Americans seem a tad unhappy with the club of corrupt kleptocrats running their government these days; seems about as good a time as any for Congress to give the go ahead to the military and private corporations to fill our skies with stealth spy-death machines to help keep an eye on protesters traffic conditions, maybe? 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!
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.
Yes, perhaps “drone safety” would be a good idea. Field tests of U.S. drones are so far not proving very safe for Pakistani children, according to this recent report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:
Speaking publicly for the first time on the controversial CIA drone strikes, Obama claimed last week they are used strictly to target terrorists, rejecting what he called ‘this perception we’re just sending in a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly’.
‘Drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties’, he told a questioner at an on-line forum. ‘This is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists trying to go in and harm Americans’.
But 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.
Yes yes, but of course those are the “Pakistani child-killer” kind of drone, and the law passed by Congress only allows the surveillance kind of — oh wait, no it doesn’t. Oh well. HIDE, EVERYONE? [AP/Bureau of Investigative Journalism via Glenn Greenwald]