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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Surveillance drones over U.S. okayed by Congress; 30,000 in the skies by 2020

Mind your own business and you wont be minding mine—line from Hank Williams song.

This idea has long since been abandoned by society today  as everybody seems to stick their noses into everybody else's business on a regular basis.

The concept of privacy and private property are still basic to the ideals of freedom as our forefathers envisioned it. After all, a man’s home is his castle!

The problem is these ideals worked fine as long as society was basically good. A French philosopher once said that America was great because it’s people were good. That, my fellow American, is no longer the case.

We have forsaken the God of our fathers and as a result Alexis de Tocqueville, were he to reexamine America today, could not make the same pronouncement.

We have brought this on our selves, the ‘watchers’ from the sky leave us nowhere to hide from the scrutiny of an all powerful, all seeing, omnipresent god (government) we have chosen to replace the God of our fathers!

This could be a good thing, a benevolent government watching over us. If you believe so there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I’d be happy to sell you!

See you soon in a FEMA camp nearby an airport with rail access.

Drones over U.S. get OK by Congress

By Shaun Waterman, The Washington Times, February 7, 2012

U.S. Customs and Border Protection uses qualified pilots to operate Predator drones for surveillance along the border. Under the FAA Reauthorization Act, drones eventually could be used by police agencies and private companies across the U.S. (Associated Press)U.S. Customs and Border Protection uses qualified pilots to operate Predator drones for surveillance along the border. Under the FAA Reauthorization Act, drones eventually could be used by police agencies and private companies across the U.S. (Associated Press)

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s … a drone, and it’s watching you. That’s what privacy advocates fear from a bill Congress passed this week to make it easier for the government to fly unmanned spy planes in U.S. airspace.

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.

Privacy advocates say the measure will lead to widespread use of drones for electronic surveillance by police agencies across the country and eventually by private companies as well.

“There are serious policy questions on the horizon about privacy and surveillance, by both government agencies and commercial entities,” said Steven Aftergood, who heads the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation also is “concerned about the implications for surveillance by government agencies,” said attorney Jennifer Lynch.

The provision in the legislation is the fruit of “a huge push by lawmakers and the defense sector to expand the use of drones” in American airspace, she added.

According to some estimates, the commercial drone market in the United States could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars once the FAA clears their use.

The agency projects that 30,000 drones could be in the nation’s skies by 2020.

The highest-profile use of drones by the United States has been in the CIA’s armed Predator-drone program, which targets al Qaeda terrorist leaders. But the vast majority of U.S. drone missions, even in war zones, are flown for surveillance. Some drones are as small as model aircraft, while others have the wingspan of a full-size jet.

In Afghanistan, the U.S. use of drone surveillance has grown so rapidly that it has created a glut of video material to be analyzed.

The legislation would order the FAA, before the end of the year, to expedite the process through which it authorizes the use of drones by federal, state and local police and other agencies. The FAA currently issues certificates, which can cover multiple flights by more than one aircraft in a particular area, on a case-by-case basis.

The Department of Homeland Security is the only federal agency to discuss openly its use of drones in domestic airspace.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within the department, operates nine drones, variants of the CIA’s feared Predator. The aircraft, which are flown remotely by a team of 80 fully qualified pilots, are used principally for border and counternarcotics surveillance under four long-term FAA certificates.

Officials say they can be used on a short-term basis for a variety of other public-safety and emergency-management missions if a separate certificate is issued for that mission.

“It’s not all about surveillance,” Mr. Aftergood said.

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