the innocent and inconvenience those that are not.
'Oh, well, we were going to go blow up that nondescript government building, but they won't let us take pictures of it, so I guess we won't' -Stupidest Terrorist Alive
Seriously? Gimme a break.

Posted by: PracticalThinker | July 20, 2007 9:51 PM

This seems to me an EXCELLENT way for terrorists to identify high value government targets. Send a photographer out, get them to photograph nondescript buildings one by one. When they are challenged by a security guard, add the building to a list.

Posted by: Stupid Americans | July 20, 2007 11:18 PM

We are so far of course in this country, it's just sad.

This was mentioned above, but I am mentioning it again because we need to spread the facts about legal photography.

For anyone interested, here is a "Downloadable Flyer Explaining Your Rights When Stopped or Confronted for Photography"

please see:

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

Posted by: FredomChaser | July 20, 2007 11:50 PM

Someone should get a few pictures of one of these buildings, make a much copies, then mail them to the building, attention security. or maybe drop a few prints around the building on the sidewalk.

Posted by: Homey D. Clown | July 21, 2007 12:44 AM

Posted by: Johannes Rexx | July 21, 2007 1:19 AM

Hilarious. You can't photograph the building but DARPA are happy to give you instructions on how to get there: http://www.darpa.mil/mto/directions.html

Posted by: Jon Hale | July 21, 2007 1:28 AM

Welcome the the People's Republic of the United States! Enjoy your stay. Please remember that photography is only permitted with approval from your official handler & guide.

Posted by: Steve Savage | July 21, 2007 3:02 AM

Many of the pro-gov't posts border on the hysterical paranoid psychotic. If a person really wanted to photograph a gov't building, they could take the Google Street View approach, i.e. mount an HD camcorder on the roof of a van. What a lot of the pro-police state nutballs do not grasp is that someone could get the dome cameras (like the department stores use), and discretely get lots of imagery of so called "off-limits" buildings. A person could also attach an HD camcorder to their belt. Hey, cut a hole in a briefcase, mount the HD camcorder in the briefcase, or mount the HD camcorder on the handlebars of a bicycle...the possibilities are endless. The pro-police state paranoid psychotics obviously do not understand that a photographer does not have to hold a camera to their eye for the camera to work.

The bottom line is that these terrorism fears are overwrought. If a terrorist really wants to attack Americans they can do so from the comfort of a region where they share a culture, beliefs, religion and/or language (i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan), no need to come to America.

Posted by: MacGyver | July 21, 2007 3:45 AM

I noticed many posts assume the problem was that the photographer "didn't know" that he "couldn't take pictures of" the building. Wrong. He can take pictures of the building any time he wants from public land. That is a First Amendment right, covered under both press and speech. He can even take pictures of people entering and leaving the building. They are in a public space once outside the building. They have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

If the activities of the building are so super-secret and sensitive that the government cannot reasonably allow photographs of the building or the people who leave it, then the government is at fault for locating those activities in that location. Time to move.

But they're going to have to move far, because even Area 51 can be legally photographed and observed from public land. There are high resolution photos of the air base available for free online, taken using DSLRs and telescopes from a public mountain range. You can order poster sized prints of the stitched photos.

9/11 changed nothing about the Constitution, nothing about the 1st Amendment. This is the US, not Russia, not China. Politely but firmly remind any security guard or cop of these facts whenever you are questioned about exercising your 1st Amendment rights.

Posted by: DT | July 21, 2007 8:37 AM

I worked on that building as a Plumber from the ground up for over 18 months. Anything that is special about that place happened after it was completed.

tstright*at*gmail.com

Posted by: Tom Stright | July 21, 2007 10:16 AM

My wife was taking pictures of clouds in the sky (no overhead wires) at a Mall in PA and was approached by a polite State Police man. He informed her that she wasn't allowed to take pictures of the Mall (along with bridges, power plants etc.). She thought he was kidding, but he assured her he wasn't.
Something changed in our brains that day.

Posted by: bobby | July 21, 2007 10:47 AM

Ron Paul in 2008 people! The pendulum has swung so far in this country it will take only a liberaterian view to bring things back to balance! Wake up!

