Starbucks Surveillance
by DCDave

Maybe the man answering the telephone at Inter Star Systems, Inc., was perfectly candid with his ready explanation that their security signs on the three back doors of Washington, D. C.'s Wisconsin Avenue Starbucks store are of fairly recent vintage. No, he responded to a question, their cameras had not captured what went on at the store in the fashionable Georgetown section on the night of Sunday, July 6, 1997, because the installation of their equipment was in response to the three murders of that evening. Whether any security cameras at all might have filmed the killers he could not say because he did not know if any security company had preceded them .

Maybe so, maybe not. If this private surveillance company were to be providing cover for some nefarious goings on involving shadowy elements of the federal government, it would not be the first time such a thing has happened. Consider the case of the major defense contractor, North American Rockwell, and the huge spy apparatus, the National Reconnaissance Office, whose very name was declassified only recently. When the latter's big building complex was going up in Chantilly, VA, everyone was led to believe, including Fairfax County authorities (if they can be believed), that the complex was Rockwell's. That cover story remained in place even after the buildings had been completed, office equipment had been installed, including computers, and one of the security guards was murdered, for no apparent reason other than the theft of her gun and her radio. Only some months later when the true ownership of the buildings was revealed did anyone begin to see any reason for this still-unsolved, greatly under-publicized homicide (see The Tina Ricca Murder).

Maybe it is true, as well, that surveillance records are completely immaterial to finding out who really killed the three young Starbucks workers, one of whom, Mary Caitrin Mahoney, was a political activist who had been a White House intern during Bill Clinton's first year on the job. Perhaps that is why the question has never been addressed in any public report on the crime. But, then, the question of White House surveillance records has never been addressed by any of our news media, either, not even the "critic," Christopher Ruddy, in relation to the mysterious death of Deputy White House Counsel, Vincent W. Foster, Jr. Ruddy went so far as to tell this writer that his White House "source" told him that the cameras had been removed to facilitate Clinton's notorious tom-catting. That bit of intelligence was passed along in response to information given to me, which I relayed to Ruddy, from a former employee of a company that installed the equipment that the cameras were so good that they could tell how closely Foster had shaved when he arrived in the morning. The mainstream media's neglect, and Ruddy's dismissal, of the surveillance question would ring particularly hollow to anyone who has seen the recent Will Smith movie, Enemy of the State. (With movies like this one, Bulworth, Wag the Dog, Conspiracy Theory, and JFK, the supposed fantasy-spinners in Hollywood will keep you in a lot closer touch with political reality these days than will the would-be fact-brokers of the press.)

One would also be a lot readier to accept Inter Star's simple explanation if we had not been subjected to so many changing and implausible stories from the very beginning about the case (see my articles at http://Starbucks http://Starbucks Suspect Recanted before Confession Announced http://Starbucks Railroad Job on track .), and if it matched a little more neatly with the physical evidence.

Let us look at photographs of two of the three signs on the back (The third sign is identical, but it is behind a fenced-in area to the left rear that houses a dumpster.).

pic.1 The first photo is of the door nearest to 34th Street, the north-south street by the rear of the store, which faces on Wisconsin Avenue. It is the first one that a person is likely to notice, especially someone casing the store, planning a robbery. The sign's badly-weathered condition, evident in the second photograph, suggests that it has either been there much longer than two and a half years or it is of very poor quality. Also noteworthy is the fact that the 800 number is written in a convention that is well out of date. For at least a decade 800 numbers virtually always come with a "1" in front of them. pic.2

pic.3 Around the back right side we find another door with the same Interstar sign displayed prominently at eye level. But the most interesting things in this photograph are the dangling cables. To the left of the one on the right we see a small, rectangular plate on the wall which could well have been a mounting plate for whatever the cable was meant to be connected to.

pic.4 To the left of the cable on the left, we can see in the fourth photograph an identical plate for the device to which this cable was apparently once connected. Had the devices been security cameras peering down on the signs warning of surveillance, the signs would have carried a great deal more weight than they do currently.

pic.5 Finally, in the close-up in the last photograph, we notice that this second sign is in even worse condition than the first. If this sign is only two and a half years old, it truly has a very short legibility life span and Inter Star Systems, Inc., is quite negligent in maintaining the signs at the facilities it is contracted to protect.

Positioned as they are, on the back doors and not the front, the purpose of these signs is apparently to protect primarily against burglary and pilferage. Once again, though, the absence of visible cameras covering the doors on which the signs appear undermines the message, as does the decrepit condition of the signs. If the purpose is to prevent a repeat of an armed robbery in which the perpetrators enter from the front, as we are told now was the case with the 1997 incident, the absence of any security sign in the front window is curious. The M Street Starbucks on the main commercial drag of Georgetown, by contrast, has a sign in the window that says "Protected by SecurityLink from Ameritech. Interestingly, it has no security message on its back door.

Upon entering the Wisconsin Avenue Starbucks, one notices right away two security cameras behind the counter up over the heads of the employees, aimed at the customers. The most important question one could ask is if they were installed at the time of the 1997 murders and, if so, what they might have recorded.

It is also important for the official story that the crime resulted from a botched robbery by Carl Derek Cooper not only that there be no surveillance but there not even be signs about surveillance. The Washington Times told us in its March 18, 1999, that Cooper had chosen this Starbucks to rob after checking it out several times. One would think that signs such as we see here on the back of the store would have been a very big discouragement.

But there is one more actual surveillance camera that might be important to the case. It is on the back of Fillmore School across 34th Street several hundred feet behind the Wisconsin Avenue Starbucks. Its purpose is to protect the parking area behind the school, but it stares right at the back of Starbucks in the distance. Was it installed and working at the time of the killings? If so, did anyone from the police or the press ask what it might have shown?

One would like to think that, although such questions have never been raised publicly by our lapdog press, that they are being raised by the attorneys for the accused murderer, Carl Derek Cooper. But, as was the case with Timothy McVeigh, they are appointed and paid for by the government. In the McVeigh trial, the old adage, "He who pays the piper calls the tune," seemed to rear its head. Is there any reason why we should not expect the same this time?

David Martin
February 14, 2000

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