I just watched parts of Sunday’s 60 Minutes online. It’s a show I used to watch a lot of, but now seldom watch. My loss. It’s still no nonsense in depth reporting. There’s not a lot of that left.
Scott Pelley’s story on Commissioner Ray Kelly and the NYPD upset me greatly. Yes, I know New York City has to be protected, but I am petrified it’s being done in a way which makes us no more secure and eats away at our individual freedom and civil liberties.
It is nearly impossible now to walk a block in lower Manhattan without being on television. There are 2,000 cameras, and soon there will be 3,000 – all of which feed into this control center housed in a secret location.
A powerful computer, using artificial intelligence actually watches all of the cameras at once and it knows if a package has been left in one place too long.
In one scene an earnest officer on a high speed boat talks about his ability to monitor possible nuclear threats. He went on to say the equipment was falsely been triggered by innocent people who’ve had nuclear medicine procedures. That level of false positives says to me there will always be too many targets to properly screen.
Another scene showed the high tech control room where electronic intelligence is aggregated. A huge wall of monitors showed street scenes. At the bottom was a Microsoft error message reporting too many unused icons on the desktop. Poor design.
Kelly touted how after a bomb attack in Madrid and hotel attack in Mumbai the NYPD started looking for similar signs. That’s the weakness the TSA is often accused of having — reactive, not proactive security.
My car broke down in Manhattan last month and sat in a bus stop for well over an hour. No one from the police department approached me nor drove by. I would guess they didn’t know.
Alas, I’m afraid Kelly’s security hardware is all a big dog and pony show. Maybe some terrorists will be intimidated. Probably not.
It was only luck that kept Faisal Shahzad’s bomb from going off in Times Square. Is there any place the NYPD watches more?
The city is ripe with soft targets.
Maybe I’m most scared by Kelly’s claim the NYPD has the capability of bringing down an airplane.
Kelly: Well, it’s something that’s on our radar screen. I mean in an extreme situation, you would have some means to take down a plane.
Pelley: Do you mean to say that the NYPD has the means to take down an aircraft?
Kelly: Yes, I prefer not to get into the details but obviously this would be in a very extreme situation.
Pelley: You have the equipment and the training.
I want to be safe. Is this really the right way?