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Monday, 20 February 2006 05:01

Houston you have a problem!

According to an Associated Press report the police chief of Houston Texas wants to put surveillance cameras into private homes to help his department's crime fighting abilities compromised by a shortage of police officers. And he thinks the citizens have nothing to worry about!

According to the report the chief, Harold Hurtt, has "proposed placing surveillance cameras in apartment complexes, downtown streets, shopping malls and even private homes."

He is quoted telling reporters at a regular briefing: "I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?"

Houston does have a problem: the city has absorbed 150,000 hurricane evacuees who are filling apartment complexes in crime-ridden neighborhoods, the report said.

Hurtt suggested that building permits should require malls and large apartment complexes to install surveillance cameras, but he wasn't proposing blanket installation in homes. When a homeowner requires repeated police response, it would be reasonable to require camera surveillance of the property, he was reported saying.

The director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Police Accountability Project in Texas, Scott Henson branded the project "radical and extreme". This is to be expected, but more worryingly Hurtt does not seem to have been dismissed as a crackpot and there were no calls for his resignation reported. Rather there seemed to be some support.

Andy Teas with the Houston Apartment Association acknowledged that some would consider cameras an invasion of privacy but said "I think a lot of people would appreciate the thought of extra eyes looking out for them." Looking out for them! Looking at them more like.

Nor was there outright rejection from Houston mayor, Bill White, who seemed to be concerned primarily with the cost, and called the chief's proposal to be "brainstormed".

And either the writer of the article had her tongue firmly in her cheek or thought the whole thing should be taken seriously, concluding: "the program would require City Council approval".

Is this what the land of the free is coming to? Osama Bin Laden should be well pleased. He is well on the way to achieving his goal of destroying American society.

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