drones (4)

Is the USA ready to start down the slippery slope of allowing local and community police forces to install what they call 'non-lethal weapons' on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) Drones and use them against American Citizens? In North Dakota they are. Further, because many Police Forces will 'Deputize' Civilians and organizations to fly these UAV-Drones, then who will supervise them? If, for example, a 73-year old Tulsa 'Deputized' UAV-Drone Pilot loses control over his Drone and kills innocent bystanders, is this 'Collateral Damage' protected by Sovereign Immunity...like the excuse used by Bob Bates when he killed an unarmed black man and then said he meant to just use his taser?


TECH REPUBLIC http://www.techrepublic.com/article/police-are-now-using-drones-to-apprehend-suspects-and-administer-non-lethal-force-a-police-chief


Police are now using drones to apprehend suspects and administer non-lethal force: A police chief weighs in


Unmanned aerial vehicles are beginning to occupy our airspace, operated by companies, filmmakers, and hobbyists. A new law in North Dakota places guidelines on use for law enforcement.

By Hope Reese | November 25, 2015, 4:00 AM PST


Drones have been used in the military, for commercial purposes, and for personal use, yet rules surrounded registration and laws remain vague. American law enforcement is now integrating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into the police force. In North Dakota, a recent bill allows for non-lethal drone use on police drones (for example, using rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray).


Reactions have been mixed, and concerns are surfacing. TechRepublic spoke to Michael D. Reitan, Chief of Police for the West Fargo Police Department, about how he sees the use of drones impacting law enforcement.


North Dakota is the first state to legally allow drone use in the police. How did this come about?


To be "allowed" to do it is incorrect. The statue, actually, is restrictive. Prior to this, there were no restrictions on how law enforcement could use unmanned aerial systems in North Dakota other than the rules set by FAA. What representative Becker in Bismark wanted to do was highly restrict how law enforcement used drones in the public. It essentially eliminated the possibility of law enforcement using a drone except when we had a warrant to use them. That's certainly more restrictive than any form of technology that's available to law enforcement including helicopters, pole-mounted cameras, the officers' personal observations, even. So the intent of the law, introduced by Representative Becker, was to restrict law enforcement practices.


What the North Dakota Police Officers' Association, aerial law enforcement officers, and even some House and Senate representatives did was ask for amendments that were more reasonable than what was an accepted use of unmanned aerial systems. They allowed us to use them much as we use any other form of surveillance now. It's within the guidelines of the FAA and other court cases that restrict how law enforcement conduct surveillance or the 'plain view' conditions. If something is deemed in plain view, we're in a legal position to observe whatever is taking place. Through the course of these negotiations, one of the things that Representative Becker had indicated was that drones were not to be armed in any fashion.


What are the reactions among law enforcement about drones being armed?


Some in the law enforcement community, but not all, think there may be a time where it may be appropriate to have non-lethal weapons on a drone—such things as tear gas, pepper spray, etc., where a drone will be able to fly into a location where somebody is firing from a concealed position. Or a barricaded person in the drone would be able to drop a canister of pepper spray or tear gas to get a person to come out of hiding. At no time was law enforcement looking to have a firearm mounted on a drone or a missile or anything like that. The primary purpose of unmanned aerial system used in law enforcement is for search and rescue.


What are the primary uses of drones in law enforcement?


They can locate wanted subjects, or reconstruct crime scenes or motor vehicle crash scenes. They can respond to natural or manmade disasters where we need a quick aerial analysis of what's going on. We have a couple situations up here, up in Nelson County, where individuals who've made some threats against law enforcement have barricaded themselves into their farm. The Nelson County sheriffs, at times, requested the board of patrol to do a flyover of the farm with an unmanned aerial vehicle to see what was going on. The sheriff could've done that with a helicopter or an airplane and there wouldn't have been too much said about it. But being a unmanned aerial system, there was a lot of squawk over it.


How are North Dakota's rules different from other states?


Each state has an opportunity to assess rules if they want to. If you checked your home state, there's nothing in place other than what's set by FAA or through case law, through the court. There's some state law on surveillance, but it's going to be encompassing all forms of observation, not just drones.


Can you talk about some specific cases using drones?


In the city of Grand Forks, there was a fatality accident recently. They asked the sheriff to fly their drone over the crash scene so they could capture the video image of the scene as soon after the crash as possible for later reconstruction.


One situation here in North Dakota, a few years back, would be a perfect example of a drone being invaluable. A prisoner transport bus stopped at rest stop in a rural area west of Fargo. One of the prisoners jumped from the van and ran into a cornfield nearby. If we'd been able to quickly dispatch a law enforcement agency with the drone, we could have put drone over the cornfield and caught the person in a relatively short period of time because of the ability to look down into the cornfield. It's much clearer to look down than to look across. What ended up happening was that this person was on the run from field to field for a couple of days. Finally, they had it pretty well figured out where this person was hiding in the cornfield. The solution the sheriff came up with was that they began harvesting the corn. The farmer contacted a bunch of neighbors, and the harvesting started at a couple different parts of the field. At each combine, they placed an armed sheriff's deputy and they harvested the corn until the subject finally surrendered. So certainly a significant use of resources and expense that easily could have been resolved in a matter of hour or two of searching with a UAV.


