Editor’s Note – “Yes Virginia”, that is a drone over our house at Christmas! From the “you have got to be kidding” category – yes, another government intrusion proven to be true – drones over you, inside the USA!
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee June 13, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
The head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation acknowledged Wednesday that his agency uses drones to conduct surveillance in the United States, but said it does so rarely.
Asked about drones at a Senate hearing, FBI director Robert Mueller said the agency uses them “in a very, very minimal way, very seldom.”
Federal agencies have been using drones for years to monitor the northern and southern borders of the U.S., and those drones have occasionally been deployed to help domestic law-enforcement agencies like the FBI.
The use of such drones is politically charged and civil-rights advocates say there are no clear privacy rules governing their use.
FBI hostage negotiators used surveillance drones during a standoff earlier this year with an Alabama man who had taken a boy hostage inside a makeshift underground bunker.
Asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) about what privacy protections are used in deploying drones and storing the images they collect, Mr. Mueller said their use was narrowly focused on specific incidents.
“It’s very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident when you need the capability,’’ said Mr. Mueller, who said he wasn’t sure what becomes of the images recorded by such drones. “It is very narrowly focused on particularized cases and particularized needs.’’
He added: “There are a number of issues related to drones that are going to have to be debated.” One area that needs to be explored, he said, was how long-established guidelines on helicopter surveillance should be adopted or altered to cover unmanned drone surveillance. “It’s worthy of debate and perhaps legislation down the road,’’ said Mr. Mueller.
Mr. Mueller spent Wednesday morning testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee for what is likely to be his last time as FBI director. His term expires in September, and President Barack Obama is expected to nominate former Bush administration official James Comey to succeed him.
SUA Staff – It appears there is not a square inch of land anywhere in the world that is exempt from a drone flying overhead. Drones are used for comprehensive surveillance and to drop missiles in targeted areas of known terror cells and networks. This makes sense because it means less soldiers are in harm’s way. It’s not an easy job either; it has effects on those who ‘drive’ them:
In preparation for a speech, Koh spent hours in CIA headquarters at Langley interrogating drone pilots. Koh wanted to find out everything he could about their job, their lives, and the mentality behind all the ‘unmanned’ airstrikes and peppered the pilots with statements like: “I hear you guys have a PlayStation mentality.”
The drone pilots are now civilians, but most were former Air Force pilots who took offense at the notion they were armchair warriors so far removed from their mission that they felt nothing at all about the death and destruction they caused.
Klaidman says the lead pilot blew up on Koh and said:
“I used to fly my own air missions. I dropped bombs, hit my target load, but had no idea who I hit. Here I can look at their faces. I watch them for hours, see these guys playing with their kids and wives. When I get them alone, I have no compunction about blowing them to bits. But I wouldn’t touch them with civilians around. After the strike, I see the bodies being carried out of the house. I see the women weeping and in positions of mourning. That’s not PlayStation; that’s real. My job is to watch after the strike too. I count the bodies and watch the funerals. I don’t let others clean up the mess.” (Read more here.)
But what about at home?
Sure, there are reasons to use drones for surveillance in high risk areas like at the Southern border, however, using them over Nebraska and Iowa farms that are not high risk areas skirts the rights of the people living there. Now police departments are looking to employ them as well. In fact, the first recorded use of a drone to help police make an arrest occurred in North Dakota:
Drone-Aided Arrest Raises Questions About 4th Amendment
The story of the North Dakota man who was arrested by a SWAT team aided by a Department of Homeland SecurityPredator Drone has caught the public’s imagination. Approximately a year ago, Rodney Brossart got into a tussle with police over the ownership of six cows that had wandered onto his land.
As the situation escalated — there were reports that Brossart chased officers off his farm at gunpoint — the Grand Forks SWAT team called in a favor to the Department of Homeland Security. Essentially, they asked the DHS if they could use its predator drone, located at a nearby Air Force Base to survey Brossart’s property, to ensure it was safe to apprehend him.
Without a hitch the unmanned aircraft was sent to Brossart’s property. Once it arrived, SWAT used its high-tech surveillance cameras to check if the coast was clear – it was, so SWAT, with guns drawn, swarmed in on the disgruntled farmer. Brossart was tasered, cuffed and subsequently charged for, among other crimes, terrorizing a sheriff.
He became the first American citizen to be arrested with the help of a Predator drone (something tells me, he won’t be the last). (Read the rest here.)
