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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44 Responses to “Stalker drones can look through windows, read lips, see through walls”

  1. violated says:

    The only assassination that is happen is the government vs. everyone else even u pull ur fuckin heead outta ur ass

  2. violated says:

    These drones are all over idaho and ill be damned if they are after “terrorists” It’d judgment America. open your eyes and quit bein so minipulated by hear say and what the “government ” tells you the government dgaf. about any amendments they are gu.a do whatever they feel the need to do why? Good question…. too takes over!the world cause we are greedy self absorbed pieces military men are already starting to call their families. civilians but its too late now too do anything about it

  3. ada says:

    A bunch of crooks that hide and help out criminals to get away with murder continue to spy on me using all sorts of surveillance devices including drones (if this is the right term). They track all my movements inside my own house, stalk and cyberstalk me. I know it is illegal. They know too but they don’t care, they are defending criminal after all. What else is to be said? What can I do about it? I know what they do and who they are. I just need EVIDENCE. How do I gather edidence? What should I look for, whom to talk to? Police is with them. I need more than a restraining order. Please advise. Anything, literally any tip…Thanks.

  4. karmanot says:


  5. GaiusPublius says:

    Excellent information. Thanks!


  6. Takekage says:

    The police already are allowed to “spy” on those suspected of criminal behavior, drones or no drones, provided they are in plain sight. For those situations where criminal behavior cannot be observed in plain sight, they are allowed to get a warrant for wiretapping or other obtrusive means if they have probable cause to believe criminal actions are being committed on the premises.

    But police have nothing to do with this anyway, and so should be left out of the argument altogether–both with regards to legal vs. illegal searches, and with regards to people being “spied on” over criminal behavior.

    The issue here is whether or not the POTUS is going to order surveillance/assassination of someone on the off-chance that they MIGHT be a terrorist, or if he would reserve that privilege for situations in which an overwhelming body of evidence points to his/her guilt and he deems that a strike is necessary.

    Otherwise, you would have to issue the warrant, arrest them, bring them in to court, and use all of the evidence that probably won’t hold up in court anyway since it was obtained by the military/CIA and not by criminal investigators–who, by the way, would never be able to get that evidence by any means at their disposal because they’d probably get shot. Should, then, these criminals be allowed free reign abroad simply because we don’t have the legal framework in place to even begin to allow us to pursue them?

    Bottom line, it’s ugly, but in some cases it’s a necessity. I understand the desire for civilian transparency, but in this case it would defeat the very purpose of “covert” surveillance.

  7. Just to give you a sense of how fast this technology has progressed, there is in use by UK military, the ‘black hornet’ drone that is 16 grams. The entire package with charger, drone etc.. fits in a military uniform pocket and weighs about a kilogram. On the other side is something like you expect from our military news… the Argus UAV with it’s 1.8 Gigapixel array that can resolve down to 6″ and store everything at the same time over a 70 square mile area from 17,000 feet up. Streams and identifies everything, and tracks ALL movement. About 5 Terabytes of data streamed and stored per day. As you say… drop your cigarette and don’t pick it up? It can see it and the authorities can play it back later at their leisure a then see where you came from, where you went and who you were near. Comforting eh? “But if you don’t have anything to hide, you shouldn’t be worried”… right? Not…

  8. And you thought skeet was fun?

  9. “WHY do you think the government would watch YOU, of all people?”

    Because of my man-boobs?

  10. GaiusPublius says:

    Three excellent observations, ComradeR. Thanks.


  11. Naja pallida says:

    The problem is, once they set a precedent of being able to spy on anyone, even those suspected of criminal behavior, with impunity, there’s nothing to stop them from extending it further and further. The old give them an inch, they’ll take a mile theory. As a civil society, we need to get out ahead of this, to make sure the appropriate oversight is maintained, and warrants for use are required before they are put into use. Not wait until some politician is accidentally caught banging his mistress by one before something gets done to limit their use.

  12. Takekage says:

    Can we please keep things in perspective?

    There’s no question of “should it be illegal.” It IS illegal to use a drone to observe people without a warrant under circumstances where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, the government is NOT going to start using multi-million dollar drones to conduct surveillance on random paranoid idiots. We don’t have the budget for that. People are acting like they expect to suddenly find a drone outside their bathroom window watching them shower. Dramatic though the example may be, it completely ignores the WHY of the matter.

    WHY do you think the government would watch YOU, of all people? What is so important about your tiny little life that other people would think it worth their time and money to keep your under surveillance? Just take a deep breath, stow the “WAAAAH THE GOVERNMENT IS OUT TO GET ME” mindset and think about it.

    A mob boss could put a contract on your head as well. It would cost less than a drone. It also happens a lot more often. That doesn’t mean you should be crying about, seeing as how you probably haven’t done anything in your life to merit that kind of attention and it will likely never happen to you.

    Finally, all these threats of destroying drones are entertaining. Talk about an action that really would put you on the radar.

  13. NMRon says:

    First good reason to allow people to keep their shotguns. Talk about shooting skeet!

  14. Butch1 says:

    That’s depressing. ;- I would rather stay on the “green side of the turf,” thank you. ;-)

  15. karmanot says:

    Well, yes, but it’s underground.