Posted by: milehighmg | July 21, 2007 12:08 PM

Speaking as a retired 30 yr.cop: Idiocy prevails. Creating and maintaining a high level of fear and paranoia is very profitable for certain folks, and keeps other folks in power. True 'terrorists', and/or enemy agents, are enjoying a good laugh watching the sophmoric exercises of the TSA (allowing lighters now?), FBI (how many arabic/farsi speakers?), CIA (torture does not produce good info), and the dim-wit US media amplifying every squeak into a roar. Oh yes, if you can't take a photo, you can draw picture from.....memory! Men in black where are you?

Posted by: Duke | July 21, 2007 8:46 PM

The really stupid part of this is that the real bad guys will take photos of such a building in James Bond style - as if they actually needed photos when they can just walk by and look at it - with a hidden camera.

Such nonsense, and the people who don't see what's wrong with it is why this country is in trouble. And it will be until we get an administration that actually reverses this trend.

As Sen. Huey Long said, "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in an American flag."

Posted by: Eric | July 22, 2007 10:57 AM

Way back in the late 80's, my wife and I went on a Norfolk Navy Yard tour. The seamen giving the tour were very polite and helpful, and only asked us to not take photographs when we drove past a building where they were working on the electronics for various jet fighters. The rest of the time, including the docks where the SSN's and CVN's were moored, they encouraged us to take photos.

Somehow I doubt they'd be so helpful today.

Posted by: John L | July 24, 2007 6:41 AM

It is obvious to me the only way to for everyone to know which buildings are verboten is to photograph every building in the area, and post detailed pictures on the Internet of the ones where you get arrested. It is important to get pictures from every angle and note the exact address and GPS coordinates so a photographer doesn't accidently take a picture not recognizing a building.

Posted by: Jonathan Leech | July 24, 2007 12:06 PM

This happened to me a couple of years ago.

I was clocked in a local Vet's hospital parking lot going, "12mph in a 10mph zone". I was given a ticket for $35 dollars. The speed sign was hidden behind an un-kept bush and I was told if I wanted to fight it I had to go to the building's administrators.

I took a digital camera to the parking lot, snapped a couple of pictures only to have the same officer drive around the corner. I put the camera behind my back and deleted the pictures as quickly as possible. I was confronted but I convinced him that I hadn't taken any pictures yet. "Good thing" he told me, "It's considered a Federal mister meaner to take pictures of Federal property". Three hours of paperwork later I walked away with my 2 pictures I needed to fight the case.

I just paid the $35 bucks...

Posted by: John G | July 24, 2007 12:16 PM

Considering the direction this country is going in the Bush Presidency, they'll soon tell pedestrians that they can't even LOOK at government buildings and instead will have to "avert their gaze".

Posted by: ChrisM70 | July 24, 2007 1:27 PM

John G: You may like to be aware that deleted pictures can be recovered from memory cards, at least as long as they are not overwritten with other pictures. Therefore you can placate a cop by deleting the pics, while still getting them back later.

Posted by: Shad | July 24, 2007 1:48 PM

Go to maps.live.com
Put in the address.
Switch to bird's eye view and you can view from an angle
Zoom in
You can also move around the building
Basically you can view the entire building top to bottom, including the roof using a publicly available tool for free.

Posted by: BuBBy | July 24, 2007 2:50 PM

A hell of a lot of people died in World War II and in following conflict to make the world safe from police states. I'd hate to think we'd throw those gains away because of two terrorist attacks.

The hypothetical thought that if I were in the county courthouse down the street from me, and if someone blew it up, that would be an excuse to impose martial law on the county, horrifies me. I'd like to think there were people who died in WTC who would feel the same, were they around to ask.

Posted by: regeya | July 24, 2007 3:50 PM

The same thing happens if you try to photograph of a building owned by Church of $cientology. Link: http://youtube.com/watch?v=qLZJBdvqAv8

Posted by: Geoff | July 24, 2007 9:57 PM

Lets get about 300 people with digital cameras to stand in front of the bldg and(quickly)take 2 or 3 pics apiece, then (quickly) disperse... WOT A LAUGH RIOT!!!

Posted by: nikolai | July 24, 2007 11:05 PM

I do know that the building directly across from the Rosslynn metro stop, near the McDonald's is a recruiting and training center for State Dept and CIA among others. Which ironically on the other side faces Freedom Park with the chunk of the Berlin Wall.

Posted by: Wouldnt you like 2 know | July 25, 2007 1:03 AM

I did not occure to them that by stopping pictures and questioning the subject.. you more or less blow your cover and reduce your security?

A real intellegence agency should have tailed the man and retreived the data without making itself obvious, until they knew he was a threat or harmless.

