Domestic Drone Use – Surveillance Technology Built-in

Editor’s Note – Adding to the fear many Americans have over drone use by Law Enforcement, we learn that the drones were designed with extra bells and whistles. These are designed for domestic use by most accounts and fuels the fire of losing our liberties by the continuation of the militarization of our domestic forces. Now they can tell if you are carrying a concealed weapon. You be the judge:

DHS built domestic surveillance tech into Predator drones

Homeland Security’s specifications say drones must be able to detect whether a civilian is armed. Also specified: “signals interception” and “direction finding” for electronic surveillance. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has customized its Predator drones, originally built for overseas military operations, to carry out at-home surveillance tasks that have civil libertarians worried: identifying civilians carrying guns and tracking their cell phones, government documents show.

The documents provide more details about the surveillance capabilities of the department’s unmanned Predator B drones, which are primarily used to patrol the United States’ northern and southern borders but have been pressed into service on behalf of a growing number of law enforcement agencies including the FBI, the Secret Service, the Texas Rangers, and local police.

Homeland Security required that this Predator drone, built by General Atomics, be capable of detecting whether a standing human at night is “armed or not.”
(Credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

Homeland Security’s specifications for its drones, built by San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, say they “shall be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not,” meaning carrying a shotgun or rifle. They also specify “signals interception” technology that can capture communications in the frequency ranges used by mobile phones, and “direction finding” technology that can identify the locations of mobile devices or two-way radios.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center obtained a partially redacted copy of Homeland Security’s requirements for its drone fleet through the Freedom of Information Act and published it this week. CNET unearthed an unredacted copy of the requirements that provides additional information about the aircraft’s surveillance capabilities.

Concern about domestic use of drones is growing, with federal legislation introduced last month that would establish legal safeguards, in addition to parallel efforts underway from state and local lawmakers. The Federal Aviation Administration recently said that it will “address privacy-related data collection” by drones.

The prospect of identifying armed Americans concerns Second Amendment advocates, who say that technology billed as securing the United States’ land and maritime borders should not be used domestically. Michael Kostelnik, the Homeland Security official who created the program, told Congress that the drone fleet would be available to “respond to emergency missions across the country,” and a Predator drone was dispatched to the tiny town of Lakota, N.D., to aid local police in a dispute that began with reimbursement for feeding six cows. The defendant, arrested with the help of Predator surveillance, lost a preliminary bid to dismiss the charges.

“I am very concerned that this technology will be used against law-abiding American firearms owners,” says Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation. “This could violate Fourth Amendment rights as well as Second Amendment rights.”

Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency declined to answer questions about whether direction-finding technology is currently in use on its drone fleet. A representative provided CNET with a statement about the agency’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that said signals interception capability is not currently used:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is not deploying signals interception capabilities on its UAS fleet. Any potential deployment of such technology in the future would be implemented in full consideration of civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy interests and in a manner consistent with the law and long-standing law enforcement practices.

CBP’s UAS program is a vital border security asset. Equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and day-and-night cameras, the UAS provides real-time images to frontline agents to more effectively and efficiently secure the nation’s borders. As a force multiplier, the UAS operates for extended periods of time and allows CBP to safely conduct missions over tough-to-reach terrain. The UAS also provides agents on the ground with added situational awareness to more safely resolve dangerous situations.

During his appearance before the House Homeland Security committee, Kostelnik, a retired Air Force major general who recently left the agency, testified that the drones’ direction-finding ability is part of a set of “DOD capabilities that are being tested or adopted by CBP to enhance UAS performance for homeland security.” CBP currently has 10 Predator drones and is considering buying up to 14 more.

If the Predator drones were used only to identify smugglers or illegal immigrants crossing the Mexican and Canadian borders, or for disaster relief, they might not be especially controversial. But their use domestically by other government agencies has become routine enough — and expensive enough — that Homeland Security’s inspector general said (PDF) last year that CBP needs to sign agreements “for reimbursement of expenses incurred fulfilling mission requests.”

