NSA Security Confiscates Cameras from Journalists, Delete Footage, Live Streaming Video Survives

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.

Artist illustration of the compound (via Salt Lake Tribune)

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.

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

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  • ibanix

    This is one time I think the photographers are clearly in the wrong. Federal trespassing/national security rules are strict, and for good reasons. The NSA, as much as we have come to dislike the US citizen wiretapping, holds the keys to huge assets of information which keep our country safe. These guys both deserved to have their cameras confiscated and footage deleted.

    This does not deserve to be on PINAC.


      Doing an interview at their security gate is photography, and should be on PINAC. No government sensitive material is shown to comprise ‘national security’ lol.

    • Eric

      You know nothing about the law, do you? The law says that they have to ASK you to leave, and you have to refuse to leave, before they can charge you with trespassing.

      Deleting video is a crime against the photographers’ property, and if they were stupid enough to charge the photographers with some sort of crime, then they would have committed a crime themselves as they would have destroyed evidence.

      • $910553

        It’s only a crime if someone is willing to prosecute. How likely do you think THAT is?

        • Eric

          Public pressure will make them do it. This is why sites like PINAC exist.

    • Phred

      Time to back away from the Kool-Aid, ibanix.

    • Difdi

      Congress shall make no law…do those words sound familiar to you? And since Congress is the only federal government body that CAN make laws, that leaves me wondering what law allows a federal employee to violate the constitution.

    • JdL

      The NSA … holds the keys to huge assets of information which keep our country safe.

      If you think those criminal marauders are “keeping you safe”, you’re a fool. Government thugs are by far a greater threat to your life and liberty than any would-be foreign invader ever could be.

    • shesnsa

      How long have you worked for the NSA?

    • Joseph Murray

      “Keeping us safe” is exactly the same excuse I hear people give for corrupt, brutal, rights-violating cops. It’s the attitude of a child who’s afraid of the big bad World and hides behind others to not be afraid.

    • HOWARD

      give up your freedoms you jackass moron, then go back to sleep SHEEPLE SLAVE! i will not waste any more time with the likes of you! now go away!

    • inquisitor

      But will Jones find out what the law actually is prior to doing this type of thing or will he bother to find out if his photographers were actually violating a law after the fact?
      Chances are neither.
      Which is a shame because it then leaves one hanging with an uneducated and incomplete view on the matter.
      And with that, I think it makes good theater for Jones either way…so he isn’t so concerned about these pertinent details at their conclusion.

      And you will never see Jones and company in a court room or proceeding filing any type of lawsuit for an alleged violation of their civil or journalistic rights. Even though he has millions and connections.

    • steveo

      Has anyone ever received 18 negatives on this site?

      • Fotaugrafee

        Up to 22 now. 😀

    • Fotaugrafee

      Sheep. EVERYTHING deserves to be exposed or at least transparent. If our enemies destroy us over exposure of this facility, so fucking be it. This corrupt shit has to end somewhere. I’ve said it before, and it’s sad people had to die, but the best thing that could have happened on 9/11 was for one of those planes to hit the Pentagon…or Capitol Hill.

    • Fotaugrafee

      “…holds the keys to huge assets of information which keep our country safe.”

      Do you take a whoobie to bed with you, so you feel nice & safe & cozy & all warm & fuzzy inside? Or do you suck up the fact that our country has made it’s own damn enemies by fucking with the wrong people, instead of just minding our own damn business.

      It’s like the old line “Our business is war, and business is GOOD!!”…that needs to be buried with all the assholes who insist on invading our privacy on a daily basis.

  • watkinssr

    Calling anyone from Alex Jones a Journalist is a stretch, however, they probably did have a right to film there.

    • CornbreadDamnitCornbread

      you don’t know what Journalist means, do you?

      • inquisitor

        I am constantly forced by Jones and company to ask myself…
        What is Alex Jones?

        First and foremost Alex Jones is an obese, loud-mouthed, bullying business man running a very lucrative for-profit corporation and retail business.
        This can and has been substantiated.
        I have listened to Alex Jones since the first year he was on the internet and I have watched all of his 911 and police state snuff films.
        Now he is into MLM and pyramid marketing scams to make a buck.
        I am not an admirer or a fan of Jones, but I do listen regularly to his show.

