30k Drones To Fill US Skies By 2020, 76 countries use them now, 66 more can too.
02-11-2012, 08:41 PM (This post was last modified: 09-20-2012 09:42 PM by h3rm35.)
30k Drones To Fill US Skies By 2020, 76 countries use them now, 66 more can too.
FAA: Look For 30,000 Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade
Robert Johnson|February 08, 2012
Congress passed a bill this week paving the way for unmanned drones to ply American skies.
The bill requires the FAA to rush a plan to get as many drones in the air as possible within nine months.
How many drones are we talking?
Shaun Waterman at The Washington Times reports the agency predicts that 30,000 drones could fill U.S. skies by the end of the decade.
Naturally, many are concerned that surveillance by police and federal government agencies will skyrocket in response.
[edit: this article excerpts at this point from a Washington Times Article which I´ve included in totality below.]
This new bill follows up the Army's January directive to use drone fleets in the U.S. for training missions and "domestic operations."
And both of these initiatives are mandated in the NDAA (section 1097) that calls for six drone test ranges to be operational within six months of that bills signing December 31.
The commercial drone market would be worth hundreds of millions more if the bill passes.
(If you are interested in opposition to drone usage, you should really check out the site hyperlinked in the title below)
Drone lobby cracks open US skies – will it happen in the UK?
The drone lobby in the US has had a stunning success in pushing its agenda of enabling unmanned drones to fly freely in civil airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bill has been passed by both Senate and Congress [edit - that should have said House] and now simply awaits President Obama’s signature before becoming law. The bill sets a deadline of 30 September 2015 by which the FAA must allow “full integration” of unmanned drones into US civil airspace
This deadline, along with several other provisions were pushed by the US drone lobby group, Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). In fact AUVSI boast on its website about helping to draft some of bill.
Given that there is as yet no proven technology that would allow drones to ‘sense and avoid’ other aircraft, the deadline of just 3½ years before full integration is either incredibly ambitious – or just plain foolish. Already pilots are expressing their disquiet as Business Week reports:
Quote:Commercial airlines and pilots are less than thrilled with the idea of sharing the sky. They point out there’s no system that allows operators of unmanned aircraft to see and steer clear of piloted helicopters and planes. Nor are there training requirements or standards for the ground-based “pilots” who guide them. It’s also not clear how drones should operate in airspace overseen by air-traffic controllers, where split-second manoeuvring is sometimes required. Until unmanned aircraft can show they won’t run into other planes or the ground, they shouldn’t be allowed to fly with other traffic, says Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Assn.
Privacy issues also seem to have been ignored by the bill (and AUVSI, naturally). Hours before the bill was passed Jay Stanley of the ACLU urged Congress
Quote: “to impose some rules (such as those we proposed in our report) to protect Americans’ privacy from the inevitable invasions that this technology will otherwise lead to. 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 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.”
Despite these safety and civil liberties concerns, thanks to the drone lobbyists thousands of drones will soon be flying in US airspace. The question then is could it happen here? Will unmanned drones be allowed to fly freely in UK civil airspace too? While it may seem like science fiction at the moment, there are many vested interests working hard behind the scene to make it happen.
At the European level, the EU has been having a series of meetings over the past year to prepare a strategy document for the introduction of drones within European airspace as the Sunday Times recently reported last week (quoting us).
European and UK lobby groups acting on behalf of the drone industry are pushing the advantages of drones and talking up their usefulness in many news publications. New Scientist magazine reports how Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a lobby group based in the Paris, says that drones will become “vital tools in many fields, from helping police track stolen cars to assisting emergency services in crisis situations such as fires, floods and earthquakes, to more prosaic tasks like advertising or dispensing fertiliser from the air.” (“High time to welcome the friendly drones” said the New Scientist editorial) . The BBC website also last week reported on how drones are cheaper and better at checking on whether farmers are complying with Common Agricultural Policy rules.
In the UK, as regular readers will know, the ‘industry-led consortium’ ASTRAEA, aims “to enable the routine use of UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) in all classes of airspace without the need for restrictive or specialised conditions of operation.”
The programme is funded 50% by the taxpayer and 50% by some of the UK’s biggest military companies. According to the ASTRAEA website, the UK drone lobby group, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association (UAVS) and the Ministry of Defence are also ‘stakeholders’ in the programme. As the UAVS website states on their website much of their representation takes place “behind closed doors”.
There are two main hurdles for the drone lobby to overcome before unrestricted drone flying will become the norm in the UK. First is the safety issue. At the moment the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which is responsible for UK civil airspace severely restricts the use of drones (but see our article here ). Their main objection comes from a safety perspective. At last years ASTRAEA conference, John Clark from the UK CAA told delegates that it is for industry and the UAV community to prove that it will meet standards – “whatever you propose it must be safe” he said. There is a long way to go before the drone industry will satisfy the CAA and the public that drones are at least as safe as ‘manned’ aircraft.
Second is public skepticism. The MoD and the drone industry are well aware that the public do not like the thought of drones flying above their heads in the UK. While there will be a lot of activity over the next year or twoby lobbyists focusing on reassuring the public that drones are neither frightening nor dangerous, there also needs to be discussion about what is acceptable to the British public. As Ben Hayes of the campaign group Statewatch says in the BBC piece mentioned above, while there are lots of things that drones can be useful for, ”the questions about what is acceptable and how people feel about drones hovering over their farmland or their demonstration – these debates are not taking place.”
Unlike the US, the debate on drones in civil airspace is still wide open. We need to make sure it is not just the industry lobbyists whose voices are heard.
Drones over U.S. get OK by Congress
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.
Homeland Security has deployed drones to support disaster relief operations. Unmanned aircraft also could be useful for fighting fires or finding missing climbers or hikers, he added.
The FAA has issued hundreds of certificates to police and other government agencies, and a handful to research institutions to allow them to fly drones of various kinds over the United States for particular missions.
The agency said it issued 313 certificates in 2011 and 295 of them were still active at the end of the year, but the FAA refuses to disclose which agencies have the certificates and what their purposes are.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the FAA to obtain records of the certifications.
"We need a list so we can ask [each agency], 'What are your policies on drone use? How do you protect privacy? How do you ensure compliance with the Fourth Amendment?' " Ms. Lynch said.
"Currently, the only barrier to the routine use of drones for persistent surveillance are the procedural requirements imposed by the FAA for the issuance of certificates," said Amie Stepanovich, national security counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a research center in Washington.
The Department of Transportation, the parent agency of the FAA, has announced plans to streamline the certification process for government drone flights this year, she said.
"We are looking at our options" to oppose that, she added.
Section 332 of the new FAA legislation also orders the agency to develop a system for licensing commercial drone flights as part of the nation's air traffic control system by 2015.
The agency must establish six flight ranges across the country where drones can be test-flown to determine whether they are safe for travel in congested skies.
Representatives of the fast-growing unmanned aircraft systems industry say they worked hard to get the provisions into law.
"It sets deadlines for the integration of [the drones] into the national airspace," said Gretchen West, executive vice president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, an industry group.
She said drone technology is new to the FAA.
The legislation, which provides several deadlines for the FAA to report progress to Congress, "will move the [drones] issue up their list of priorities," Ms. West said.
(I attached this report to this post, or you can get it direct by clicking the image below)
The 2012 Drone Wars Briefing
Click image to download PDF
Today we are publishing the first, of what we hope will be an annual briefing.
The Drone Wars Briefing explores some of the key issues arising from the growing use of armed unmanned drones in a detailed, yet, accessible way. Examining current UK and US military drone operations, as well as looking at future developments and legal issues, the fully-referenced briefing will be of use to both those new to the issue as well as those with a long-term interest.
Each of the briefings five key sections starts with a short background summary before reviewing what has happened over the past year. In addition, the 36-page document looks at the growing autonomy of drones; Israel and drones and the push towards allowing drones to fly within UK civil airspace. The briefing concludes with a short essay arguing that at the very least there must be proper public accountability for the use of armed drones and an informed public debate on their future development and use.
As the introduction to the briefing notes, 2012 will be a significant year for the development of drones in the UK. A go-ahead for the new UK-French drone is expected early in the New Year, the British Watchkeeper drone will finally be deployed sometime in the Spring, RAF pilots will begin piloting armed Reaper drones over Afghanistan from the UK for the first time during the summer, and it is likely that drones will fly over London during the Olympics. For all these reasons and more, we believe the Drone Wars Briefing is a timely and vital publication.
- We are making the Briefing available free of charge to download (simply click image) but would very much appreciate a donation towards our work.
