Stalker drones can look through windows, read lips, see through walls

A quick drones update, since we`ve been banging on about them lately. Three items:

I`m reminded that when asked about the leaked White House drone-kill memo and its implications, the White House press secretary said this (emphasis mine):

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday addressed American drone strikes used to target enemies, after a memo outlining the legal basis for the U.S. to target American citizens who are senior al-Qaeda leaders was made public. Carney said President Obama takes his national security responsibilities `very seriously.`

`These strikes are legal, they are ethical and they are wise,` Carney said.

Legal, ethical, and wise. Obama lips at Carney`s ear, whispering as he speaks. Who is this man? If Obama were Bush, how would progressives be reacting? Is it mirror time yet? Or are we still seduced?

■  Finally this, from Thom Hartmann (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):

Drones: The Ultimate Stalkers

Imagine you’re being stalked from the sky. Every time you go in or out of any building, it’s recorded. Everybody you talk with. Everyplace you drive or take public transportation. Your sky-stalker can see through your windows, read your lips, and, using infrared cameras, can even see if you’ve lit a cigarette – of any type.

Shouldn’t this be illegal?

When Larisa Oleynik, star of “The Secret World of Alex Mack,” found she had a stalker, she got a restraining order. But if her stalker had been the police, and they were doing it with a drone, right now there are virtually no laws or regulations that would protect her. Or you.

Being concerned about such things is genuinely all-American.

By `genuinely all-American` he`s referring to the now-defunct Fourth and Fifth Amendments:

Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Amendment

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury … nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Hartmann notes that some municipalities are pushing back:

In the case of the police helicopters, trucks, GPS units, and phone taps, to some extent both state governments, Congress, and the Supreme Court have brought their use into at least a marginal compliance with the Fourth Amendment. Not so with drones. At least yet.

And that’s why the City of Charlottesville, Virginia – a stone’s throw from Thomas Jefferson’s home – did a beautiful thing this week in passing a resolution calling for a ban, for the moment, on drones in their skies.

That resolution says:

“WHEREAS, the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia have thus far failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States; and

“WHEREAS, police departments throughout the country have begun implementing drone technology absent any guidance or guidelines from law makers…” there should be at two-year moratorium on using information obtained from them, or on weaponizing them [Hartmann`s summary].

But there`s big money in drones, and drones have big friends, so let’s just see how far that goes. (`Weaponizing them`? Yikes.)

Hartmann`s close isn`t my close. I`d close with this, a David Sirota quote from Hartmann`s piece:

As David Swanson notes in his blog on the CCPJ site, “without proper safeguards, these drones, some of which are deceptively small and capable of videotaping the facial expressions of people on the ground from hundreds of feet in the air, will usher in a new age of surveillance in American society. Not even those indoors, in the privacy of their homes, will be safe from these aerial spies, which can be equipped with technology capable of peering through walls.”

Weaponized stalker drones; operated by military, militarized police other government agencies; flown freely by commercial interests and private parties — if you`re not thinking spooks, NYPD and Blackwater, you`re just not thinking.

By the way, this bad boy is in production now:


It looks to be about two feet across in this picture. Just right for all your public-safety (read, police) needs (pdf). I can`t wait until they`re really miniaturized. This one`s called the `Scout` — ready for the `Hummingbird` or the `Bumblebee`?

Bottom line

This could be a serious problem in the next five years or so. If full-on climate-catastrophe awareness weren`t also due in less than a decade — an awareness that will change every conversation on the planet, from something else, to who gets saved by government and who gets abandoned — I`d be pretty darn worried.

Not that there shouldn`t be pushback — you might start with that CREDO action noted above. I just think that soon the planet will have bigger fish to fry — sadly, us — than the inevitable drone spying that will also shortly arrive.

But hey, maybe I`ll be wrong. It`s happened.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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