nobody | 18.10.2004 20:55 | FBI Server Seizure
To be fair to the authorities - they take outing of agents seriously, and the white house itself may be in trouble for doing this (though it will probably get away with this illegal act).
However, there are differences here. If the CIA agent had been wandering round the streets proclaiming her job in public it would be ludicrous to object to people repeating this fact. Surely secrecy should only protect those who take care to protect it themselves.
To walk around visibly photographing demonstrators is to demonstrably identify your role, and break the secrecy yourself.
Further, if you openly photograph me, it should not be an offence for me to photograph you, particularly if you fail to identify who you are by, for instance, wearing a uniform.
It is my opinion that such photographs, for official use, if they must be taken, should only be taken a uniformed officer wearing an identification number. This gives the accountability required in a just society, and renders photographing them and showing their faces unnecessary and unfair.
After all - if unidentified persons systematically photograph us, what way do we have of knowing whether they may be criminals or members of a right-wing terror group seeking to identify and attack our activists ? Only by photographing them do we have any hope of finding out whether or not this is the case.
People whose identity needs to be concealed should not be used for this sort of job - if they must then let them wear masks - at least this would be an honest statement of what their employers are up to.
I accept that covert photographers may get more photos, but not once they have been noticed and pointed out within the group. Or is it an offence for me to say to the person next to me "look that man is photographing us" ?
In any case, it has long been accepted that there are effective counter-criminal procedures the authorities could use, but which are denied them by considerations of justice, human rights, and accountability. I think covert photography of demonstrators may or may not be in this category, but I am sure that those who undertake it should accept that they cannot then use the law to enforce their anonymity. If what they are doing is not wrong, they should stand up and be counted, as uniformed policemen do.
What would one of these men do if challenged, and asked to produce an identity card justifying his actions. Actions which would be provocative and potentially threatening behaviour if carried out by a civilian?
I say again - if you must do it, use uniformed police with number tags.