What needs to happen in terms of officers trained in drones?

The FAA has specific requirements about what the drone operators must possess in terms of training. They're coming out with new rules. The layperson essentially had little to no rules in terms of pilot training—the only restrictions were that they weren't able to fly in a certain airspace. They're now in the process of changing that, requiring registration and training. From the law enforcement standpoint, we want to err on the side of caution and make sure we're doing everything with the highest degree of safety possible. What we would do is make sure that our people are adequately trained and certified and those are the only ones to operate the equipment, and the equipment is certified itself, in terms of safety.


Do you see difference between using pepper spray from a drone versus from the hands of a police officer?


When we have a barricaded subject or subject in hiding, what we currently do is put a canister [of pepper spray] in a launcher and actually fire it, project it, into that area. We do it blindly, not knowing who or what is in that area. With a drone, we could actually look down and see who and what was there, and accurately deliver it. The use of a drone would enhance our ability to put resources in the right spot at the right time.


With a drone, we could actually look down and see who and what was there. It would enhance our ability to put resources in the right spot at the right time.


What is the general public reaction to police use of drones in North Dakota?

There have been a vocal few who think that it's totally inappropriate. I think that, in part, is because they equate the police use of drones with the military use of drones. Obviously, we're not looking to use them as an offensive weapon. We're looking to use them as an observation platform. Representative Becker was also concerned about individuals' privacy rights. Through court cases and even state law, law enforcement is restricted from where we can look. The public is also restricted, not by court cases, but by state law. It's a new technology, and some people just fear the new technology without a clear understanding of what the law enforcement can be.


What about concerns over warrants? Is it different for a drone versus a helicopter?

When the courts look at it, they'd look at drones being the same as a helicopter. It's a platform with vertical takeoff and landing and can hover over a site. There are others that operate like an airplane. but the drone is really just another form of aircraft, and really should be viewed as just that. In the near future, we'll be flying on airplanes without pilots.


Do you have personal concerns about use of drones?

I'm not looking for problems with law enforcement. We do have the case law. If we violate someone's civil rights, we face jail time, significant financial penalties. There are serious consequences for misusing the technology. Evidence we gather illegally cannot be used in court. So we have a lot to lose by misusing the system. The public, on the other hand, is different. We've seen stories in the paper where there's confrontation between neighbors or people at the beach, where a civilian is flying a drone and the other person doesn't feel they should be there. We're also concerned about people using drones to do those things that are illegal by state law, as far as peering into somebody's home or private place. Those are all significant issues that we need to handle, as far as looking at our existing laws, practical or applicable. If the laws are good, which I believe most of them are, because illegal surveillance is already covered by our laws, how are we as law enforcement going to be able to investigate and identify individuals who are illegally using drones to do surveillance? We may be able to capture a drone because it falls into somebody's yard while peering into a window, but how do we trace it back to the individual who was flying the drone?


TechRepublic will continue to cover the use of drones from practical and legal perspectives. Follow our continuing coverage on the FAA's new guidelines for individual drone registration and regulations.

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Stand with Rand

Some of Senator Rand Paul’s (R, KY) colleagues were left unimpressed by Wednesday’s filibuster.  The day following Paul’s action, Senators John McCain (R, AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R, SC) criticized him, saying Paul was doing a “disservice” to the debate about drones.

When was the last time either McCain or Graham raised concerns over the White House’s use of drones?4063672685?profile=original

“I don’t think what happened yesterday was helpful to the American people…What we saw yesterday is going to give ammunition to those who say the rules of the Senate are being abused,” McCain said.

Since when is proper use of the Senate filibuster abuse?  McCain seems more concerned with getting along with “progressives” in the Senate than preserving the United States Constitution.

Paul was attempting to get the Obama administration to confirm it will not kill non-combatant Americans within the United States.  Graham apparently viewed that as a farcical question.

“I do not believe that question deserves an answer,” Graham stated.

What question would Graham consider worthy of reply?  Do assurances from the DOJ that they will not selectively ignore constitutionally protected rights of American Citizens to judicial due process not qualify?


Concerns over the administration’s drone program led lawmakers to question Attorney General Eric Holder about legal justification for targeting American Citizens.   Similar concerns prompted Paul to begin his filibuster, demanding answers from the White House.  Paul said he would relent only if the Obama administration stated publically that it will not target Americans on American soil.

The administration apparently believed it could kill Americans it suspected of having terrorist ties without putting them on trial.

Concerns over protection of due process for American Citizens are bipartisan.