- To order up to 5 copies through the post (sorry, UK only) please send a cheque (payable to ‘Drone Wars UK’) for £3.00 per copy plus £1.00 postage and packing per copy to: Drone Wars UK, 20 Wilkins Road, Oxford, OX4 2HX
- To order more than 5 copies please email us.
02-12-2012, 03:18 AM
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next.
The end is drawing ever closer. I just dont understand with all this OBVIOUS in your face stuff that the majority of USAnians are not yet awake?
02-12-2012, 06:55 AM
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next.
Take the power of media, multiply it by the time it's taken to get Usanians into this state, and for damned sure it's going to take a while for people to wake up.
The fact remains, though, is that it takes more time to construct something than it does to demolish it. People will wake up faster than they've fallen asleep. (That's my theory, anyway.)
---Truth appears in many forms. Find those that resonate with you.
---"If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise we do not believe in it at all" - Noam Chomsky
Avaaz.org - The World In Action
02-14-2012, 03:42 AM
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next
(02-11-2012 08:41 PM)h3rm35 Wrote: 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.
I doubt this.
80 pilots / 9 drones ~ 9 pilots/drone .
9 pilots/drone * 30, 000 drones = 270, 000 pilots .
I know that the most sensible solution is that these pilots take shifts, but this is a hypothetical.
It would make sense if this drones were monitored by pilots, but the actual flying operation was performed by a computer intelligence on board.
Wireless technology has been around since the late 19th century; why is it now that the same mechanics of an RC car would be considered a technological breakthrough and advanced enough to be classified?
It seems probable that the government is attempting this kind of regulation since they may have already been flying these drones looking for suspected 'terrorists' , just those they deem as threats to their own selfish interest , and that commercial airline and amateur pilots have noticed these drones flying but have been hushed by TPTB.
02-17-2012, 05:49 AM
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next
Unite The Many, defeat the few.
Revolution is for the love of your people, culture, knowledge, wisdom, spirit, and peace. Not Greed!
Soul Rebel Native Son
02-17-2012, 09:36 PM
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next
Anglo-French drone takes another step forward
Summary: Drones are the latest ‘must have’ weapon systems and the big military companies are desperate to be part of what is beginning to be called ‘the drones gold-rush’. While Cameron is keen to emphasize that only a ‘few tens of millions of Euros’ are being spent at this time, early figures from the MoD indicate that the new drone could cost the UK around £2 billion with other estimates much higher. The wider legal and ethical questions about the growing use of armed drones are simply being ignored.
Today’s announcement that the UK and France will jointly develop a new armed unmanned drone is seen by many commentators as inevitable. Drones are the latest ‘must have’ weapon system and it is important they say, that the UK keeps up with the US and Israel in this key market. In corporate speak, the ‘direction of travel’ is clear; while companies may squabble over particular contracts and deals it is important that the UK is part of what is beginning to be call ‘the drones gold-rush’.
Behind this ‘gold-rush’ however are many serious legal, ethical and moral questions which are not being properly addressed. And it is not just us who are saying so.
Last April the Ministry of Defence (MoD) published a Joint Doctrine Note examining the technological and scientific issues related to current and future use of armed and unarmed drones. The document agreed that there were significant moral, legal and ethical issues involved, and in a key passage (517) considers whether unmanned systems will make war more likely:
Quote: “It is essential that, before unmanned systems become ubiquitous (if it is not already too late) that we consider this issue and ensure that, by removing some of the horror, or at least keeping it at a distance, that we do not risk losing our controlling humanity and make war more likely.”
The passage concludes “What is needed is a clear understanding of the issues involved so that informed decisions can be made.”
Unfortunately, the last thing that the MoD or the drone industry wants at the moment is a public debate about the growing use of drones. The report when publicised by Drone Wars UK and the Guardian was withdrawn from the MoD website (although it did quietly return months later) and the authors were dispatched to Afghanistan. Instead the MoD decided to launch a “communication strategy” to win over public opinion in support of armed drones with the key message being to “stress the equivalence of RPAS [drones] to traditional combat aircraft.”
However there are clear differences between drones and manned aircraft, in particular the way there are being used to loiter over particular areas to seek ‘targets of opportunity’ and their increasing use in targeted killing away from any battlefield. Some of the questions that need to be asked are:
- Does the geographic and psychological distance between the operator and target make a positive or negative difference?
- Does using unmanned systems mean attacks happen more often?
- Does faith in the supposed accuracy of drone sensors and cameras mean that commanders are more willing to undertake ‘riskier’ strikes (in terms of possible civilian casualties) than they would previously have undertaken?
All of these questions and many more need to be debated openly and honesty and require careful analysis and clear-headed judgment based on the available evidence. Unfortunately, that evidence, is being kept strictly under wraps by the Ministry of Defence and they are refusing to engage in a debate on these issues.
While David Cameron is keen to stress that at this stage only (only!) ‘a few tens of millions of Euros’ are being allocated towards developing this new drone the costs will soon soar. Early figures from the MoD indicate that the new drone could cost the UK around £2 billion but other estimates are much higher.
In November 2010 the UK and France signed a defence and security cooperation treaty which included a commitment to work together on nuclear issues and armed drones. The two countries have agreed to build a new armed drone and BAE Systems and Dassault have joined together to offer the proposed Telemos drone to fulfill this ‘need’. All indications are that the new drone will be based on BAE’s Mantis drone, although Dassault have also been working on a drone called ‘Neuron’.
EADS, meanwhile, the other giant of the European military industry is fighting its corner for its own drone; Talarion. Fox News reported that the EADS CEO was “furious” that France is apparently going to choose the BAE Systems/Dassault proposal.
EADS reaction is so strong because they do not want to be left out of what many see as the key market in the global arms trade over the next few years. While the new UK-France drone contract is estimated to be worth around £2bn, the global drone market over the next three years alone has recently been predicted to be worth around $14bn. With Israel companies and US drone giant General Atomics already firmly established in the market, winning funds to develop a future European combat drone is vital for these military corporations.
For more details see The Drone Wars Briefing
UWMD: DRONES. UNMANNED DESTRUCTION: UK-France Military Cooperation Agreement on Drones
At the UK-French summit in Paris today, David Cameron and President Sarkozy agree a new Declaration on security and defence. The relevant section on drones (paragraph 16) reads:
Quote: Unmanned air systems are crucial to success in the battlefield, as the Libya and Afghanistan campaigns have shown. We have agreed today to take forward our planned cooperation on UAS within a long term strategic partnership framework aimed at building a sovereign capability shared by our two countries. This framework will encompass the different levels from tactical to MALE in the mid term and UCAS in the long term:----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Menace of Present & Future Drone Warfare
After the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the colossal scale of devastation disclosed, there was a momentary embrace of sanity and rationality by world leaders and cultural commentators. There was a realization that living with such weaponry was at best a precarious journey into the future, and far more likely, an appointment with unprecedented human catastrophe if not apocalypse. This dark mood of foreboding did produce some gestures toward nuclear disarmament tabled initially by the U.S. Government, but in a form that reasonably struck others at the time, especially the Soviet Union, as a bad bargain—the U.S. was proposing getting rid of the weapons for the present, but retaining the materials, the technology, and the experience needed to win handily any nuclear rearmament race. In other words, the United States offered the world a Faustian Bargain that rested on bestowing trust upon the dominant geopolitical actor on the global stage, and depended crucially on Soviet willingness to go along on such a basis, an option that never seriously tempted the Stalinist approach to world order.
It should not seem surprising then or now that given the political consciousness of those running the strongest and richest modern states, that this kind of one-sided deal was not an attractive response to nuclear weaponry. Even the governments most closely allied with the United States in World War II, the United Kingdom and France, were unwilling to forego the status and claimed security benefits of becoming second tier nuclear weapons state. And of course, America’s rivals, first, the Soviet Union and later China, never hesitated to develop their own nuclear weapons capability, interpreting security and global stature through the universal geopolitical optic of countervailing hard power, that is, maximizing military capabilities to defend and attack. Thus disarmament faded into the obscurity of wishful thinking, and in its place a costly and unstable nuclear arms race ensued during the whole of the Cold War, with an array of situations that came close to subjecting humanity to the specter of a nuclear war. That this worst of all nightmares never materialized provides little reassurance about the future, especially if public and elite complacency about the risk of nuclear warfare persists.