“The documents clearly evidence that the Department of Homeland Security is developing drones with signals interception technology and the capability to identify people on the ground,” says Ginger McCall, director of the Open Government Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “This allows for invasive surveillance, including potential communications surveillance, that could run afoul of federal privacy laws.”

A Homeland Security official, who did not want to be identified by name, said the drones are able to identify whether movement on the ground comes from a human or an animal, but that they do not perform facial recognition. The official also said that because the unarmed drones have a long anticipated life span, the department tries to plan ahead for future uses to support its border security mission, and that aerial surveillance would comply with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and other applicable federal laws.

The documents show that CBP specified that the “tracking accuracy should be sufficient to allow target designation,” and the agency notes on its Web site that its Predator B series is capable of “targeting and weapons delivery” (the military version carries multiple 100-pound Hellfire missiles). CBP says, however, that its Predator aircraft are unarmed.

Gene Hoffman, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who’s the chairman of the Calguns Foundation, said CBP “needs to be very careful with attempts to identify armed individuals in the border area” when aerial surveillance touches on a constitutional right.

“In the border area of California and Arizona, it may be actively dangerous for the law-abiding to not carry firearms precisely due to the illegal flow of drugs and immigrants across the border in those areas,” Hoffman says.

CBP’s specifications say that signals interception and direction-finding technology must work from 30MHz to 3GHz in the radio spectrum. That sweeps in the GSM and CDMA frequencies used by mobile phones, which are in the 300MHz to 2.7GHz range, as well as many two-way radios.

The specifications say: “The system shall provide automatic and manual DF of multiple signals simultaneously. Automatic DF should be able to separate out individual communication links.” Automated direction-finding for cell phones has become an off-the-shelf technology: one company sells a unit that its literature says is “capable of taking the bearing of every mobile phone active in a channel.”

Although CBP’s unmanned Predator aircraft are commonly called drones, they’re remotely piloted by FAA-licensed operators on the ground. They can fly for up to 20 hours and carry a payload of about 500 lbs.

___________________

Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People’s Money column for CBS News’ Web site.

Leaks – the Five Worst

Editor’s Note – There are for more examples, but these five tell the story – inept administration at the White House. Or, was it intentional, only time will tell.

The 5 most damaging national security leaks of the past year

By Lazar Berman – American Enterprise Institute

The recent, steady leak of classified national security information has turned into a torrent. Many experts say such high level leaks must have the tacit approval of the White House even if they are not sourced directly to Obama administration officials. The president has called those charges “offensive,” and has promised to investigate the leaks.

No matter the source, the leaks  have already done great damage to America’s reputation, embarrassed our allies and put lives at risk.

Flip through the list of the five biggest recent national security leaks.

Local Cops Ready for War With DHS Security-Funded Military Weapons

A decade of billions in spending in the name of homeland security has armed local police departments with military-style equipment and a new commando mentality. But has it gone too far? Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz of the Center for Investigative Reporting report.

From the Daily Beast

Nestled amid plains so flat the locals joke you can watch your dog run away for miles, Fargo treasures its placid lifestyle, seldom pierced by the mayhem and violence common in other urban communities. North Dakota’s largest city has averaged fewer than two homicides a year since 2005, and there’s not been a single international terrorism prosecution in the last decade.

But that hasn’t stopped authorities in Fargo and its surrounding county from going on an $8 million buying spree to arm police officers with the sort of gear once reserved only for soldiers fighting foreign wars.

Every city squad car is equipped today with a military-style assault rifle, and officers can don Kevlar helmets able to withstand incoming fire from battlefield-grade ammunition. And for that epic confrontation—if it ever occurs—officers can now summon a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. For now, though, the menacing truck is used mostly for training and appearances at the annual city picnic, where it’s been parked near the children’s bounce house.

Atlanta Police S.W.A.T. members searched a building for a shooting suspect in July of 2010., John Bazemore

“Most people are so fascinated by it, because nothing happens here,” says Carol Archbold, a Fargo resident and criminal justice professor at North Dakota State University. “There’s no terrorism here.”

