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20 Jan, 2012 06:30

Dronology: America’s flying eye pries on its own people

A staple of Washington’s war missions, targeted assassinations and spying operations overseas, unmanned aerial vehicles, known as drones, are now being used by US police in the domestic arena, stirring up privacy concerns among Americans.

According to John Whitehead, a constitutional attorney from the Rutherford Institute, US police departments have been authorized to use drones extensively in pursuit of their duties on home soil.  “There have been, I think, almost 266 applications that have been approved for police departments to use drones as aerial surveillance devices,” he said. Drones can be armed with a wide range of surveillance technology, including high-powered zoom lenses and infrared and ultraviolet imaging. As the US government flies prying eyes through the sky, lawmakers have neglected to create any privacy protections for American citizens.“All of this is conscious and intentional,” said author and columnist Paul Craig Roberts. “They are putting in place a method of controlling a population that may be unemployed, hungry or very angry and I think the state and local police are not just militarized, but they are being federalized.”   According to trends forecaster Gerald Celente, the United States is gradually turning into one big Homeland Security enterprise. “What happens now is that the agencies keep using more and more of these to justify their existence,” Celente told RT. “Then they say, we need this to crack down on drugs, we need these because there are a lot of robberies in this neighborhood.”  “The United States is not only now a military industrial complex. It is a Homeland Security complex. They have merged into one,” he added. In 2006, AeroVironment, a drone manufacturer, received $ 4.7 million from the US defense department to develop new unmanned aerial vehicles. The newest and smallest invention is Hummingbird, a palm-sized, cute looking spy plane weighing less than one pound. “There can be a very lucrative market in the United States for drones in police departments who are already militarized – from tanks to assault vehicles to assault rifles, flap jackets, the helmets,” John Whitehead said. “The modern police look like the military so now they are going to be using military equipment.”A fresh lawsuit has been launched against the US Department of Transportation for allegedly withholding records pertaining to the domestic use of drones. Currently, the American public cannot find out why drones are being used or who is controlling them.“On every corner, there is a closed circuit camera watching what you are doing, so now we do not only have them on the ground, we have them from the air,” Gerald Celente said. In January the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to propose new rules making it easier for law enforcement agencies to fly drones through America's democratic sky. War weapons used overseas to keep the US safe are now being considered a serious threat, compromising cherished freedoms at home.