“You can hear almost unanimous concern about transparency and wrestling with how to move forward here in a way that protects both our constitutional liberties and our security as a nation,” Senator Christopher A. Coons (D, DE) told Holder.

Under careful examination by Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX), Holder repeatedly stated U.S Citizens on American soil were not “appropriate” targets for executions without due judicial process.  Cruz said that was an insufficient answer.  “You keep saying ‘appropriate.’ My question isn’t about propriety. My question is about whether something is constitutional or not,” said Cruz.


McCain and Graham aside, Rand Paul, Christopher Coons and Ted Cruz are on the right side of the debate.

Since McCain and Graham apparently believe it is most important for them to get along with “progressives”, no matter the cost to the Rights of American Citizens at home, their criticism of Paul is out of hand.

Let them face the repercussions in their next election.



Revolution is coming.

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Is anyone surprised that the Senate couldn't get any straight answers from Holder on the possibility of drone strikes on Americans within the U.S.? And why hasn't the outcry over this been louder, with the exception of the fine efforts of Sen. Paul and his handful of allies, in light of this administrations deliberately hazy definition of a drone strike's justification. And yet Holder couldn't decide if he believed the President had the right to order such a strike on U.S. soil? Now this morning something strange happened to Eric Holder. Something that no one has ever seen before. He woke up with a desire to do his job. By now I'm sure that you've heard about his letter to Sen. Paul, about 24 hours too late. "Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" "The answer to that question is no." Holder finally admitted.

     The President does not have that authority. But then, he didn't have the authority to force Americans to buy health insurance either. He didn't have the authority to order military strikes against Lybia a few years ago. Although he had the obligation to do so last September 11th, but chose to do nothing. He didn't have the authority to appoint three recess nominations when the Senate wasn't in recess. And the list goes on and on. But now we're expected to believe that no such drone strikes will be ordered on American soil just because the President doesn't have the authority to order them?

     And this administration has done nothing but muddy the definition of terrorist. A few months ago Joe Biden likened conservatives to terrorists. Is that going to be the standard? A person's political or social belief? Or some other form of affiliation? Recently Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, has sent a letter to the Justice Department marking members of Patriot groups as "non-Islamic domestic terrorists". In spite of the fact that there has been no acts of terrorism linked to members of any such group.

     Gone are the good old days when we were just labeled as "racist" for demanding fiscal sanity, a smaller federal government, and adherence to the constitution.  Now the new label is to be "terrorist". And this label might be followed with another nasty little surprise. Authority or no authority.

     So what is considered a terrorist under this administration, and how is that definition likely to be expanded in the near future? If you're opposed to gay marriage, are you a terrorist? If you want a balanced budget, are you a terrorist? If you don't drive a hybrid, are you a terrorist? If you forget to floss, are you a terrorist? Or is that label handed down on the whim of our "glorious and all knowing" dictator, Comrade Obama?

     If you remember to look up at the sky while you're going about your day give a nice wave to the drones up there. After all, they're still just the "friendly" unweaponized surveillance variety. For now. And God bless America. We're going to need all the help we can get.

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Business Insider - Military & Defense.
Dec. 17, 2012.


[Note: Iraq's main export is Oil.
Afghanistan's main export is Opium - What are we fighting for?].


The New Mexico desert gets blistering hot, but inside the small windowless container where Brandon Bryant worked as a drone operator for the U.S. Air Force it stays a cool 63 degrees all year long.

Nicola Abé at der Spiegel spoke with Bryant, no longer in the Air Force, who relays a disturbing and tragic scene from his time inside that isolated container in the American desert.

Sixty-three finger numbing degrees and Bryant describes sitting with a group of other pilots looking at more than a dozen computer monitors. The crew are directing drones over Afghanistan 6,250 miles away and the screens jump with a two to five second delay, as infrared video sent from the UAVs whips through the air to New Mexico.

When the order to fire on a target arrives, Bryant paints the roof of a hut with the laser that will guide in a Hellfire missile released by the pilot beside him.

"These moments are like in slow motion," he says to Abé.

No doubt, because on this occasion Bryant says a child walked from behind the building at the last second. Too late for him to do anything else but ask the other pilot, "Did we just kill a kid?"

From der Spiegel:

"Yeah, I guess that was a kid," the pilot replied.

"Was that a kid?" they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.

Then, someone they didn't know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. "No. That was a dog," the person wrote.

They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?

The article follows another widely publicized story from the Marine Times about children killed by Americans on Afghan soil published just weeks ago. While obviously a tragedy for the victims and their families, Bryant describes the incredible toll taken on U.S. troops required to obey orders producing such dire results.

From his mother's couch in Missoula, Montana Bryant talks of his 6,000 Air Force flight hours and says he used to dream in infrared. "I saw men, women and children die during that time," he says. "I never thought I would kill that many people. In fact, I thought I couldn't kill anyone at all."

The three part article digs deeply into the life of a troubled former servicemember and the war-fighting policies that don't look to be changing anytime soon.

Read it in full here.


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