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Old 09-12-2008, 12:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Taking Photos on Plane leads to Interrogation

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View: Photos taken in airplane leads to interrogation
Source: LA Times
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Photos taken in airplane leads to interrogation
Photos taken in airplane leads to interrogation
By Catharine Hamm
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 09, 2008

Question: Last fall, three friends and I flew from Lisbon to Los Angeles by way of Philadelphia. On the flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, I was showing them my new camera and took a few pictures of our surroundings. A flight attendant came to me and told me to show her the pictures, which I did. On our arrival, armed officers escorted us off the plane, separated us and made us wait for the authorities. They asked ridiculous questions ("What's your eye color?"), and in the end they let us go with no apologies. Why would this happen? Did we do anything wrong?

-- Jose Silva, Lisbon











Answer: In taking photos, Silva and his friends didn't violate any Federal Aviation Administration or Transportation Security Administration rules, their spokesmen told me.

If the use of electronic devices was permitted at that point in the flight, they were in the clear.

In fact, if you look at the photos you'll see that the only thing they apparently did wrong was to use a camera without studying the manual. Ansel Adams he's not.

In a later conversation, Silva said his group complied with flight attendants and wasn't causing a ruckus.

Because the airline would not go back and research the details, we don't have its side of the story.

But assuming that Silva is correct, what could prompt such a reaction?

He said the authorities later told him that these are "sensitive times."

Indeed. But those pictures are hardly a threat to national security and are no different from the images you can find all over the Internet.

Just to see the spectrum, Google "767 interior" and click "Images," and you'll find about six dozen photos.

Silva said the authorities also told him to be careful. One has to wonder how careful he would have needed to be if he didn't, in his words, look Moroccan or Egyptian.

Richard Derk, the photo editor for the Los Angeles Times Travel section, has shot many photos on airplanes, some of which have ended up in these pages.

I asked him whether he had experienced any problems on commercial flights.

"No, never," he said. "I shoot quickly and try not to get in anyone's way, but no one has ever stopped me."

Derk, we should note, does not look Middle Eastern.

Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Assn., also expressed surprise.

"It's hard to believe that somebody didn't call a timeout in the process and say, 'What exactly did this man do?' " Osterreicher said.

"At a certain point, somebody has to use some common sense."

Picture that.

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What do you think about the treatment Joe Silva received. Warranted or unnecessary? Proactive or over reaching?

Mind you the individual wasn't charged with anything, he didn't lose any property, wasn't arrested, and from what I read here was held for questioning. I'm not a lawyer, but I assume that at some point you can just get up and say,"Charge me or I'm leaving."

In today's environment, I think it has become "better safe than sorry" attitude for everything. I think it's silly. Ounce of prevention, pound of cure, but when you can't see what the prevention is really preventing, then as far as I'm concerned it's all about fear and paranoia.
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Old 09-12-2008, 01:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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i think you can be held without charge now. he showed the pictures without fuss and didn´t create a scene at all. yes, i think the treatment was a complete over-reaction. it would have been nice if he was asked to desist 1st.
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Old 09-12-2008, 03:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Fear mongering and some over-zelous coyboy federalies.

Bunch of monkeys aviation security has become these days.

Edit: He should frame those pictures, put them in the tate modern, call it 'art' and make millions...
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Last edited by stevie667; 09-13-2008 at 04:55 AM..
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Old 09-12-2008, 04:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm wondering why he took such crappy pictures?

I've taken pictures of a hot model girl sleeping next to me, the hot Qantus stewardess, some landmarks out the window,... I don't know. If they were pictures that made sense I would understand it, but what is in those pictures. Is there anything in those pictures?
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Old 09-12-2008, 08:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I am all for security but with a bit of common sense used all of this could be avoided. I feel as if everyone would just rather "pass the buck" , not matter how small the incident, rather than make the call themselves - that way it won't come back to bite them in the ass.
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Old 09-12-2008, 10:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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It's all a matter of relativity in the end. It's the age old question of how fat is fat? But in this case, it's how far safe can we go until it's actually more dangerous again?

Here's a safety video
for all you world travelers.
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Old 09-13-2008, 01:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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you gotta love the aussies.

good ol chopper reid.

anyone seen the movie made about him?
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Old 09-13-2008, 08:10 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Just a thought - some of those pictures make it appear that he was holding the camera somewhat low - lower than eye level, anyway. I wonder if the flight attendant was worried less about terrorism and more about upskirt photos? Perhaps that's why she asked to see the pictures.
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Old 09-13-2008, 08:48 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Just a thought - some of those pictures make it appear that he was holding the camera somewhat low - lower than eye level, anyway. I wonder if the flight attendant was worried less about terrorism and more about upskirt photos? Perhaps that's why she asked to see the pictures.
That would clear up why she felt a need to ask, but it doesn't answer why they felt a need to interrogate him after. It seems like a misuse of security resources. I have never worked in the airline industry though, maybe there have been incidents in the past that caused them to raise concern on this. At least the guy was released shortly after. Odd, makes you wonder what was going on in the minds of the security officials in interrogating him. I do believe that airport security is watched heavily. I have no idea, but it does seem very ridiculous.

I know I have read articles about the actual TSA having essentially secret shoppers go through to identify security problems. The security screeners end up forced into retraining before they can return to work if they make mistakes. I imagine that they are not allowed very many mistakes before they lose their jobs. I have no idea if these type scenarios are tried on the staff on board planes.
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Old 09-14-2008, 08:40 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Any good security team tests and improves their security by having a team try and beat the system. It's the only way to really gage how effective your security really is and where the weaknesses are.
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Old 09-14-2008, 10:20 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yournamehere View Post
Just a thought - some of those pictures make it appear that he was holding the camera somewhat low - lower than eye level, anyway. I wonder if the flight attendant was worried less about terrorism and more about upskirt photos? Perhaps that's why she asked to see the pictures.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katyanna View Post
That would clear up why she felt a need to ask, but it doesn't answer why they felt a need to interrogate him after. It seems like a misuse of security resources. I have never worked in the airline industry though, maybe there have been incidents in the past that caused them to raise concern on this. At least the guy was released shortly after. Odd, makes you wonder what was going on in the minds of the security officials in interrogating him. I do believe that airport security is watched heavily. I have no idea, but it does seem very ridiculous.

I know I have read articles about the actual TSA having essentially secret shoppers go through to identify security problems. The security screeners end up forced into retraining before they can return to work if they make mistakes. I imagine that they are not allowed very many mistakes before they lose their jobs. I have no idea if these type scenarios are tried on the staff on board planes.
The point of concern is the subject matter, a first impression (the stewardess) the story and the photos don't match up. When I am showing off a new camera to friends there will be photos of cut off heads, off centered portraits and a few random feet. I know this is likely a professional photographer, put the correct assumption was made to make further inquiries to the validity of the story since it appears the purpose of the photos was to document details of the cabin space of the aircraft.

The stewardess at the time would not be aware of the net availabilty of this information and was just following protoccol.

I have spent entire flights pre- and post- 9-11 taking photos, but the majority included my traveling companions or of the scenery outside of the window.

I do not believe this was a racial profile incident but simply the passengers ignorance to realize the context of his actions were not consistant with his intentions.

My ethnicity has resulted in racial profiling throughout my life to include Latino gang member, Greek immigrant, Italian crime family to the most frustrating experience at the time of the Gulf War . An Iraqi national that nearly resulted in a denial to exit the U.K. because I did not check in exactly one hour before flight time. I endured a 40 minute near body search and luggage repacking. Thanks Mom and Dad for the dark hair and skin.

Last edited by ranton; 09-14-2008 at 10:23 PM..
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