Power corrupts

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 28, 2010

Holding those in power accountable is no longer the exclusive domain of the media, whistleblowers or inspectors general. Via The Atlantic magazine’s saner blogger, comes this surveillance video of a woman apparently getting some passive-aggressive harassment at the hands of some TSA officials in Phoenix. If the video is what it purports to be, there should be some jobs opening up at that airport.

Security theater

On a similar note, January’s Reason magazine (currently available on the Kindle, but not on the Web) highlights the war on cameras – still and video. I’ve touched on this issue before, but the Reason article is enough to push someone over the edge. Radley Balko recounts some enraging incidents where citizens exercising their rights to take photos or video of police officers during the conduct of their official duties  being arrested or threatened with criminal convictions. The laughable claims by some police and prosecutors that somehow members of the public have no right to record their own interactions with police, while police can use dash cams and microphones without permission is infuriating.

My favorite incident was this one from Maryland:

In 2007 Andrea McCarren, an investigative reporter for the D.C. TV station WJLA, was pulled over by seven Prince George’s County police cars as she and a cameraman followed a county official in pursuit of a story about misuse of public funds. In a subsequent lawsuit, McCarren claimed police roughed her up during the stop, causing a dislocated shoulder and torn rotator cuff. McCarren won a settlement, but she was never able to obtain video of the incident. Prince George’s County officials say all seven dashboard cameras in the police cruisers coincidentally malfunctioned. [emphasis added]

No word on whether anyone on the police force got sacked – even if it was just a tech guy in charge of the cameras.

We have the tools necessary to hold public officials accountable. We need to elect politicians who will ensure that corruption is exposed and the public is protected.


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November 2010



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