Like Fargo, thousands of other local police departments nationwide have been amassing stockpiles of military-style equipment in the name of homeland security, aided by more than $34 billion in federal grants since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a Daily Beast investigation conducted by the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

The buying spree has transformed local police departments into small, army-like forces, and put intimidating equipment into the hands of civilian officers. And that is raising questions about whether the strategy has gone too far, creating a culture and capability that jeopardizes public safety and civil rights while creating an expensive false sense of security.

“The argument for up-armoring is always based on the least likely of terrorist scenarios,” says Mark Randol, a former terrorism expert at the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress. “Anyone can get a gun and shoot up stuff. No amount of SWAT equipment can stop that.”

Local police bristle at the suggestion that they’ve become “militarized,” arguing the upgrade in firepower and other equipment is necessary to combat criminals with more lethal capabilities. They point to the 1997 Los Angeles-area bank robbers who pinned police for hours with assault weapons, the gun-wielding student who perpetrated the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and the terrorists who waged abloody rampage in Mumbai, India, that left 164 people dead and 300 wounded in 2008.

The new weaponry and battle gear, they insist, helps save lives in the face of such threats. “I don’t see us as militarizing police; I see us as keeping abreast with society,” former Los Angeles Police chief William Bratton says. “And we are a gun-crazy society.”

Adds Fargo Police Lt. Ross Renner, who commands the regional SWAT team: “It’s foolish to not be cognizant of the threats out there, whether it’s New York, Los Angeles, or Fargo. Our residents have the right to be protected. We don’t have everyday threats here when it comes to terrorism, but we are asked to be prepared.”

The skepticism about the Homeland spending spree is less severe for Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York, which are presumed to be likelier targets. But questions persist about whether money was handed out elsewhere with any regard for risk assessment or need. And the gap in accounting for the decade-long spending spree is undeniable. The U.S. Homeland Security Department says it doesn’t closely track what’s been bought with its tax dollars or how the equipment is used. State and local governments don’t maintain uniform records either.

To assess the changes in law enforcement for The Daily Beast, the Center for Investigative Reporting conducted interviews and reviewed grant spending records obtained through open records requests in 41 states. The probe found stockpiles of weaponry and military-style protective equipment worthy of a defense contractor’s sales catalog.

In Montgomery County, Texas, the sheriff’s department owns a $300,000 pilotless surveillance drone, like those used to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists in the remote tribal regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Augusta, Maine, with fewer than 20,000 people and where an officer hasn’t died from gunfire in the line of duty in more than 125 years, police bought eight $1,500 tactical vests. Police in Des Moines, Iowa, bought two $180,000 bomb-disarming robots, while an Arizona sheriff is now the proud owner of a surplus Army tank.

The flood of money opened to local police after 9/11, but slowed slightly in recent years. Still, the Department of Homeland Security awarded more than $2 billion in grants to local police in 2011, and President Obama’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contributed an additional half-billion dollars.

Law enforcement officials say the armored vehicles, assault weapons, and combat uniforms used by their officers provide a public safety benefit beyond their advertised capabilities, creating a sort of “shock and awe” experience they hope will encourage suspects to surrender more quickly.

“The only time I hear the complaint of ‘God, you guys look scary’ is if the incident turns out to be nothing,” says West Hartford, Conn., Police Lt. Jeremy Clark, who organizes an annual SWAT competition.

A grainy YouTube video from one of Clark’s recent competitions shows just how far the police transformation has come, displaying officers in battle fatigues, helmets, and multi-pocketed vests storming a hostile scene. One with a pistol strapped to his hip swings a battering ram into a door. A colleague lobs a flash-bang grenade into a field. Another officer, holding a pistol and wearing a rifle strapped to his back, peeks cautiously inside a bus.

The images unfold to the pulsing, ominous soundtrack of a popular videogame,Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Though resembling soldiers in a far-flung war zone, the stars of this video are Massachusetts State Police troopers.

The number of SWAT teams participating in Clark’s event doubled to 40 between 2004 and 2009 as Homeland’s police funding swelled. The competition provides real-life scenarios for training, and Clark believes it is essential, because he fears many SWAT teams are falling below the 16 hours of minimum monthly training recommended by the National Tactical Officers Association.