What is less appreciated than this failure to eliminate the weaponry in the immediate aftermath of World War II was the adoption and implementation of a Plan B. The United States pushed hard for the negotiations that led in 1968 to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which was successfully marketed to most states in the world. The NPT represented a one-sided bargain in which non-weapons states agreed to give up their weapons option in exchange for two commitments by nuclear weapons states: to share fully the non-military benefits of nuclear technology, especially relating to producing energy that was early on expected to be both clean and cheap; and to undertake in good faith efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament as the earliest possible time, and even to go further, and to work toward the negotiation of general and complete disarmament. This nonproliferation agreement over the years, although a success in Western realist circles, has experienced a number of discrediting setbacks: a few countries with nuclear weapons ambitions stayed outside the treaty and managed to acquire the weaponry without adverse consequences to themselves (India, Pakistan, Israel), while others (Iraq, Iran) have been attacked or threatened because they were suspected of seeking nuclear weapons; there has been a virtual failure of will to seek nuclear disarmament despite a unanimous World Court reaffirmation of the NPT obligations in its 1996 Advisory Opinion on The Legality of Nuclear Weapons; and there has been a discriminatory pattern of geopolitical management of the NPT, most notably ignoring Israel’s nuclear weapons program while treating Iran’s alleged pursuit of a breakout capability as justifying recourse to war.
This nonproliferation approach has been accompanying by three massive forms of deception that continues to mislead public opinion and discourage serious debate about the benefits of nuclear disarmament even at this late stage: First, the fallacious implication that the states that do not possess nuclear weapons are currently more dangerous for world peace than the states that possess, develop, and deploy these weapons of mass destruction, and have used them in the past; secondly, that periodic managerial moves among nuclear weapons states, in the name of arms control, are steps in the direction of nuclear disarmament—nothing could be further from the truth as arms control aims to save money and stabilize reliance on nuclear weaponry by way of deterrence, and is generally averse to getting rid of the weaponry; thirdly, the phony claim, endorsed by Barack Obama in his Prague speech of 2009 on the theme, that obtaining a world without nuclear weapons is to be sure an ‘ultimate’ goal to be affirmed, but that it is not a political project that can be achieved in real time by way of a phased and verified nuclear disarmament treaty. In actuality, there is no genuine obstacle to prudently phasing out these weapons over the course of a decade or so. What blocks the elimination of nuclear weapons is only the dysfunctional refusal of the nine nuclear weapons states to give up the weaponry.
It should be appreciated that this two-tier approach to nuclear weaponry is a departure from the approach taken to other weapons of mass destruction—that is, either prohibiting a weapon altogether or allowing its use in a manner consistent with the principles of customary international law bearing on the conduct of war (proportionality, discrimination, necessity, and humanity). Regimes of unconditional prohibition exist with respect to biological and chemical weapons, and are respected, at least outwardly, by the main global geopolitical actors. Why the difference? The atom bombs dropped on Japan were to a degree, despite the havoc, legitimized because used by the prevailing side in what was claimed to be military necessity and perceived as a just war. The contrast with the prohibition of chemical weapons widely used by the German losing side in World War I illustrates the lawmaking role of geopolitically dominant political actors that impose their will on the evolution of international law, especially in the security domain.
The U.S. reliance on attack drones to engage in targeted killing, especially in third countries (Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Pakistan) has raised controversial international law issues of sovereign rights in interaction with lethal acts of war, especially those far removed from the zone of live combat. The increasing reliance on drones during the Obama presidency has produced unintended deaths, civilians in the vicinity of the target and attacks directed at the wrong personnel, as with the NATO helicopter attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers who had been deployed near the Afghan border on November 25, 2011, provoking a major international incident (although not a drone attack, it was linked by angered Palistani officials to similar mis-targeting by drones). There are also unconfirmed reports of drone follow up raids at sites of targeted killing that seem directed at those who mount rescue operations or arrange funerals for prior victims. As with the Bush torture debate the political leadership in Washington has turned for justifications to government lawyers who have responded by developing drone legal briefs that seem somewhat analogous to the notorious Yoo ‘torture memos.’ There are, however, some differences in the two contexts that work against equating the two controversies about post-9/11 war making.
For one thing, torture has a long history, having been practiced by governments for centuries, and its relatively recent prohibition is embedded in a clear norm criminalizing torture that is contained in the International Torture Convention of 1984. Torture is also enumerated as one of the Crimes Against Humanity in the statute of the International Criminal Court. Drone technology adapted to serve as a battlefield weapon is, in contrast, of extremely recent origin. Nothing in international law exists that is comparably specific with respect to drone attacks to the legal repudiation of torture. There is some resemblance between efforts by Obama law officials to stretch the conception of self-defense beyond previously understood limits to justify targeted killing and the Bush lawyers who claimed that water boarding was not torture. Expanding the prior understanding of the legal right of self-defense represents a self-serving reinterpretation of this core international legal norm by the U.S. Government. It seems opportunistic and unpersuasive and seems unlikely to be generally accepted as a reframing of the right of self-defense under international law.
Perhaps, the most important difference between the torture and drone debates has to do with future implications. Although there are some loopholes involving extraordinary rendition and secret CIA operated overseas black sites, torture has been credibly prohibited by President Obama. Beyond this, the repudiation of torture has been understood in a manner that conforms to the general international consensus rather than the narrowed conception insisted upon by the Bush-era legalists. In contrast, drones seem destined to be central to operational planning for future military undertakings of the United States, with sharply escalating appropriations to support both the purchase of increasing numbers and varieties of drone. The government is engaging in a major research program designed to make drones available for an expanding range of military missions and to serve as the foundation of a revolutionary transformation of the way America will fight future wars. Some of these revolutionary features are already evident: casualty-free military missions; subversion of territorial sovereignty; absence of transparency and accountability; further weakening of political constraints on recourse to war.
Future war scenarios involve attacks by drones swarms, interactive squadrons of drones re-targeting while in a combat zone without human participation, and covert attacks using mini-drones. A further serious concern is the almost certain access to drone technology by private sectors actors. These musings are not science fiction, but well financed undertakings at or beyond the development stage. It is in these settings of fhere, especially, where the analogy to nuclear weapons seems most pertinent, and discouraging. Given the amount invested and the anticipated profitability and utility of drones, it may already be too late to interrupt their development, deployment, and expanding sphere of use. Unlike nuclear weaponry, already some 50 countries reportedly possess drones, mainly adapted to surveillance. As with nuclear weaponry, the United States, and other leading political actors, will not agree to comprehensive prohibitions on the use of drones for lethal purposes.
If this line of reasoning is generally correct, there are two likely futures for attack drones: an unregulated dispersion of the weaponry to public and private actors with likely strategic roles undermining traditional international law limits on war making and public order; or a new non-proliferation regime for drones that permits all states to possess and use surveillance drones within sovereign space and allows some states to make discretionary use of drones globally and for attack purposes until a set on constraining regulations can be agreed upon by a list of designated states. That is, drone military technology will perpetuate the two-tier concept of world order that has taken shape in relation to nuclear weapons, and reflects the consensus that both nuclear disarmament and unrestricted proliferation of nuclear weaponry are unacceptable. In this regard, a counter-proliferation regime for drones is a lesser evil, but still an evil.
The technological momentum that has built up in relation to drones is probably too strong to be challenged politically. The military applications are too attractive, the technology is of a cutting edge fantasy quality, the political appeal of war fighting that involves minimum human risk is too great. At the same time, for much of the world this kind of unfolding future delivers a somber message of a terrifying unfolding vulnerability. At present, there seems to be no way to insulate societies from either intrusive and perpetual surveillance or the prospect of targeted killing and devastation conducted from a remote location. It may be contended that such an indictment of drones exaggerates their novelty. Has not the world lived for decades with weapons of mass destruction possessed by a small number of non-accountable governments and deliverable anywhere on the planet in a matter of minutes? This is superficially true, and frightening enough, but the catastrophic quality of nuclear weaponry and its release of atmospheric radioactivity operates as an inhibitor of uncertain reliability, while with drone their comparative inexpensiveness and non-apocalyptic character makes it much easier to drift mindlessly until an unanticipated day of reckoning occurs by which time all possibilities of control will have been long lost.
As with nuclear weaponry, climate change, and respect for the carrying capacity of the earth, we who are alive at present may be the last who have even the possibility of upholding the life prospects of future generations. It seems late, but still not too late to act responsibly, but we will not be able to make such claims very much longer. Part of the challenge is undoubtedly structural. For most purposes, global governance depends on cooperation among sovereign states, but in matters of war and peace the world order system remains resolutely vertical and under the control of geopolitical actors, perhaps as few as one, who are unwilling to restrict their military activities to the confines of territorial boundaries, but insist on their prerogative to manage coercively the planet as a whole. When it comes to drones the fate of humanity is squeezed between the impotence of state-centric logic and the grandiose schemes of the geopolitical mentality.
06-04-2012, 10:27 PM (This post was last modified: 06-04-2012 11:30 PM by h3rm35.)
