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The FBI's Newest Tool — Google Images 220

Posted by timothy
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
lee317 writes "The FBI recently used a photograph of Spanish politician Gaspar Llamazares as an example of what Osama Bin Laden might look like today. According to Reuters, Special Agent Jason Pack said a forensic artist had been unable to find suitable features from the FBI's database of photographs and used a picture from the Internet instead. That photo turned out to be one of Llamazares, who apparently looks strikingly similar to what the FBI thinks Bin Laden would look like with a few extra years on him. 'I am stupefied the FBI has used my photo — but it could have been anyone's — to compose a picture of a terrorist. It affects my honor, my own image and also the security of all us,' Llamazares said."
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The FBI's Newest Tool — Google Images

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  • Terrorists!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 16, 2010 @06:44PM (#30794440)

    We should constantly live in fear of tribal men in caves 8000 miles away at all times. It's the new American way.

    • Re:Terrorists!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DJ Particle (1442247) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @06:50PM (#30794492) Homepage
      We should constantly live in fear of dead tribal men in caves 8000 miles away at all times. It's the new American way.

      Corrected for you. :) Even Fox reported his death in 12/2001
    • Re:Terrorists!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Saturday January 16, 2010 @06:50PM (#30794494)

      Because we've always been at war with Eurasia?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's not the tribal man I fear. It's the crazies who listen to him, strap a suicide belt on and go blow innocents up.

    • Re:Terrorists!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by daseinw (244962) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @08:57PM (#30795282)
      It's like we're living in "1984" and news just gets erased from the collective mind.

      This whole article is odd in light of the fact that I'm pretty sure the FBI knows that bin Laden is dead. I mean the man was once releasing more videos each week than Tupac until he started toting that kidney dialysis machine through the mountains. Then... nothing.

      After all, the FBI's counter-terrorism chief, Dale Watson, also http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2135473.stm [bbc.co.uk]admitted to believing that bin laden was dead eight (8) years ago.
      Wait... and didn't Afghanistan's current president, Hamid Karzai, http://edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/central/10/06/karzai.binladen/ [cnn.com]admit to believing the same thing 8 years ago?
      Wait... and didn't Israeli Intelligence also http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/WTARC/2002/me_terrorism_10_16.html [worldtribune.com]admit the same thing 8 years ago?

      But I guess if you can keep the myth alive, then it becomes that much easier to keep support going for spending money on the current military action in Afghanistan.

      • Logic 101. (Score:2, Insightful)

        by TapeCutter (624760) *
        Are you aware that you shot down your opening statement by linking to those stories?
        • He claims the news is erased from the MIND, not the internet (archives). He then backs up his claim by linking to past news stories that he says conflict with this one but apparently have been forgotten.

          Sadly he does make another mistake, people may assume Bin Laden is death, but they have no evidence so they keep looking until they are 100% sure.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by _Sprocket_ (42527)

        After all, the FBI's counter-terrorism chief, Dale Watson, also http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2135473.stm [bbc.co.uk]admitted to believing that bin laden was dead eight (8) years ago.


        "Is (Bin Laden) alive or is he dead?" Mr Watson said. "I am not really sure of the answer... I personally think he is probably not with us anymore but I have no evidence to support that."

        Wait... and didn't Afghanistan's current president, Hamid Karzai, http://edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/central/10/06/karzai.binladen/ [cnn.com]admit to believing the same thing 8 years ago?


        "I would come to believe that [bin Laden] probably is dead," Karzai said on CNN's "Late Edition" on Sunday.

        "But still, you never know. He might be alive. Five months ago, six months ago, I was thinking that he was alive.

        Wait... and didn't Israeli Intelligence also http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/WTARC/2002/me_terrorism_10_16.html [worldtribune.com]admit the same thing 8 years ago?


        The Israeli sources said Israel and the United States assess that Bin Laden probably died in the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan in December. They said the emergence of new messages by Bin Laden are probably fabrications, Middle East Newsline reported.

