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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 9/15/20

A "Persistent Eye in the Sky" Coming to a City Near You?

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"Gorgon Stare will be looking at a whole city, so there will be no way for the adversary to know what we're looking at, and we can see everything." That same persistent eye in the sky may soon be deployed over U.S. cities.

At the time he made that comment about surveillance drones over Afghanistan, Maj. General James Poss was the Air Force's top intelligence officer. He was preparing to leave the Pentagon, and move over to the Federal Aviation Administration. His job was to begin executing the plan to allow those same surveillance drones to fly over American cities.

This plan was ordered by Congress in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act. It directed the Departments of Defense and Transportation to "develop a plan for providing expanded access to the national airspace for unmanned aircraft systems of the Department of Defense." Gen. Poss was one of nearly two dozen ex-military officers who, starting in 2010, were put into positions at the FAA to oversee drone integration research. With little public scrutiny, the plan has been moving forward ever since.

If you're thinking that this is a partisan issue, think again. This plan has been enacted and expanded under Presidents and Congresses of both parties. If you're uncomfortable with a President Biden having the ability to track the movements of every Tea Party or Q-Anon supporter, you should be. Just as we should all be concerned about a President Trump tracking...well, everybody else.

Along with civil liberties, a major concern must be safety. The military and the drone manufacturers, principally General Atomics, are arguing that the technology has advanced far enough that flying 79-ft. wingspan, six-ton drones over populated areas and alongside commercial air traffic is safe. We have one response: self-driving cars. Self-driving cars present a technological problem that is an order of magnitude simpler than aircraft flying hundreds of miles per hour in three dimensions. Yet they still can't keep these cars from plowing into stationary objects like firetrucks (or people) at 60 mph in two dimensions. Are we really comfortable with pilotless aircraft operating in the same airspace as the 747 at 30,000 feet that is bringing your children home for Christmas? These drones have a troubled history of crashing and unfortunately, the process for determining whether these drones are now truly safe has been compromised by having the military, which wants this approval, largely in charge of the testing.

Which brings us to San Diego. Last October, General Atomics announced that they would be flying their biggest, most advanced surveillance drone yet, the SkyGuardian, over the City of San Diego sometime this summer. The stated purpose was to demonstrate potential commercial applications of large drones over American cities. In this case, the drone would be used to survey the city's infrastructure.

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Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace and author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. 

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4 people are discussing this page, with 4 comments  Post Comment


Mohammad Ala

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Thanks for this report.

Time has changed and more people are afraid to question the culprit(s).

It may get worse in the next few years.

Submitted on Wednesday, Sep 16, 2020 at 5:50:36 AM

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Bob Stuart

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Even in America's foreign wars, drones are used to suppress democracy. The important question is not where they should be used, but for what.

Submitted on Wednesday, Sep 16, 2020 at 6:06:34 PM

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Lance Ciepiela

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Yes, an 'impulsive' congress had quickly passed, without hardly any debate, and Bush - "the people who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us soon" - had 'immediately' rushed to sign his #PatriotAct 'eviscerating America's Civil Liberties', with Democrat Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid 'beaming with joy', from 'ear to ear', thereby placing the American People 'under immediate suspicion' of 'some wrongdoing' after 'the 9/11 demolitions' at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Suddenly and unrelenting, government cameras, x-ray machines, enhanced federal, state and local security measures were instituted and became commonplace everywhere across America to instill a permanent state of 'fear and terror' in the American psyche - 'recognizing and pushing back the Post 9/11 Police State' - one of ten 'truth and justice' speakers #RayMcGovern - #VideoSegments - neither Bush/Obama/or Trump had 'investigated' 9/11 to determine and bring to justice 'whoever' had been 'responsible' for causing all the reported explosions 'going off' in all 3 Towers on 9/11, AM and PM, killing 'almost' 3,000 persons - #JusticeRising.

Submitted on Wednesday, Sep 16, 2020 at 9:43:06 PM

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Jerry Lobdill

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To me this is the most alarming statement in the article:

"This plan was ordered by Congress in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act. It directed the Departments of Defense and Transportation to "develop a plan for providing expanded access to the national airspace for unmanned aircraft systems of the Department of Defense."

The DoD has no business spying on domestic affairs. And neither does the DoT. No one does. Crime is the concern of law enforcement in the US, and detailed carte blanche surveillance of the general public is not permitted for the purpose of preventing crime from occurring. This is why search warrants targeting specific private property are needed for investigation of specific crimes that have occurred and are under investigation by law enforcement.

Submitted on Thursday, Sep 17, 2020 at 1:48:00 AM

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