April 16, 2012
By Jennifer Lynch
“If you thought survelliance drones were only used by the federal government, think again.” –KTRN
EFF recently received records from the Miami-Dade Police Department in response to a Public Records request for information on its drone program. These records provide additional insight into domestic drone use in the United States, and they reinforce the importance of public access to information on who is authorized to fly drones inside US borders.
The records the Miami-Dade PD released include the Federal Aviation Administration-issued Certificate of Authorization (COA) to fly the MDPD drones. This appears to be the first time a law enforcement agency has made its COA available to the public without redactions.
The COA and the other records EFF received show that Miami-Dade’s drone program is quite limited in scope. The two small drones the MDPD is flying—Honeywell T-Hawks—are able to fly up to 10,000 feet high, can record video or still images in daylight or infrared, and can “Hover and stare; [and] follow and zoom,” (pdf) according to the manufacturer. However, the COA limits their use to flights below 300 feet. The drones also must remain within visual line of sight of both a pilot and an observer and can only be flown during the day. They cannot be flown within the Miami city limits or over any high-rise buildings, populated beaches, outdoor assemblies of people, or heavily trafficked roadways (which seems to severely limit their range). Also, the MDPD has stated it doesn’t use the drones to record incidents or store image files and that the drone is set up to “clear the picture upon the next picture being captured.” (It is not clear from MDPD’s records whether the department has another system set up to retain the image files.)
April 4, 2012
By Info Wars
“Why are they so afraid of us that they would need to use nuclear drones to watch every move we make? Let’s hope they use these drones to catch real criminals like rapists and murderers. More than likely, they will be watching pot growers and cars speeding over the limit.” –KTRN
The next generation of surveillance drones will be nuclear powered. Instead of flying for hours, the new drones will be able to stay in the air for months. The development represents a bonanza for the national security state and its military-industrial complex ministries like the Department of Homeland Security.
The blueprints for the new drones, which have been developed by Sandia National Laboratories – the US government’s principal nuclear research and development agency – and defense contractor Northrop Grumman, were designed to increase flying time “from days to months” while making more power available for operating equipment, according to a project summary published by Sandia.
Using nuclear power would enable the Reaper [a Northrop Grumman drone] not only to remain airborne for far longer, but to carry more missiles or surveillance equipment, and to dispense with the need for ground crews based in remote and dangerous areas.
In February, the project was fast-tracked and the FAA gave the go-ahead to allow the unmanned surveillance aircraft to fly in U.S. air space.
“The FAA Reauthorization Act, which President Obama is expected to sign, also orders the Federal Aviation Administration to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015,” washingtontimes.com reported.
“We don’t want to wonder, every time we step out our front door, whether some eye in the sky is watching our every move,” the ACLU wrote in a statement.
“The bottom line is: domestic drones are potentially extremely powerful surveillance tools, and that power — like all government power — needs to be subject to checks and balances We hope that Congress will carefully consider the privacy implications that this technology can lead to.”
March 30, 2012
By Glenn Greenwald
“It looks like there’s not much difference between Bush and Obama.” –KTRN
The ACLU is suing the Obama administration under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking to force disclosure of the guidelines used by Obama officials to select which human beings (both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals) will have their lives ended by the CIA’s drone attacks (“In particular,” the group explains, the FOIA request “seeks to find out when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killing”). The Obama administration has not only refused to provide any of that information, but worse, the CIA is insisting to federal courts that it cannot even confirm or deny the existence of a drone program at all without seriously damaging national security; from the CIA’s brief in response to the ACLU lawsuit:
The FDA, the IRS, and the U.S. Congress are all out of control. KT goes into detail on activities that will shock you. Plus, Giorgio Tsoukalos of Ancient Aliens and Legendary Times stops in to talk with Kevin about the story we’re not hearing about our ancient past.