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next
Sample Anti-Drone Ordinance for Your City
ORDINANCE of the City (Town, Village, County)
PROTECTION OF THE PUBLIC AGAINST USE OF UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES (DRONES)
1. United States airspace is the busiest in the world, with up to 87,000 flights per day, including commercial airliners and freight haulers, air taxis and private and military aircraft.
2. Unmanned aerial vehicles (referred to in the remainder of this ordinance as drones) are not now allowed in United States general airspace because of the threat they present to other aircraft. Under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 the FAA is directed to create regulations that will enable drones to fly throughout US airspace by September 2015.
3. Small drones, 25 pounds or under, are now permitted to fly in general airspace below 400 feet for the use of police and first responders, with FAA permission.
4. Drones have limitations in “vision” compared to the vision of human pilots, do not have the same capability to avoid other aircraft as aircraft piloted by humans, and there has been at least one instance outside the United States of a drone collision with an aircraft with a human pilot on aboard and as well as a near miss. These instances occurred in airspace much less crowded than that of the United States.
5. Drones have at times gotten out of human control, in at least one instance having to be shot down, and drones are susceptible to having control seized electronically by unauthorized operators.
6. Drones have the capability of carrying a variety of weapons, including 12-guage shot guns, tear gas, rubber bullet guns, bombs and missiles, but drones have significant limitations in identifying specific individuals and groups.
7. Unmanned aerial vehicles have the capability to watch individuals, groups and populations on a 24-hour basis, following and recording their movements for days and weeks in an unprecedented way.
8. Unmanned aerial vehicles have the capability to continuously monitor cell-phone and text messaging of individuals, groups and populations.
9. Drones are being developed that will use computerized facial images to target individuals and, once launched, to operate, autonomously, without further human involvement, to locate and kill those individuals.
We find therefore that:
Drones present an unreasonable and unacceptable threat to public safety in the air and to persons and property on the ground in the City of________________________ due to limitations in drone “vision”, capability to avoid other aircraft and adequate control,
Armed drones and surveillance drones present an unreasonable and unacceptable threat to the rights of individual privacy, freedom of association and assembly, equal protection and judicial due process in the City of _______________________.
1. Drones are hereby banned from airspace over the City of__________, including drones in transit. Flying of a drone within the airspace of the City of_____________shall be considered a gross misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $5,000. More than one offense of flying a drone within said airspace will be considered felonies, with jail time and fines based on the number of violations. (Specifics on misdemeanor and felony classifications and penalties will vary by locality.)
2. Drones will not be purchased, leased, borrowed, tested or otherwise used by any agency of the City of_____________________.
VA Governor cites warzone drone success, says domestic use would be “great”
Recently the domestic use of drones has taken a major step forward with the passage of a bill which accelerates their integration into American airspace and some are embracing this troublesome reality with open arms.
One such individual who has embraced the disturbing use of drones in the United States is Bob McDonnell, the Governor of Virginia, who is also a retired Lieutenant Colonel with the U.S. Army.
McDonnell claimed that police drones flying over Virginia would not only be “great” but also “the right thing to do.”
He claims that this is true because they have been so effective in use over battlefields across the world. One must wonder if he means their brutal efficiency in murdering many people at once as they have done in the undeclared war in Pakistan or their nearly unbelievable surveillance capabilities.
McDonnell further stated that he is open to any technology which makes law enforcement activities more productive, which makes me wonder if he would also support the use of chips allowing mobile devices to see through walls in the hands of police, so long as it is in the name of increasing productivity.
Unsurprisingly the police chiefs of Fairfax County, Virginia (one of the state’s most affluent regions) and the District of Columbia have already endorsed the use of drones in the name of making better use of police resources.
McDonnell cited the reasons the military and intelligence community use the drones in warzones as reasons we should use them in our own country – which has officially become a battlefield thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) – such as safety and reduced manpower.
However, this claim of reduced manpower is not quite accurate, since the military is already years behind in analyzing the data captured by drones and as the Los Angeles Times reported last year, “It takes more people to operate unmanned aircraft than it does to fly traditional warplanes that have a pilot and crew.”
Where the “reduced manpower” myth comes from is beyond me, but there is absolutely no indication that the claim has any basis in reality whatsoever.
“It’s great,” McDonnell stated while appearing on local Virginia news outlet WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program.
“If you’re keeping police officers safe, making it more productive and saving money … it’s absolutely the right thing to do,” McDonnell added.
However, once again, his claim of “saving money” makes very little sense whatsoever. This may be true over a period of several years, or perhaps even a decade or more, but since almost all counties are struggling to get by as is, I seriously doubt that this massive start up cost is something worth absorbing.
That is, unless, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chooses to give out some of their massive grants to subsidize the move towards drones or if they begin being given away under the Pentagon’s 1033 program.
Seeing as the Department of Defense is now distributing military robots and heavily armored vehicles under the program, that wouldn’t be all too surprising.
While a proposal to purchase drones has not even made it to McDonnell’s desk yet, he clearly is itching to get them out into the air above Virginia.
“Drones will certainly have a purpose and a reason to be in this region in the next, coming years,” Fairfax County Police Chief David Rohrer said. “Just as a standpoint as an alternative for spotting traffic and sending information back to our VDOT Smart Traffic centers, and being able to observe backups.”
Seems to be a little expensive to just serve for spotting traffic and observing backups but maybe I’m the only one who thinks our governments at the local, state and federal level are engaging in completely out of control spending.
McDonnell did briefly address the overwhelming privacy and civil liberties concerns, although all he said was that it will prove important to ensure that the state looks after the civil liberties of Virginians.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a list back in April of the entities authorized to use drones including Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia Commonwealth University and the United States Marine Corps, although it is noted that they have not yet said where they are actually flying the drones and it is jut their headquarters which is in Quantico, Virginia.
With the massive concerns about the use of drones’ impact on civil liberties, the false claims made by McDonnell about reduced manpower and the dubious nature of the cost-effectiveness, I personally do not see it as reasonable for him to support it as he is.
However, with such massive support amongst federal legislators, I do not think that it would be smart to expect McDonnell to put his citizens and their rights before his beliefs in the efficacy of drones.
Drones: as military use expands, civil use being developed
Just a few days after a senior US counter-terrorism expert warned that US drone strikes were turning Yemen into the “Arabian equivalent of Waziristan”, US drone strikes yesterday aped the tactic of ‘follow up’ strikes used by the US in Pakistan.
According to CNN, a strike in which seven suspected Al-Qaeda militants were killed was followed by a strike on local residents rushing to the scene to help the injured. Local sources said that between eight and twelve civilians were killed in the second, follow-up strike. A Yemeni security officials expressed regret for the civilian casualties and injuries. “The targets of the raids were not the civilians, and we give our condolences to the families of those who lost a loved one.”
Over the past few weeks US drone strikes and other military activity has been ratcheted up in Yemen as the White House has given ‘greater leeway’ to the CIA and JSOC to launch attacks. Micah Zenko at the US Council on Foreign Relations estimates there will be more US strikes this month in Yemen than there has ever been in a single month in Pakistan. For details see the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s excellent database of US covert activity in Yemen.
Drone strikes continue in Pakistan of course and no doubt in Afghanistan although almost no details of these are released. Last week the US apologised after a strike killed a mother and her five children in Afghanistan but it was not revealed if the strikes was from a drone or a manned aircraft.
Drone fatalities continue to spread around the globe. As we reported last year, US drones from Iraq were moved to Turkey to help the Turkish military “monitor” Kurdish separatists. Today (16 May) it was revealed by the Wall Street Journal that information from one of these drones led directly to a Turkish military attack in which 38 civilians were killed last December. Last week an engineer working for an Austrian company was killed and two others injured when a drone they were demonstrating to the South Korean military crashed.
Meanwhile preparations aimed at enabling the use of unmanned drones to fly in civil airspace continues at a brisk pace both in the US and the UK.
Yesterday the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it had met the deadline for the first changes demanded by the new FAA Act aimed at allowing drones to fly in US civil airspace by September 2015. The Act mandated that the FAA must streamline the process for government agencies to gain Certificates of Authorization (COA) to fly drones within US civil airspace within 90 days.
Meanwhile in the UK BAE Systems has begun a series of flight tests over the Irish Sea as part of a programme aimed at allowing unmanned drones to fly within UK civil airspace. BAE Systems is one of a number of military aerospace companies funding the ASTRAEA (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation & Assessment) programme. According to the ASTRAEA website it is “a UK industry-led consortium focusing on the technologies, systems, facilities, procedures and regulations that will allow autonomous vehicles to operate safely and routinely in civil airspace over the United Kingdom.”
