The gimlet eye of the National Park Service is poised to start watching us
here in DC . Cameras around the Washington Monument, along the Reflecting Pool, hiding in Lincoln's nostril, tucked into the hem of Jefferson's coat. While this isn't the civil liberties slippery slope that activists are required by their employment contracts to claim it is, I also can't see that it will really be all that useful. What the Park Police who monitor the tapes (assuming they will actually be monitored) will end up with is endless hours of fanny pack-wearing tourists in unfashionable shorts staring at the monuments, a mixed look of pride and confusion on their face as they lip-read their way through Lincoln's Second Inagural.
No one seems to be claiming that this will actually allow us to stop potential attacks, only that once they do it, we'll have their pictures on file. Assuming, of course, they aren't evil criminal geniuses trying to foil law enforcement by putting things like ski masks and knotted pantyhose over their heads. The system seems especially irrelevant if it's meant as a reaction to Sept. 11. I doubt the average terrorist on a suicide mission is going to be put off by the idea of the Park Service snapping a grainy surveillance photo of him seconds before he tries to blow up the statue of Fala at the FDR Memorial.