Drone Surveillance Program Targeting Americans?

By Michael Edwards

A video from a 2007 investigative report by KPRC local news in Houston made a sizable impact on YouTube when it appeared early this year.  The video (below) shows unequivocal proof of the secret testing of unmanned drones by the Houston Police department.  A similar program came to light in Las Vegas, also initiated in 2007.  Is this an indication that police and military are now working jointly in a way that blurs the lines between their stated border control operations and a wider domestic surveillance program?

It is worth remembering that as far back as 2003, FOX News propagandized that unmanned Iraqi Drones May Target U.S. Cities, invoking a potential biological 9/11 carried out by UAV equipped with spray nozzles.  Yet, this fleet of unmanned drones actually has taken flight over America at the behest of Homeland Security, working jointly with select police departments, and is enriching the corporations which produce this technology.

An article by CNET in 2006 quoted Mike Heintz on behalf of the UNITE Alliance, which represents the military-industrial behemoths Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, as envisioning that border control and anti-terrorism would be primary applications, but, “Other examples are limited only by your imagination.” Given this tacit admission of the openness of direction, the issue of the legality of these all-seeing drones — which are capable of viewing the general public without probable cause — should be paramount.  Yet, there has been very little public debate, despite the fact that these vehicles are already in use.  In the wake of recent news about domestic surveillance of peaceful activists by Homeland Security, as well as surveillance by foreign intelligence agencies, Americans should not be comfortable with military-grade surveillance capabilities being used in American skies.

The little attention that unmanned drones over American soil has received continues to be focused on coastlines and border control functions to combat drug trafficking. However, a fairly recent Public Intelligence article discussed information they received about a program in Las Vegas called “Silver Shield.” The Silver Shield program appears to be part of “infrastructure protection,” but also indicates domestic surveillance capability. The Law Enforcement Sensitive document was dated from 2007, the same year as the report by local station KPRC 2 in Houston about an apparently similar program.

In the case of Houston, the city falls within the 100-mile zone of border control, which the ACLU has called the Constitution-free Zone. However, the Vegas report is even more troubling, since it is a major city that is well away from the coast.  Regardless, the fact that the government seems to consider a 100-mile swath around the entire country (where 2/3 of people reside), as a Constitutional no-man’s land is cause for much more discussion than has been taking place.

The use of unmanned drones in silent wars abroad has had a terrible impact, and their use is only spreading.  More investigation is needed about what the military-industrial complex has in store for Americans.  Please urge your local media to investigate if similar programs are taking place in your area, both inside the 100-mile zone, as well as inland major cities.

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