03 February 2013

Eye in the Sky

by Leigh Lundin

Drones part 1: Eye in the Sky

If you don't know the acronym UAV, you're so out of date! Predator drones and the overhead gadgets police use to spy on your backyard barbecue are called UAVs– unmanned ariel vehicles– UAV, for short.

unmanned Predator drone
Those drones we've read about in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq? They were developed for use in combat territories, not against our own citizens. But once out of the bag, did anyone seriously expect they wouldn't be deployed here at home?

I'm torn, partly from techno-geek attraction, partly because I don't like putting soldiers in harm's way, but partly because I don't like the idea of killing from the heavens. But now we face another factor– unarmed drones are being deployed against American citizens. Not only can they violate your air space, they can violate your personal space.

Since 9/11, civil liberties have been pouring down the rathole of 'homeland security', most notably from the Orwellian-named US PATRIOT Acts I and II. They've been stripping basic rights when you weren't looking and now we have one more way to spy– against ourselves. Wasn't this what we were taught was so evil about other governments?

That's not to say I don't think domestic drones can have a positive purpose, but without well defined rules, expect them to be misused and abused. Cases have already surfaced of drones spying on ordinary citizens going about their own business on their own property.

The Little Plane that Couldn't

Like boys with the latest R/C plane, our local law enforcement is delighted with their new toy. While issuing solemn assurances to the press they won't use drones to observe security precautions of, say, Mrs. Trudy Boomdacious tanning by her pool at NÂș 31 Sunkist Lane, they can hardly contain themselves until they can go out and play. Hey, I can't blame them.

But, as we learn from time to time, high technology is beyond some officials. From our Texas reader Vicki comes this article by Jim Hightower about Montgomery County's new flying gadget. When showing it off, it seems the sheriff dragged out all his goodies including a Bearcat troop transport with full swat team. It looked great, but unfortunately, the sheriff's department hasn't learned how to drive… or at least fly.

Yep, they crashed their spanking new drone.  The little plane committed suicide when it smashed into their armored transport.

Hightower reports the Bearcat survived, but not the Constitution.

Boys and Their Toys
child predator

But wait! There's more!

The drone that grew out of R/C toys has itself become a toy. On Amazon, people like me of twisted mind and sense of humor have been piling on the review comments. Warning: I said twisted, for example:
"At last! A Child Predator!"

"With my son's birthday fast approaching, I simply couldn't fathom what to get him. Last year we had purchased for him the Home Waterboarding Kit and buying him the same present two years in a row just seemed wrong...fortunately I found this! I love to watch the maniacal gleam in his eye as he imagines seas of Pakistani women and children before him and screams 'Death from above!'. It reminds me of all the joy I got from the My Lai Massacre playset I had as a child. Shock and awe!"

"(My son) just loves flying his drone around our house, dropping Hellfire missiles on Scruffy, our dog. He kept saying that Scruffy was a terror suspect and needed to be taken out. I asked him if Scruffy should get a trial first, and he quoted Lindsay Graham, Senator: "Scruffy, you don't get a trial!" I was so proud. I think I'll buy him some video games that promote martial law for Christmas."

"I just have to say that the educational value of this toy is GREAT. I just tell my son: This is what the West is using to kill the Rest. We fly these wonderful planes carrying bombs and we drop them on people we sort of think are terrorists and other people…"

"Not very educational, as the software is point-and-click, and the targets' death screams all sound the same. Not durable either, since they tend to crash between smoking, charred corpses."

"This is the best toy ever. Finally, I can pretend that I'm a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize!"
Oops, I'm droning on and on…

10 comments:

Louis A. Willis said...

I hope that's not a drone you hear outside your window. If the drones don't get you, Google map just might do the trick.

Leigh Lundin said...

Louis, I admit it's a bit strange to see what Google picks up both from satellite and from street view. I got a message from across the country that I need to wash my car!

Eve Fisher said...

Drones are my favorite response to all who tell me that the 2nd Amendment exists "to take out a tyrannical government."

There are some spots that don't exist on Google maps - there's one in Sioux Falls that is a monster big building with barbed wire and security guards that shows up on GM as a big empty field. It is, I'm told, a security information processing center. I feel much safer because of this. Snark.

Leigh Lundin said...

Eve, I agree. Things didn't work out so well at Harper's Ferry. It damaged the nation but didn't bring down the tyranny of, er, opposing slavery.

My favorite Google Maps story is that of Barbra Streisand's California beachfront estate, now known as the Streisand effect.

Vicki Kennedy said...

Loved the article, Leigh! And despite the seriousness of the subject I got quite a chuckle out of it.

Eve Fisher said...

And, Leigh, let us never forget the first attempt to bring down a tyrannical government on behalf of a holy cause, The Whiskey Rebellion. Didn't end well, either.

Anonymous said...

Good article. People actually read during the superbowl, en? (hehe)

Leigh Lundin said...

Vicki, I'm glad you liked the article. Thank you.

True, Eve, even from the earliest days.

anon, I caught up on the messages during the New Orleans power outage.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it wasn't only your article, but Congress is considering limitations on drone rules of engagement. The thinking is the US patriot acts are far too broad.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/05/drone-strike-congress_n_2627556.html

Leigh Lundin said...

Senator Lindsay Graham pins deaths-by-drone at 4700.

According to another article, more than a thousand companies are vying for drone business, particularly over US airspace.