Tag Archives: military-industrial complex

Dawn of the Drones: The Realization of the Total Surveillance State

By John W. Whitehead

Imagine a robot hovering overhead as you go about your day, driving to and from work, heading to the grocery store, or stopping by a friend’s house. The robot records your every movement with a surveillance camera and streams the information to a government command center. If you make a wrong move, or even appear to be doing something suspicious, the police will respond quickly and you’ll soon be under arrest. Even if you don’t do anything suspicious, the information of your whereabouts, including what stores and offices you visit, what political rallies you attend, and what people you meet will be recorded, saved and easily accessed at a later date. It is a frightening thought, but you don’t have to imagine this scenario. We are only a few years away from the realization of this total surveillance society.

Congress has just passed a bill, the FAA Reauthorization Act, mandating that the Federal Aviation Administration create a comprehensive program for the integration of drone technology into the national air space by 2015. The FAA predicts that there will be 30,000 drones crisscrossing the skies of America by 2020, all part of an industry that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year. This mandate is yet another example of the political power of the military-industrial complex, Congress’ disdain for the privacy of American citizens, and the rampant growth of government. With this single piece of legislation, Congress is opening the floodgates to an entirely new era of surveillance, one in which no person is safe from the prying eyes of the government. This may prove to be the final nail in the Fourth Amendment’s coffin.

Attempts to integrate drone technology into the national air space were underway long before Congress put its stamp of approval on the FAA Reauthorization Act. In fact, the FAA authorized 313 certificates for drone operation in 2011, 295 of which were still active at the end of the year, although the agency refuses to say which organizations received the certificates and for what purposes they were used. However, we do know that the FAA had already approved drones for use by the Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Patrol (which uses the drones to conduct surveillance and counternarcotics missions), and certain state and local law enforcement operations. For example, in June 2011, a family of cattle farmers accused of stealing some cows were spied on with a Predator drone before being apprehended by police.

The fact that drones—pilotless, remote controlled aircraft that have been used extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to assassinate suspected terrorists, as well as innocent civilians—are coming home to roost (and fly) in domestic airspace should come as no surprise to those who have been paying attention. The US government has a history of commandeering military technology for use against Americans. We saw this happen with tear gas, tasers, sound cannons and assault vehicles, all of which were first used on the battlefield before being deployed against civilians at home.

Thus, while 83% of Americans approve of the use of drones abroad, and 65% approve of using drones to assassinate suspected terrorists abroad, even if they are American citizens, it remains to be seen how those same Americans will feel when they are the ones in the sights of the drones. Needless to say, they won’t have to wait too long to find out.

The power of these machines is not to be underestimated. Many are equipped with cameras that provide a live video feed, as well as heat sensors and radar. Some are capable of peering at figures from 20,000 feet up and 25 miles away. They can also keep track of 65 persons of interest at once. Some drones are capable of hijacking Wi-Fi networks and intercepting electronic communications such as text messages. The Army is currently developing drones with facial recognition software, as well as drones that can complete a target-and-kill mission without any human instruction or interaction. They are the ultimate killing and spying machines.

In addition to the privacy concerns, the safety of drone technology has been called into question. There have been a handful of high-profile crashes involving American drones abroad, including in Iran, the island nation of Seychelles, and most recently in Somalia. The Iranian government claimed they brought down the drone flying in their territory via a computer hack. This is two years after Iraqis were able to hack into the live feed of a few drones using “$26 off-the-shelf software.” Mind you, back in October 2011, the US military admitted that their drone fleet had been infected by a ‘mysterious virus.’ The faultiness of the drone technology and the fact that amateur hackers can access the controls and camera feeds are reason enough to ground these devices indefinitely.

Unfortunately, with the wars abroad winding down, America has become the new battleground in the war on terror, to the delight and profit of the military-industrial complex. In fact, with companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin making their influence felt among members of Congress (Boeing spent over $12 million lobbying in 2011, and Lockheed spent over $11 million), you can be sure that their technologies will continue to be purchased by the government, even when there is no need for them. Thus, in the same way that our domestic police forces are now armed with mini-tanks and grenade launchers taken from the military’s armory, it was simply a matter of time before drone technology made its way back home.

