President Trump’s recent decisions on drone aircraft foreshadows the increase of the technology in civilian life and military strategy.
On Wednesday President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum creating a new trial program for the commercial use of unmanned aerial aircraft, or drones. The memo, titled “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program,” allows certain communities to be exempt from current safety rules as they test drone operations. The Associated Press reports:
States, communities and tribes selected to participate would devise their own trial programs in partnership with government and industry drone users. The administration anticipates approving at least five applications, but there is no limit on the number of communities that can join.
The Federal Aviation Administration will review each program and grant waivers on restrictions for communities testing drone use. Some of the current restrictions include prohibitions on flights over people, nighttime flights and flights beyond the line of sight of the drone operator.
The presidential memo is expected to allow for the first tests of drone package delivery, as well as testing the technology available to help prevent crashed between drones and other aircraft. In addition the trial program will collect date on drones which will help the U.S. government develop a new separate air traffic control system for low-flying unmanned aircraft.
The latest presidential order is not Trump’s first to deal with the use of drone aircraft. However, previous policy directives focused on the U.S. military’s use of drone aircraft for warfare. In March the Wall Street Journal reported that President Trump was handing the authority to conduct drone strikes in foreign countries against alleged terrorists back to the Central Intelligence Agency. The decision by Trump reversed a policy held under the Obama administration, which called for National Security Officials or the president himself to authorize drone strikes.
“To me, it looks like taking the gloves off the CIA to be able to go after these militants, or suspected militants,” Karl Kaltenthaler, a professor at the University of Akron and an expert in the intersection of drones and modern warfare, told US News in March. “The Trump administration is basically unraveling all of the 2013 presidential policy guidance. These are now covert operations, the government can’t say anything about these in the public sphere, they can’t even confirm or deny that these operations even took place.”
The report from the WSJ came from anonymous government officials and did not show the actual presidential directive. However, this report seems to have been confirmed by the New York Times in a report from September. The Times wrote (emphasis added):
President Trump’s top national security advisers have proposed relaxing two rules, the officials said. First, the targets of kill missions by the military and the C.I.A., now generally limited to high-level militants deemed to pose a “continuing and imminent threat” to Americans, would be expanded to include foot-soldier jihadists with no special skills or leadership roles. And second, proposed drone attacks and raids would no longer undergo high-level vetting.
The new rules – known as the Presidential Policy Guidance under Obama, now known as the P.S.P., for “Principles, Standards and Procedures” — were apparently approved at a private meeting on September 14. However, once again the actual document has not been released to the public for vetting. The Times wrote that the government officials spoke of the document on the condition of anonymity.
Under the Trump administration the use of drone bombings are expected to increase as airstrikes have already increased. Also, in an apparent effort to fight illegal immigration, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be using drones to conduct aerial surveillance on American citizens on the border. These actions have led privacy groups such as the Electronic Protection Information Center to ask the U.S. Senate if images gathered by the CBP’s drones will be connected to the agencies facial recognition database.
Overall, the push for drones is being sold to Americans as a convenient way to get the latest fashion and gadgets delivered even more quickly to their door. But at what cost will normalizing drone traffic come? Are we destined for a future of unmanned aerial craft constantly flying overhead? Listening to and watching all activity. Is this the world we want?
Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2
Derrick is available for interviews. Please contact Derrick@activistpost.com
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