If harmless, then just let him be, if dangerous, get your warrant and dispose of the target.

Posted by: Nico | July 25, 2007 1:15 AM

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Posted by: michael | July 25, 2007 4:15 AM

To paraphrase Ben Franklin (or whoever):

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, shall have neither Liberty nor Safety."

Posted by: Five Dollar Bill | July 25, 2007 9:37 AM

I think everyone is missing the point. I dont think he's upset he couldnt take a picture...The point is how he was treated. They need not have gone any farther than asking him to delete the picture and possible as for his name...sure run a background check later if they were that concerned about the man..but creating a file on him seems a little much. I think the act first and think later feeling that we are getting from the government is disheartening.

Posted by: Alicia | July 25, 2007 9:59 AM

I think people are missing the real point of this. It's not how he was treated or the nonsense story he was given. It's the fact that every day the idiots we have placed in charge of our neighborhoods, towns, cities, states and country are attempting to take more and more of our freedom away under the ~defending against terrorism~ blanket.

The fact is that the law is clear, you can take a picture of ANYTHING that you can see from a public vantage. It is not your job to maintain the privacy of the country, it is the job of the hundreds of thousands of people we WASTE BILLIONS of dollars on every year to ensure it. CIA, FBI, Military Intelligence (if there is such a thing), and the dozens of other offshoots of government on the federal, state and local levels.

Sadly most people won't fight it, they will do the ~oh I'm so sorry~ nonsense. It is ILLEGAL for them to demand that you delete the photos and for them to ask for your information. It's called harassment and it is ILLEGAL. Cops cannot force you to delete/destroy photos. They cannot confiscate your equipment. Doing so is called THEFT without a court order. Trying to force you to delete them is called ASSAULT.

No yes most people don't want to go through the trouble and will delete them, but if you want to excercise your rights, it's easy. Unless they are an actually police officer or law enforcement officer of the federal government (ie they are a rent-a-cop_, you do not even have to acknowledge their requests. You do not have to stop taking pictures, you do not have to delete the pictures and you do not have to give them any information.

If you really want the pictures, take them with your cellphone. When they ask you to delete them, tell them you have already sent them to a secure email account. Don't bring ID of any kind. If an officer of the law stops you, tell him you do not have ID on you but you will provide him with ID if you return to your vehicle/hotel room. This is especially effective in DC which has high crime rates. You didn't want to be mugged while traveling and risk loosing your ID. If they refuse, just think how silly will it look in court if your lawyer says ~the police officer refused to allow my client to show him proof of ID~.

The fact is that goverments need to be told NO by their citizens. After all, your tax money paid for that building and the things they are ~hiding~ inside.

Posted by: Rich | July 25, 2007 1:09 PM

Alicia, while you are correct in the general, you are missing the point, too. You give the police far too much leeway. Asking for ID? Deleting photos? Background checks?!

If he was standing on a public sidewalk, just taking a photo or two, they have no right to tell him to do anything. Period. If they want to chat with him, like any two citizens can ("so, what are you up to?" "do you know what this building is?" etc), that's fine, but just like other citizens they can't make him --

- show him the photos
- delete the photos
- provide ID
- do anything else whatsoever

...without "reasonable suspicion", which would allow them to use (a few of) their powers as police officers, like asking for ID. Depending upon the reaction to that, they may then have "probable cause" and can escalate the situation as needed.

The problem here is that without clearly-posted signs prohibiting photography, they have no way to generate a "reasonable suspicion" that a photographer is up to no good, as opposed to merely interested in the architecture.

Such signs, however, could never make it ILLEGAL to take photos of the exterior of a building from public property, as that is a 1st Ammendment right, period. Yes, they have a right to work unharassed, and someone stopping by every Tuesdsay to take three photos at closing time is suspicious indeed. But a random guy walking down the street? Hardly a threat.

I strongly encourage you to check out The Photographer's Right, along with other legal discussions on photography -- http://www.krages.com/bpkphoto.htm . We only have the rights we are willing to defend.

Is *everyone* with a camera now "reasonably suspicious"? God help us all.

Posted by: Isaiah | July 25, 2007 1:43 PM

Alicia, while you are correct in the general, you are missing the point, too. You give the police far too much leeway. Asking for ID? Deleting photos? Background checks?!