According to The Engineer, BAE has fitted an “autonomous navigation system” on a Jetstream 31 passenger aircraft to enable it to fly without a pilot – although a pilot was on board in case of problems.
A BAE spokesperson told the Guardian that the tests “will demonstrate to regulators such as the Civil Aviation Authority and air traffic control service providers the progress made towards achieving safe routine use of UAVs [unmanned air vehicle] in UK airspace.” Further flights will take place over the next three months testing infra-red systems as well as ‘sense-and-avoid’ systems.
06-07-2012, 09:36 PM (This post was last modified: 06-07-2012 09:57 PM by h3rm35.)
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next
The Age Of Drones: Military May Be Using Drones In US To Help Police
Critics fear invasion of privacy
June 4, 2012 7:43 AM
LOS ANGELES (KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO) — As the Federal Aviation Administration helps usher in an age of drones for U.S. law enforcement agencies, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) domestically by the U.S. military — and the sharing of collected data with police agencies — is raising its own concerns about possible violations of privacy and Constitutional law, according to drone critics.
A non-classified U.S. Air Force intelligence report obtained by KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO dated April 23, 2012, is helping fuel concern that video and other data inadvertently captured by Air Force drones already flying through some U.S. airspace, might end up in the hands of federal or local law enforcement, doing an end-run around normal procedures requiring police to obtain court issued warrants.
“We’ve seen in some records that were released by the Air Force just recently, that under their rules, they are allowed to fly drones in public areas and record information on domestic situations,” says Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the San Francisco based Electronic Frontier Association, who is looking into various government surveillance techniques.
“This report noted that they are able to collect that information and then determine whether or not they can keep it.”...
full story w/audio here
Drones in America: Where's The Outrage?
Andrew Napolitano rips government notion 'balance' is required between safety, liberty
By Andrew Napolitano
----------- For the past few weeks, I have been writing in this column about the government’s use of drones and challenging their constitutionality on Fox News Channel where I work. I once asked on air what Thomas Jefferson would have done if — had drones existed at the time — King George III had sent drones to peer inside the bedroom windows of Monticello. I suspect that Jefferson and his household would have trained their muskets on the drones and taken them down. I offer this historical anachronism as a hypothetical only, not as one who is urging the use of violence against the government.
Nevertheless, what Jeffersonians are among us today? When drones take pictures of us on our private property and in our homes, and the government uses the photos as it wishes, what will we do about it? Jefferson understood that when the government assaults our privacy and dignity, it is the moral equivalent of violence against us. The folks who hear about this, who either laugh or groan, cannot find it humorous or boring that their every move will be monitored and photographed by the government.
Don’t believe me that this is coming? The photos that the drones will take may be retained and used or even distributed to others in the government so long as the “recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function” in requiring them. And for the first time since the Civil War, the federal government will deploy military personnel inside the United States and publicly acknowledge that it is deploying them “to collect information about U.S. persons.”
It gets worse. If the military personnel see something of interest from a drone, they may apply to a military judge or “military commander” for permission to conduct a physical search of the private property that intrigues them. And any “incidentally acquired information” can be retained or turned over to local law enforcement. What’s next? Prosecutions before military tribunals in the U.S.?
The quoted phrases above are extracted from a now-public 30-page memorandum issued by President Obama’s secretary of the Air Force on April 23, 2012. The purpose of the memorandum is stated as “balancing … obtaining intelligence information … and protecting individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution….” Note the primacy of intelligence gathering over freedom protection, and note the peculiar use of the word “balancing.”
When liberty and safety clash, do we really expect the government to balance those values? Of course not. The government cannot be trusted to restrain itself in the face of individual choices to pursue happiness. That’s why we have a Constitution and a life-tenured judiciary: to protect the minority from the liberty-stealing impulses of the majority. And that’s why the Air Force memo has its priorities reversed — intelligence gathering first, protecting freedom second — and the mechanism of reconciling the two — balancing them — constitutionally incorrect.
Everyone who works for the government swears to uphold the Constitution. It was written to define and restrain the government. According to the Declaration of Independence, the government’s powers come from the consent of the governed. The government in America was not created by a powerful king reluctantly granting liberty to his subjects. It was created by free people willingly granting limited power to their government — and retaining that which they did not delegate.
The Declaration also defines our liberties as coming from our Creator, as integral to our humanity and as inseparable from us, unless we give them up by violating someone else’s liberties. Hence the Jeffersonian and constitutional beef with the word “balancing” when it comes to government power versus individual liberty.
The Judeo-Christian and constitutionally mandated relationship between government power and individual liberty is not balance. It is bias — a bias in favor of liberty. All presumptions should favor the natural rights of individuals, not the delegated and seized powers of the government. Individual liberty, not government power, is the default position because persons are immortal and created in God’s image, and governments are temporary and based on force.
Hence my outrage at the coming use of drones — some as small as golf balls — to watch us, to listen to us, and to record us. Did you consent to the government having that power? Did you consent to the American military spying on Americans in America? I don’t know a single person who has, but I know only a few who are complaining.
If we remain silent when our popularly elected government violates the laws it has sworn to uphold and steals the freedoms we elected it to protect, we will have only ourselves to blame when Big Brother is everywhere. Somehow, I doubt my father’s generation fought the Nazis in World War II only to permit a totalitarian government to flourish here.
Is President Obama prepared to defend this? Is Gov. Romney prepared to challenge it? Are you prepared for its consequences?
Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel and anchor of FreedomWatch on Fox Business Network. His most recent book, It Is Dangerous To Be Right When the Government Is Wrong, was released in October 2011.
06-14-2012, 12:11 AM
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next
The U.S. military is operating drones domestically and sharing data with law enforcement
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
As many are now well aware, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is pushing for the integration of drones into the national airspace, especially for use by law enforcement and unsurprisingly a bill was passed and signed into law doing just that.
This is disturbing to some, for good reason. It has become clear that when you give the federal government an inch, they will take a mile. This can be seen quite plainly in the so-called war on terror and how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has rapidly expanded into a massive agency which regularly violates our rights.
It can also be seen in how some entities will simply give themselves ludicrous powers over the personal information of Americans, such as the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which not long ago gave itself the power to keep the personal information of Americans – with absolutely no links to terrorism whatsoever – for a whopping five years.
A new report from CBS Los Angeles has revealed some disturbing truths regarding the United States military’s use of drones in American airspace and their sharing of data with various government entities and law enforcement agencies.
While it is far from news to most that the military is working with law enforcement in this regard, as evidenced by the launching of a military drone from a military base in order to conduct a domestic law enforcement operation, the documents obtained by CBS Los Angeles reveal some new information.
A non-classified intelligence report written by the U.S. Air Force dated April 23, 2012 reveals that video and other data captured “inadvertently” or “mistakenly” by military drones flying above the United States could quite easily end up in the hands of federal, state or local law enforcement agencies.
Even the local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles realizes that this is far from minor in pointing out that this procedure is means that law enforcement and the military are “doing an end-run around normal procedures requiring police to obtain court issued warrants.”
I have been an outspoken critic of the blending between law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels for quite a while now, and to me this intelligence report is actually not all that surprising.
I see this as par for the course when you’re dealing with a government which refuses to allow states to have law enforcement with any meaningful separation from federal entities.
This refusal can be seen in many ways and a recent striking example was in Massachusetts where the federal government refused to honor the wishes of the governor in implementing the centralized biometrics program which he refused to allow.
What might be shocking to some is that this military policy is actually far from new, as CBS Los Angeles points out, it is “a continuation of a policy already a few years old, but is causing more alarm now as drones appear poised to soon become a ubiquitous presence in the U.S. skies thanks to a federal policy to promote their use, first by law enforcement agencies, and then by commercial concerns.”
Personally, I do not think that law enforcement use of drones is acceptable, nor is commercial use, as we could very well see something like Google Street Drone View.
“We’ve seen in some records that were released by the Air Force just recently, that under their rules, they are allowed to fly drones in public areas and record information on domestic situations,” explains Jennifer Lynch, an attorney working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
“This report noted that they are able to collect that information and then determine whether or not they can keep it,” she explained.
We must realize that these reports actually allow this data to be passed on to a slew of other agencies, which means that they could very well pass it on to the NCTC, allowing the window for storage to widen considerably.
Under these guidelines, the military is allowed to hold on to data “accidentally” captured by drones for as long as three months before destroying it.
However, since they are able to turn over this data to “another department of Defense or government agency to whose function it pertains,” there is nothing stopping them from giving it to the NCTC which can then hold on to it with years despite no relation to terrorism.