“Luck is not for cops. Luck is for drunks and fools,” Clark said, explaining his devotion to training.

One beneficiary of Homeland’s largesse are military contractors, who have found a new market for their wares and sponsor training events like the one Clark oversees in Connecticut or a similar Urban Shield event held in California.

Special ops supplier Blackhawk Industries, founded by a former Navy SEAL, was among several Urban Shield sponsors this year. Other sponsors for such training peddle wares like ThunderSledge breaching tools for smashing open locked or chained doors, Lenco Armored Vehicles bulletproof box trucks, and KDH Defense Systems’s body armor.

“As criminal organizations are increasingly armed with military-style weapons, law enforcement operations require the same level of field-tested and combat-proven protection used by soldiers and Marines in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other high-risk locations,” boasts an Oshkosh Corp. brochure at a recent police seminar, where the company pitched its “tactical protector vehicle.”

The trend shows no sign of abating. The homeland security market for state and local agencies is projected to reach $19.2 billion by 2014, up from an estimated $15.8 billion in fiscal 2009, according to the Homeland Security Research Corp.

The rise of equipment purchases has paralleled an apparent increase in local SWAT teams, but reliable numbers are hard to come by. The National Tactical Officers Association, which provides training and develops SWAT standards, says it currently has about 1,650 team memberships, up from 1,026 in 2000.

Many of America’s newly armed officers are ex-military veterans from the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Charles Ramsey, who was police chief in Washington, D.C., on 9/11, upgraded the weaponry when he moved to Philadelphia in 2008. Today, some 1,500 Philly beat cops are trained to use AR-15 assault rifles.

“We have a lot of people here, like most departments, who are ex-military,” Ramsey says. “Some people are very much into guns and so forth. So it wasn’t hard to find volunteers.”

Some real-life episodes, however, are sparking a debate about whether all that gear also creates a more militarized mind-set for local police that exceeds their mission or risks public safety.

In one case, dozens of officers in combat-style gear raided a youth rave in Utah as a police helicopter buzzed overhead. An online video shows the battle-ready team wearing masks and brandishing rifles as they holler for the music to be shut off and pin partygoers to the ground.

And Arizona tactical officers this year sprayed the home of ex-Marine Jose Guerena with gunfire as he stood in a hallway with a rifle that he did not fire. He was hit 22 times and died. Police had targeted the man’s older brother in a narcotics-trafficking probe, but nothing illegal was found in the younger Guerena’s home, and no related arrests had been made months after the raid.

In Maryland, officials finally began collecting data on tactical raids after police in 2008 burst into the home of a local mayor and killed his two dogs in a case in which the mayor’s home was used as a dropoff for drug deal. The mayor’s family had nothing to do with criminal activity.

Such episodes and the sheer magnitude of the expenditures over the last decade raise legitimate questions about whether taxpayers have gotten their money’s worth and whether police might have assumed more might and capability than is necessary for civilian forces.

“With local law enforcement, their mission is to solve crimes after they’ve happened, and to ensure that people’s constitutional rights are protected in the process,” says Jesselyn McCurdy, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The military obviously has a mission where they are fighting an enemy. When you use military tactics in the context of law enforcement, the missions don’t match, and that’s when you see trouble with the overmilitarization of police.”

The upgrading of local police nonetheless continues. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaionow claims to operate his own air armada of private pilots—dubbed Operation Desert Sky—to monitor illegal border crossings, and he recently added a full-size surplus Army tank. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly boasted this fall he had a secret capability to shoot down an airliner if one threatened the city again. And the city of Ogden, Utah, is launching a 54-foot, remote-controlled “crime-fighting blimp” with a powerful surveillance camera.

Back in Fargo, nearby corn and soybean farmer Tim Kozojed supports the local police but questions whether the Homeland grants have been spent wisely. ”I’m very reluctant to get anxious about a terrorist attack in North Dakota,” Kozojed, 31, said. “Why would they bother?”

