Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 23 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 20 (43 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   44 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

The coming drone attack on America

By (about the author)     Permalink
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 16   Well Said 12   News 10  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H1 12/22/12

Become a Fan
  (50 fans)
Cross-posted from The Guardian

Drones on domestic surveillance duties are already deployed by police and corporations. In time, they will likely be weaponized

military drone spy
By 2020, it is estimated that as many as 30,000 drones will be in use in US domestic airspace. Photograph: US navy/Reuters

People often ask me, in terms of my argument about "ten steps" that mark the descent to a police state or closed society, at what stage we are. I am sorry to say that with the importation of what will be tens of thousands of drones, by both US military and by commercial interests, into US airspace, with a specific mandate to engage in surveillance and with the capacity for weaponization -- which is due to begin in earnest at the start of the new year -- it means that the police state is now officially here.

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 -- meaning that you won't necessarily see them, tracking your meeting with your fellow-activists, with your accountant or your congressman, or filming your cruising the bars or your assignation with your lover, as its video-gathering whirs.

Others will be as big as passenger planes. Business-friendly media stress their planned abundant use by corporations: police in Seattle have already deployed them.

An unclassified US air force document reported by CBS (pdf) news expands on this unprecedented and unconstitutional step -- one that formally brings the military into the role of controlling domestic populations on US soil, which is the bright line that separates a democracy from a military oligarchy. (The US constitution allows for the deployment of National Guard units by governors, who are answerable to the people; but this system is intended, as is posse comitatus, to prevent the military from taking action aimed at US citizens domestically.)

The air force document explains that the air force will be overseeing the deployment of its own military surveillance drones within the borders of the US; that it may keep video and other data it collects with these drones for 90 days without a warrant -- and will then, retroactively, determine if the material can be retained -- which does away for good with the fourth amendment in these cases. 

While the drones are not supposed to specifically "conduct non-consensual surveillance on specifically identified US persons," according to the document, the wording allows for domestic military surveillance of non-"specifically identified" people (that is, a group of activists or protesters) and it comes with the important caveat, also seemingly wholly unconstitutional, that it may not target individuals "unless expressly approved by the secretary of Defense."

In other words, the Pentagon can now send a domestic drone to hover outside your apartment window, collecting footage of you and your family, if the secretary of Defense approves it. Or it may track you and your friends and pick up audio of your conversations, on your way, say, to protest or vote or talk to your representative, if you are not "specifically identified," a determination that is so vague as to be meaningless.

What happens to those images, that audio? "Distribution of domestic imagery" can go to various other government agencies without your consent, and that imagery can, in that case, be distributed to various government agencies; it may also include your most private moments and most personal activities. The authorized "collected information may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent." Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told CBS:

"In some records that were released by the air force recently ... under their rules, they are allowed to fly drones in public areas and record information on domestic situations."

This document accompanies a major federal push for drone deployment this year in the United States, accompanied by federal policies to encourage law enforcement agencies to obtain and use them locally, as well as by federal support for their commercial deployment. That is to say: now HSBC, Chase, Halliburton, etc., can have their very own fleets of domestic surveillance drones. The FAA recently established a more efficient process for local police departments to get permits for their own squadrons of drones.

Given the Department of Homeland Security militarization of police departments, once the circle is completed with San Francisco or New York or Chicago local cops having their own drone fleet -- and with Chase, HSBC and other banks having hired local police, as I reported here last week -- the meshing of military, domestic law enforcement, and commercial interests is absolute. You don't need a messy, distressing declaration of martial law.

And drone fleets owned by private corporations means that a first amendment right of assembly is now over: if Occupy is massing outside of a bank, send the drone fleet to surveil, track and harass them. If citizens rally outside the local Capitol? Same thing. As one of my readers put it, the scary thing about this new arrangement is deniability: bad things done to citizens by drones can be denied by private interests -- "Oh, that must have been an LAPD drone" -- and LAPD can insist that it must have been a private industry drone. For where, of course, will be the accountability from citizens buzzed or worse by these things?