The FAA recently introduced a “streamlined” process which allows law enforcement agencies to apply for permits to fly drones and get them approved and thus get drones in the air much quicker than previously expected.
This is noteworthy because it means that law enforcement will be able to get drones up in the air and operational much more rapidly than one might think.
Some law enforcement agencies have already expressed a willingness to purchase and use drones with support from the state government, such as Virginia where the governor cited the warzone successes of the unmanned vehicles and police chiefs seem more than willing to use them, even for purposes as nonsensical as traffic monitoring.
Officials from the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are evaluating the benefits of using drones in the significantly restricted and congested airspace around Los Angeles, although they have yet to purchase any.
While the U.S. Air Force’s guidelines claim that drones are not allowed to carry out “non-consensual surveillance” on U.S. citizens or property, there are plenty of exceptions to this allowing such surveillance to occur.
Personally, I find it ludicrous that they specify “non-consensual surveillance” due to the fact that drones fly at an altitude so high that they cannot easily be detected and thus there is no way consent could be given.
Some of these many exceptions outlined in the Air Force documents include:
- Investigating or preventing clandestine intelligence activities by foreign powers, international narcotics activities, or international terrorist activities
- Protecting DoD employees, information, property and facilities
- Preventing, detecting or investigating other violations of law
Seems pretty broad, doesn’t it? “Other violations of law” leaves the door wide open for the drones to be used for just about everything. After all, jaywalking is a violation of law. Does this mean that if a drone captures someone jaywalking, the use of military drones in U.S. airspace is somehow justified?
The document also outlines the type of assistance that the Air Force drones may provide to law enforcement, which include:
- Violations of US federal law. Incidentally acquired information reasonably believed to indicate a violation of federal law shall be provided to appropriate federal law enforcement through AFOSI channels.
- Other violations of law. Information incidentally acquired during the course of Air Force counterintelligence activities reasonably believed to indicate a violation of state, local or foreign law will be provided to appropriate officials IAW procedures established by the Commander, AFOSI. Information incidentally acquired during the course of Air Force foreign intelligence activities reasonably believed to indicate a violation of state, local, or foreign law will, unless otherwise decided by AF/A2 for national security reasons, be provided to AFOSI IAW procedures established by the AF/A2, or his/her designee, for investigation or referral to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Information covered by this paragraph includes US persona information.
- Provision of specialized equipment and facilities. Specialized intelligence equipment and facilities may be provided to federal law enforcement authorities, and, when lives are endangered, to state and local law enforcement authorities, only with the approval of the SecAF delegated authority and the concurrence of SAF/GC.
- Assistance of Air Force intelligence personnel. Air force intelligence personnel may be assigned to assist federal law enforcement authorities with the approval of the SecAF delegated authority and the concurrence of SAF/GC.
One of the most disturbing aspects of these guidelines is the inclusion of “foreign law.” This makes one wonder, which foreign laws will they honor? Why would foreign laws be honored in the United States of America? This aspect of the guidelines makes little to no sense to me but hopefully it will be cleared up to some degree.
Air Force spokesperson Captain Rose Richeson told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO in an email, “The Executive Branch has promulgated detailed Departmental and Intelligence Community-wide instructions and directives about when it is appropriate to share information with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies consistent with the protection of privacy and civil liberties.”
Sure, that sounds great, except Richeson adds that “a court order or warrant is not required in all circumstances.”
The drone industry has boasted in the past about their ability to influence the government and has even said that they should use propaganda in order to influence the public’s opinion of these devices.
If you aren’t worried or even slightly concerned yet, I don’t know what will wake you from your slumber enough to realize that what should be our government is actively working against us, the American people, under the guise of keeping us safe.
06-16-2012, 12:18 AM
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next
Revealed: 64 Drone Bases on American Soil
Map and list @ link
We like to think of the drone war as something far away, fought in the deserts of Yemen or the mountains of Afghanistan. But we now know it’s closer than we thought. There are 64 drone bases on American soil. That includes 12 locations housing Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles, which can be armed.
Public Intelligence, a non-profit that advocates for free access to information, released a map of military UAV activities in the United States on Tuesday. Assembled from military sources — especially this little-known June 2011 Air Force presentation (.pdf) – it is arguably the most comprehensive map so far of the spread of the Pentagon’s unmanned fleet. What exact missions are performed at those locations, however, is not clear. Some bases might be used as remote cockpits to control the robotic aircraft overseas, some for drone pilot training. Others may also serve as imagery analysis depots.
The medium-size Shadow is used in 22 bases, the smaller Raven in 20 and the miniature Wasp in 11. California and Texas lead the pack, with 10 and six sites, respectively, and there are also 22 planned locations for future bases. ”It is very likely that there are more domestic drone activities not included in the map, but it is designed to provide an approximate overview of the widespread nature of Department of Defense activities throughout the US,” Michael Haynes from Public Intelligence tells Danger Room.
The possibility of military drones (as well as those controlled by police departments and universities) flying over American skies have raised concerns among privacy activists. As the American Civil Liberties Union explained in its December 2011 report, the machines potentially could be used to spy on American citizens. The drones’ presence in our skies “threatens to eradicate existing practical limits on aerial monitoring and allow for pervasive surveillance, police fishing expeditions, and abusive use of these tools in a way that could eventually eliminate the privacy Americans have traditionally enjoyed in their movements and activities.”
As Danger Room reported last month, even military drones, which are prohibited from spying on Americans, may “accidentally” conduct such surveillance — and keep the data for months afterwards while they figure out what to do with it. The material they collect without a warrant, as scholar Steven Aftergood revealed, could then be used to open an investigation.
The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the U.S. military from operating on American soil, and there’s no evidence that drones have violated it so far.
This new map comes almost two months after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) revealed another one, this time of public agencies – including police departments and universities – that have a permit issued by the Federal Aviation Agency to use UAVs in American airspace.
“It goes to show you how entrenched drones already are,” said Trevor Timm, an EFF activist, when asked about the new map. “It’s clear that the drone industry is expanding rapidly and this map is just another example of that. And if people are worried about military technology coming back and being sold in the US, this is just another example how drone technology is probably going to proliferate in the US very soon.”
Domestic proliferation isn’t the same as domestic spying, however. Most — if not all — of these military bases would make poor surveillance centers. Many of the locations are isolated, far from civilian populations. Almost half of the bases on the map work only with the relatively small Raven and Shadow drones; their limited range and endurance make them imperfect spying tools, at best. It’s safe to assume that most of the bases are just used for military training.
Privacy concerns aside, the biggest issue might be safety, as we were been reminded on Monday when a giant Navy drone crashed in Maryland.
06-18-2012, 08:44 PM (This post was last modified: 06-18-2012 08:46 PM by h3rm35.)
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next
report identifies 110 military bases that will serve as drone launch sites
Confronting the American People: Thousands of military drones to be deployed over US mainland
By Tom Carter
A recent Department of Defense report to Congress as well as a number of media investigations have exposed government plans to deploy tens of thousands of drones over the US mainland in the coming years.
An investigative report published over the weekend by the Christian Science Monitor cited the government’s own estimates that “as many as 30,000 drones could be part of intelligence gathering and law enforcement here in the United States within the next ten years.”
Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as “drones,” are extremely sophisticated remotely-operated aircraft, developed and manufactured by the military-industrial complex in recent years at a cost of billions of dollars.
Drones vary in size from the four-pound RQ-11B Raven surveillance drone, which can be launched by hand, to the giant MQ-9 Reaper combat drone, manufactured by Northrup Grumman. The Reaper has a maximum take-off weight of 7,000 pounds, including up to 3,000 pounds of bombs, missiles and other armaments.
The infamous MQ-1 Predator drone, armed with 100-pound Hellfire missiles, is the Obama administration’s favored weapon in its illegal assassination program. A Predator drone was used in the unprecedented assassination of a US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, in Yemen last September.
With a push of a button, thousands of pounds of high explosives can be dropped on anyone, anywhere in the world, with startling precision. Safe behind video screens at military bases within the US, military drone operators refer to their victims as “bug splats.” Thousands of innocent civilians have already been murdered in this way in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Current and projected drone bases in the US [Source: US Air Force]
An April Department of Defense report, titled “Future Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training, Operations, and Sustainability,” reveals that a massive drone infrastructure is already being erected within the US, with billions of dollars being allocated, bases being erected, thousands of pilots and crews being trained, and inventories being stockpiled.
The report identifies 110 military bases that will serve as drone launch sites. The deadly Predator and Reaper drones will operate out of Creech Air Force Base (AFB) in Nevada, Holloman AFB and Cannon AFB in New Mexico, Fort Drum in New York, Grand Forks in North Dakota, Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota, Whiteman AFB in Missouri, and the Southern California Logistics Airport, among others.
