Air Force Drones Trail Civilian Auto Traffic in New Mexico
2012 07 13

By Steve Clemons | TheAtlantic.com




The USAF is reportedly targeting and trailing civilian auto traffic on New Mexico’s highways. Harmless or just another example of the blurred lines between the international and domestic application of U.S. military technology?



They are most likely not "armed drones," but news has surfaced that the US Air Force is training drone pilots to trail civilian auto traffic on New Mexico’s highways.

In a ’lifestyles-of-video-game-war’ piece by Mark Mazzetti that appears in The New York Times Magazine this Sunday, Mazzetti writes:

When I visited the base [Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.] earlier this year with a small group of reporters, we were taken into a command post where a large flat-screen television was broadcasting a video feed from a drone flying overhead. It took a few seconds to figure out exactly what we were looking at. A white S.U.V. traveling along a highway adjacent to the base came into the cross hairs in the center of the screen and was tracked as it headed south along the desert road. When the S.U.V. drove out of the picture, the drone began following another car.

"Wait, you guys practice tracking enemies by using civilian cars?" a reporter asked. One Air Force officer responded that this was only a training mission, and then the group was quickly hustled out of the room.


Some may shrug and say that the undisclosed high-altitude tracking of US vehicles for training purposes is harmless, but the line between civilian privacy and an increasingly Orwellian capacity of the U.S. federal government to track its own citizens is blurred just a bit more by this practice.

There are already serious concerns about U.S. military drones -- designed for warfare abroad -- being re-purposed for civilian purposes.

The blog Loss of Privacy reports that unarmed drones at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. are being used for civilian surveillance. And according to the same report former California Congresswoman and now Wilson Center for International Scholars President Jane Harman helped lead efforts to block expansion of drone hardware and related intelligence to the US domestic theater:

In 2008 and 2010, Harman helped beat back efforts by Homeland Security officials to use imagery from military satellites to help domestic terrorism investigations. Congress blocked the proposal on grounds it would violate the Posse Comitatus Act, which bars the military from taking a police role on U.S. soil.


The problem with an ever powerful national government with more and more tools to control and track its citizenry is that these powers, legal and technical, are often abused and used in ways not originally intended.

Tools developed for the so-called war on terror are now used to spy on Americans -- and not enough, Dana Priest and Shane Harris excepted, are blowing the whistle on this creeping intelligence capacity that is now using Americans as unwitting guinea pigs before the video-trained pilots go track and destroy similar SUVs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere.

This should not be happening. There should be controls on what the U.S. Air Force can target. The Department of Defense has no shortage of vehicles, enormous swaths of federal land for their own staff to traverse.

If Air Force video pilots need to train by tracking something from the air, they should target soldiers in their ranks.


Article from: theatlantic.com






The Wonderful World of Drones





Related Articles
Missiles, bombs, drones & battleships: London ready for Terror?
This is a Drones’ Drones’ Drones’ Drones’ World
Military Drone Shaped Like ’UFO’
’Siri, Kill That Guy’: Drones Might Get Voice Controls
How Obama Changed Definition of ‘Civilian’ in Secret Drone Wars
Obama’s Drones Threaten World Civilization
Drones roam Skies of US Cities (Video)
Chomsky: Bush kidnapped & tortured, Obama murders
Loss of Privacy (site)


Latest News from our Front Page

Norway Joins the Race to Develop Killer Robots
2014 10 24
Norway is a large exporter of weapons, which makes the resolution of the debate about creating killer robots an important issue for everyone.  One could debate the overall merits or failings of robotic systems, but an area that clearly has become a point for concern on all sides is the emergence of "killer robots." According to robotics pioneer, David Hanson, ...
Gene That Once Aided Survival in the Arctic Found to Have Negative Impact on Health Today
2014 10 23
In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a gene variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today’s northern populations. {snip} “Our work ...
The Ebola hoax: questions, answers, and the false belief in the “One It”
2014 10 23
“The Reality Manufacturing Company doesn’t just sell ‘fake paintings’ that are easy to spot. No. They also sell images that are geared to mesh with people’s deeply held instincts and thereby produce rigid false beliefs. People are sure that if they gave up such beliefs, their world would fall apart and blow away in the wind.” ...
New Controversial Theory Suggests "Hobbits" Were Not Human - Who Were These Mysterious Beings?
2014 10 23
The origin of the Hobbit species remains a challenging subject to scientists. The Hobbit’s discovery confirmed the view that the Earth was once populated by many species of human, but new research the Hobbit’s were not human at all! So, who were these mysterious beings? Where did they come from? The idea that our species, Homo sapiens, was the only species of human on ...
Right into enemy hands? ISIS shows off new weapons allegedly airdropped by US (VIDEO)
2014 10 23
Islamic State has published a new video in which a jihadist shows off brand-new American hardware, which was purportedly intended for the Kurds they are fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The undated video, posted by the unofficial IS mouthpiece “a3maq news”, sees a jihadist showing several boxes of munitions with English-language markings, with a parachute spread out on ...
More News »