        Second, he is an activist. Since his beginnings he has come from a right-wing Christian conservative perspective. Despite his claims that his show is secular and politically objective, he has contradicted that assertion many times.
        They guy can be found to contradict himself on many issues.
        Many times not exemplifying that which would be considered of Christian character, but he says he is…so it must be true.

        Third, he is a commentator. He gives his opinion and predictions on just about every subject under the sun. A rabid dog of rapid fire factoids, self-praise and self-worship under the claim that it is all for the people. Those people tend to be cultish in their admiration of Jones and don’t tend to eye the vanguards of the conspiracy-freedom movements to be self-serving, self-aggrandizing gatekeepers. I can’t keep track of all the things he predicted would happen that just did not occur. One year America was supposed to run out of food by the autumn later in the year…so you had better buy your e-foods from his sponsor before then…or else. Nothing like that ever occurred. Another panic-buy sales pitch to the gormless followers.
        These sales tactics have happened quite often. I don’t know if that could, or should, be called journalism…but sales.

        Fourth, he now falls into the realm of psuedo-journalism.
        But what do you call a journalist who is announcing that radiation is soon on its way from Fukushima, in a matter of days, and thousands will die so you better buy his last few batches of iodine left for sale in the entire country…….and then nothing like this ever happens?
        Journalist is a stretch although that is the outward appearance of this character.

        Finally, and most importantly, show me one incident that Alex Jones, as a result of having his or his staff’s rights violated, falsely arrested or any time Alex threatened or supposedly he has sued an adversary, has documented his going into court and seeking any form of justice at all.

        Never have I seen Alex, or his staff, filmed outside or within a court room defending himself as a defendant against the government, corporation or individual for being falsely arrested, having his property illegally seized, or for having his rights violated. And not a time when he is suing someone that has allegedly defamed him.
        And you won’t see it happen in regards to this latest video exploit either.
        And why do you think that is?
        For someone who says what he says, being the “tip of the spear” and all in the fight for freedom and liberty you would think that one would have seen one incident of Alex entering a court room and using his resources in this regard.
        But absolutely nothing? That is perplexing.

        I could fill pages of analysis of this guy and the many contradictions and criticisms toward his organization and his alleged mission.

      • watkinssr

        Yes I do. I am one. He is a not. Inquisitor summed it up better than I could.

        • Flashing Scotsman

          But then again, who decides who is a journalist, and who isn’t? Maybe Diane Feinstein?

  • http://www.policemisconduct.net Film The Police Always

    If they didnt breach the property then these reporters rights were violated. File a lawsuit!

  • rick

    Remember when national security meant security for the governed?
    But now POTUS, NSA, and FISA view the Constitution as a recommendation rather than the law of the land. The citizenry is the least secure it has ever been and the threat is from our own government!

    • bc_motoguy
      • Paschn

        When Jacob Schiff “bought” the Russian revolution, (insert regime change), and the country was taken over by Stalin/Bolshevik Jews Russian troops threatened by the politruks/commissars with repercussions against themselves and their families, they too, “just followed orders” which culminated in the slaughter of 60,000,000 Russian Christians and Muslims, 7,000,000 Ukrainians, 60,000 German citizens in the Danzig Corridor and countless others through out Eastern Europe…. We have the same filth here in spades, called “police”, private security, civil servants, (insert 5th column swine), of the FBI, CIA, NSA, DEA, etc. they are all the maggots eating our country to the core from within. Stand in awe at what writhing pustules such as they will do to a fellow citizen, to their COUNTRY for a paycheck, (thirty pieces of silver?), and job security. I honestly cannot decide which is more repulsive the swine committing these acts or the filth keeping us from setting things straight.

  • barcroft

    All badge, no balls.

    • n4zhg

      They had balls enough to threaten them with the dogs. Just like certain southern lawmen back in the 60’s…

  • Jefft90

    Forbes reporter had a similar reception back in march.


  • rick

    Delete this!
    Security gate in upper left corner.
    These buildings are where the 4th Amendment goes to die.

    • o0THX11380o

      When I saw that photo and noticed there were no windows, it occurred to me that in these buildings there are thousands of computers, rows upon rows of them, that are at the most basic level recording the entire internet. If that doesn’t scare people, nothing will.