Is this within our fourth amendment rights?
DHS is not satisfied either. They are ordering more than they can use:
The Homeland Security Department ordered so many drones it can’t keep them all flying and doesn’t have a good plan for how to use them, according to a new audit that the department’s inspector general released Monday.
SUA Staff – We hear about Drones flying in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and now there is talk that drones will fly the skies inside the USA. Over seas, they launch missiles against terrorist targets, and it seems to be the defined foreign policy of the United States. Get on the now famous ‘kill list’, and a drone loaded with missiles is sure to be in your future.
We are flying drones on our borders, but apparently not into Mexico. We know, and have identified drug cartel personnel who are causing more harm in the USA daily, so why aren’t we hitting them with drone fired missiles in Mexico?
Close the drug trade down and a significant amount of our internal and border woes would go away. But it appears that money talks, and…, well you know the rest. Here is a snippet of this issue today:
Illegal drugs by the tons are smuggled into California each year by sea, by land and by air. Cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin are either produced in or pass through Mexico, where 50,000 people have been killed in the last six years in an escalating war among cartels. Some of the victims have been beheaded, mutilated or left hanging from bridges, not necessarily because of their involvement in the trade, but as a diabolical demonstration that the drug lords will stop at nothing to dominate the market.
Those drugs end up in every neighborhood in Southern California and every city in the United States, feeding a never-ending hunger. But few people north of the border seem to make the connection. The Mexican carnage is conveniently distant. It’s Mexico’s problem, not ours. (Read the rest here at the LA Times.)
Unfortunately, the Obama White House orders killings that actually impact us less than the Mexico problem. MG Vallely suggested just this two years ago, invade northern Mexico, create a no-go zone, and decapitate the drug cartels, down to the lowest lieutenants.
But it appears to be a money issue first, but the ties to terror are there as well. Perhaps enough money is flowing through our system that the Mexican problem becomes something to sweep under the rug. The drug trade in the USA is killing us, yet banks seem to get away with slaps on the wrist when ‘laundering’ is discovered on smaller scales. But there are many billions involved. Coupled with the money, is the vast terror network connections.
See the video below on how they are gearing up. Hezbollah is placing heavy weapons right on our border, yet we do not strike them. Why?
The vast profits made from drug production and trafficking are overwhelmingly reaped in rich “consuming” countries – principally across Europe and in the US – rather than war-torn “producing” nations such as Colombia and Mexico, new research has revealed. And its authors claim that financial regulators in the west are reluctant to go after western banks in pursuit of the massive amount of drug money being laundered through their systems.
The most far-reaching and detailed analysis to date of the drug economy in any country – in this case, Colombia – shows that 2.6% of the total street value of cocaine produced remains within the country, while a staggering 97.4% of profits are reaped by criminal syndicates, and laundered by banks, in first-world consuming countries.
“The story of who makes the money from Colombian cocaine is a metaphor for the disproportionate burden placed in every way on ‘producing’ nations like Colombia as a result of the prohibition of drugs,” said one of the authors of the study, Alejandro Gaviria, launching its English edition last week.
“Colombian society has suffered to almost no economic advantage from the drugs trade, while huge profits are made by criminal distribution networks in consuming countries, and recycled by banks which operate with nothing like the restrictions that Colombia’s own banking system is subject to.”
His co-author, Daniel Mejía, added: “The whole system operated by authorities in the consuming nations is based around going after the small guy, the weakest link in the chain, and never the big business or financial systems where the big money is.”
The work, by the two economists at University of the Andes in Bogotá, is part of an initiative by the Colombian government to overhaul global drugs policyand focus on money laundering by the big banks in America and Europe, as well as social prevention of drug taking and consideration of options for de-criminalising some or all drugs.
The economists surveyed an entire range of economic, social and political facets of the drug wars that have ravaged Colombia. The conflict has now shifted, with deadly consequences, to Mexico and it is feared will spread imminently to central America. But the most shocking conclusion relates to what the authors call “the microeconomics of cocaine production” in their country.
Gaviria and Mejía estimate that the lowest possible street value (at $100 per gram, about £65) of “net cocaine, after interdiction” produced in Colombia during the year studied (2008) amounts to $300bn. But of that only $7.8bn remained in the country.
“It is a minuscule proportion of GDP,” said Mejía, “which can impact disastrously on society and political life, but not on the Colombian economy. The economy for Colombian cocaine is outside Colombia.”