Feds Succeed In Destroying Entire Business Of Amish Raw Dairy Farmer
FDA Abducted American Citizens In Illegal War On Herbal Cancer Cures
FDA Says Eating Natural Food Is A Crime
IRS And DOJ Expand Own Powers In Search For Revenue
IRS To Tap Into Your Tax Returns For Health Insurance Penalties
Rat Out Your Boss And Get Paid By The IRS
Abuse Of Power By The Government
Congress OKs 30,000 Drones To Spy On American Cities
2011 Was Congress’ Most Ineffective Year On Record
March 13, 2012
By John Villasenor
“Keep in mind this report comes from NPR … but it’s interesting to note that Obama wants more drones flying in American airspace. They are clearly afraid of the people or they wouldn’t need to be spying on us so frequently.” –KTRN
Unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, have long played a role in military operations. But imagine thousands of drones flying over U.S. skies — something we may see in just a few years. In February, President Obama signed an aviation bill requiring the Federal Aviation Administration to make plans to integrate drones into American airspace.
On Monday’s Fresh Air, John Villasenor, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a professor of electrical engineering at UCLA, explains what these drones will be able to see and how they work. He also talks about the privacy and national security concerns raised by using drones for surveillance purposes.
Villasenor tells Dave Davies that drones, which are currently in use over the U.S. border with Mexico, have an endless list of non-military uses, from providing overhead surveillance for police departments to spotting wildfires and monitoring illegal border crossings.
Drones could also be used commercially by real estate firms to get overhead images of a property, by surveyors and cinematographers, and even by paparazzi trying to fly over celebrity homes, says Villasenor.
“That is going to be certainly some of the tests of what the limits are going to be provided by [paparazzi],” he says. “The paparazzi will want to use drones if they can, and obviously that’s going to raise some very significant questions.”
February 27, 2012
Heads up: Drones are going mainstream.
Unmanned military aircraft have tracked and killed terrorists in the Middle East and Asia. Their civilian cousins are now in demand by police departments, border patrols, power companies, news organizations and others wanting a bird’s-eye view that’s too impractical or dangerous for conventional planes or helicopters to get.
Along with the enthusiasm, there are qualms.
Drones overhead could invade people’s privacy. The government worries they could collide with passenger planes or come crashing down to the ground.
Despite that, pressure is building to give drones the same access as manned aircraft to the sky at home.
The Federal Aviation Administration must write rules allowing civilian and military drones to fly in civilian airspace by September 2015.
February 13, 2012
By Nicholas West
It’s bad enough that drones have been welcomed by Congress into American skies, as well as already being used around the planet to conduct surveillance and bomb select countries from remote locations.
The latest proposed addition to the drone spy program is even creepier: disposable computers with software programs funded by DARPA to be dropped as self-destructing “bombs.”
Now, not only will drones surveil and hack from above, but they will drop a payload to interface with hidden computers on the ground, completely integrating a full-spectrum data transmission and control grid.
The name of the project, as well as its announcement at a hacker convention called ShmooCon, had this non-techie convinced that it had to be satire or a hoax, but the project has also been noted by Forbes and Wired, which only serves to illustrate how far off into our dystopian technocratic police state we have wandered. It seems that we are being acclimated to how funny and cool our futuristic spy toys have become. This fun has culminated in the planned dropping of F-BOMBS (Falling or Ballistically-launched Object that Makes Backdoors) to combat “Bad Men With Guns.”
The F-BOMB introduces the idea of disposable surveillance as a guard against forensic evaluation and the ability to track the source of the drop. Creator, Brendan O’Connor, has received DARPA funding to implement a software package into his nearly non-traceable surveillance hardware as cheaply as possible with easy-to-obtain components.
February 13, 2012
By J.D. Heyes
“What ever happened to the land of the free?” –KTRN
It’s the most benign thing in the world. In fact, it’s a concept whose time has come and it will only help protect us and keep us safe. Naturally, there’s nothing to worry about because there won’t be any abuse of the technology. After all, spy drones are already being used around the U.S.; what’s the problem with adding tens of thousands more?
In case you didn’t know it – and you probably didn’t – Congress, with little fanfare, passed an FAA reauthorization bill last week President Obama is expected to sign into law that will make it much easier for the government to put scores of unmanned spy drones into American skies.