If he was standing on a public sidewalk, just taking a photo or two, they have no right to tell him to do anything. Period. If they want to chat with him, like any two citizens can ("so, what are you up to?" "do you know what this building is?" etc), that's fine, but just like other citizens they can't make him --

- show him the photos
- delete the photos
- provide ID
- do anything else whatsoever

...without "reasonable suspicion", which would allow them to use (a few of) their powers as police officers, like asking for ID. Depending upon the reaction to that, they may then have "probable cause" and can escalate the situation as needed.

The problem here is that without clearly-posted signs prohibiting photography, they have no way to generate a "reasonable suspicion" that a photographer is up to no good, as opposed to merely interested in the architecture.

Such signs, however, could never make it ILLEGAL to take photos of the exterior of a building from public property, as that is a 1st Ammendment right, period. Yes, they have a right to work unharassed, and someone stopping by every Tuesdsay to take three photos at closing time is suspicious indeed. But a random guy walking down the street? Hardly a threat.

I strongly encourage you to check out The Photographer's Right, along with other legal discussions on photography -- http://www.krages.com/bpkphoto.htm . We only have the rights we are willing to defend.

Is *everyone* with a camera now "reasonably suspicious"? God help us all.

Posted by: Isaiah | July 25, 2007 2:15 PM

Google's photo is nice, but there's a much better view of the place (and the police car sitting in front of it, as noted by several previous posters) here: http://local.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&cp=qgdhkb8k746g&style=o&lvl=2&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&scene=2984265&sp=Point.qgdg0n8k75kq_3701%20N%20Fairfax%20Dr%2C%20Arlington%2C%20VA%2022203%2C%20United%20States___&encType=1

Posted by: Mark Dodge Medlin | July 26, 2007 12:11 AM

"I am certainly not implying that a person taking photographs is inherently 'suspicious,'

Oh yes, you MOST CERTAINLY are!


"but when the appearance is that the subject of a photograph is a government installation, officers have a duty to ensure the safety of the occupants of this structure."

Oh yeah? What is the photo itself gonna do, bite some part of their anatomy?

The similarity with the worse aspects of FASCISM is blatant, obvious and clear. America: do yourself a favour and boot this fascist government out!

Posted by: Noons | July 26, 2007 5:52 AM

Reminds me of the 1970s back in the USSR. Most of the buildings, bridges etc. were forbidden...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 10:04 AM

my son in-law was photographed taken a photo of a field in Minnesota ...more than 4 months later an FBI man was at my door "driving by" as he said to find out why (4months before my son in law had taken photo from the back of the rental car)?

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Posted by: Arlo fan | July 28, 2007 7:32 AM

I got the same sort of response last year when I photographed my new car in front of my credit union (that financed it).
I was chased down and ordered to delete the image - I refused.

This is all crazy, you don't enhance security by alerting people that you have something you're afraid of.

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Posted by: The Government already knows who I am | July 30, 2007 1:59 PM

There should have been a sign on the building saying "Private Property, no trespssing or pictures allowed" or something to that sort.

Posted by: Carl Mintz | August 2, 2007 3:03 PM

What this building needs...is a flash mob!

Posted by: Colin | August 2, 2007 6:18 PM

Yep, no security concerns in this country. Why should we worry about security and possible surveillance activity? Oh, wait, until those Congressional hearings start up about why we didn't worry about security and possible surveillance activity after the next attack happens.

3,000 people had their liberty snuffed out several years ago. Do you think they would have encouraged a little prudence in security matters if they had possessed some prior knowledge?

Plus, what's so aesthetically pleasing about an office building anyway??

Posted by: Sensibility | August 3, 2007 11:28 PM

Never mind terrorists hating America; rules like this one kinda make me hate us too.

Posted by: Zach | August 5, 2007 2:02 AM

"I find it ironic that they get on people with the picture taking when google earth is out there."

You realize the Google is a CIA front right?

Keep using Google. Make it easy for them.

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Posted by: Sgt Slaughter | August 8, 2007 11:59 PM

It may not help you, but you can carry around a couple of copies of the Photographer's Rights, and hand them out when harrassed. I printed a couple on 5x8 cards, a little small but readable. Find it here: http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

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Posted by: IceMan | August 20, 2007 8:05 AM

"Do you think they would have encouraged a little prudence in security matters if they had possessed some prior knowledge?"

Apparently not. Since they knew it was going to happen well in advance.

Posted by: Rick | August 23, 2007 10:37 AM

for gods sake it shows up on google earth....

Posted by: brian Hunt | August 24, 2007 10:42 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

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