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Drone Dread

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the NSA tracking your every move! There’s no hiding that the United States has cozied up to the idea of unmanned aerial vehicles. After the US’s disastrous attempt at bringing democracy to the Middle East during the “War on Terror”, most Americans are quick to veto the idea of putting any soldiers on the ground.

Drone Dread - Drone Quadcopter

So what’s a world power to do? Americans don’t want their troops walking through the front door of a foreign country…so why not just “fly” them around with no jurisdiction? Drones have been protecting our country for the past few years by taking out suspected terrorists in countries like Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia—no trial needed!

With that, it’s no surprise that people are criticizing the US’s use of drones in the Middle East. That’s the least of our worries, because local police departments, e-commerce sites and your government want to make drones a day-to-day reality at home. What does that mean? Let’s take a look at what a drone is, how we use them and if you think they should be used more frequently.

A drone is simply and unmanned aerial vehicle. It can be controlled in an alternate location, and can be equipped with cameras, statistical measuring equipment, and even lethal weapons. The main interest when it comes to drones is they’re very cost effective. The equipment needed for a human pilot like the cockpit, armor, ejection seat, flight controls and oxygen are not needed. Sometimes, a person isn’t even needed to control the device. An automatized onboard computer can direct the drone to its destination and complete it’s task.

Drone Dread - Drone Missile

Imagine strapping artillery to one of these unmanned drones. Now that—is the stuff of nightmares. Using combat drones has taken our soldiers off the ground and put them in front of computer screens. Yes, drones have made military life a little more tolerable. During a typical day a solider may control a drone equipped with a Hellfire anti-armor missile, walk home to his wife and kids after 8 hours of joysticking and do it all again the next day.

Keeping our troops safe is an arguable defense for the use of military drones, but what exactly are these drones doing in other countries and how is it affecting the civilians caught in the middle of this silent war? Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma and anxiety are becoming rampant in countries like Yemen. Alleged US missile strikes have been reported in twelve of Yemen's 21 territories, and as many as 504 people have been killed since 2002.

These drone strikes are implemented without any justice system present. These “signature strikes” are researched, calculated and have a number of innocent civilian victims. Some argue that drones have done their job by killing key leaders and putting a stop to terrorists sanctuaries in countries like Pakistan, Yemen, and, Somalia. However, other people argue that practicing a “judge, jury, and execution” approach to the drone strikes has created even more disdain for America. Instead of defeating Al Qaeda, this tactic may be creating sworn enemies out of a sea of local insurgents.

Drone Dread - Drone Yeman

The American drones that are flying around Yemen are resulting in the Yemenis’ stress and hatred. How would you feel if you saw a drone fly over your home? Well, there are a lot of organizations gunning for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to throw American airspace wide open to drones by September 30, 2015. Who knows, maybe we’ll start to feel a little more sympathy for the Yemenis’ plight.

Police stations and fire departments are extremely interested in this technology. Right now, you can only fly a drone in the United States up to 400ft, and you must keep a visual. If certain people have their way, the FAA will lift those limitations. Leaving the airspace open for various drone usage.

Some believe there is cause for concern. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) worries when drones become cheaper and more reliable, law enforcement agencies will begin to carry out persistent surveillance operations. Sure, the Fourth Amendment protects Americans from “unreasonable searches and seizures,”--but how will this apply to drones?

Will our future be filled with more drones? How would you feel if an unmanned aircraft delivered your Amazon shipments while another watched your every move making sure you were following the law? With great technology comes great power—but will it be handled responsibly?

BitsDuJour does not necessarily agree with the opinions expressed in this article
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Drone Dread Comments

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Dan Stoppenbach Just use the skeet loads in your shotgun.
Aug 18 2014 at 2:50pm Copy Link
Tom Furbish Since when is BitsDuJour a forum for political discussion?
Stick to selling software!
Aug 19 2014 at 6:28am Copy Link
Nico Westerdale We like to mix it up Tom - all part of the fun!
BitsDuJour Admin - Aug 21 2014 at 1:41pm Copy Link
mohel rabbi (CNN) -- Deer Trail, a small Colorado town, is considering a measure that would allow its residents to hunt for federal drones and shoot them down.

"Is it illegal? Of course it is. But it's also illegal to spy on American citizens," resident Phillip Steel told CNN in a phone interview. "If they fly in town, we will shoot them down."...07/19/13...
Sep 1 2014 at 12:18am Copy Link
Mark Johnson "During a typical day a solider may control a drone equipped with a Hellfire anti-armor missile, walk home to his wife and kids after 8 hours of joysticking and do it all again the next day."

Are you saying there are soldiers flying hellfire-equipped drones over Kansas City? I don't think so. Perhaps this hypothetical soldier lives in Syria with his wife and kids?

Now on the other hand, armed military jets have been flying over the U.S. for more years than most of us have been alive, but when one flies overhead it seems more likely that people will point at it and say, "Wow, that is cool" than to run and take cover.

In a lot of cities there are cameras mounted on practically every stop light in addition to cameras monitoring streets in front of businesses (even moreso in the U.K. than the U.S.). When a violent crime occurs the police don't hesitate to collect the video from all these sources for their investigation, arrests, and trials.

Video from airplanes, drones, and pictures from satellites are commonly used by law enforcement to locate, arrest, and convict people growing fields of pot.

Drones have been used by the border patrol since 2005 to follow groups of people at the U.S./Mexico border and make arrests of U.S. and Mexico citizens bringing narcotics into the U.S. Heck, even the Coast Guard is now using drones to monitor suspicious boat activity and make drug busts.

The GPS in a cellphone travelling around in a pocket has been used in many cases to locate and convict criminals, and even track them back to the location of a crime. There's a double-whammy with cellphones, as a lot of convictions have hinged on records of what cell tower a criminal was communicating through and when.

Heck, the next time you go to a Walmart take a look at the cameras potentially watching every second of your experience from parking your car through picking up those prescriptions through to that itchy underwear adjustment you did in the sporting goods aisle after looking around and thinking nobody could see. Now think about how tomorrow it might be a couple of policemen watching all that video to see who it was that grabbed a can of fluorescent orange paint of the shelf and sprayed a dozen display Tvs with it. Haha, look at that underwear adjustment! We gotta put that in our next "People of Walmart" video on youtube!

Drones are getting less expensive and more capable all the time. Here's an example of a drone with a camera for $75 ( ) or even a very nice one on Amazon for $500 or so ( ).

Years ago when people read George Orwell's 1984 it was easy enough to think it was a scary future that could never happen, but how far from the truth is it?


@mohel rabbi -- Deer Trail is northeast of where I live by about 50 miles, and the "drone hunting" thing was a comical topic for local news for quite a while. It actually started as a ploy by the mayor of the village of ~500 people to earn money for the town by selling fake drone hunting licenses for $25 each and wasn't initially meant to be taken seriously. With publicity the mayor decided to go forward with it and actually try to get a village ordinance passed for even more publicity, knowing fully well they couldn't actually legally shoot down drones. The mayor had already printed up fake permits and was selling them before it ever went to vote. It was voted down, and the mayor was also canned due to the embarrassment the town people felt over their town getting so much fame for the mayor's little joke.

The permit sold by the mayor:
Oct 1 2014 at 11:42am Copy Link

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