Not only that the legislation authorizes the Federal Aviation Administration to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015. If the law takes full effect, it is believed as many as 30,000 drones could be hovering over the U.S. by 2020.
The drones, which are widely used in Afghanistan to spot and target suspected insurgents and Taliban operatives in that country as well as neighboring Pakistan, have been used by American government agencies like U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, for a few years, in an observation/surveillance capacity. DoH has also used drones in disaster relief operations, and advocates say they can be successfully employed to fight fires and locate missing hikers.
Say Good-bye to Privacy
Privacy advocates, however, are sounding the alarm good and loud.
“There are serious policy questions on the horizon about privacy and surveillance, by both government agencies and commercial entities,” Steven Aftergood, head of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, told the Washington Times.
Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a watchdog group, added that her organization is particularly “concerned about the implications for surveillance by government agencies.”
February 10, 2012
By Paul Joseph Watson
The Department of Homeland Security plans to spend up to $50 million dollars on a spy system that has been used to hunt insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan for the purposes of “emergency and non-emergency incidents” within the United States.
The DHS is seeking four contractors to provide “aerial remote sensing” services, using LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology fitted to drones or manned aircraft that will provide surveillance capability for “homeland security missions,” as well as “management of emergency incidents by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional offices, joint field offices and by state and local government.”
“DHS believes these airborne images are essential for homeland defense missions, such as planning for National Special Security Events (Super Bowls or a national political conventions come to mind); enhancing border, port and airport security; as well as performing critical infrastructure inventories and assessments,” reports Government Security News, adding that the technology will be used for “emergency and non-emergency incidents nationwide.”
The DHS expects successful contractors to “ensure imagery can be acquired, processed and delivered in 48 hours or less and the ability to support simultaneous missions in multiple geographic locations.”
LIDAR spy technology, which uses ultraviolet, visible, or near infrared light to track objects or people from the sky, has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan to track insurgents. The US military has praised the technology for its proficiency in providing “battlefield surveillance” and being able to easily locate enemy combatants due to it being “especially useful at seeing through foliage.” LIDAR can be deployed using both manned and unmanned aircraft.
The U.S. Air Force “has already deployed an unknown number of LIDAR aircraft to map all of Afghanistan,” reports MSNBC, with the 3-D laser mapping technology also being adapted to work aboard U.S. Special Forces helicopters such as the Blackhawk or Chinook to help hunt insurgents.
According to Raytheon, one of the companies that develops LIDAR, the technology is adept at tracking “people in crowded environments for safety and security,” because unlike traditional surveillance methods, LIDAR is honed to measure characteristics of individuals and keep them tracked within a “grid cell” so they cannot evade detection.
Under the terms of the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, the whole of America has been defined as a battlefield, with the government reserving the power to have “belligerents,” including American citizens, arrested and detained indefinitely without trial.
January 27, 2012
CBS New York
They’re used in war zones for surveillance and military strikes.
But are there plans to deploy drones in the Big Apple to keep an eye on New Yorkers?
More and more people believe it’s inevitable, reports CBS 2’s Don Dahler.
Drones are unmanned aircraft that can fly at low altitudes and shoot live video — or shoot live missiles.
Surveillance cameras already dot the city’s streets, but is the NYPD exploring the use of even more eyes in the skies, in the form of drones? Some evidence points to yes.
A website named Gay City News posted an e-mail it says it acquired through the Freedom of Information Act. It’s purportedly from a detective in the NYPD counterterrorism division, asking the Federal Aviation Administration about the use of unmanned aerial vehicles as a law enforcement tool.
And the following is part of a recent interview with Commission Ray Kelly that raised more questions than it answered.
“In an extreme situation, you would have some means to take down a plane,” Kelly told “60 Minutes.”
Drones are already being used by law enforcement in other cities. CBS 2 has obtained footage of a huge protest in Poland a few months ago, shot by a small drone that could fly a few dozen feet right over the heads of the crowd and the police. High-resolution cameras can capture every detail, including faces and license plate numbers. In this country, Miami and several cities in Texas are experimenting with such aircraft.