Surviving Big Brother, a Deadly Eye in the Sky a Decade On
by Preston Peet
written and published February 15, 2012
Missiles being loaded onto a military Reaper drone in Afghanistan.
From the article “Obama terror drones: CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals”
When Big Brother, originally a Dutch television show created by Jon de Mol, hit US airwaves in Americanized form, I wrote an article titled Surviving Big Brother. Although the shows Cops (sometimes called the original reality TV show) and America’s Funniest Home Videos, had both already started the trend in the United State, my idea was that the show’s premise, of having “regular” people living under constant camera surveillance was not only a horrible idea for entertainment, but that it was genuine TV “programming,” inuring citizens to living under the unblinking eyes of ubiquitous cameras, everywhere.
It turns out this is exactly what happened: the TV show was a smash hit, and major cities around the World passed laws allowing anonymous cameras to be installed everywhere. These cameras, now so numerous in cities such as London and New York as to be nearly uncountable, have become a normal, unremarked upon intrusion in our lives. Anonymous surveyors and voyeurs, watch our every move, reporting back to unknown authorities and powers that be, keeping tabs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, not on terrorists and dangerous criminals, but on we the citizenry whose taxes pay for these cameras.
Now those cameras are moving into civilian skies as well, not just being mounted along city streets and walkways. Unmanned drones will now patrol our airways too, sp-eyes in the skies as it were. President Obama signed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill yesterday, February 14, 2012. The bill was passed by both the US House and Senate in the first week of February. This newly signed by Obama bill joins previous shreddings of US Constitutional rights (rights which admittedly, in these days of Prohibition, better known as the War on Some Drugs, and Homeland Security, have long been six feet underground as it is) that have received Obama’s blessing, such as his signing of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 in January, 2012, which allows the secret arrests and incarceration of private US citizens in secret prisons not charged with any crime. Now unmanned drones will be required to be fully integrated into US civil airspace by the FAA by September 30, 2015.
“Given that there is as yet no proven technology that would allow drones to ‘sense and avoid’ other aircraft, the deadline of just 3½ years before full integration is either incredibly ambitious – or just plain foolish,” reports Drone War UK, on Global Research. Going on to quote Business Week, the article continues: “Commercial airlines and pilots are less than thrilled with the idea of sharing the sky. They point out there’s no system that allows operators of unmanned aircraft to see and steer clear of piloted helicopters and planes. Nor are there training requirements or standards for the ground-based ‘pilots’ who guide them. It’s also not clear how drones should operate in airspace overseen by air-traffic controllers, where split-second manoeuvring is sometimes required. Until unmanned aircraft can show they won’t run into other planes or the ground, they shouldn’t be allowed to fly with other traffic, says Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Assn.”
Safety issues are not the sole, or even major concern, depending on ones views. There is the entire right to privacy issue, not to mention the bill’s anti-Union provisions. Global Research also quotes the ACLU’s Jay Stanley, who mere hours before Congress passed the bill, wrote that “to impose some rules (such as those we proposed in our report) to protect Americans’ privacy from the inevitable invasions that this technology will otherwise lead to. We don’t want to wonder, every time we step out our front door, whether some eye in the sky is watching our every move…. The bottom line is: domestic drones are potentially extremely powerful surveillance tools, and that power — like all government power — needs to be subject to checks and balances.”
Although the bill was just signed into lay yesterday, a variety of police, government entities, and private parties have already been allowed to use unmanned drones for a variety of purposes, reports the Washington Times. “The FAA has issued hundreds of certificates to police and other government agencies, and a handful to research institutions to allow them to fly drones of various kinds over the United States for particular missions. The agency said it issued 313 certificates in 2011 and 295 of them were still active at the end of the year, but the FAA refuses to disclose which agencies have the certificates and what their purposes are.”
Labeled “Flying Spy-Death Machines” by Kirsten Boyd Johnson at the Wonkette, Johnson notes that, “To be fair, it must be incredibly annoying for the Department of Homeland Security to have to sit there combing Twitter all day long trying to figure out who needs some reedumacating, in Gitmo. And anyway, why should the CIA be the only ones having all the surveillance drone FUN? Plus, the military needs something to do with the $40 billion in unmanned drones it plans to buy over the next ten years!”
Quoting an article by the Associated Press, Johnson continues: “The FAA is also required under the bill [passed by Congress] to provide military, commercial and privately-owned drones with expanded access to U.S. airspace currently reserved for manned aircraft by Sept. 30, 2015. That means permitting unmanned drones controlled by remote operators on the ground to fly in the same airspace as airliners, cargo planes, business jets and private aircraft.
“Currently, the FAA restricts drone use primarily to segregated blocks of military airspace, border patrols and about 300 public agencies and their private partners. Those public agencies are mainly restricted to flying small unmanned aircraft at low altitudes away from airports and urban centers.
“Within nine months of the bill’s passage, the FAA is required to submit a plan on how to safely provide drones with expanded access.”
Of course, as Johnson points out, these drones have not proven safe for, say, Pakistan children and other civilians, not to mention Afghanistan civilians. Citing a report written by Chris Woods and Christina Lamb for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Johnson writes that, “research by the Bureau has found that since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children. A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. The tactics have been condemned by leading legal experts.”
Obviously the drones that are and will be flying through US airspace will be doing so strictly for the good of the US citizenry, completely safe and unarmed. Or will they be? This is yet one more step towards a completely totalitarian, fascist government in the US, with Law Enforcement Agencies, militarist profiteers and their corporate puppet masters to further tighten the reigns of control over every aspect of US citizens’ daily lives. The warpigs and greed heads will continuing having their way if the sheeple do not stop supporting the sham two-party system that allowed these dictatorial One Percenters to take power in the US. Unfortunately, those same sheeple continue to allow themselves to be distracted by who’s playing in the Super Bowl, or by the latest celebrity deaths instead of paying attention to the loss of their rights and real security. How long can this go on?