        Oh, yes. The damning evidence is just piling up.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          More to the point, lets see what evidence there is that the individual is still alive and not blurry videos of, well, people who just look similar. Past patterns of behaviour would indicate the leaders amongst the various terrorist factions have quite the ego and once they have developed a taste for being on camera, they do not stop. Of course you could say it is difficult to smuggle a video camera to the location of the terrorist leaders but then, well, what kind of threat would they be, can't smuggle a c

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CAIMLAS (41445)

        C'mon, man. Osama bin Laden is like... oh, Santa Claus. He's the guy who keeps on giving!

        We've killed his #2, what, 10 times by now? Granted, they were different #2s, and were probably the #1 of some Taliban group not OBL's #2, but yeah, it's been a couple times by now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Corbets (169101)

        But I guess if you can keep the myth alive, then it becomes that much easier to keep support going for spending money on the current military action in Afghanistan.

        If the FBI has reason to believe he's dead and is still "keeping the myth alive", I'd guess the reason is much simpler. They're covering their own collective asses - if it turns out that he's not dead, and he pops up again, someone's going to get fired, at best. So it's better to keep going through the motions.

        So many people here forget basic human nature when it comes to large organizations.

    • Re:Terrorists!!! (Score:5, Informative)

      by westlake (615356) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @09:44PM (#30795512)

      We should constantly live in fear of tribal men in caves 8000 miles away at all times.

      Osama isn't tribal.

      He's medieval.

      His family made its fortune in heavy construction for the Saudi royal family. Net worth $7 billion.

      Chicken feed. Prince Alwaleed alone is worth $18 billion. No Saudi whatever his merit or ambition can climb higher so long as his family rules.

      Do I have to tell you how this story ends?

      Neither is it psychologically insignificant that building the iconic mosque or royal palace was where the bin Ladens began.

      Osama has spent his entire life on the outside looking in.

      Close but no cigar.

      Rich List 2009 - 7# The Bin Laden Family [arabianbusiness.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 16, 2010 @06:57PM (#30794568)

      ...Thats the real reason they used his photo. The FBI has been very openly anti-communist, and hes a popular politician. Whats the best way to get rid of an opposing politician? Call him Osama bin Laden.

    • Indeed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by copponex (13876) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @07:05PM (#30794634) Homepage

      But, Señor Llamazares is a Commie

      Fortunately for him he lives in a society where you can formulate political opinion from a variety of sources and not resort to a childish game of name calling and vague nonsensical grandstanding. In many parts of the world, you can call yourself a communist or a marxist or a socialist and then have a discussion about what that means.

      Stateside, I bet many people would consider calling the police. But such is the state of our populace: hysterical cowards and uneducated drones, ready to plead fealty to whatever entity promises them the most convenience and security.

      • But, Señor Llamazares is a Commie

        Fortunately for him he lives in a society where you can formulate political opinion from a variety of sources and not resort to a childish game of name calling and vague nonsensical grandstanding. In many parts of the world, you can call yourself a communist or a marxist or a socialist and then have a discussion about what that means.

        Stateside, I bet many people would consider calling the police. But such is the state of our populace: hysterical cowards and uneducated drones, ready to plead fealty to whatever entity promises them the most convenience and security.

        And yet for those who clicked on a Reuters story we didn't see this calling of the police by uneducated drones, and hysterical cowards. Of course we didn't have an intellectual discussion of what it means to be communist, but then the story was basically "we goofed" and an apology.

        Sounds like some of you have too many axes to grind.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by PPH (736903)

        In many parts of the world, you can call yourself a communist or a marxist or a socialist and then have a discussion about what that means.

        But not in the good old USA. Where McCarthy wired electrodes to our testicles and successfully conditioned our response to the term "Communist".