  • Unity Nowe


  • Tijuana Joe

    Poor rentacop. He almost got to airbrush these journalists out of existence for Unlce Sam
    …like stomping out an anthill with your boot. Imagine the Power Rush.
    Too bad it was Live Streamed, now he just looks like a punk.

    • inquisitor

      Probably a pre-arranged encounter between the NSA and Jones.
      Everyone showed up at their appointed times and played their roles.
      Disinfo mission and psyop accomplished.
      The plebs are pleased.
      Business continues as usual.
      No effect, no change…but Alex and his organization looks good in this and you will buy a t-shirt further identifying and profiling you for the NSA.

      I only say this because I take everything presented by Jones and company with a high level of skepticism and suspicion.

      When one considers the recent revelations of NSA surveillance and spying, one must consider that the “alternative” media could very well be one of their most useful and dubious creations. Jones, and his behavior in certain instances further arouse my suspicions that something is just not quite “right” with the guy and his operations,

      Even if true, or false, one can still learn of the intricacies of how such encounters may go down for a journalist. But if completely staged for an effect, then does not the whole display become somewhat theoretical and practically useless?

  • hardh8

    Let me state this again. Use the power you have over this government before you lose the power you have. Go serve on jury duty and find all of your fellow Americans not guilty. From marijuana to murder, NOT GUILTY. The police state can arrest any American and can charge them with any crime. BUT only a jury of normal Americans can find you guilty of said crime. Our founding fathers knew this day would come. This is why they gave the average citizen this power. NOT GUILTY in every case. This will force the police state back into it’s cage in the corner where our founding fathers originally placed it. Use this power or you will lose this power.

    • tiny

      well said HARDH8, very well said! and it is all there. people are lazy, they want everything done for them, then they feel secure! one problem with that is, fact is, then they have no security at all, and they are too dumb to know it! wake up SHEEPLE SLAVES, and read what hardh8 said and do it! and this is just one example, there are many! >>>> http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jury%20nullification

    • Voice-Of-Concern

      If you serve on a Jury, with the intent to vote based on something other than the facts of the case, you are violating your sworn oath. I can not & do not support this stance. It is the path to Anarchy.

  • notliberal

    Nothing to report here. The guards were well within the law and specifically were following it:

    “(18 USC 95): Ground or aerial photographs, sketches, or graphic representations of classified military equipment or government installations designated as restricted areas is punishable by law. Reproducing, publishing, or selling this type of material is also punishable by law unless the photograph, sketch, or graphic representation indicates it has been reviewed and cleared for release by proper authority. The proper authority is generally the Public Affairs office.”

    From off property, shoot all you want. Once you enter it, it’s a no go.

    • notliberal

      Sorry – Typo: 18 USC 795

    • Name

      “Punishable by law” but not “Punishable by illegal search and deletion of footage”

      See the difference? The guards went well beyond the authority they have.

      • inquisitor

        That footage is evidence if a law were broken or if one was falsely accused of breaking a law.

    • Difdi

      Punishable by law, yes. But security guards or cops are not the law referred to in that phrase. Until there has been a trial in a courtroom with a judge, a jury, a prosecutor and a defense attorney, there cannot be legal punishment.

      If the photography was illegal then by all means arrest the camera crew and use the recordings as evidence at their trial. Oh wait, the evidence that their cameras were turned on (and therefore even POTENTIALLY illegal) was deliberately destroyed. Oops.

      Illegal punishment is a crime, they call people who do things like that vigilantes.

  • http://www.rhkennerly.com/ rhkennerly

    I’ve thought about this before as being ideal for PINAC work, what’s the technology behind the “live feed” from cameras, especially “expendable” cellphones, as opposed to expensive camera rigs? Is there an app for that?

    • Difdi

      Yes. Some cameras can feed imagery to a cellphone or computer via Bluetooth. Once there, they can be automatically uploaded. In the case of a cellphone camera, the process is simplified, just use Qik, Bambuser, etc.

  • $910553

    Facial recognition software works BOTH ways. Once you’ve identified these fine officers, public records can tell you where they live. Then one can deal with them appropriately in full accordance with their very own Rules of Engagement. Wonder if they take those dogs home with them at night?

  • Tom Markham


  • DTM

    Bush REALLY started it – Patriot Act, DHS, TSA etc… – Obama perfecting it. Who says bi-partisianship doesn’t exist in D.C.?