Obama Slashes Border Security

Editor’s Note – This topic is apparently so beaten to death that no one in the Department of Homeland Security or at the Justice Department wants to talk about it from this point forward and that includes the money allocated from Appropriations. If there are any non-believers out there that think Washington DC does not care about the Southern Border and the associated corruption and failed national security interests, then just spend one full day on the border, but bring along your own security.

Technology, humanitarian aid, and financial military support goes to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the billions of dollars but this White House has decided to trim the border security at our Southern border by half when it comes to assets and construction of the fence. Sure, it does not need to be a physical fence, but understand there are hundreds of miles exposed with no line of demarcation. The bottom line is, any borders with no protection of any sort is a failure of national security.

Please read the two articles below:

Obama Has Halved Spending on Border Fencing, Infrastructure, Technology–Leaving 1,300 Miles of Mexico Border Unfenced

By Edwin Mora

CNS News

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration has slashed spending on border fencing, infrastructure and technology, cutting it by more than half since it peaked under President George W. Bush in fiscal 2008, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

In 2008, according to GAO, the federal government spent more than $1.3 billion on border security fencing, infrastructure and technology. In 2011, it spend $573 million.

Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection has said that as of June it had fenced only 649 miles of the nearly 1,954-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border–leaving more than 1,300 miles of that border unfenced.

The November 2011 GAO report refers to this category of federal spending by the acronym BSFIT.

“Over $4.7 billion has been appropriated for BSFIT activities from fiscal years 2007 through 2011,” it says.

The report breaks the figure down for the five consecutive fiscal years (the 12-month period from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 of the following year) – $1.188 billion for FY2007, $1.303 billion for FY2008, $845 million for FY2009, $800 million for FY2010 and $573 million for FY2011.

Over that period, the annual appropriations for border security therefore peaked in FY2008 under President Bush and declined to its lowest level in FY2011 under President Obama.

“An across-the-board cut to DHS appropriations of 0.2 percent reduced the BSFIT appropriation to $573 million [in fiscal 2011],” notes the GAO. The report added that some of the annual appropriations covered in the report do not expire at the end of the fiscal year for which they were allotted.

The report also stated that last January, “after 5 years and a cost of nearly $1 billion,” the DHS ended the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet) – also known as the virtual fence – “because it did not meet cost-effectiveness and viability standards.”

“DHS is developing a successor plan to secure the Southwest border called the Alternative (Southwest) Border Technology plan,” the report adds. “The plan’s first phase is the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan, which also includes a mix of radars, sensors, and cameras.” It is expected to cost about $1.5 billion over 10 years.

Explaining how the appropriations have been directed, the report said that in November 2005 the DHS initiated the Secure Border Initiative (SBI), described as “a multiyear, multibillion-dollar effort aimed at securing U.S. borders and reducing illegal immigration.”

Under the SBI, the DHS’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) implemented the following programs:

  • SBI Network (SBI): radars, sensors, and cameras along 53 miles of Arizona’s 376-mile border with Mexico;
  • Northern Border Program: cameras, radars, and operations centers along the border with Canada;
  • Tactical Communications Modernization: an upgrade to the CBP communications systems; and
  • Tactical Infrastructure – fences, roads, and lighting along the southwest border.

According to the CBP, as of the end of June 2011 it had completed 649 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fencing along the approximately 2,000 mile-long Southwest border.

“A total of 350 miles of primary pedestrian fence has been constructed, while the final total of vehicle fence (the project was officially completed on January 8, 2010) was 299 miles,” it says.

A “primary pedestrian fence” is aimed at preventing the illegal passage of people while a “vehicle fence” is focused on stopping the unauthorized passage of vehicles.

“Their placement depends on the threat at the location and the operational needs of law enforcement,” CBP says.

CBP is responsible for securing a total of 8,607 miles of the U.S. border, including about 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, approximately 4,000 miles of the U.S.-Canada border, plus sectors of coastline in the Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

As of the end of fiscal 2010, the U.S. government had established “effective control” over 1,107 miles of the 8,607 miles it is responsible for securing – 69 miles along the northern border, 873 on the U.S.-Mexico border and 165 miles in coastal sectors.

