Morning Read: WDT says mystery road cameras installed by Feds

Unmarked roadside cameras that are popping up across the North Country appear to be part of a surveillance project developed by US Homeland Security.  That’s according to a report this morning in the Watertown Daily Times.

In an effort to protect the northern border, federal authorities are installing cameras on electricity poles to read license plates.

St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin M. Wells said the cameras are the same as those put up in major cities across the state.

Citing a recent news release from Franklin County District Attorney Derek P. Champagne, Sheriff Wells said the cameras were put up on public roadways and will help prevent a variety of crimes.

“This is something that’s common,” Sheriff Wells said.

So that appears to clarify at least somewhat where these devices came from.  What do you think?  Is this a good project?  Are you comfortable with this level of government surveillance?

Do you think it’s a good thing that t his sort of strategy might “help prevent a variety of crimes”?  Comments welcome below.

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41 Comments on “Morning Read: WDT says mystery road cameras installed by Feds”

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  1. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Okay all of you who want walls on our borders, you’re getting what you asked for.
    Thank Obama.

  2. Ron Shirtz says:

    No. This is unnecessary. Communist Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania had his country wired end to end with surveillance equipment like Big Brother in the 1980’s, and didn’t we all cheer as freedom-loving Americans when his regime was overthrown in 1989 after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

    Now here we are doing the same thing in the name of security and law enforcement. How soon we forget the lessons of history. The North Country has just become one big prison under the watchful eyes of Homeland security. We already have random checkpoints, and it would not surprise me that soon we’ll have permanent ones like the former USSR, with North Country drivers being asked “Papers please”. on a regular basis.

    Is this the freedom our soldiers fought for? Will these cameras really make us “Safer”. I don’t think so.

  3. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    No, this is exactly the sort of thing Republicans and Tea Partiers asked for on the southern border. Now we have it here. This is what they wanted for other Americans. Stop complaining.

  4. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    It is really funny that people deride Liberals until what the Liberals warned against comes true.

  5. myown says:

    “…roadside cameras… appear to be part of a surveillance project developed by US Homeland Security.”

    Ok, you can’t say I didn’t warn ya that the military/surveillance apparatus is spreading like a metastasizing cancer within the US. Notice how there is no public discussion prior to installing the cameras. Homeland Security and NSA can do whatever they want, and they are.

    Again, I refer you to this article in Wired as an example of how out of control this unconstitutional surveillance pandemic has become:

  6. Bob S says:

    I assume this surveillance plot was inherited from the Bush administration.

  7. oa says:

    Homeland Security was inherited from Bush, so you’re exactly right, Bob.
    I, personally, would rather have those federal funds going to school math and music programs that are being cut.

  8. Paul says:

    “Homeland Security was inherited from Bush” This new “inheritance” system we now have in politics is great. Now you don’t have to take credit for anything you or your administration is doing, simply look back far enough till you can find a scapegoat.

  9. Pete Klein says:

    I am so shocked – Not.
    When you choose security over freedom, you get what you asked for.

  10. Ron Shirtz says:

    As far as blaming either the Republican or Democrats–They both are in on this. The Republicans started it, but you sure don’t see the Liberals stopping it either.

    Both parties are into power and control. There is as much difference between the them as the electric chair and the gas chamber—with both producing the same result.

  11. Paul says:

    “When you choose security over freedom, you get what you asked for.”

    Pete, I don’t care much for this surveillance either but what specific freedom do you lose by having a camera placed in a public place. Not sure I follow you.

  12. Kathy says:

    There’s always been a downside to our advancements in technology (internet, cell phones). Onstar may be great in helping you out but they know where you are, too!

    That said, I do believe these cameras are over the top. On one hand, I have a level of trust that the powers that be know more than I do and wish to protect and defend our country. On the other hand, these cameras and drones are getting too up close and personal. What are we willing to give up in the name of protection?

    My son is an agent on the U.S./Mexican border. Cameras are used at night (positioned in a truck and operated by an agent) as well as cameras positioned to show movement. I don’t believe there are surveillance cameras as ours. They have agents on the ground continually pursuing and apprehending. Is our NY/Canadian border more active? No.

    We may very well be the proverbial frog in the water. And if we don’t stand for something we’ll fall for anything.

  13. Paul says:

    Pete, maybe I follow. You are saying that you would lose some of the ability to do something illegal when you are being more closely watched (like if a cop was parked at the same spot)? If that something is having my freedom somehow compromised (let’s say someone robs me) doesn’t this actually improve my freedoms?

