Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Apologies to Bob Dylan, but the Blowin’ in the Wind line “how many times must the cannonballs fly, before they’re forever banned” was stuck in my head. It seems to apply to the proliferation of drones, being used by various government agencies, law enforcement, military, etc. (along with universities and others) at home and abroad.
Check out this short video, by Jeremy Scahill, and read A Short History of Drone Warfare:
The United States is on a new trajectory in warfare, says Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation. With its increase in drone strikes, the United States is turning away from the large-scale military interventions of the past decade and towards covert operations, beyond such known locations as Pakistan and Yemen.
In the video, to the 1 minute, 30 second mark, I imagine Republicans responding: “Yay W.!,” while Democrats respond: “Boo W.!” For the rest of the video, Reps respond: “Mumble. Shuffle feet. Look! Over there! Obamacare!” Dems respond: “Mumble. Shuffle feet. Look! Over there! Bain Capital!”
And that’s just regarding use of “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)” or “Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPV),” or just drones, as a part of the “war on terror,” or whatever we’re suppose to call it now. To read more, check out: U.S. Plans to Arm Italy’s Drones; Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control; White House Counterterrorism Adviser Should Tell the Whole Truth About Drone Strikes; ACLU: Admission of US Drone Strikes Does Nothing to Justify Program’s Legality; The Obama Doctrine: How the president’s drone war is backfiring. For a tongue-in-cheek analysis, see Confessions Of An Angry Young Drone.
Just today, Nick Turse, at Tom Dispatch, writes Hot Drone-On-Drone Action:
It’s now commonly estimated that more than 50 nations have drones, are making plans to develop them, or are at least planning to buy them from those who do produce them. … (The skies) … will be filled not just with robotic surveillance aircraft, but also with non-U.S. remotely piloted armed assassins which, thanks to the path Washington has blazed, need pay no attention to anyone’s national sovereignty in a search for their version of bad guys to destroy.
Addressing both foreign and domestic use of drones, Tom Barry writes Drones Flying Under the Radar:
In all sizes, armed and unarmed, drones are proliferating at home and abroad. Some are loaded with missiles, others simply with Tasers, but all carry surveillance payloads.
These “˜eyes in the skies” …. may soon be inescapable. For the most part, however, drones fly outside the radar of public scrutiny, Congressional oversight or international control. …
On the domestic front, local police and Homeland Security agents are … enthusiastically deploying drones for law enforcement and border security missions. At all levels, government in the United States is sidelining mounting civil rights, privacy and air safety concerns. The US Congress functions more as a booster for the drone industry than as a regulator.
There have been some drone in public spaces incidents reported, like The Drone That Crashed Into A S.W.A.T. Team’s Tank and Spy drone could have almost brought down a plane in Colorado.
An airline pilot came close to crashing his plane near Denver, Colorado this week after encountering a mysterious object in the sky thought to be an unmanned drone aircraft. …
The FAA is currently in the midst of drafting guidelines to permit surveillance drones similar to what the pilot described for law enforcement use across the country. The federal government currently has a fleet of crafts use to see from the sky, and several smaller agencies have confirmed that they have purchased drones as well. Once they have rules established, the FAA expects that as many as 30,000 drones will be in American airspace in the coming years.
More about that in Regulating domestic drones on a deadline:
In February, President Obama signed into law a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that requires the agency … to write rules opening U.S. airspace to unmanned aerial vehicles. …
The FAA has been charged with figuring out, by the middle of next month, how to expedite the licensing of certain government drones. It is also supposed to develop, by later this year, a comprehensive plan for the integration of private UAVs into U.S. airspace by late 2015.
The article discusses “privacy issues,” and links that to
… a larger set of questions unrelated to aviation: how to protect individuals in the context of the rapid proliferation of information-gathering technologies to governments, companies and our neighbors.
While this interactive Google map is related to a March 2012 report, FAA Coughs Up Info On Where Drones Are Being Flown And Who’s Flying Them, and so likely needs an update, it’s useful.
A few more bits and pieces of drone-related information at Ten Fun Facts About Drones:
2. Reaper drones’ … can currently take in a 4 kilometer by 4 kilometer area … but that will soon be expanded … to a 10 kilometer by 10 kilometer stare, or two-thirds the size of Washington, D.C. …
4. The surveillance industry wants drones to be more cuddly … . In Britain, manufacturers have suggested painting drones bright colors as a way to make them seem friendlier and less reminiscent of war zones, reports The Guardian. …
7. Cape Canaveral is now a drone base. …
“How many drones in the sky must we have?” For security purposes, the answer is probably classified.
This Homeland Security Moment has been brought to you by a Non-Lethal Drone near you. It’s friendly, has your best interest in its computerized little heart, and promises any information obtained will only be used if it’s really, really important.