By Joe Wright
In military terms, I suppose it could be called blowback – if the consequences are presumed to be unintended, that is.
After kick starting a global drone arms race, the proliferation of drones in the United States all the way down to the hobby level is becoming a severe nuisance for the government. This has led to a range of proposed local legislation aiming to require owners to buy insurance, get license plates, and be subjected to GPS tracking in some cases. As it stands at the federal level, the FAA has in fact imposed mandatory drone registration, with the following guidelines stated on their website:
Anyone who owns a small unmanned aircraft that weighs more than 0.55 lbs. (250g) and less than 55 lbs. (25kg) must register with the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS registry before they fly outdoors. People who do not register could face civil and criminal penalties.
The owner must be:
- 13 years of age or older. (If the owner is less than 13 years of age, a person 13 years of age or older must register the small unmanned aircraft.)
- A U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
The “civil and criminal penalties” referred to above could be up to 3 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
If that doesn’t seem like enough of an overreach, civil liberties advocates were outraged to learn that the registration information – including very specific personal identifiers – would be available online.
Regardless, full tracking appears not to have gone into effect, based upon recent events at a naval base.
The current concern is centered over Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, located in Washington state, where military personnel have identified several unauthorized small drone flights in recent months. The first of these that was acknowledged publicly appears to have occurred in February, when Military.com reported that a drone was spotted near the base at night. According to a local resident who was subsequently interviewed by the military, the sighting raised particular concern:
“It could be a hoax, but worst-case scenario, it could be clandestine, a foreign government, a cell,” [Al] Starcevich said. “The creepy thing is they’re only doing it at night. What are you going to see at night unless you have an infrared camera?”
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Since then, the sightings have continued to the point where the Navy put out a special message this past Friday after the most recent incident which enlists the public to take specific measures after a sighting:
Please call the Regional Dispatch Center at 360-396-4444. Provide the operator with the following information:
- Location. This includes the direction the drone is flying, where it is coming from, and current landmark or street intersections.
- Date and time of sighting.
- Detailed description of drone. Provide the approximate size and color of drone, number of propellers, and color of lights.
- If possible, take a photograph or video of drone for the security team.
This might seem harmless, and even patriotic to some, but it really is no different than an airborne version of the citizen snitch program known as “See Something, Say Something.” History tends to show that anytime citizens are turned into the eyes and ears of the State, bad things follow.
However, even that is not the most disturbing part of all this.
The naval base in question is one of the most potentially lethal in the world. Again, from Military.com – emphasis added:
Bangor is home to eight of the Navy’s 14 ballistic-missile submarines. Each can carry up to 24 missiles with multiple nuclear warheads.
And they need to put out a call to drone spotters from the local community to keep nuclear warheads safe?? Our tax dollars are truly well spent.
Meanwhile, people continue to be charged with “criminal mischief” for downing drones over their own property.
What’s more, a lot of “drones are dangerous” stories are breathlessly reported without confirmation. In fact, the drone that allegedly collided with a British Airways flight last month made headlines around the globe … but turned out to be a rogue plastic bag.
What is your opinion? Is it possible that the government’s concern over hobby drones is just another example of imposing more order out of chaos in the name of National Security? Or perhaps even laying the groundwork for the next false flag?
Hat tip: ZenGardner.com