"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Monday, October 11, 2004

Ferry Tales 

Here in Seattle, ferries are an essential part of our transportation infrastructure. Thousands of people commute by ferry here the same way they might commute by train in the Northeast. So, obviously, any threat to our ferry system is something to take seriously. And now, it seems that the Feds believe our ferries are a target:
Federal authorities believe Washington state's ferry system has been under surveillance and could be at risk as a possible target for a terrorist attack, The Seattle Times reported Sunday.

Law-enforcement officers, ferry workers and passengers have reported at least 157 suspicious incidents since Sept. 11, 2001, the date of terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

An FBI assessment determined that 19 of those incidents were highly likely or extremely likely to involve terrorist surveillance, The Times said.

"We may well be the target of preoperational terrorist planning," U.S. Attorney John McKay told The Times.

The Times obtained a document detailing the incidents.

Reports included individuals asking questions about ferry operations or taking photos of stairwells, car decks and workers. A man who is a known subject in an FBI terrorism investigation was involved in three of the incidents.

McKay and other security officials said the confidential assessment helped prompt new security requirements that began Saturday on the Washington ferries, the nation's largest ferry system.

I would find this news quite chilling indeed, if I were inclined to believe that the Homeland Security folks knew what was going on. However, you may recall that I blogged a while ago about the case of Ari Cowen, the Irish-American businessman who got jacked up for taking video from the deck of a ferry and who, so far as we know, is still suspected of being in cahoots with the Irish Republican Army (despite a lack of any evidence to that effect).

Look, the ferry dock is visible from my office door; I have no desire to see an afternoon commuter run to Bainbridge Island get blown out of the water. Still, when Homeland Security says "trust us," you'll pardon me if I ask for something more than naked assurance.




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