Less than half of the southwest border and less than two percent of the northern border are therefore under “effective control.” The term applies to those areas where the U.S. government can be “reasonably” be expected to intercept illegal cross-border activity

The Holes Found in U.S. Border Fence Technology

After 20 years and billions of dollars, securing the southern border remains a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Why is it so hard to build a fence that works?

Popular Mechanics

By Dan Koeppel

As lines in the sand go, this steel structure is designed to be the toughest on earth to cross. The 15-foot-high fence extends west of Nogales into the Arizona desert, undulating and curving as it follows the border with Mexico. South of the fence, hillside houses rise beyond a hundred-yard-wide no man’s land. Some houses contain migrant laborers who will try—perhaps even tonight—to cross this line. A pickup truck makes its way up a gravel cut that zigzags across a hillside on the Mexican side. “He’s watching us,” says Border Patrol agent Mario Escalante. “He’s trying to gather intelligence—and so are we.”

This kind of fence—one of about a dozen different barrier types found along the southern border—has a name that sounds like something the Army would give its brawniest tank: the anti-ram. From a distance, it looks like an array of dark-colored vertical blinds.

On closer inspection, the slats reveal themselves to be steel pipes 4 inches in diameter filled with concrete poured around interior skeletons of rebar. The fence is modular, built in segmented panels 8 feet wide and sunk 6 feet into the ground.

One manufacturer claims it would take two men, each with a power saw, nearly 40 minutes to cut a 2-foot-wide hole in its anti-ram fencing, and they’d need to carry additional fuel and extra blades to do it. And if the fence’s name invokes images of an impenetrable barrier to powerful machines, it should—some anti-ram fences are designed to withstand a 40-mph impact by a 10,000-pound vehicle. Such defensive measures don’t come cheap: The average cost of vehicle fencing is $1 million per mile.

For more than 20 years, politicians from both parties have held the same basic position on the nation’s frontiers. “First, the United States must secure its borders,” President George W. Bush said on May 15, 2006. “This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign nation.” President Obama noted on April 29, 2010: “It is the federal government’s responsibility to enforce the law and secure our borders. . . .”

Few political leaders have disagreed with these sweeping sentiments. And polls show that about 60 percent of Americans are in favor of a barrier that they believe will curb illegal immigration, drug smuggling and terrorists.

Since 1990, the U.S. has barricaded about 650 miles of the nearly 2000-mile border with everything from rudimentary barbed wire to fencing made of Army surplus helicopter landing mats to three-sided steel barriers that look like bulked-up versions of the tritons that littered the World War II beaches of Normandy. More recent designs include concrete and steel bollards—vehicle-stopping posts similar to the kind found at entrances to government buildings, office towers and shopping malls. Some of the most expensive barriers—remotely operated surveillance systems—have been deployed in several field tests but with disappointing results.

Despite all the time, effort and money spent on both physical and virtual fences, about 175,000 migrants, mostly coming for work, made it past existing barriers in 2008. After decades of effort, bipartisan consensus and billions of dollars, America’s southern border seems as permeable as ever. And the frustrated American public wants to know: What’s so hard about building a fence?

At the headquarters of the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, in a room filled with video monitors, agents play for me a recording made two weeks ago, in early January. The incident began with a hit from a motion sensor buried 50 miles south in the Sonoran Desert.

Read the rest here: Popular Mechanics

Air Force to purchase Brazilian planes – Obama nixes more jobs

Editor’s Note – In this year of Presidential race politics, with National Security and Jobs/Economy the top concerns of the American voter, why is Obama continually finding ways to kill jobs. The delay on the Canadian oil pipeline until after the election means thousands of jobs will not be filled, maybe ever. Then there is this $1 Billion Air Force project going to a foreign company. Not just any company, but one with ties to Iran. How does this make sense? Your tax dollars are going overseas and possibly into the very hands of our enemies.

Remember, when the Pentagon spends money inside the United States, tax-payer money, those funds go into our economy. It creates jobs, and the money earned goes directly into the system, keeping others employed, all with our tax dollars. Instead, that money will go to Brazil. That is a double hit on our economy.

