Senate Votes to Extend Patriot Act's Roving Wiretaps, Records Search
by Michael Winter
May 26, 2011
Facing a midnight deadline, the Senate has approved a four-year extension of three controversial terrorism-fighting provisions. The vote was 72-23, the Associated Press reports.
The measure goes to the House, which is expected to approve it quickly and send it to President Obama for his signature.
One Patriot Act provision permits roving wiretaps and the other allows searches of business records in the pursuit of terrorist threats. The third provision lets the government watch non-American "lone wolf" suspects.
May 11, 2011
This incident occurred at the Cultural Center station in Baltimore, Maryland on March 21, 2011. I was visiting from Oregon, and as part of my career interests, I explored the transit systems of Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. In each and every one of those cities, except for Baltimore, I had no problems photographing these amazing systems.
This incident in Baltimore started with me enroute from the B&O Railroad Museum to Penn Station. I had boarded a light-rail train at the Convention Center, but realized that I needed to be on a "Penn Station" bound train, so I stepped off at Cultural Center Station in order to board the correct train. While waiting for my train, I snapped a photo or two of passing trains, and was immediately inundated with police officers confronting me about my photography. I also had a video camera on hand, so this entire incident, except for the last bit at Penn Station, was recorded.
MTA Police finally gave back my farecard and ordered me to "cease and desist," but continued to surround and bother me until I boarded the next Penn Station train. They followed me to Penn Station and got Amtrak Police involved. I felt at that point I had no choice but to give Amtrak Police my ID so they could conduct a warrant check. If the MTA Police hadn't followed me, Amtrak Police most likely would have not conducted this security check based on my experiences at various Amtrak stations between Washington DC and Boston. The Amtrak Police Officer was truthful about the fact that there was no prohibition against taking pictures of trains or train stations, so his honesty is what also compelled me to give my ID. He was, in my opinion, dragged into this fiasco because of MTA Police.
I have no qualms with MTA Police inquiring what I'm doing, but the fact that they took it to the next level with so many lies, unreasonable detainment, denying my boarding of my train that caused me to be delayed and following me to delay me further; this whole episode of theirs was unprofessional and perhaps unconstitutional. I am posting this video in hopes to further strengthen photographer's constitutional rights.
I am also being represented by ACLU of Maryland.
Photography is not a crime. As long as you're on public property, or in a publicly accessible place like a subway station, you are allowed to take photographs.
It's your First Amendment right!
You do not have to stop recording, or delete anything from your camera. Police must have a warrant to search or seize your camera. Do not let ill-informed police officers deter you from enjoying your hobby of photography.