Domestic drone use is here, and the meshing has begun: local cops in Grand Forks, North Dakota called in a DHS Predator drone -- the same make that has caused hundreds of civilian casualties in Pakistan -- over a dispute involving a herd of cattle. The military rollout in process, and planned within the US, is massive: the Christian Science Monitor reports that a total of 110 military sites for drone activity are either built or will be built, in 39 states. That covers America.

We don't need a military takeover: with these capabilities on US soil and this air force white paper authorization for data collection, the military will be effectively in control of the private lives of American citizens. And these drones are not yet weaponized.

"I don't think it's crazy to worry about weaponized drones. There is a real consensus that has emerged against allowing weaponized drones domestically. The International Association of Chiefs of Police has recommended against it," warns Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the ACLU, noting that there is already political pressure in favor of weaponization:

"At the same time, it is inevitable that we will see [increased] pressure to allow weaponized drones. The way that it will unfold is probably this: somebody will want to put a relatively 'soft' nonlethal weapon on a drone for crowd control. And then things will ratchet up from there."

And the risk of that? The New America Foundation's report on drone use in Pakistan noted that the Guardian had confirmed 193 children's deaths from drone attacks in seven years. It noted that for the deaths of 10 militants, 1,400 civilians with no involvement in terrorism also died. Not surprisingly, everyone in that region is traumatized: children scream when they hear drones. An NYU and Stanford Law School report notes that drones "terrorize citizens 24 hours a day."

If US drones may first be weaponized with crowd-control features, not lethal force features, but with no risk to military or to police departments or DHS, the playing field for freedom of assembly is changed forever. So is our private life, as the ACLU's Stanley explains:

"Our biggest concerns about the deployment of drones domestically is that they will be used to create pervasive surveillance networks. The danger would be that an ordinary individual once they step out of their house will be monitored by a drone everywhere they walk or drive. They may not be aware of it. They might monitored or tracked by some silent invisible drone everywhere they walk or drive."

"So what? Why should they worry?" I asked.

"Your comings and goings can be very revealing of who you are and what you are doing and reveal very intrusive things about you -- what houses of worship you are going to, political meetings, particular doctors, your friends' and lovers' houses."

I mentioned the air force white paper. "Isn't the military not supposed to be spying on Americans?" I asked.

"Yes, the posse comitatus act passed in the 19th century forbids a military role in law enforcement among Americans."

What can we do if we want to oppose this? I wondered. According to Stanley, many states are passing legislation banning domestic drone use. Once again, in the fight to keep America a republic, grassroots activism is pitched in an unequal contest against a militarized federal government.


 

http://naomiwolf.org/

Author, social critic, and political activist Naomi Wolf raises awareness of the pervasive inequities that exist in society and politics. She encourages people to take charge of their lives, voice their concerns and enact change. Wolf's landmark (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The People Versus The Police

How the US uses sexual humiliation as a political tool to control the masses

How the Mitt Romney video killed the American Dream

What the Occupy movement must learn from Sundance

The coming drone attack on America

The Shocking Truth About the Crackdown on Occupy

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
26 people are discussing this page, with 44 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

