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Domestic Drones

I’ve been a little quiet on the political front lately. I apologize. It’s so hard to keep up with all the developments. The killing of Osama. Obama’s subsequent announcements that he is ending US military engagement in Afghanistan, closing Guantánamo, and initiating a truth-finding inquiry into Bush administration torture enhanced interrogation. Where to begin?

What? I was dreaming? All of it? Not quite? Oh. So we killed Osama, then days later shot missiles from a drone over Yemen in an assassination attempt on Anwar al-Awlaki, the US citizen yet to be tried or convicted of any crime? Got it.

Gotta love those drones. Are they cool or what? On Monday, emptywheel reported on the provision in the House Armed Services Committee Mark-Up for next year’s Defense Authorization including “funds to build drone hangars at four bases in the Continental US.”

This follows the news she reported last month that

a bunch of people claiming to be interested in jobs inserted an amendment into the FAA bill requiring the FAA to allow for drones in US airspace. … Aside from jobs, what’s remarkable about the push for drones is how amorphous the purpose of the drones are. Here’s Candice Miller, one of the sponsors of the amendment, describing the need:

My amendment is designed to help expedite and to improve the process by which FAA works with government agencies to incorporate unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs as they’re commonly called, into the National Airspace System. Currently, Mr. Chairman, law enforcement agencies across the country, from Customs and Border Protection to local police departments, et cetera, are ready to embrace the new technology and to start utilizing UAVs in the pursuit of enforcing the law and protecting our border as well.

However, the FAA has been very hesitant to give authorization to these UAVs due to limited air space and restrictions that they have. I certainly can appreciate those concerns; but when we’re talking about Customs and Border Protection or the FBI, what have you, we are talking about missions of national security. And certainly there’s nothing more important than that. It was a very, very lengthy exercise to get the FAA to authorize the use of UAVs on the southern border. While they’re finally being utilized down there, we are certainly a long way from fully utilizing these technologies.

That is, we’re talking about CPB (which has used the drones for some years), but also the FBI, local police departments, and “et cetera” using the drones.

You know me. I’m no conspiracy theorist. But I’m no fool either. If they’re not watching us yet, they will be soon. Count on it.

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Categories: Politics, War
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