Mejía told the Observer: “The way I try to put it is this: prohibition is a transfer of the cost of the drug problem from the consuming to the producing countries.”
“If countries like Colombia benefitted economically from the drug trade, there would be a certain sense in it all,” said Gaviria. “Instead, we have paid the highest price for someone else’s profits – Colombia until recently, and now Mexico.
“I put it to Americans like this – suppose all cocaine consumption in the US disappeared and went to Canada. Would Americans be happy to see the homicide rates in Seattle skyrocket in order to prevent the cocaine and the money going to Canada? That way they start to understand for a moment the cost to Colombia and Mexico.”
The mechanisms of laundering drug money were highlighted in the Observerlast year after a rare settlement in Miami between US federal authorities and the Wachovia bank, which admitted to transferring $110m of drug money into the US, but failing to properly monitor a staggering $376bn brought into the bank through small exchange houses in Mexico over four years. (Wachovia has since been taken over by Wells Fargo, which has co-operated with the investigation.)
But no one went to jail, and the bank is now in the clear. “Overall, there’s great reluctance to go after the big money,” said Mejía. “They don’t target those parts of the chain where there’s a large value added. In Europe and America the money is dispersed – once it reaches the consuming country it goes into the system, in every city and state. They’d rather go after the petty economy, the small people and coca crops in Colombia, even though the economy is tiny.”
Colombia’s banks, meanwhile, said Mejía, “are subject to rigorous control, to stop laundering of profits that may return to our country. Just to bank $2,000 involves a huge amount of paperwork – and much of this is overseen by Americans.”
“In Colombia,” said Gaviria, “they ask questions of banks they’d never ask in the US. If they did, it would be against the laws of banking privacy. In the US you have very strong laws on bank secrecy, in Colombia not – though the proportion of laundered money is the other way round. It’s kind of hypocrisy, right?”
Dr Mejia said: “It’s an extension of the way they operate at home. Go after the lower classes, the weak link in the chain – the little guy, to show results. Again, transferring the cost of the drug war on to the poorest, but not the financial system and the big business that moves all this along.”
With Britain having overtaken the US and Spain as the world’s biggest consumer of cocaine per capita, the Wachovia investigation showed much of the drug money is also laundered through the City of London, where the principal Wachovia whistleblower, Martin Woods, was based in the bank’s anti-laundering office. He was wrongfully dismissed after sounding the alarm.
Gaviria said: “We know that authorities in the US and UK know far more than they act upon. The authorities realise things about certain people they think are moving money for the drug trade – but the DEA [US Drugs Enforcement Administration] only acts on a fraction of what it knows.”
“It’s taboo to go after the big banks,” added Mejía. “It’s political suicide in this economic climate, because the amounts of money recycled are so high.”
Hezbollah Puts Heavy Weapons In Mexico – Why Open Borders?
Editor’s Note – “Andy, who put the Blind Sheik behind bars in the first World Trade Center bombing, ” PJM CEO Roger L. Simon writes, “was arguably the most important prosecutor in the War on Terror. He is among the most authoritative writers anywhere on the dangers of Jihad. His distinguished legal career and expertise on national security matters will be invaluable to PJ Media and our readers.”
From “Rule of Law” to Hit List: The Times Lauds Obama at War
“The president accepts as a fact that a certain amount of screw-ups are going to happen, and to him, that calls for a more judicious process.” Well, that’s certainly a judicious use of judicious by William Daley. The former White House chief of staff was addressing the inevitability of collateral damage inherent in President Barack Obama’s principal war strategy against al-Qaeda: killing suspected terrorists by firing missiles from unmanned drones that scour faraway skies over Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. This was about halfway through the New York Times‘ rambling 6,300-word testimonial to Obama’s unparalleled splendor as a wartime commander-in-chief.
You see, for all the precision of modern weaponry, it turns out error is simply unavoidable: sometimes the wrong targets get hit and the wrong people get killed by our armed forces and the presidents who command them. Fog of war, and all that. For many years — specifically, from October 2001 through January 19, 2009 — the Times saw this inevitability as grist for scandal. But suddenly, the Gray Lady has evolved, just like its heroically “pragmatic” commander-in-chief. Collateral killings are just the way it goes — and if Obama camouflages what the Left used to insist were civilian casualties by a post facto declaration that everyone killed was a “combatant,” the Times has suddenly decided that, far from crying out for a war crimes investigation, this just proves his lawyerly brilliance.
