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Published on February 6th, 2013 | by -swansong-2
Spy Drones : The Eye in the Sky
The proliferation of spy drones seems to have no end. In this article we’ll go over some of the relatively short history of drone warfare abroad, the technological advancements and increasing use of spy drones by law enforcement at home and the recent leak of a DOJ report claiming extrajudicial drone strikes on U.S. citizens as legal.
I am the eye in the sky looking at you,
I can read your mind.
I am the maker of rules, dealing with fools,
I can cheat you blind.
Eye in the Sky – Alan Parsons Project 1982
I was 16 when that song came out. It was one of my favorites then and still is today. At the time I’m sure I attributed any perceived meaning in the lyrics to girls…and how they wouldn’t have copious amounts of sex with me. Funny how 30 years can change your perspective.
I have no idea what meaning the writers had intended to attribute to those lyrics but I do know the passage of time has made them more prescient than ever.
Spy Drones: The Eye in The Sky
Where battles between nations used to involve men in trenches, slogging through the mud and the bodies of their comrades to take position with their single shot rifle, now, increasingly, it involves boys, in a bunker in Nevada using joysticks (not unlike the ones they were using not that long ago to play their favorite video games) to fly the un-manned spy drones that will target and destroy the enemy de’jour. No muss, no fuss. Well, except for the 50-1 civilian death rate from spy drones attacks. Oh, and the close to 200 dead children, many of which were in Pakistan. Someone remind me, is the US at war with Pakistan?
The strikes by the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which have continued in Pakistan’s tribal areas since 2004 have intensified during the Obama era. In one of the major drone attacks more than 40 civilians and policemen were killed on March 18, 2011 in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. In the past few months, these unmanned aircraft killed more than 100 people in North Waziristan.
As regards civilian casualties, on August 11, 2011 a report of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said, “The Guardian published some of the pictures, we have obtained…as many as 168 children have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan during the past seven years.” While rejecting the CIA’s false claim, the report disclosed, “It is a bleak view: more people killed than previously thought.”
Yet even with the knowledge of these appalling numbers American military and political leaders are pushing for more increases in the use of aerial drones.
CIA Director David Petraeus wants an increased drone fleet to “bolster the agency’s ability to sustain its campaigns of lethal strikes in Pakistan and Yemen and enable it, if directed, to shift aircraft to emerging Al-Qaeda threats in North Africa or other trouble spots.”
The use of drone strikes have increased exponentially under the Obama administration, becoming a signature aspect of his incredibly aggressive and reckless foreign policy.
To this point Americans have seemed…ok…with the use of, and high civillian casualty rates from, these drones overseas. Although, that very well may be due to the utter lack of reporting on these issues by MSM. How can one become incensed if one is unaware?
One wonders how long that attitude will last when the drones come home to roost.
NBC news has produced a chilling, confidential Department of Justice (DOJ) white paper outlining the supposed legality of extrajudicial drone strikes on U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism even without intelligence to show involvement in a plot to attack America.
I think “chilling” might be an understatement. While this news is certainly “chilling” it is hardly surprising. Spy Drones used for surveillance amongst the states and police forces has been on the rise in recent years.
In February of this year, Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, with its provision to deploy fleets of drones domestically. Jennifer Lynch, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, notes that this followed a major lobbying effort, “a huge push by […] the defense sector” to promote the use of drones in American skies: 30,000 of them are expected to be in use by 2020, some as small as hummingbirds. Spy Drones in America?
“Some as small as hummingbirds”. Let’s take a moment to reflect on that, shall we. Imagine something so small that it could hover right outside your window and with cameras recording in full HD, capture a record of your activities without you ever knowing.
Well imagine no more. Meet the PD-100 Black Hornet.
PD-100 Black Hornet is the world smallest remote controlled (RC) helicopter developed by Prox Dynamics, a Norwegian based company. The helicopter has a total weight of 15 grams. The prime purpose of the Unmanned aircraft system (UAS) Black Hornet is to help in spying and intelligence gathering missions, thanks to the small digital camera that it carries. The UAS Black Hornet has a top speed of 20 miles per hour.
“The helicopter can be carried in a pocket and launched within seconds to give immediate situational awareness. It will be valuable in situations where a closer look at a hostile area or inside a contaminated building is crucial. We will be making military and civilian versions of the Black Hornet but it will be sold only to governments and their agencies.”
For the time being the drones in use by the state are used for spying and are not armed. As disturbing as that is I shudder to think of the results should they, or anyone else, decide to equip them with weapons.
There is reason to be hopeful though, as just this very week one city in Virginia became the first in America to ban the use of aerial drones.
Charlottesville, Va., has become the first city in the United States to formally pass an anti-drone resolution.
The resolution, passed Monday, “calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court,” and “pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones.”