  14. BB ny says:

    The lack of acknowledgement and mystery is a clear indication of the contempt towards the “citizens” in this country by the “Feds”.
    We are not trustworthy.
    We are terrorists, drug dealers, smugglers (not to mention: speeders, texters, and non compliant seat belters)
    We must be watched!

    ps I agree with Ron. Pox on both their houses! The thing I resent most about Obama (I voted for him) is that under his administration this monster has continued thrive.

  15. Paul says:

    “The lack of acknowledgement and mystery is a clear indication of the contempt towards the “citizens” in this country by the “Feds”.

    BB perhaps. But do you think that ANY covert operation executed by law enforcement should be broadcast far and wide? Wouldn’t make them very effective would it?

  16. BB ny says:

    As a “covert” action it’s pretty laughable ….. don’t you think?

  17. Paul says:

    Yes, I agree on this one. Like I said earlier I am surprised we don’t already have military satellite technology that can take care of this from a little higher perspective! I meant in general since you said that “mystery” is a clear indication of “contempt”. I don’t think I agree with that.

  18. Once again we are arguing over who to blame. You don’t like it? Have you expressed your feelings to your representatives?

    What I dislike without reservation is putting them up surreptitiously. If there’s a real need for surveillance, why weren’t we told what was being done? It’s the secrecy that concerns me.

    I have mixed feelings about the cameras themselves. As a photographer I know it is legal to photograph people in public places. There are limits on how I may use the pictures I take of people in public but taking photos is okay although under some circumstances I would ask permission first as a matter of courtesy. The surveillance cameras seem a bit over the top to me, a fishing expedition. They might make sense in a high crime area but that doesn’t seem to apply to these locations.

    What is disturbing in combination with the secrecy around installing these cameras are the efforts in some states/localities to pass ordinances making it illegal for citizens to photograph police engaged in the conduct of their duties. Perhaps contempt isn’t the word, but there does seem to be an attitude of superiority on the part of law enforcement. It’s a long ways from Sheriff Andy Taylor.

  19. Paul says:

    This is a great point on “secrecy”. Do we all need to know everything that is going on by law enforcement. Is it sufficient for our representatives to know? Maybe they did and it was classified. Probably not in this case since like someone pointed out it is kind of conspicuous (there are much smaller cameras than this rig if they needed it).

    Should we know who the air marshal is on the plane put there to protect the passengers? Should cops not be allowed to set up a speed trap to catch unsuspecting speeders? I guess it boils down to “cause”.

    We live in a representative society where we count on others to protect us and to do it in a way that is fair and effective.

    Like I said I don’t really support this since I do not see the need. If I could be shown the need I maybe could. If someone who represents me has been shown the need than maybe I am okay with that. I think here if we want to criticize this it make sense to explain what the harm is that is being done to innocent citizens based on this. Make even a half way decent case and this is wrong.

    So far the best argument that I have seen was by oa. Other areas of the government that are in need of funds are hurt by this action is there is not sufficient cause.

  20. Bob S says:

    OA- Do you really believe that the Bush administration is responsible for any current Homeland Security initiatives? Really?

  21. Paul says:

    sorry I mean:

    Other areas of the government that are in need of funds are hurt by this action IF there is not sufficient cause.

  22. Pete Klein says:

    You must know that the policy of all governments is “Do as I say, not as I do.”

  23. tootightmike says:

    So, where are they exactly? How many are there so far? How many are planned and where? How many letters do we have to write, and to who?
    If they can be put up, they can be taken down… In America we discuss these things first.

  24. PNElba says:

    I’m not sure where the cameras are located either. But if their purpose is to “protect the Northern border”, shouldn’t they be located on or very close to the actual border?

  25. myown says:

    I think most of us living in this area are probably a little naive about the specter of surveillance that is available right now and will be pushed on us as more corporations see huge profits to be made through business applications and government contracts.

  26. oa says:

    Bob–Yes, I do believe the man who founded Homeland Security and wrote a blank check for it is responsible. He is not solely responsible, and I never said he was. I blame Clinton for using the Nazified (there I said it) term “homeland security,” and setting the rhetorical stage for what Bush brought to life, and I blame Obama for expanding upon the use of this (mostly) useless bureaucracy.

  27. Sunshine says:

    Perhaps if we opened up the borders (really, can you think of any logical reason why we shouldn’t short of putting some folks out of work), the problem would be solved…end of the ‘need’ for surveillance.

  28. oa says:

    Kathy, I agree wholeheartedly with your 10:55 comment. This is overkill.

  29. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Ron S. : “The Republicans started it, but you sure don’t see the Liberals stopping it either.”

    Last I heard Liberals and Democrats are not necessarily the same thing. Liberals would love to stop lots of things that Democrats vote for.

  30. Bob S says:

    OA-Lets continue with this question. What is “nazified’ about the term “homeland security?