After all, it is the end result of a “judicious process.” That’s judicious, not judicial. Of course, time was when candidate Obama, his campaign surrogates, and the Times would have scoffed at the notion that the executive branch was capable of judiciously prosecuting the battle, determining who was the enemy, and taking action to kill or capture and detain. Sure, from 1787 through 2001, presidents may have been trusted with plenary control over war-fighting. But that was then. Now, according to the Bush-deranged Left, the “rule of law” demanded a judicialprocess. Terrorists don’t wear uniforms — a willful violation of the laws of war that the Left converted into a presumption of innocence. Thus, progressives told us, to hold suspected terrorists, let alone kill them, based on nothing more than a unilateral executive branch determination, no matter how “judicious,” was a shredding of the Constitution and a profound violation of international law.
Now that the president’s name is Obama, though, “judicious” executive unilateralism is more than enough to justify killing — and not only in an emergency: the Times depicts Obama as the don, meeting weekly with his consiglieri to decide who lives and who dies.
Eleven years into post-9/11 combat operations and facing a tough reelection fight, it has conveniently dawned on the Obama Left that when the nation is threatened and takes up arms, the risk of error shifts from the government, which bears it in peacetime law-enforcement operations, to “the enemy.” For the Times — whose epic account of Obama at war begins with a portentous “This was the enemy” – enemy is the term now in vogue for what, heretofore, were known merely as “young Muslim men,” subjected either to indefinite detention without trial or to being slain under ambiguous circumstances in Bush’s “war on terror,” which was really a “war against Islam.” Now that those young Muslim men are being detained or killed by Obama, it is remarkable to discover what a mortal threat to the United States they really are. And it further turns out that, while our intelligence community does the best it can, warfare requires our combat forces to take action without the certainty of meticulously tested courtroom evidence — and that’s suddenly okay, too: When people are plotting to mass-murder Americans, the Times wants you to know that we can’t afford to wait until we have proof that will satisfy a jury; they need to be rubbed out, pronto.
What is most astonishing in the story co-authored by Jo Becker and Scott Shane is its rationalization of the president’s naivete and amateur-hour missteps. In the revisionist history, these are seen as emblematic of the Omniscient One’s duplicity — which the reporters, far from finding offensive, portray as the president’s most praiseworthy attribute. “Bush lied and people died”; Obama lies and … it is his unmatched attorney’s mind at work.
Thus does the Times celebrate what, in the retelling is Obama’s knowing deception — not his ideologically-driven recklessness — in ceremoniously pronouncing, on his second day in office, that Gitmo would be closed and that he would make good on other campaign commitments to turn the clock back — back to Clintonian courtroom counterterrorism, away from Bush-era reliance on the laws of war. Even as the Times and rest of the Left deliriously swooned, we now discover that Obama was furtively inserting “a few subtle loopholes” in his first executive orders, “already putting his lawyerly mind to carving out the maximum amount of maneuvering room to fight terrorism as he saw fit.” An outrage? No, the Times sees this as just “the deft insertion of some wiggle words” by “a realist who, unlike some of his fervent supporters [ACM: the Times, for one] was never carried away by his own rhetoric.” The Paper of Record, which spent years obsessing over 16 words in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address, now builds sleight-of-hand into the president’s job description.
And why not? Why shouldn’t the Times‘s preferred commander-in-chief be afforded the same loose acquaintance with the truth that the paper allows itself? For how else could it publish paragraphs such as this:
The care that Mr. Obama and his counterterrorism chief take in choosing targets, and their reliance on a precision weapon, the drone, reflect his pledge at the outset of his presidency to reject what he called the Bush administration’s “false choice between our safety and our ideals.”
In point of fact, we learn in the course of the article (as if we did not know already) that the drone is not all that precise: It often takes lives and destroys property beyond its narrow targets. Furthermore, because the Obama administration, in its demagoguery against Gitmo and Bush detention policies, has nullified the options of capturing and interrogating jihadists, “our ideals” now apparently include killing people we could have taken alive — and whose intelligence we could have exploited to save American lives. And if those people happen not to be the people we were trying to kill, Obama just counts them as terrorists anyway — as long as they fit the administration’s profile for Muslim terrorists.
