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16 July 2004

J. writes:

Call me a paranoid government conspiracy theorist if you want but I do believe that the terraserver photo at the bottom of your "ballard-eyeball" page has been doctored.  If you look at the railroad bridge in the left-middle of the photo it appears that somebody somewhere has attempted to alter the appearance of the bridge.  Check out the close up zoom for yourself if you don't believe me:

Crytome: This is the bridge Ian Spiers was photographing when first harassed by Seattle police. Indeed, the image has been altered: the bridge has two shadows, one at the right which looks realistic (objects can be seen within the shadow), and one at the left which cuts off part of the bridge, is crisper than the rest of the photo and is entirely opaque. Peculiar to add a fake shadow but not obscure the entire bridge -- reminds of partially obscuring the White House. To show the area more clearly Cryptome has downloaded a high-resolution image from to replace the one previously at the bottom of this file.

15 July 2004. One of the Eyeball series.
Source of photos: Terraserver-USA

Web site of Ian Spiers (thanks to M.):

US Corps of Engineers Ballard Docks:

Associated Press, July 15, 2004:

Photographer's rights violated?

ELIZABETH M. GILLESPIE; The Associated Press

Ian Spiers had a matter of hours to finish an assignment for his photography class. So there he was in May, taking shots of a railroad bridge near the Ballard locks, when a Seattle police officer with a German shepherd at his side approached him and asked what he was doing and to show some ID. It was the second time in less than two months that Spiers had been questioned about taking pictures of a landmark that attracts hundreds of tourists a day, many of them snapping photos of the ships passing between Lake Union and Elliott Bay.

A growing number of photographers around the country have been similarly rousted in recent years as they've tried to take pictures of federal buildings and other major public works, said Donald Winslow, editor of the National Press Photographers Association's magazine. "We've seen the constant erosion of our civil liberties amid this cry for homeland security by doing things that have an appearance of making us safe, but in reality it's a sham," he said. "No one showed up at the World Trade Center and took photographs from nine different angles before they flew planes into it."

Spiers had explained he was a photo student at a community college and showed a copy of his assignment, then asked the officer if he were legally obligated to show his ID. The officer said no and walked away. But soon after, several other officers approached him, including three from the Seattle Police Department and three from the federal Homeland Security Department."I was trying to be calm, but the truth was I was scared out of my mind," Spiers said.

This time, Spiers said, a Seattle police officer told him he had no choice but to show his ID. A Homeland Security agent told him he had broken a law by taking pictures of a federal facility. "We've never seen such a law," said Doug Honig, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union in Seattle. Spiers said he complied, spent half an hour answering questions and let a Homeland Security agent photograph him after being told he had no choice.

The ACLU has written the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and runs the locks, asking for the agency's assurance that Spiers will not be arrested if he returns to the locks. Corps spokeswoman Patricia Graesser said her agency had no involvement in the incident and questioned an order Spiers said a homeland security agent gave him - that he could not return to the locks with his camera without getting permission in advance. "Everyone - all members of the public - are welcome on the locks property, and photographs are allowed," Graesser said.Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said the department has a duty to respond to reports of suspicious activity. Calls to the Homeland Security Department were not returned.

Spiers stopped short of suggesting he was a victim of racial profiling, but said he'd like to hear one of the officers who questioned him say if they hassled him because his mocha-colored skin and short black hair made him look like a terrorist.

The National Press Photographers Association has gotten numerous reports from members who say they've been hassled by police since the Sept. 11, 2001. In early June, about 100 photographers crowded onto Manhattan subway trains and snapped pictures of each other in protest of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's proposed ban on photos on public transit.

Brian Fitzgerald, the chief photographer at the Yakima Herald-Republic, said a uniformed security officer tried to stop him from taking a picture of an immigration office, citing a "law," then calling it a "directive" that gave the officer the right to confiscate film with photos of federal facilities. "I'm not outraged because I didn't get to the point where I didn't get my photos," Fitzgerald said. "It just reminds me again how much disinformation there is, even in these agencies that are supposed to know."

See related eyeball of Bill Gates' house security zone across Lake Washington:

Ballard Docks