Another Link in the Chain?

Last week in New Jersey there was a bit of an uproar over an urban assault training session. Residents were woken by the sound of gunshots, helicopters, and bomb blasts. Needless to say they were pretty upset and flooded 911 with calls, only to later find out that it was a scheduled military drill.

The exercise wasn’t the first of it’s kind in the last several months. There was the very public event in Tampa recently, that involved foreign soldiers and a simulated hostage situation. In that case it was during the day and all the school children got to watch and cheer. A couple of weeks before that, however, there was a nighttime urban assault training at an abandoned Miami hotel, which not all of the neighbors were informed about. As in New Jersey, people were pretty upset. Your average American isn’t really used to being woken in the night to the sounds of heavy artillery.

These urban drills have been happening in many cities, as a matter of fact, though you may not have heard of them all. Recently they have been conducted in Chicago and Los Angeles as well as the three locations already mentioned above. This activity has some people concerned about what is going on and why.

This isn’t a new type of training, as it turns out.


The Slippery Slope of Domestic Drones

originally posted at the Washington State TAC

There are plenty of obvious concerns about the use of domestic drones. Their use by law enforcement is expanding rapidly, and it’s only normal to be concerned about privacy laws. Even if you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place, with drones the size of hummingbirds, will you have a reasonable expectation of privacy on your own property, or even through your own windows? In the long run, what will constitute the need for surveillance? In Washington state it could be a nice new way to fine litterers.

Let’s not forget the original intent of this technology. Drones are used by our military to spy on, and to kill our enemies. Or at least, those we perceive to be our enemies, whether guilt has been proven or not, and with a callous disregard for collateral damage.

While it could be argued that some use of surveillance drones is reasonable; for example, border patrol or missing persons cases, how soon does it become difficult to draw the line? Are we there already?

Just this week members of Congress accused the EPA of using drones to conduct surveillance flights over Iowa and Nebraska farms. Though they were assured by the EPA that they are using only manned aircraft to check for violations of federal clean water laws, it does make one wonder about the right of the EPA to conduct this type of surveillance in the first place. Not to mention the fact that even Congress doesn’t know what the EPA is doing.


Three Things You Can Count On; Death, Taxes, and UN Encroachment

While millions of Americans are barbecuing their way through Memorial weekend, the UN carries on with it’s plans for world domination. This time, or perhaps I should say today, it is through Internet regulation via the International Telecommunication Union. As if it wasn’t enough to worry about CISPA and all the other Internet related bills coming down the pike, Congress will now be considering a UN proposal which, among other things, would give the UN more control over data privacy and cyber security.

For now, it doesn’t seem that lawmakers on either the left or the right are very enthusiastic about this proposal, but then again, some of those folks change their opinion more often than they change their socks. It might be best not to trust them to remain steadfast on this issue.

Their concern over the proposal also raises the question; why are they hearing it in the first place?