stand for defense not attack schools by Prozac dru... by Ethan Hollow on Saturday, Dec 22, 2012 at 3:15:17 PM
Before 9/11 police could, and did randomly listen ... by Steven G. Erickson on Saturday, Dec 22, 2012 at 3:36:42 PM
But, seriously, what did the US population think a... by Rico D. on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 6:46:00 AM
In other words, WE ARE THE TERRORIST!! You want pr... by Rico D. on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 6:55:57 AM
These things are all over Northern CA.  Get a... by macdon1 on Saturday, Dec 22, 2012 at 4:17:53 PM
here in Ohio so we can't see them yet.  ... by Betsy Russ on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 8:39:49 AM
There have been rumars they are looking at the air... by Dennis Kaiser on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 9:23:53 AM
Maybe we should start a drone sighting website...... by Betsy Russ on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 6:11:30 PM
Will do from this end... by Dennis Kaiser on Monday, Dec 24, 2012 at 5:00:53 AM
As many as 30,000 drones will be in use in US dome... by Arend Rietkerk on Saturday, Dec 22, 2012 at 4:33:44 PM
An aviators' nightmare: s/he's flying in the super... by Michael Rose on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 2:43:54 AM
The latest military defense spending is removing t... by Anthony J. Gerst on Saturday, Dec 22, 2012 at 6:58:51 PM
As has been said many times, the official 9/11 con... by Tom Madison on Saturday, Dec 22, 2012 at 8:24:26 PM
Would it lead to anyone different from the cu... by Ceric on Saturday, Dec 22, 2012 at 10:02:18 PM
"If you have the evidence, write about it..."If yo... by Michael Rose on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 12:43:13 AM
Are you f*cking kidding me??9/11 Truth is **THE** ... by 911TRUTH on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 1:02:20 AM
Thank you for the comment. I apprec... by Ceric on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 11:03:45 AM
Because they are murderers, that's why!... by Kim Cassidy on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 7:43:40 PM
The Federal Reserve Bank is a consortium of twelve... by Lance Ciepiela on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 8:51:57 AM
I agree with everything you say here.  The fa... by Burl Hall on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 3:23:20 PM
Not looking good for privacy... by John Lynch on Saturday, Dec 22, 2012 at 8:32:07 PM
Outside the US, people think we are paranoid when ... by Tommy Wright on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 2:35:52 AM
30,000 drones = 30,000 bods being highly paid to c... by David Brittain on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 6:50:31 AM
About how many drones will be directed to follow y... by Kim Cassidy on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 7:51:14 PM
Hi Kim, I hope you didn't miss the intentional iro... by David Brittain on Monday, Dec 24, 2012 at 6:02:02 AM
George W. Bush - hundreds of lies accepted as The ... by Lance Ciepiela on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 7:53:41 AM
Good article, Naomi.America is already over the mo... by Gary Brumback on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 8:32:45 AM
It makes sense for us to fly our own drones. Occup... by robert braunstein on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 10:13:49 AM
Super-smart DIY dronery: kiwicopter drone ditches ... by Michael Rose on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 3:45:15 PM
I remember when George Lucas came back from what w... by Theresa Paulfranz on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 12:14:45 PM
... by Michael Rose on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 2:56:02 PM
  Carl Jung told us that we are, on the l... by Theresa Paulfranz on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 12:49:30 PM
There is that view, and I agree.  I would tak... by Burl Hall on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 3:33:54 PM
The comments below are strong and insightful about... by Don Paul on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 1:48:34 PM
Thanks for a great article.Yes, I think activism i... by Burl Hall on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 3:51:41 PM
It isn't only what you indicate, which is startlin... by Rico D. on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 11:23:13 PM
Ever since the United States of America allowed ex... by Deborah Dills on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 3:57:32 PM
You definitely are bang-on with much of the contri... by Rico D. on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 11:43:38 PM
We are under attack, by land, and by air, and unti... by Deborah Dills on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 6:03:41 PM
Wake up people can't you see it coming, first it ... by chris wilson on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 7:48:03 PM
That's spot on Chris Wilson. In my state our Airfo... by shirley reese on Monday, Dec 24, 2012 at 11:16:10 AM
The worst dreams of George Orwell (1984) and the b... by syed mahdi on Tuesday, Dec 25, 2012 at 12:44:11 PM
Dear Syed Mahdi, I sympathise with your pleading f... by David Brittain on Wednesday, Dec 26, 2012 at 5:56:28 AM
I agree with your comment about George Orwell's 19... by Deborah Dills on Thursday, Dec 27, 2012 at 9:26:02 PM