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Predator Drones Used Against American Citizens!

Predator Drones Used Against American Citizens!

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Published by Daniel
I KNEW this was coming from 10 miles away and I KNEW it would begin under the guise of "monitoring" the border.
I KNEW this was coming from 10 miles away and I KNEW it would begin under the guise of "monitoring" the border.

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Published by: Daniel on Jan 06, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Adds Drones to Fight Smuggling
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD Published: December 7, 2009 PALMDALE, Calif. — To help spot and track smugglers, the Homeland Security Department is expanding its use of drones, the unmanned aircraft widely used in Iraq and other war zones, beyond the Mexican and Canadian borders to the Caribbean and possibly other seas.

Ann Johansson for The New York Times Capt. Steve Truhlar, left; Lt. Thomas Shuler; Adm. Jody Beckenridge; and a Predator B aircraft. The department, through its Customs and Border Protection division, already operates five of the aircraft, known as the Predator B, along the Southwest border from a base in Arizona and the Canadian border from an installation in North Dakota. Like the drones used by the military, these drones can fly long ranges at high altitudes and are difficult to detect. But the drones that have been used at the border since 2005 are for surveillance and tracking and do not carry weapons. The department on Monday unveiled a new drone loaded with special radar, cameras and sensors. Built for $13.5 million by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems here, it is designed for maritime use. It features wide-range radar that gives a more sweeping view of the ocean than any of the government’s fleet of manned aircraft. The first maritime drones, about the size of a small turbo-prop commuter plane, will start flying in January off Florida, a smuggling hotbed. A second drone is scheduled to take flight by summer in the Gulf of Mexico. Both ultimately will also be used to patrol off the coast of Central America and Mexico, where drug traffickers use watercraft to bring cocaine from South America. Officials are not sure if the drones will be used off or over Southern California. While there has been an increase recently in the smuggling of drugs and people on the seas there, congested airspace from several commercial airports and military bases could make use of the drone difficult. A Customs drone — like all others controlled by human pilots from a remote location — that was flying over a sparsely populated area crashed into an Arizona hillside about 100 yards from a house in 2006, causing no injuries or property damage. The National Transportation Safety Board attributed the crash to human error and made several recommendations to make the program safer, most but not all of which were adopted by Customs and Border Protection. Still, Homeland Security officials praised the aircraft as a safe and important tool that over land has contributed to the seizing of more than 22,000 pounds of marijuana and the apprehension of 5,000 illegal immigrants.

“This is an extraordinary step forward,” said Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard, which will join Customs and Border Protection on drone missions. “It will help us immeasurably.” Michael C. Kostelnik, an assistant commissioner at Customs and Border Protection, said the drones could fly more than 20 hours at a time, more than double the typical manned mission of about 10 hours. They travel 275 miles an hour and, Mr. Kostelnik said, are far quieter than conventional aircraft to the point of being virtually imperceptible to anyone on the ground or seas below them. “Right out of the chute they could do things nothing else could do,” said Mr. Kostelnik, standing next to the whale-gray aircraft, which was formally presented to his agency at an afternoon ceremony here. The drones do have limitations. They operate under what is known as visual flight rules, which means the weather must be clear enough for controllers to see where it is going, somewhat limiting its use. The program has its critics. The union for Border Patrol agents has criticized the drones as costly and inefficient and has suggested the money would be better spent on adding workers and equipment on the ground. “Unmanned aircraft serve a very useful role in military combat situations, but are not economical or efficient in civilian law enforcement applications,” said T. J. Bonner, president of the Border Patrol union. “There are a number of other technologies that are capable of providing a greater level of usefulness at a far lower cost. It appears that the contractors have once again managed to sell a bill of goods to the politicians and bureaucrats who oversee the procurement of technology designed to secure our borders.”

Coming to Skies Above You Soon!
Posted by Charles Featherstone on January 5, 2010 11:55 AM As a kid in Southern California in the early 1980s, I remember times when a helicopter — probably with the San Bernardino County sheriff, though I have no idea whose it was — would prowl the nighttime skies, shining a spotlight into backyards looking for who-knows-what. If asked, I suppose law enforcement would have responded with “keeping people safe.” From what, I don’t know. So, it only makes sense that drones will patrol the skies above American cities. This story only deals with the U.S.-Mexico border, but why stop there? I can imagine how useful it would be to assign a Predator to cruise the air above I-10 through, say, Ontario, noting the license plates of speeders. Or the southside of Chicago, on the lookout for gang bangers and other ne’er-do-wells? And why stop with merely taking pictures and issuing citations? I can imagine all sorts of uses for Hellfire missiles in a law enforcement context. A quick end to car chases! Get the bad guys where they are holed up! Enforce drunk driving checkpoints! Protect the wonderful men and women in blue as they sacrifice their lives in service for our freedom and security! Just don’t be ungrateful. Because they know where you live. And if precision weapons work in Gaza and Iraq, why not in Chicago or San Bernardino?

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