Senate told drones now patrolling U.S.–Canada border

If you build them, they will be used. First, the story of 64 drone bases on U.S. soil. Now the story of the drones who “man” them. At least the start of that story.

From CTV News in Canada (h/t commenter Hue-man; my emphasis):

SEATTLE—The U.S. government’s unmanned drones patrolling the U.S.-Canadian border are venturing into Washington state’s airspace.

In testimony before a U.S. Senate panel this week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said northern border surveillance using unmanned aerial aircraft now expands from North Dakota to eastern Washington.

The two 10,000-pound Predator-B unmanned aircrafts based in Grand Forks, N.D., have a 950-mile coverage range and “they do enter Washington airspace, in the vicinity of Spokane,” said Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Gina Gray on Thursday.

The unmanned aircrafts “can stay in the air for up to 20 hours at a time, something no other aircraft in the federal inventory can do,” Gray said. “In this manner it is a force multiplier, providing aerial surveillance support for border agents by investigating sensor activity in remote areas to distinguish between real or perceived threats, allowing the boots on the ground force to best allocate their resources and efforts.”

I’m not sure why “force multiplier” language is coming out of Ms. Gray’s border patrol mouth. They talk about surveillance, but “force multiplier” has the word “force” in it.

Maybe they’re just caught up in the testosterone, even the women. If so, wouldn’t be the first time we all sang along with the military.

A little more to chew on:

The use of drones has proliferated among federal and local law enforcement agencies nationwide along with civilian hobbyists in recent years. In December, Congress gave the Federal Aviation Administration six months to pick half a dozen sites around the country where the military and others can fly unmanned aircraft in the vicinity of regular air traffic, with the aim of demonstrating they’re safe.

We wrote about that legislation here. Note that the combo of House Rep. Buck McKeon’s brand of personal corruption, plus the eager application of Money by the drone industry and lobbyists, is bringing us this future.

Drones are proliferating like the TSA porno-scanners are proliferating. Testosterone- and fear-fueled Americans (are told to) think we need them; Money is eager to sell them; so now the hapless (and sometimes clueless) TSA has no choice — deploy and use them at will.

(Hint: At the airport, Mr. Natural sez: Always opt out; force them to feel you up. It’s the least you can do to return the “this is awkward” favor.)

Some of our earlier drone writing is here, including that “corrupt congressman” angle:

Can you feel the freedom for which they hate us so? Me too.

GP

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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