The accompanying map, from an Air Force power-point presentation released this month, shows current and projected locations for drone bases within the US.
The Department of Defense report argues for lifting the current framework of restrictions on drone flights over the US on the grounds that it “does not provide the level of airspace access necessary to accomplish the wide range of DoD UAS missions at current and projected operational tempos (OPTEMPOs).”
The language of the report is revealing and ominous. “This constraint will only be exacerbated as combat operations shift from abroad and systems return to US locations,” the report states. It expressly refers to plans to “conduct continental United States (CONVS)-based missions.”
In January, Congress passed HR 658, which requires the Federal Aviation Administration to take steps to facilitate the integration of drones “into the national airspace system.” President Obama signed the bill on February 14 with no public discussion or comment. (See “Drones come to the US”)
Since Obama signed the bill, hundreds of drones have already begun flying over the US to spy on and monitor the population. A recent ABC News investigative report entitled “UAVs: Will Our Civil Liberties Be Droned Out?” outlined the possibility of drones buzzing overhead becoming “a fact of daily life.”
ABC News reported: “Drones can carry facial recognition cameras, license plate scanners, thermal imaging cameras, open WiFi sniffers, and other sensors. And they can be armed.”
“Among the most eager to fly domestic drones are America’s police departments,” the report stated. “In Texas, a Montgomery county sheriff’s office recently said it would deploy a drone bought with money from a Department of Homeland Security grant and was contemplating arming the drone with non-lethal weapons like tear gas, rubber bullets or Taser-style rounds.”
The ABC News report identified “political protests” as one of the activities that can be monitored by drones.
In December, the American Civil Liberties Union published a detailed report on the dangers of a massive build-up of surveillance drones within the US, warning that “our privacy laws are not strong enough to ensure that the new technology will be used responsibly and consistently with democratic values.”
Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the ACLU, described last month a “nightmare scenario” of widespread drone spying leading “to an oppressive atmosphere where people learn to think twice about everything they do, knowing that it will be recorded, charted, scrutinized by increasingly intelligent computers, and possibly used to target them.”
According to a Los Angeles Times article in December of last year, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) are already using Predator drones for operations within the US. Last week, a huge Global Hawk drone being operated by the US Navy for an unknown purpose crashed in Maryland.
The deployment of tens of thousands of surveillance drones over the mainland US takes on special significance in light of recent revelations that the Obama administration is secretly constructing “bottomless” databases to house information gathered about US citizens. (See “Obama administration expands illegal surveillance of Americans”)
The build-up of drone bases within the US is one component of preparations by the US government for a confrontation with its own population. Like everything else associated with the so-called “war on terror”—including torture, detention without trial, warrantless spying, assassinations, military tribunals, and expanded executive and intelligence powers—the use of drones for spying and assassination in the Middle East is a prelude to the development of systems that will ultimately be used against the American people in the event of social upheavals.
On “Terror Tuesdays” at the White House, President Obama helps draw up a list of opponents of US policy overseas who are to be illegally assassinated by drone-fired missiles. These “kill lists” have already included US citizens. With tens of thousands of drones flying overhead, and with the US mainland designated as a “battleground” in the never-ending and geographically unlimited “war on terror,” the US ruling class hopes one day soon to be able to eliminate its domestic opponents with similar ease.
06-19-2012, 10:29 PM (This post was last modified: 06-19-2012 10:34 PM by h3rm35.)
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next
Pot to Kettle: ¨Back Da Fuck Up Nigga! Dis My ´Hood!¨
Schmuck Schumer (editorial insertion) to Apple, Google: 'Curb your spy planes'
'Military-grade' surveillance can see through windows
By Rik Myslewski in San Francisco
Posted in Applications, 19th June 2012 17:21 GMT
One week after Apple announced it was booting Google Maps from iOS  and photographing the world with its own aerial fleet, a top US Senator has written to both companies expressing concern over their "military-grade spy planes."
"Barbequing or sunbathing in your backyard shouldn't be a public event," said Senator Charles Schumer  (D-NY) in a statement  on Monday. "People should be free from the worry of some high-tech peeping Tom technology violating one's privacy when in your own home."
Schumer noted that although Google Maps and Google Earth have used satellite imagery in the past, "reports have suggested" that both Google and Apple have upgraded their capabilities to aircraft-based photography that can see through windows and capture detailed images with four-inch resolution.
Although Schumer specifically mentioned sunbathing – and we never even knew he was a Reg reader  – his remarks suggest that his main concern isn't high-flying voyeurism, but rather intelligence that could aid terroists and other miscreants.
"Detailed photographs could also provide criminals and terrorists with detailed views of sensitive utilities," he wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page, noting that although there are online sources which currently show such potential targets as power lines, substations, and reservoirs, those images are in low resolution.
"However," Schumer surmised, "if highly detailed images become available, criminals could create more complete schematic maps of the power and water grids in the United States. With the vast amount of infrastructure across the country, it would be impossible to secure every location."
Accordingly, Schumer has asked Apple and Google to "put protocols in place" to work with law enforcement and local governments to ensure that "sensitive infrastructure details" are blurred in images shared with the public – although exactly who would develop those protocols and who would define what's sensitive, Schumer leaves up to the parties involved.
As far as protections against having your barbecue or sunbathing session being violated by aerial snoops, Schumer has three additional suggestions: first, Apple and Google should inform communities when they are to be surveiled; second, they should give property owners the right to opt out of the aerial intrusion; and third, they should blur out images of individuals.
The first would give homegrown-ganja fans time to bring potted Mary Jane in from their patios, the second would stop building inspectors from discovering an illegal backyard shed, and the third would shield the aforementioned sunbather from further aerial embarassment.
As Schumer notes, "Google plans to have three-dimensional maps of areas covering the residences of over 300 million people by the end of this year," so his suggestions are timely – well, overdue, actually. However, from Apple and Google's point of view, they are also time-consuming, expensive, and just generally a pain in the posterior.
Schumer's suggestions are merely that: suggestions with no force of law. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out – but The Reg suggests that until further notice, you might do well to close your drapes and keep your eyes on the skies. ®
08-23-2012, 05:15 AM
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill US Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next
links in original article.
"The Morality" of Drone Warfare
Global Research, August 19, 2012
Drone Wars UK
There have been a number of articles published recently on the morality of drone wars, many of them suggesting that those of us with grave concerns about the growing use of drones have either got it wrong, are confused, or are just plain misguided.
Writing in The Observer, Peter Beaumont posed the question ‘Are drones any more immoral than other weapons of war?‘ After suggesting that “much of what has been written on both sides of the debate on the surrounding moral and legal issues has been ill-informed and confused” he then goes on to give a rather unhelpful summary of the international law arguments surrounding the use of force against non-state actors based on the recent paper ‘The Strategic Context of Lethal Drones’ published by the American Security Project.
With regard to morality he suggests that
“[the] compelling question to be asked over the future of drone warfare… is the one posed by Foust and Boyle [of the American Security Project] who demanded whether, as a military tool, drone warfare is actually effective; whether its use is justified when set against the political fallout that the drone campaign has produced and whether drones have actually reduced the threat posed by militants.”
The question, in other words is, do the ends justify the means? Hardly the most moral position. However, at least Peter Beaumont engaged with the argument.
Last month Flight Global writer Craig Hoyle dismissed any concerns that campaigners may have about the growing use of drones. While, shuddering to use the phrase ‘drone wars’, he says campaigners are all simply “missing the point” (but omits to say how exactly). Apparently he thinks that those with moral and ethical qualms about drones simply have nothing better to do now that we have outlawed cluster bombs and anti-personnel mines (did we have a point on those Craig?)
Describing himself as an ex-CIA official, Phillip Mudd writing in Newsweek acknowledges there are ethical issues arising from the use of drones but argues that in relation to war zones they are “misdirected”. In war zones, he writes, drones are just another “delivery tool” to apply lethal force, like a rifle or a piece of artillery. The point he clearly misses though is that unlike the rifleman or tank driver, the drone operator is sitting safely thousands of miles away, and it is this very distance – both physical and psychological – that is a key ethical issue.
Mudd goes on to argues that drones give the option for lethal force to be used beyond war zones – and not just for killing terrorist suspects either:
“In an age of non-state threats that are as deadly as al Qaeda, and more pervasive—drug trafficking organizations, human trafficking networks, and pirates off Somalia, to name a few—armed drones give policymakers, and operators, the option of intervening in areas that are not warzones.”