        Its interesting to note that the basis for McCarthy's witch hunt was never emphasized: The fear that a political party could be manipulated by foreign powers to influence our political system for their benefit. Which was a valid concern at the time. But we've conditioned people to jump at the word "Commie" while the political elite maintains the ability to inject th

      • ready to plead fealty to whatever entity promises them the most convenience and security"

        this is true of every society on this planet, and every society that ever existed, and any society that ever will exist. its the trailing end of the bell curve, what can you do? so you don't have to like the usa, but don't single out the usa for the crimes of humanity itself

        i'm an american, and i can have an open rational discussion of the benefits/ failures of communism, socialism, capitalism, libertarianism, marxism,

      • by wall0159 (881759)

        "Fortunately for him..."
        It's not just him that benefits -- everyone benefits when political and social ideas can be discussed openly without hysteria.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MPAB (1074440)

        May be so, but here in Spain what you cannot call yourself without being frowned upon is "right winger". And that includes anyone that doesn't agree with socialism. Once you get branded as a right winger, conservative or economically liberal it's down the inevitable slope to being called fascist and then ostracized.

      • Re:Indeed (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nathrael (1251426) <nathraelthe42nd AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 17, 2010 @06:42AM (#30797394)

        Fortunately for him he lives in a society where you can formulate political opinion from a variety of sources and not resort to a childish game of name calling and vague nonsensical grandstanding.

        Heh, I wish.

        Yes, it's completely true that communists (and all of them, including Stalinists) aren't inherently despised and feared here like they are in the US, and that they openly discuss their political believes without facing extremely strong opposition. In exchange, however, many people in many European countries despise neocons, strongly capitalist conservatives and libertarians (moderates and Ayn Rand-ite alikes) as "American scumbags" (or, if they are pro-military as well, "fucking Nazis"). "Free Speech? How could you *possibly* defend these racist fuckers? The government is right in censoring their hate speech!" Europe is just as extreme in many regards, it just has different "enemies" and acceptances.

        • Neocons and pro military americans are despised. Capitalist conservatives aren't dismissed nor are libertarians. Free speech is freely talked about. And it isn't about 'defending the racist fuckers', it is about fomenting hatred and violence. If there is a good chance that one persons words will lead to deaths or widespread hatred/fear/chaos then you have to ask whether or not it is worth it. (I'm on the fence for extreme examples of this)

          So yeas everywhere has a range from the median that you can freely t
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @06:45PM (#30794454) Journal
    Come on, the FBI agent simply went to images.google.com and entered "osama bin laden now" and hit "I am feeling lucky". How could he know that he should not have been feeling lucky that day? Blame google, not the agent.
  • My question is, what did they search for to get this result? And shouldn't they have checked who it was before they used it?
  • Sounds like a fucking great combination with biometric data. How are they coming along with facial recognition?

  • First the CIA jails and interrogates people when it is no part of their charter to do so and they have no training at it, producing an unmitigated diplomatic disaster for the USA and no valuable information. Now the FBI assembles "wanted" photos using Google images.

    Where does the incompetence in the American security apparatus end?

    • Seriously, doesn't OBL have 50 half brothers or something? Some of them must be older than him.

  • Sue the FBI (Score:5, Funny)

    by iphinome (810750) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @07:27PM (#30794792)
    Does the FBI own the rights to the image they're showing around? Aren't they violating copyright? Can't they be sued for millions in made up damages?
    • Does the FBI own the rights to the image they're showing around? Aren't they violating copyright? Can't they be sued for millions in made up damages?

      Nope, in the US you can use the image of a public figure for many purposes-- he's fair game. Of course, he might win a case of defamation if he could show generally that members of any significant group he's in actually *believed* he were Osama based on the picture.

      His only recourse will be diplomatic.

      • by Kumiorava (95318)

        That is as long as the image is taken by FBI or FBI cleared rights to that particular image.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 16, 2010 @07:29PM (#30794796)

    Something must be quite wrong when a forensic artist uses google images to find suitable features.

    But it is even more worrying that they used Llamazare's features for another picture!

