Droning On


Pic of the day: Portrait of a man with a Lute, by Hans Holbein the Younger. This is here because Han Holbein never painted a predator drone once. Damnably rude of him, being inconveniently born 500 years or so early.

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I must say, extreme justice is an extreme injury: For we ought not to approve of those terrible laws that make the smallest offences capital, nor of that opinion of the Stoics that makes all crimes equal; as if there were no difference to be made between the killing a man and the taking his purse, between which, if we examine things impartially, there is no likeness nor proportion.

Thomas More, Utopia; ch.1

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As you are no doubt aware, the FAA was ordered in February to allow the use of drones in the same airspace as regular air traffic to monitor and surveil the citizenry. They have until 2015 to do so, but guidelines are already in place to allow UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) to fly here. And if you were not aware of these events by all means read this link, and this one to get yourself up to date.

Now as you can imagine there are legitimate concerns about abuse of privacy with these things spying on us without our knowledge or consent. So, as a public service here is a list of the jurisdictions, towns, and organizations that have requested UAS access which are listed as active:

Arlington Texas Police Department

The City of Herington, Kansas

North Little Rock Arkansas Police department

Darpa

Eastern Gateway Community College, Ohio

The Gadsden Alabama Police department

Georgia Tech Research Institute

Kansas State University

Mesa County Sheriff’s office, Arizona

Miami-Dade County Police department

Middle Tennessee State University

Mississippi Dept. of Marine resources

Mississippi State University

NASA AMES Research Center

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

New Mexico State University Physical Sciences Lab

Ogden Police Department, Utah

Ohio University

Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana

Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Florida

Seattle Police Department Headquarters, Washington (note: The city of Seattle was not even aware that the police department had requested the use of drones until a reporter asked the city council about it.)

Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Texas

Texas A&M University – TEES (Texas Engineering Experiment Station)

Texas State University-San Marcos

University of Alaska

University of Colorado

University of Connecticut

University of Florida

Utah State University

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

US Air Force

US Army

DHS-CBP (Customs & Border Protection)

DHS-Science & Technology

Dept. of Energy – Idaho National Laboratory

Dept of Agriculture -Agricultural Research Service

Dept. of Interior-National Business Center/Aviation Management

United States Department of the Navy

United States Marine Corps

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On top of that there is a list of companies that want to fly drones as well. That list can be read by clicking here.

Now, I can see why the Marines and the Airforce and DARPA and a few others would want to use the damn things. Training and the like, one presumes. And some cities might be able to use them, granted that they are used with very stringent rules regarding exactly who can be surveilled and who cannot, and the exact purposes and uses of these things. Border states dealing with illegal immigration, that’s almost a given that they’ll be used there.

But universities? And that damn many of them? Why the hell would eastern gateway community college need a fucking drone for? Some kid outside his dorm sparkin’ up a spliff and you want to drop a smart bomb on him or something to send a message? Srsly, I don’t get that. I will eventually, just not tonight.

The one that bothers me the most, because they are a bunch of useless goddamn idiots is Homeland security, AKA Government security theater. These people have never once justified their existence, never done a single thing worth a damn, and now they want drones? Please. Let them prove they can control their budget and do their actual jobs before you give them so much as a radio controlled monster truck.

And that list is sure to grow as time goes on.

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Our job as citizens, especially in the places where they are going to be authorized, is two fold.

One to is keep pressure on both local and federal governments to make certain that they stay within well defined boundaries within the law and do not for a second move outside those boundaries. That they do not touch our privacy if we have done no wrong; that they do not randomly surveil the citizenry; that they let the public know exactly what has been surveilled and how. If we are footing the bill for this, we have the right to know what exactly is being done with it.

The other is to prepare for the moment that they stray past those lines. And you know they will, no matter how high minded the aim, someone somewhere will goof, will go too far, do too much. That is when we have to speak with one voice against the abuse of our liberty. It is bad enough that these benightedly evil things are going to be used in the United States of America to keep an eye on things

For our own protection, of course. Which is a damned lie, but that is another matter for another time.

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

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