Mudd argues that the ethical dilemma that drones present is should we accept insecurity or accept targeted killing:
“Do you want to kill, to reduce an emerging threat before it reaches our shores? Or do you want to limit authorized killings to warzones? If it’s security you insist on, we now have the most surgical killing machine the world has ever seen. Is that the future you want? And if not, are you prepared to accept the consequences?”
To formulate the ethical choice on this issue as either accepting (and thereby legitimizing) drone targeted killings on the one hand or accepting a future of continuing insecurity on the other is simplistic nonsense. There are of course other (and we would argue) much better ways to pursue security, peace and justice.
A more thoughtful piece was Joseph Singh’s Betting Against a Drone Arms Race. Singh, a researcher at the US think tank Center for a New American Security, rejects the arguments made by many, including recently by Noel Sharkey and Michael Ignatieff, that US drone use outside wars zones could encourage other nations to use forces in a similar way. Instead, Singh argues, drones are fundamentally no different from piloted aircraft in respect of applying lethal force:
”Any state otherwise deterred from using force abroad will not significantly increase its power projection on account of acquiring drones.”
While he cites the downing of a Turkish jet by Syria in June as proof that nations will not tolerate breeches of national sovereignty, he doesn’t really grapple with the fact that the US use of drones outside war zones is a precedent that others may well follow.
US academic and philosopher Bradley Strawser, interviewed in the Guardian about his views on drones earlier this month was quoted as saying “It’s all upside. There’s no downside. Both ethically and normatively, there’s a tremendous value.” Strawser, who is assistant professor of philosophy at Monterey Naval Postgraduate School, later said the Guardian “misrepresented” his views and was given space to argue his case in his own words, to which we will come in a moment.
In his interview he names and then dismisses three objections to drone warfare. Firstly, while he says he shares “the gut feeling that there’s something odd” about the “lopsided asymmetry” of drone killing he says that it’s like police officers having bullet-proof vests in a shoot out with bank robbers. Er, no, it’s not….
The second objection that he names and then rejects is “the suggestion that risk-free remote killing degrades traditional conceptions of valour”. Whilst I have very occasionally heard this argument, the objection to risk free remote killing that most people make is not because it undermines concepts of valour but that it makes it easier to undertake attacks both within theatres of conflict and in the wider sense. To be fair to Strawser he does comes to this in his final argument, but ends up by not dealing with the argument, instead saying: “There could be an upside. There are cases when we should go to war and we don’t, especially in humanitarian case like Rwanda.
In the space he was given to clarify his position, Strawser heavily nuances his position. He argues that drones “can be a morally preferable weapon of war if they are capable of being more discriminate than other weapons that are less precise and expose their operators to greater risk.” Note that “can be” and “if” in there… Like Joseph Singh (above) Straswer also makes the obvious point that drones can be moral but “only if the mission is just”.
We started this review of recent writing on drones with Peter Beaumont’s Observer article. He began his reflection by recalling how three years previously he had come across the victims of an Israel drone strike whilst in Gaza. We can’t finish this round-up without mentioning Dr Rajaie Batniji fantastic article in The Lancet, reflecting about his recent visit to see family in Gaza, drones and the search for dignity. Read it and weep.
09-15-2012, 04:07 PM
¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill American Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨ UK & EU next
Now, I'm not sure how I feel about Code Pink, But this woman wrote a book called drone warfare: killing by remote control that I just read. Its really informative. She's guzzled down a lot of the lefty kool-aid, but it doesn't show up in the book. I may show in this video, I'm not sure - I haven't watched it, I watched one in this same series of lectures on cspan.
09-20-2012, 09:38 PM
RE: ¨Look For 30k Drones To Fill US Skies By The End Of The Decade,¨
Mapping Drone Proliferation: UAVs in 76 Countries
The main international agreement that controls the transfer of drones is the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)
A new US Congress report on the proliferation of drones has confirmed a huge rise in the number of countries that now have military unmanned aerial systems. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has published an unclassified version of its February 2012 report on the proliferation of UAVs. The report examines both the proliferation of UAVs, commonly known as drones, and examines US and multilateral controls on the export of drone technology.
The report states that between 2005 and December 2011, the number of countries that posses drones rose from 41 to 76 (see here for full list).
(Countries that have drones according to GAO report)
According to the report:
“The majority of foreign UAVs that countries have acquired fall within the tactical category. Tactical UAVs primarily conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions and typically have a limited operational range of at most 300 kilometres. However, some more advanced varieties are capable of performing intelligence collection, targeting, or attack missions. Mini UAVs were also frequently acquired across the globe during this period.”
It should be noted that currently only the US, UK and Israel are known to have used armed UAVs.
The report goes on: “Currently, there are over 50 countries developing more than 900 different UAV systems. This growth is attributed to countries seeing the success of the United States with UAVs in Iraq and Afghanistan and deciding to invest resources into UAV development to compete economically and militarily in this emerging area.”
While the report fails to highlight the danger of growing drone proliferation to global peace and security it does emphasize the danger of drone proliferation to “US interests”. The report states that “the use of UAVs by foreign parties to gather information on U.S. military activities has already taken place” and “the significant growth in the number of countries that have acquired UAVs, including key countries of concern, has increased the threat to the United States.”
Despite this, the report states “the U.S. government has determined that selected transfers of UAV technology support its national security interests”, thus highlighting the contradiction at the heart of current arms control measures. ‘Private sector representatives’ told the reports authors that “UAVs are one of the most important growth sectors in the defense industry and provide significant opportunities for economic benefits if U.S. companies can remain competitive in the global UAV market.”
Table 1: US drone sales Fiscal Year 2005-2010
The report reveals that between 2005 – 2010, the US approved over $380m of drone exports (Table 1). In total, the U.S. government approved transfers of complete UAV systems in 15 cases over the period. Eight of the 15 countries were names in the report: Denmark, Italy, Lithuania, United Kingdom, Australia, Colombia, Israel, and Singapore. Additionally, 1,278 UAV-related licenses were identified over the period.
The US and the MTCR
The main international agreement that controls the transfer of drones is the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Although not primarily focused on drones, the MTCR controls UAVs by dividing them into two categories. Category One systems are capable of delivering a 500 kilogram warhead further than 300 kilometres, while Category II covers systems that carry a lighter warhead or have a range of less than 300km. Although all decisions are taken on a national basis (and there is no sanction by other countries if the MTCR is broken) there is a “strong presumption of denial” underpinning Category One – that is, an assumption that MTCR signatory states will not export such systems. Countries have greater discretion about exporting Category Two systems.
Drone Wars UK has previously highlighted efforts by US corporation to “relax” controls on the export of drones. However the GAO report details for the first time “six US-sponsored UAV-related proposals” to amend the MTCR over the 2005-2011 period, five of which “would have resulted in moving some UAVs currently categorized under MTCR Category I to Category II” and thus making them more easier to export. The five proposals were rejected by other members of the MTCR.
While the GAO report goes on to detail the need to improve internal US controls on the export of drones and related technology (recommending improving information databases and communication between licensing departments and intelligence agencies), it shies away from advocating the need to improve international controls.
Two weeks ago it was reported that the Pentagon has identified 66 countries that would be eligible to buy US drones under new guidelines yet to be approved by Congress. Meanwhile, Germany wants to buy armed drones; while neighbouring Poland plans to scrap its manned fighters for armed drones, just as Canada wants to spend $1 billion on armed drones and Australia too plans to spend $3 billion on drones.
The time for global controls to stop the spread of drones has never been more urgent or important. Next month the 26th annual plenary meeting of the MTCR takes place in Berlin behind closed doors. No public agenda or details of the meeting are available. We urge all those involved to see the growing dangers of drone proliferation and to resist the siren calls by those with vested interests to relax the controls that currently exist.
Table 2: List of Countries reported by US GAO to posses drones.
Algeria Egypt Lebanon Singapore
Angola Estonia Libya Slovakia
Argentina Ethiopia Lithuania Slovenia
Australia Finland Malaysia South Africa
Austria France Mexico Spain
Azerbaijan Georgia Morocco Sri Lanaka
Belarus Germany Netherlands Sweden
Belgium Greece New Zealand Switzerland
Botswana Hungary Nigeria Syria
Brazil India Norway Taiwan
Bulgaria Indonesia Pakistan Thailand
Burundi Iran Panama Trinidad & Tobago
Canada Israel Peru Tunisia
Chile Italy Philippines Turkey
China Ivory Coast Poland Uganda
Colombia Japan Republic of Korea Ukraine
Croatia Jordan Romania UAE
Czech Republic Kazakhstan Russia United Kingdom
Denmark Latvia Serbia United States
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