When the September 11th terrorist attacks happened exactly 11 years ago today, NASA astronaut Frank Culpertson was the only American not on planet Earth. Looking down at New York City from the International Space Station, he managed to snap the powerful photo above (high res here), showing the smoke plume from the World Trade Center site.
During the 9/11 attacks in NYC, Magnum photographer Thomas Hoepker shot what is perhaps the most controversial image created that day: a photo that appears to show a group of young people casually enjoying themselves while the World Trade Center burns in the background. Hoepker kept the image under wraps for four years and then caused quite a stir after publishing it in a 2006 book. Columnist Frank Rich wrote in the New York Times that “The young people in Mr. Hoepker’s photo aren’t necessarily callous. They’re just American.”
Here’s a startling video on how 9/11 turned using a camera in public into a “suspicious activity”:
After 9/11, the government began encouraging local police, private security and everyday Americans to report so-called “suspicious activity” that may indicate a security threat. Taking photos of landmarks, walking “nervously” and writing in a notebook are all activities that have led to people being stopped and questioned.
A disconcerting fact from the video: more than 15,000 “suspicious activity” reports are currently being stored — perhaps indefinitely — in a national law enforcement database.