Obama Admin Bans US Aircraft Maker, Favors Non-US Firm with Ties to Iran on Light Aircraft Project

PJ Tattler

By Bryan Preston

Late Thursday the Obama administration abruptly knocked Kansas aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft out of contention for a $1 billion project to make a fleet of lightweight counterinsurgency aircraft for the Air Force. Hawker Beechcraft is, understandably, disturbed and asking questions.

The Air Force has notified Hawker Beechcraft Corp. that its Beechcraft AT-6 has been excluded from competition to build a light attack aircraft, a contract worth nearly $1 billion, the company said.

The company had hoped to its AT-6, an armed version of its T-6 trainer, would be chosen for the Light Air Support Counter Insurgency aircraft for the Afghanistan National Army Corps. The chosen aircraft also would be used as a light attack armed reconnaissance aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.

Hawker Beechcraft AT-6

The piston planes are designed for counterinsurgency, close air support, armed overwatch and homeland security, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Hawker Beechcraft officials said in a news release that they were “confounded and troubled” by the Air Force’s decision. The company said it is asking the Air Force for an explanation and will explore all options.

Hawker Beechcraft said it had been working with the Air Force for two years and had invested more than $100 million to meet the Air Force’s requirements for the plane. It noted that the Beechcraft AT-6 had been found capable of meeting the requirements in a demonstration program led by the Air National Guard.

“We have followed the Air Force’s guidance close, and based on what we have seen, we continue to believe that we submitted the most capable, affordable and sustainable light attack aircraft,” the company said.

The company has said that winning the contract would have kept its T-6 production line running after 2015. About 1,400 employees in 20 states – including 800 at Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita – work on the AT-6 and T-6 programs for Beechcraft and its U.S. suppliers and partners.

So that’s another 1,400 American jobs lost. And it gets worse. By knocking Hawker Beechcraft out, the Pentagon has limited the “competition” to one company, a company that is not only not an American manufacturer, it’s a government-owned entity with ties to our enemies. The company is Embraer, which is controlled by the government of Brazil and has close ties to the government of Iran, as Timothy Lee wrote for the Tatler on Nov. 10.

According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, “In 1989, Brazil chose to sell Tucanos, Embraer’s relatively low cost and basic military aircraft, to Iran.” Currently, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Air Force operates around 40 Embraer T-27 Tucanos, according to the Washington Institute. In fact, the Iranians use the Tucano as their primary close air support aircraft.

In recent years, Brazil has continued its troubling friendship with Iran and ruthless leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Hudson Institute notes that, “Another area of tension between Brazil and the United States relates to Iran. In November 2009, President da Silva invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Brazil. In May 2010, da Silva helped broker a deal in which Iran would ship only a portion of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey for reprocessing; the rest would remain in Iranian hands, where it could be further enriched for nuclear weapon production.”

That willingness to set ethics aside for the betterment of their bottom line illustrates the danger in the US purchasing military aircraft from Brazil.

The matter becomes even more troublesome as news trickles out about the recent Iran-lead assassination attempts on Saudi/US officials on American soil. Even more recently, details have emerged implicating Iran as the mastermind of an illegal plot to smuggle electronic components used in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) out of the US through Iran for US on our troops in Iraq.

Why is the administration making a decision to exclude an American manufacturer in favor of a maker with such a history? This is the Obama administration’s second billion-dollar giveaway to the Brazilian government in 2011; the first was its outrageous offshore oil loan guarantee decision in March. The two decisions siphon more than $2 billion and more than 21,000 jobs out of the US economy. Of the two, putting a foreign manufacturer with ties to our enemies in charge of a project to build anti-terror weaponry may be the most disturbing. And this is the Obama administration’s second major decision against an American aircraft manufacturer, the first being the NLRB’s unprecedented lawsuit against Boeing and its South Carolina Dreamliner plant. Both states impacted — Kansas and South Carolina — are right-to-work states. And then there’s this president’s sustained rhetorical war against corporate jet owners. Somebody has to make those jets, and Hawker Beechcraft is among the manufacturers indirectly targeted.