Three journalists attempting to enter a National Security Agency compound in Utah with cameras ended up having their cameras confiscated and their footage deleted Thursday.
But the footage survived on one camera because it had been live streaming, so now the video has more than 50,000 views on Youtube, mostly from people who had no idea that the NSA had built a compound in Utah where it is apparently collecting data on American citizens.
The journalists were from Alex Jones’ Infowars, meaning this time, they didn’t even have to speculate about a conspiratorial secret government compound spying on us.
We can pretty much see it all for ourselves.
The compound, which was completed last month, is officially known as the Utah Data Center and has been mostly a local curiosity until now. There is, however, a parody site about the compound.
The journalists said they drove past signs forbidding photography, but a 2011 Homeland Security bulletin states “there are currently no general security regulations prohibiting exterior photography of any federally owned or leased building, absent a written local rule or regulation established by a Court Security Committee or Facility Security Committee.”
In his famous The Photographer’s Right PDF, attorney Bert Krages states that photography is pretty much permitted anywhere in public, however, “there are some exceptions to the general rule. A significant one is that commanders of military installations can prohibit photographs of specific areas when they deem it necessary to protect national security.”
Either way, I’m glad these reporters put the photo prohibition to the test because it exposes the hypocrisy of a government wanting to probe our personal lives while refusing to remain transparent.
It also proved that the government faces a serious challenge in trying to restrict videography when technology allows for live streaming.
According to a Salt Lake Tribune article from last month:
The data center, one of several large computer facilities run by the agency, is one of six major hubs for the NSA and will not only serve as backup storage but also be networked into the government’s intelligence gathering so analysts from other sites can access it in real time.
The $1.5 billion building, based on the Utah National Guard’s Camp Williams straddling Utah and Salt Lake counties, will be the NSA’s largest computing center in the world with about 1 million square feet of space, a tenth of that taken up by computer servers.
But the Utah center opens amid a firestorm over the NSA’s data collection after news reports, mainly in The Guardian and The Washington Post, revealed classified documents showing the agency is collecting data about Americans’ domestic phone calls and is able to tap into social-media platforms in its searches.
Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee and has been critical of the NSA’s methods, said this week that he plans in the next few days to sketch out what authority the agency is using to justify its collection of domestic intelligence and that hearings will be held.
The journalists were very transparent about their motives and even offered to let the guard speak to Alex Jones live on the air at one point, which he declined.
According to Infowars:
After exiting their vehicle parked in a spot reserved for “low emission vehicles,” the crew walked towards an unmarked building in a search for public relations.
“We are going to ask them why they can spy on us and learn everything that we do during the government shutdown, where they are full-fledged and in full-force, but we can’t ask them a simple question,” Gucciardi said.
Before they could get to an unmarked guardhouse, however, a NSA security guard intercepted our reporters while caressing his sidearm.
Our crew explained that they didn’t want trouble, just a public affairs officer to answer some questions.
“He’ll [the PAO] probably talk to you on the phone,” the guard responded. “But you need to turn your cameras off.”
The guard’s back-up soon arrived and an officer shoved his hand into the camera lens and stated that the crew could not leave unless they surrendered their film.
“What about Google satellite photos?” Gucciardi asked the officer. “They have photos of everything.”
“Do they have to delete it?”
The officer referred to a U.S. Code to rationalize his unconstitutional demand as he confiscated the cameras and attempted to delete the film.
At one point the guards said they had attack dogs and there’s no telling what the dogs may do.
“They might eat you,” the guard stated.