  31. Walker says:

    Bob, I don’t know why, exactly, but it hits me the same way.

  32. Bob S says:

    I have to admit that I’m now confused. The term “Nazi” refers to the National Socialist German Workers Party. Would someone please explain to me how that equates to the Department of Homeland Security either in fact or in function. Are you telling me that they engage in similar goals or methodology?

  33. The word “homeland” has apartheid associations for me. I do dislike the term as smacking of separating groups as “other”, not us. It does not have positive connotations.

    I find it interesting that while Homeland Security continues to grow the federal government has laid off half a million workers. If the HSA has grown during that same period that means either there are somewhat more than a half million workers doing other things for the public than they did before or all these HSA people are private contractors. What better services might government employees be providing us with than snooping on us if they are federal workers? How comfortable are we with this surveillance being in the hands of private industry if they are contractors?

  34. Paul, It is enough to know that the air marshal is on the plane. We don’t need to know which passenger is the air marshal. We know they are there and why. As for speed traps,etc. we know the cops are doing it and we know who’s doing it. Those blue and gold cruisers are pretty obvious. That’s different from sending crews out in unmarked trucks to install unmarked cameras and when asked, replying that they can’t say who’s behind it or why. That’s a CIA “If I told you I’d have to kill you” kind of mentality and I find that unacceptable. It just fuels the kind of distrust of government that is obvious in many responses here.

  35. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Not to put words into oa’s mouth but I’ve always been struck by how much the phrase “Homeland Security” seemed to come out of a WWII movie. Hitler referred to Germany as the Fatherland (or the Motherland, I can’t remember which though I believe the proper German would make it a masculine. In French it could be feminine, who knows), and many European countries use that same sort of Homeland analogy — as in “this is our homeland/fatherland/motherland, the place where our Saxon/Frankish/Celtic/whatever people came from or lived.

    To me it seems rather odd. For most Americans our Homeland is overseas while our Home or our Nation is here. What the heck is wrong with the term National Security?

    The term Homeland Security feels like a propaganda phrase promulgated by Joseph Goebbels.

  36. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    James, the air marshall doesn’t even have to be on the plane to be a deterrent. The fact that an air marshall might be on the plane and possibly sitting right next to you is enough of a deterrent most of the time.

    It’s sort of like all the speeders who slow down when they pass a cop that has pulled over a speeder. He’s not very likely to leave the guy he’s got to pull over someone else but people slow down anyway. Just another illustration that people aren’t particularly smart in general.

  37. Larry says:

    “Homeland Security” does have kind of a totalitarian, quasi-nazi feel to it, perhaps because it reminds one of the Nazi Reichssicherheitsdienst (RSD). Reichssicherheitsdienst can be loosely translated as Homeland Security Service.

  38. Kathy says:

    It’s not just air marshalls who are on planes but if an BP agent is on the plane with his weapon, they sit in a strategic place since the pilot knows he/she is there.

    I am thankful for the alertness of our agencies in protecting our country. Wouldn’t we be glad if 9/11 was intercepted? But then again, we wouldn’t have learned to be vigilant and technology certainly makes it easier and better.

    Yet, there is the downside as we have discussed.

    By the way, the surveillance cameras are only at check points in southern border towns. Up here, we don’t have stationary check points. Perhaps that is why the cameras are situated as they are.

  39. oa says:

    Bob asks: “What is “nazified’ about the term “homeland security?”
    Bob, read up on the Nazi use of the German term “Heimat,” and you’ll see what I’m referring to. (The wiki page is actually a decent, if cursory, treatment of it.) I’m not saying Clinton, et al, intentionally made the parallel, but I am saying it’s a pretty creepy, and really unAmerican, use of language. Words matter.

  40. Two Cents says:

    bush started it, obama continues it. homeland security should be dissolved, for many reasons.

  41. Robin McClellan says:

    Ben Franklin is quoted as saying, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” The real question is what is “essential liberty” and what is “temporary safety?” The cameras can be construed to invade privacy, but for “security reasons” we don’t know how effective any of the new border measures–road blocks, random searches of trains and buses–are at a) deterring illegal immigration or more importantly b) deterring terrorist attacks.

    This is an issue that cuts across political lines. As usual, though, we are dealing with it as if we are the only ones in the world who face the issue. Israel faces a significantly larger threat to its safety than we do and responds with a significant sacrifice of “essential liberty” (administered in different ways to different segments of its population…to put it diplomatically) yet western European countries and the UK also face significantly greater threats to their safety, yet they generally do not curtail essential freedoms.

    We would do well to discuss this as a society in an open manner and make some clear choices…but that would mean abandoning our preconceptions and getting real information. Maybe in our grand-children’s lives.

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