Boston Bombing Seen Fueling Push for Surveillance State

The authorities do like their all-seeing cameras


Video is a critical component in finding and prosecuting the bomber responsible for the Boston Marathon bloodbath. Even as first responders arrived on the scene Monday, police were already securing video footage from the vast network of surveillance cameras keeping watch over downtown Boston.

Since 9/11, law enforcement agencies have used federal grants to buy surveillance cameras for areas across the country plagued by crime or potentially targeted for terrorism. A surely outdated count  from 2007 said downtown Boston was watched by a network of at least 147 police surveillance cameras. On the marathon route, it's likely that most businesses have surveillance cameras, along with every ATM and red-light traffic device with a license plate reader. Not to mention every spectator with a camera phone.

Combing through video evidence is the new standard in dealing with crime in public, says Grant Fredericks, a forensic video analyst who teaches forensic video technique at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.