    They took the Spanish PM's eyes and hair again for an image of a _different_ wanted terrorist:
    http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2010/01/16/internacional/1263662696.html
    http://www.rewardsforjustice.net/index.cfm?page=atiyah_abd&language=english

    One wonders about the reliability of such wanted pictures, when it seems they serial produce them, cutting and pasting from the same image...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by md65536 (670240)

      One wonders about the reliability of such wanted pictures, when it seems they serial produce them, cutting and pasting from the same image...

      ... unless they were looking for very general-looking features, that display a recognizable trait. They don't need to be precise to be reliable. Consider how we can recognize caricatures of celebrities from very stylized cartoon drawings.

      But that makes it even more disturbing that they'd use a real and recognizable person, without his knowledge. It's not that his features matched exactly what they want, it's that they feel he has some generally useful features that can be used in a variety of composites.

  • by jvillain (546827) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @07:31PM (#30794808)

    How long till Gaspar Llamazares ends up on the no fly lst because of this?

  • by malp (108885) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @07:34PM (#30794828)

    You know I've never seen Bin Laden and this Gaspar Llamazares fellow in the same place at the same time. Just saying...

  • as in, special Olympics?
  • by bdrewery (1317617) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @07:54PM (#30794930)
    In other news, Ben Affleck apparently died in pakistan [huffingtonpost.com]
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @08:14PM (#30795036) Homepage Journal
    Finally the proof I have been waiting for, Llamas really are EVIL! Sure they may look cute standing there chewing cud, but the FBI is on to their secret plot to hijack airliners and crash them into alpaca farms. Keep up the good work boys!
  • Gray (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pgn674 (995941) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @08:36PM (#30795148) Homepage
    Wow, that is some light grey text. The color of the date between the title and the main text is #999999, or 60% white (with 0% white being black). That text is more white than black, on a white background. The main text of the article isn't as bad, with the color #666666, or 40% white. But still, that is really uncomfortable to read, especially if you have a display with small pixels. The 11px font size and normal font weight doesn't help.

    Has anyone else noticed the trend for news sites to make their text whiter and whiter, while maintaining a pure white background? I'm not a web designer, but as a user, this is getting really annoying.

    Oh, and strangely enough, the title of the article is actually the same exact color as the main text: #666666.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Inda (580031)
      Like most consumer printers, this is the web's version of the economy "save ink" settings. These days, everyone is trying to cut costs.
  • by Dracos (107777) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @08:44PM (#30795198)

    That guy doesn't represent what bin Laden would look like now. You can tell because:

    • That guy looks nothing like bin Laden
    • That guy doesn't look like he's been in a shallow grave for 8 years
  • Is your skin anything but the purist of whites? Do you speak with an accent (from MY frame of reference)? Do you have a beard? Wear funny-looking clothes (again, from MY frame of reference)?

    Then congratulations! YOU can be our next international terrorist! But, don't count yourself out just because you look like a white American. If you've ever visited one of the countries on our list and especially if you happened to be photographed while wearing the local fashions (we really like turbans), then you c
  • by genmax (990012)
    This makes sharing your name with someone on the no-fly list sound like a lucky break!
  • I used to have a spot on the 2th page of Google Images' query "los 10 mas buscados de la pgr" (the top ten wanted of the PGR (mexican federal police)), after a quick google, it seems that the photo was removed from the query (it is still on my flickr stream anyway).

    It used to be a great conversation topic, something like "oh yeah, and I'm one of the top ten wanted of the PGR" "naw, you're joking" "you don't beleive me? google it yourself" "oh shit, you really are".
  • First of all, I don't think Gaspar has much to worry about. The primary facial features of bin Laden appear to have been pasted over his photo. Other then the hair, they don't loo alike at all.

    What does bother me is that; it takes quite a bit more than cut and paste (and throwing some gray into the hair) to properly 'age' a photograph. Changes to the nose, ears, winkles, creases, and bags under the eyes all have to be calculated and incorporated into the new photo. Was that actually done? Or did someone ju

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