It’s a much different world today than 30 years ago but in many ways it’s very much the same. People with money and power invariably desire more money and more power and they will often use whatever means necessary to get them. The real difference today are the tools at their disposal.
Hmmm…ya know, a tin-foil hat might not be such a bad idea after all.
Play us out, Alan…
The BBC is reporting today that the CIA has been running a drone base In Saudi Arabia. It was a drone from this base that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric.
The US Central Intelligence Agency has been operating a secret airbase for unmanned drones in Saudi Arabia for the past two years.
The facility was established to hunt for members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen.
Not terribly surprising information, I suppose, but what really stood out to me, something you may wish to share with your MSM watching friends and family, is that this base has been in operation for 2 years, the MSM knew about it and chose not to share the information with the American public.
US media have known of its existence since then, but have not reported it.
MSM: We give you the news you need, when the goverment tells us we can.
Another state and another city have stepped up to voice their displeasure with spy drones.
Texas would have the toughest anti-drone legislation in the country under a bill filed by State Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell).
1200 WOAI’s Michael Board reports that Gooden has introduced a measure which would outlaw the use of drones by individuals, or state or federal law enforcement.
Gooden tells 1200 WOAI news that his bill would have limited exceptions, including allowing drones within 25 miles of the Rio Grande for drug and illegal immigrant interdiction programs, or for use by law enforcement with a valid search or arrest warrant, with ‘probable cause to believe that a person has committed a felony.
Seattle’s mayor on Thursday ordered the police department to abandon its plan to use drones after residents and privacy advocates protested.
Mayor Mike McGinn said the department will not use two small drones it obtained through a federal grant. The unmanned aerial vehicles will be returned to the vendor, he said.
“Today I spoke with Seattle Police Chief John Diaz, and we agreed that it was time to end the unmanned aerial vehicle program, so that SPD can focus its resources on public safety and the community building work that is the department’s priority,”
Texas and Seattle are going to need some help if they plan to stem the rapidly expanding use of spy drones at home. Lest you think “rapidly expanding” is over statement, I assure you it is not.
There are at least 63 active drone sites around the U.S, federal authorities have been forced to reveal following a landmark Freedom of Information lawsuit.
The unmanned planes – some of which may have been designed to kill terror suspects – are being launched from locations in 20 states.
Most of the active drones are deployed from military installations, enforcement agencies and border patrol teams, according to the Federal Aviation Authority.
If there is any bright spot in all this talk of domestic spy drones it has to be the fact that, at least for the time being, they haven’t been weaponized.
A top official with the Federal Aviation Administration reassured the public on Wednesday that, despite the fear and paranoia of some, no armed drones will be permitted to fly in U.S. airspace.
“We currently have rules in the books that deal with releasing anything from an aircraft, period. Those rules are in place and that would prohibit weapons from being installed on a civil aircraft,” said Jim Williams, head of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, in an address to the drone industry’s leading trade group meeting this week in Northern Virginia.
“We don’t have any plans of changing [those rules] for unmanned aircraft,” Mr. Williams added.
So, for the time being we are safe from armed drones strafing us with automatic weapons fire in our backyards. Thank goodness for small mercys. Unfortunately if corporate owned lackys like Toure’ from MSNBC’s The Cycle had his way weaponized drones would be cluttering our sky killing anyone that stands in the way of his safety…or his network’s weapons profits.
The longtime music journalist and cultural critic defended the U.S. drone war and civilian casualties caused by drone strikes, saying that civilians are killed during all wars.
“I know war crimes may have been committed via our drone program, but I am pro killing al-Qaeda leaders via drones — even if they are American citizens.”
Touré goes on to defend the death of the 16-year-old American-born son of former Al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, saying that “there is much evidence that he was not targeted, but standing too near an al-Qaeda official … who was targeted.”
Don’t you just love that line? “I know war crimes may have been committed via our drone program, but…” You can almost hear the rationalization machine reving into high gear.
Should you have the stomache for it you can listen to Toure’s delusional reasoning for yourself at the above link.
This must be what they mean by America’s “liberal media”.
Some startling numbers have been shared by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in regards to the actual number of those murdered by weaponized drones overseas.
The toll from hundreds of drone-launched missile strikes against suspected Al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere has remained a mystery, as US officials refuse to publicly discuss any details of the covert campaign.
But Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of the drone raids, openly cited a number that exceeds some independent estimates of the death toll.
“We’ve killed 4,700,” Mr Graham was quoted as saying by the Easley Patch, a local website covering the small town of Easley in South Carolina.
Senator Graham followed up this astonishing admission with they type
of delusional rationalization that would make Toure’ proud.
“Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of Al-Qaeda,”
Sweet, merciful crap. How do these remorseless sociopaths get elected to high office? Actually, never mind. I think I just answered my own question.