  16. BeccaM says:

    Peeping-Toms everywhere are splooging themselves at the prospect. ;-)

  17. ComradeRutherford says:

    The 4th Amendment was mostly overturned by the 1996 Omnibus Crime act. Rep Conyers offered the 4th Amendment as an amendment to that bill and the Gingrich Republicans voted it down, openly questioning Conyers’ right to even be a US citizen for offering such an un-American hippie pipe-dream to their Very Serious law.

    The 5th Amendment was also overturned by Saint Ronald Reagan when the Republicans created the mandatory marijuana piss-test laws. You must incriminate yourself by peeing in the cup so they can test if you’ve been exposed to marijuana in the last six months.

    The 1st Amendment have also largely eliminated Republicans: ‘Free Speech Zones’ which are cages far, far away from those that need to be protested against, etc.

  18. Kelvin Mace says:

    I am sure they will. And I will go to prison felonious assault on a drone.
    Onc they get cheap enough though, we can get our own, then just turn them loose to be anti-drone drones. They fly about until they spot another drobe, and they simply pull a Kamikazi.

  19. Butch1 says:

    Is that anywhere near “Area 51?” ;-)

  20. karmanot says:

    I see a major capitalist IPO in this opportunity. We could buy and sell them as pet bots and spy on ourselves.

  21. karmanot says:

    They will probably rendition us to Area 54 if we threaten to sue.

  22. karmanot says:

    How about a hairspray flamethrower…….gorilla tactics?

  23. karmanot says:

    If the do X-ray body scans I could scare them to death.

  24. karmanot says:

    We’ll take it down with ninja nunchucks. Pink ones if the GLTBQ and Code Pink is game.

  25. karmanot says:

    Good one. We are going to paint Obozo’s middle fingerprint on our roof!

  26. BeccaM says:

    The second thing they’ll do is make it a felony to interfere with the spy-drones in any way.

  27. Butch1 says:

    Throw a net up and it will bring it down faster than anything or turn on your leaf blower and it will send it flying and crashing into the side of your home. Then you can sue the government for damages. ;-)

  28. Butch1 says:

    Perhaps, it’s a good reason to keep ones drapes shut or get out the old pea-shooter and sling shot and start practicing. If these things are hovering near your windows they are “Peeping-Toms” and deserve a black eye in my opinion. It’s still your property and it’s too bad if they lose their equipment. Let them come in the light of day with hat in hand and politely request it back. Of course, that won’t happen from a bully government.

    We need to know why they are spying on us in the first place. They want to charge me for destroying some piece of spying equipment they had no business peeking into my windows in the first place, then let’s go to court and in front of a jury of MY PEERS and see what they think about it. ;-)

  29. Naja pallida says:

    Or, just a rope with a bit of a weight on the end of it. Toss it up and get it tangled in those little rotors. Yank it down. Sell the parts on eBay.

  30. Kelvin Mace says:

    If these are eve deployed in my community, I will start carrying a paintball gun to deal with them. I have no intention of being spied on in this manner.

    By the way, you are aware that you have about a dozen different trackers running on your site, right?
    When I disable them, I cannot login to Disqus to post comments. In order to post this comment, I had to use Internet Explorer instead of browsers which shield my privacy.

  31. Drew2u says:

    There’s already some sort of anti-drone frequency or scrambler so when one flies close to your home, it runs into the interference. It’s a DIY project, though.

  32. nicho says:

    Then, they will become illegal.

  33. nicho says:

    No. The government will never allow you to own a weapon that can pose a threat to the government. They really don’t care about all the gun “enthusiasts” with their popguns. As we’ve seen in Iraq (where every man owned at least one gun before we invaded) and Afghanistan (where every man owned at least one gun before we invaded), the only things that work against a rogue government or an occupying force are RPGs and IEDs. That’s why those are illegal, despite the 2nd Amendment.

  34. GunnyMo says:

    I am seeing an anti-drone industry being born. Perhaps localized EMPs, drone proof walls and ceilings, identity masking, etc.

  35. Badgerite says:

    I don’t suppose that it has occurred to you that the resolution you are praising probably had more to do with people worried about their “Second Amendment ( the people’s right to own assault weapons shall not be infringed just in case they want to go off on someone, sometime ) Rights and Obama coming to take their guns than anything else?

  36. Danalan says:

    Just when does Skynet become aware, again?

  37. theophrastvs says:

    If it provides any solace, Seattle has just cancelled its SPD’s drone plans for world domination: (but for how long?

  38. perljammer says:

    You may have imagined it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

  39. MyrddinWilt says:

    I for one will feel much safer when I have a personal fleet of assassination drones to protect me. And thanks to the NRA interpretation of the second amendment, that is my right!

    Seriously folk, if the mook interpretation of the second amendment holds we are going to be seeing mooks with these drones pretty soon.

  40. nicho says:

    We’ve gone through the looking glass.

  41. Loona_c says:

    Didn’t John or someone on this site post awhile ago about suspected mini-drones. Things that looked like large flying insects. Did I imagine that?

  42. Orwell’s 1984 with a modern twist: the new drones are really the thought police. Chilling what irrational fear & vulture capitalism have done to a once great nation!

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