It took them a long time to get to it, but the US government has finally taken the leap and called explorers and graffiti artists ‘terrorists’.
Here’s the story: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/03/urban-exploration-terrorism/
You might think that dude climbing across the girders of a suspension bridge late at night intends to get a good view or to write some graffiti. But the National Counter-terrorism Center can’t help but notice the pathway he takes exposes “security vulnerabilities” inherent in the urban landscape, like “access to structural components including caissons (the structures that house the anchor points of a bridge suspension system)” — all of which a terrorist would find useful. Spelunking through subway tunnels might alert terrorists to “electrical, ventilation or signal control rooms.” The vantage point of a rooftop provides a glimpse useful to the “disruption of communication systems.”
Official response from us:
To the NCC and all other interested government agencies, I only have this to say: ‘Urban Explorers’ are police officers, firemen, telephone repairman, doctors and mechanics and computer technicians. We make this country run – not you. When we see something that you idiots know nothing about that might kill others, we make sure it gets addressed.
The solid truth is, the horse left the barn decades ago when it comes to photographs and sensitive information. Take a look at the photos in this post – do you want to know where all of them (except the boombox one) came from? The MTA’s Flickr stream, Bing, and Google.
The NYC MTA was smart enough to start it’s own flickr account and show exactly what is going on around the subway system – including its massive infrastructure projects. This is smart PR – it lets us, the customers, see where the money is going. When there is a train delay or detour, you can actually see what work is being done (the biggest complaint used to be ‘they shut down my subway line, but i don’t see them doing no work on it‘).
Now bear in mind, the MTA tried to ban all photography in the subway system in 2004. We protested, and we won. The ban never happened, and now just a few years later the MTA has it’s own Flickr account, posting boatloads of amazing photos from inside of subway tunnels. Boom.
As for Bing and Google. Have you paranoid NCC morons had a look at the level of detail you can see in Google or Bing? If not I’ve attached a screen grab of the top of the empire state building, via Bing. There is also a ‘street view’ from google – do you recognize the building?
If actual terrorists want to learn what is over and under NYC, all they need is the internet. You can see all this content just as clearly from Sudan or Pakistan as you can from the Starbucks down the street from the white house.
The folks at the NCC don’t seem to know how to use the internet. In their infographic, they list just 3 links, 2 of which are for non-US websites. Apparently the NCC is too fucking stupid to find the hundreds of US based exploring websites – several of which (this one included) have existed for well over 10 years. With people like this gathering ‘intelligence’, I feel so much safer from actual terrorists. *High Five* guys! Good job!
And let me re-interated this: When we find something that isn’t right, we make sure it gets reported immediately. Over the last few decades NYC explorers have reported gas leaks & harmful conditions, reported at least 2 dead bodies, and prevented at least one enormous fire. No one would have noticed or reported any of these if we weren’t out going where ‘you’re not suppose to be’.
The government has clearly overplayed their ‘terrorist’ hand with this nonsense. They should redact their statements, take their silly infographic and file it in the trash can. They should be apologizing to every ‘urban explorer’ on the planet right now. Afterall, what does the United States Government do these days? You bail out bankers and hide behind drones. Not a single wall street executive has gone to jail over the subprime mortgage scandal. The US economy was nearly destroyed by these terrorist in business suits. Families have been thrown out of their homes, and more jobs were lost than at any there point since the ‘great depression’. How is throwing people out of their jobs and taking away their homes any less of a terrorist act than taking goofy photos and posting them online? Who are the real terrorist cowards in this picture? It sure as fuck isn’t me. So pardon my disgust when I tell you to shut the fuck up and know your fucking role.
You should be fucking thanking us for doing what we do. But then again, we don’t ask for a dime of your money or taxpayers money. How much of my tax money has paid for this stupid report and fancy infographics again?