We can sit around waiting for some member of Congress with a conscience or some judge concerned about the coming tyranny to push back against the drone empire from within. However, until the American people succeed in raising their collective voices against this technological tyranny, the powers that be will continue on the path to total control, and the condition of our civil liberties will become more dire with every passing day.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. He can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org. Information about the Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

Re-thinking the War on Terrorism

By Andy Myers

”Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all . . . The Nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.” (George Washington, Farewell Address, September 17, 1796)

I hate that term: “The War on Terror.” I hate using the word “hate.” But I feel so strongly that our foreign policy has gone awry that I can’t help but speak out. We should all feel a duty as Americans to protect and defend the Constitution the limits of which are made a mockery of by the misguided “intellectuals” in Washington and their taxpayer funded “think tanks” who call the shots and continually get it wrong. Their punishment is a promotion to some other bureaucratic agency where they can wreck more havoc and again disregard the rule of law. Even congress, who’s authority it is, doesn’t even have the fortitude to “declare war” as outlined in Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution anymore.

Can you imagine what our founder’s would think of our foreign policy exploits and the executive powers held by the President today?

Death, destruction-reconstruction, and the bankrupting of behaving as an “empire” will only garner additional support for those who despise our overreaching foreign policy behavior.

Nations don’t hate us because of our way of life or our freedom. They despise our government’s never ending meddling in their internal affairs. Ask yourself how you would feel if a “foreign” nation were on our soil doing what we are doing in over 130 countries and over 700 bases around the world. You know all too well you’d be fighting mad!

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes-known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” (James Madison, Political Observations, 1795)

Our military overstretch and the liberties and freedoms we are losing everyday is frightening. Even President Eisenhower’s prophetic warning to the American people of the threat from an ever increasing military industrial complex hardly garners attention and yet today this warning stands as true as ever. Don’t get me wrong I’m no isolationist, and I don’t think there aren’t any credible threats out there that shouldn’t be dealt with. But, I firmly believe that what we are doing today in terms of dissipating the threats to our country are wrongheaded and misleading the American public along with exacerbating the threat of another possible attack all the while bankrupting this country.

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Like most think tank propaganda carefully chosen by the government and it’s cohorts through mainstream media pulpits, the average “patriotic” American along with elected leaders and worse-our children-are easily indoctrinated into believing we must do “everything” in our power including military occupations, torture and renditions to make America safe from those who would seek to harm us. But, where do you draw the line? Do two wrongs make a right? Madeline Albright’s infamous interview on 60 Minutes is a perfect example of reprehensible logic and sadly is very common place with today’s foreign policy “experts.” Here is the excerpt:

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price we think the price is worth it.” (60 Minutes, 5/12/96)

“We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds… [we will] have no time to think, no means of calling our mismanagers to account but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow sufferers… And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for [another ]… til the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery… And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.” (Thomas Jefferson)

I am also convinced that the American people cannot remain free and prosperous with over 700 military bases around the world, troops in over 130 countries, and a steady diet of war propaganda. Our military overstretch is undermining our national security and bankrupting our country all the while making us here at home less free and safe. I believe that those who have been calling “the shots” are terribly misguided. And, that if something isn’t done soon to educate and change the way the grassroots movements across the country think about our overreaching empire abroad, our constitutional republic, our children and their children will pay a punishing price in both lives and treasure.

“Truth is Treason in an Empire of Lies.” (Congressman Ron Paul)

Something that is a “fundamental must” in understanding if we are even to be able to grasp what role America should adhere to here at home and abroad is in the theory of natural rights that was espoused by our forefathers and by John Locke (1632-1704). In his Second Treatise, Locke stated that every man was entitled to life, liberty, and property (his “natural rights”) provided that exercising those rights does not intrude on others rights, and that the role of government in natural-rights theory is to protect those rights.

Without staying true to this tenet, America will be damned just as every other civilization has been in it’s pursuit of “empire.”