Sunday, February 5, 2012

Congress Asks Obama To Accelerate Use of Drones in U.S.


Congress Asks Obama To Accelerate Use of Drones in U.S.

The pending authorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration directs the Secretary of Transporation to develop within nine months “a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.”

Congress Calls for Accelerated Use of Drones in U.S.

The Department of Defense is pursuing its own domestic UAS activities for training purposes and “domestic operations,” according to a 2007 DoD-FAA memorandum of agreement.

Army Foresees Expanded Use of Drones in U.S. Airspace

In the recently enacted FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (section 1097), Congress mandated that “the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall establish a program to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system at six test ranges.” This new test range program is supposed to be established within 180 days.

(Its interesting that the test range program must be established in 180 days and obama has 60 days from his signature of the ndaa of 2012 to determine how and when Americans can be SNACHED or KIDNAPPED without warning and without arrest or trial. See sec 1031 of ndaa of 2012.

The domestic drones will not only be used to surveil Americans. Nothing is stopping obama from delivering some kind of payload with a civilian drone.)
Story Reports

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Who Is Flying Unmanned Aircraft in the U.S.?

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Who Is Flying Unmanned Aircraft in the U.S.?

Government Withholds Information on Drone Flight Authorizations

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit today against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), demanding data on certifications and authorizations the agency has issued for the operation of unmanned aircraft, also known as drones.

Drones are designed to carry surveillance equipment – including video cameras, infrared cameras and heat sensors, and radar – that can allow for sophisticated and almost constant surveillance. They can also carry weapons. Traditionally, drones have been used almost exclusively by military and security organizations. However, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection uses drones inside the United States to patrol the U.S. borders, and state and local law enforcement are increasingly using unmanned aircraft for investigations into things like cattle rustling, drug dealing, and the search for missing persons.

Any drone flying over 400 feet needs a certification or authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration, part of the DOT. But there is currently no information available to the public about who specifically has obtained these authorizations or for what purposes. EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act request in April of 2011 for records of unmanned aircraft activities, but the DOT so far has failed to provide the information.

"Drones give the government and other unmanned aircraft operators a powerful new surveillance tool to gather extensive and intrusive data on Americans' movements and activities," said EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. "As the government begins to make policy decisions about the use of these aircraft, the public needs to know more about how and why these drones are being used to surveil United States citizens."

Dozens of companies and research organizations are working to develop even more sophisticated drones, so their use is poised for a dramatic expansion in the coming years. Meanwhile, news reports indicate that the FAA is studying ways to integrate more drones into the national airspace because of increased demand from federal, state, and local governments. EFF's lawsuit asks for immediate response to our FOIA request, including the release of data on any certificates and authorizations issued for unmanned aircraft flights, expired authorizations, and any applications that have been denied.

"The use of drones in American airspace could dramatically increase the physical tracking of citizens – tracking that can reveal deeply personal details about our private lives," said Lynch. "We're asking the DOT to follow the law and respond to our FOIA request so we can learn more about who is flying the drones and why."

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NPR’s domestic drone commercial

Excitement over America’s use of drones in multiple Muslim countries is, predictably, causing those weapons to be imported onto U.S. soil. Federal law enforcement agencies and local police forces are buying more and more of them and putting them to increasingly diverse domestic uses, as well as patrolling the border, and even private corporations are now considering how to use them. One U.S. drone manufacturer advertises its product as ideal for “urban monitoring.” Orlando’s police department originally requested two drones to use for security at next year’s GOP convention, only to change their minds for budgetary reasons.

One new type of drone already in use by the U.S. military in Afghanistan — the Gorgon Stare, named after the “mythical Greek creature whose unblinking eyes turned to stone those who beheld them” — is “able to scan an area the size of a small town” and “the most sophisticated robotics use artificial intelligence that [can] seek out and record certain kinds of suspicious activity”; boasted one U.S. General: “Gorgon Stare will be looking at a whole city, so there will be no way for the adversary to know what we’re looking at, and we can see everything.”

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