Under Surveillance / Big Brother Changes Everything

A possible way of overcoming the financial crisis that recently struck Dubai: Ask for royalties for the film that was copied yesterday and will be aired repeatedly during training courses for international spy organizations, and perhaps also for Mossad, Shin Bet and the Israeli. CSI: Dubai; Gulfwatch in action, against the 11, who if reports are to be believed are operatives of Meir Dagan - the lethal 11 of Danny Ocean who robbed Las Vegas casinos by tricking the cameras.

The footage, which removes suspicion that the security detail of MK Uzi Landau was involved, shows how difficult it is to be a top-level hit man in this day and age. If the combat pilots of the air force are at risk in areas full of air defense missiles, then espionage units function in hostile environments of a different sort: areas full of cameras.

Everything is recorded by tireless Big Brother. Assassinations may be pinpoint accurate, but so are the surveillance cameras.

The Mabhouh case proves the effectiveness of a database of biometric information: when data - face, voice, pupils - provide early warning, or at least help track down the culprit after the act, and thus to a certain extent have a deterrent effect. Disguises will do nothing to counteract sophisticated technology. The report will peel the outer layer and reveal the human basis.

But that will not be enough. After all, the September 11th hijackers were photographed in airport shops and gates, but that was not enough to prevent the disastrous strikes. A quick system that combines expert manpower and immediate decision making is needed. But the fact that many obstacles remain placed before the planners of any operation, who know that sneaking operatives into a foreign country, smuggling weapons and explosives, penetrating the target area, carrying out the mission, breaking off contact and escaping to a different country - all without giving away local collaborators or revealing methods of action - highlights the complexity of such missions.

But that was only for starters: a camera on every floor, in front of the elevator, may be trouble - but it is still better than a camera outside every room, or private systems with simple and inexpensive cameras in the portable computers of guests who want the hotel to link them up to the general security system.

The variety of outfits worn by the 11, a team that certainly needs no foreign coach, was meant to avoid superfluous attention.

The more the world is photographed, computerized, networked, the harder it is to avoid surveillance. The difference between a hunter and the hunted is at times very fine.