But a more overarching point: When Obama excoriated Bush for offering a “false choice between our safety and our ideals,” he was referring to the Bush wartime preference for executive processes over judicial ones. The Times well knows this, because it was leading the Obama cheering section. In what now passes for “our ideals,” however, Obama is not just unilateral judge and jury; he is executioner, as well. Bush was convinced the war model was necessary to protect the nation, but he left the war-fighting to the professionals. Obama, by contrast” is the “liberal law professor” who “insist[s] on approving every new name on an expanding ‘kill list,’ poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre ‘baseball cards’ of an unconventional war.”
Not to worry about this seeming contradiction, though. The doctrinaire secularists at the Times want to assure you that The One even transcends what up until five minutes ago was the essential “wall of separation” between church and state. You see, our current commander-in-chief, that erudite protege of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is a sharp departure from the Bible-thumping rube who last held the job. Obama is “a student writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas,” who is determined “to apply the ‘just war’ theories of Christian philosophers to a brutal modern conflict.”
What Obama, or, for that matter, the Times, actually grasps about Christian just war theory is unclear. (If you actually want to know what it is, a few words from George Weigel are a better expenditure of your time than a few thousand words from folks who find virtue in not being “carried away by [their] own rhetoric.”) But we do learn that Obama-style “just war theory” bears a striking resemblance to Obama-style “pragmatism” — which somehow always manages to get to the result Obama finds politically expedient.
So we discover that Obama applies a strict moral imperative in his judicious application of just war drone-killing … except when he doesn’t. The target must be an imminent threat to the United States … except when he isn’t. There must be a “‘near certainty’ of no innocents being killed” … except when there isn’t. The Times concedes, for example, that Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud “did not meet the Obama administration’s criteria for targeted killing”: he was not a threat to the United States and, when located by the CIA, he was surrounded by innocents — staying with his wife at his in-laws home. But, hey, “Pakistani officials wanted him dead.” Obama rationalized that the drone program was necessary and the “drone program rested on [the Pakistanis’] tacit approval.” And, yes, killing Mehsud with a missile would necessarily entail killing those in his company, but them’s the breaks. The don gave the order.
And on it goes, at times sadly hilariously. The Times, for example, notes that “the president’s resolve” was “stiffened” by a “series of plots” that included “the killling of 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex. by an Army psychiatristwho had embraced radical Islam.” The Times does not note that, with this one passing reference tying Major Nidal Hassan’s jihadist rampage to Islamic supremacist ideology, the Gray Lady has surpassed the Pentagon in explaining what happened at Fort Hood. Applying the Obama-imposed conscious avoidance mandate, the armed forces did not refer to Islam or jihad in its 75-page report on the massacre, which the administration prefers to frame as a case of “workplace violence.”
In the main, though, the Times report is a study in the Left’s self-absorption. When modern progressives are out of power, warfare is unnecessary — a simplistic, “might makes right” resort to force when the Left’s brand of nuanced diplomacy would have done the trick. Reasonable suspicion is never enough: no one is to be assumed an enemy of the United States absent proof beyond a reasonable doubt that will stand up in court; and if a Republican president resists the “transparency” of judicial review, or resorts to measures like military detention or immigration-law deportation in order to protect its intelligence secrets from exposure, it is chipping away at the very foundations of constitutional governance, such that the Republican administration should be understood as more of a threat to America than the terrorists. Only when the Left is in power does war become necessary, as well as excruciatingly complex and difficult. Only then must we learn to be understanding when irresponsible political rhetoric crashes into hostile reality, and when moral lines in the sand are constantly crossed and haphazardly redrawn … only to be crossed yet again.
This would all be easier to swallow if the evolution came with an apology. But it is packaged in the same smarm as original antiwar, anti-Bush indictment: the more events reveal Obama’s predispositions to be half-baked, inept and unrealistic, the more you are supposed to admire his savvy pragmatism in not merely abandoning them but pretending he never really held them in the first place — while the courtiers applaud.
Andrew C. McCarthy, is a former federal prosecutor and New York Times bestselling author of The Grand Jihad andWillful Blindness; he’s also a regular contributor at National Review and The New Criterion.
“Andy, who put the Blind Sheik behind bars in the first World Trade Center bombing, ” PJM CEO Roger L. Simon writes, “was arguably the most important prosecutor in the War on Terror. He is among the most authoritative writers anywhere on the dangers of Jihad. His distinguished legal career and expertise on national security matters will be invaluable to PJ Media and our readers.”
Outside of his legal and writing careers, Andy has been coaching little league baseball for the last few years. He’s been a hockey fan for more than 40 years, and he and his family watch sports all year round: mainly Mets, Jets, Knicks and Devils.
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