    As Americans sit and watch Keeping up with the Kardashians or Miley Cyrus.

    • inquisitor

      So true.

      I am not affiliated politically, but Bush did really initiate it with his signature.

      But all the post-911 police state implementations were prepared by neo-cons behind the scenes even prior to 911.
      That is unnerving to say the least.
      But Obama did nothing to repeal any of it and has furthered it all along quite nicely.

      • IcedTeaParty

        The expansion of the police happened before Bush showed up; the original assault weapon’s ban included language and funding to put 100,000 more cops on the street…this gem was written by now-VP Biden, passed by a democrat majority in Congress, and signed into law by Clinton.

        • inquisitor

          Yes, I remember this.
          Good points.

      • HOWARD

        this is why i am so confused as to why PEOPLE dont seem to get it, THEY ARE ALL IN BED TOGETHER, AND THEY ALL ARE HAVING A GOOD TIME SCREWING US ALL! and some of them, “US”, may never get it. sorry to say! it does make me happy to see some that get it, though. it is that simple, they are in bed together, period! no demoshits, no repukes, those are nothing but nicks for one and the same, evil entity.

    • Tijuana Joe

      Yeah, the irony is hearty here.
      The only agreement between these two phoney flag-waving parties was toward
      crapping on the US Constitution, on its own citizens’ rights.
      Which doesn’t make any sense because 911 was carried out
      by Saudi kooks, not US citizens….

    • theaton

      Bush and Obama might have signed the Patriot Act but the guys that we elect every two years passed the bills that they presidents signed. In other words, we allowed the Patriot Act to exist and we get the government that we want.

  • Harry Palm

    That guard was just mad because they interrupted him while he was reading a dirty book with one hand.

  • steveo

    NSA is part of the Department of Defense, so this is another branch of the military, just like the Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy. This is exactly what the founding fathers were afraid of, that the military would one day have enough power to take martial control over the country. That’s why they were so paranoid about standing armies. NSA is one of the most dangerous standing armies ever devised.

    If you ever saw the movie, “Enemy of the State” , there was a scene where all the dept heads were in a room with a guy (admiral) in a military uniform running the meeting, that’s because this agency is not run by civilians, it is part of the military.

    And with these guys, take Chris Rock’s advice: “I wouldn’t do that shxt, if I was you.” and unlike news vids that go viral when cops use unnecessary force, the feds will just wisk you off and kill you, and put you in a breaking bad tub full of hydroponic acid, flush you down the john and no one will hear from you again.

    You think that the KGB was scary; they were nothing compared to this place.

    • meninblk

      The NSA AREA 51.

    • inquisitor

      …quite poignant steveo.

    • theaton

      So what is “hydroponic acid?”

  • Frodo

    The bill of rights or any part of the constitution can be overrided by the government, as long as they post a sign, or just write one out in crayon.

  • boojumbunn

    I wonder if the big sign saying that photography is forbidden is a written local rule established by a security committee (court or facility) listed in the quote “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.”

    Also, I notice the famous PDF states that “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.” the article states that the building is on a Utah National Guard base.. which may be military.. and that the NSA itself may be considered military.

    I would love to see a more in depth coverage of these two topics… It’s possible that what the photographers did is actually against the law.. and as a photographer myself I’d like to know if that’s the case… even if the guards did either destroy evidence of a crime or illegally delete someone’s video.

  • jackassletters

    The only problem I have here is this is fucking Alex Jones: http://io9.com/insane-fox-news-reporter-explains-obamacare-in-star-t-1441119520 Total fucking nutter exploiting nutters. He deserves the same protections as any other stupid shit out there, but he is a stupid shit. Seriously, total whack job.

    • Flashing Scotsman

      I don’t see why that would make you have a problem with THIS.

  • http://akazip.com/ unclezip

    Well, at least the Chinese will have a good target to nuke.

  • Fotaugrafee

    Why in THE FUCK are our tax dollars funding this? I can understand something small such as video / photo cameras at traffic signals to determine the cause of an accident or something, but this has become a classic case of “give them an inch, they take a goddamn mile!!”

  • John Wayne

    YOU ARE AN IDIOT! Those guys are not guards! They are fully federally certified federal police officers. I hope they charged with one of the CFR’s for not following clearly posted restrictions and the lawful order of an NSA police officer.