Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Domestic Drone Surveillance -- "CAUSE DU JOUR" of some nervous Americans. Lighten up!

Verne Strickland / February 5, 2013

Domestic surveillance drones have apparently become the cause du jour for a clutch of Americans who react with shock and disdain at use of the technology here.

It's a knee-jerk reaction, and much of the argument against drones seems sophomoric, alarmist and reactionary.

What I am going to offer here is sure to coax a chorus of rabid criticism against me. No problem. I've survived that before.

I'm a gun guy, a hawk, a promoter of American exceptionalism, and of a strong U.S. military, and always have been. I don't deny that much of my philosophy in that regard was taught me by the late patriot and statesman U.S. Senator Jesse A. Helms. As a matter of fact, I am proud to claim that connection to the gritty North Carolina, who told me once -- "I never won a public approval poll, and I never lost an election."

God bless the legacy and memory of our Jesse Helms.

"Senator No" prided himself in what that derisive description revealed when we saw the other side of that coin. If he was against deficit spending, he was for fiscal sanity. If he was for states' rights, he was against a behemoth federal bureaucracy. If he was against the United Nations, he was for an America free to make its own way in support of Democracy. And so on. On the other side of "Senator No" was "Senator Yes". He was revered worldwide for his iron-clad principles and high character. One of a kind.

Senator Helms was falsely criticized for paranoia, sometimes saying, "There is much to be paranoid about." As head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he fiercely guarded the reputation and efficiency of our intelligence communities -- the vanguard of our defenses in the "shadow wars" of espionage and terrorism.  Since his era, and on the "watch" of President Obama, we have seen and acknowledged the decline and implosion of our clandestine services -- CIA, FBI, and like agencies. Conservative Helms was spot-on here. Liberal and questionable patriot Obama was dead wrong, and still is.

This whole piece is not presented in tribute to Jesse Helms. But this link between him and drones is buttressed by his memory, his solid reasoning, his 100 percent belief in his America.And his understanding of  the work and world of spies.

So where are we going with this? I've seen several hints in all this incendiary and hysterical ballyhoo about domestic surveillance drones to know I am looking at fairly transparent international propaganda planted on our networks and in the press.

Why is it there? The picture painted is one of "Big Brother" U.S. government drones prying into the everyday lives of innocent Americans and watching every move we make. That is a great big wad of anti-American baloney sausage. And I won't eat it.

I have followed with growing impatience the spooked-out histrionics of Americans who are so upset over drone use here. These people are not unpatriotic. I just think they have the whole business figured out wrong.

And I am suspicious of their selective indignation over this surveillance technology.

I'll wager that the overwhelming majority of anti-drone radicals have never complained about cities (like Wilmington) which are adding safety lighting to sidewalks and parking lots. Recently we had an innocent young man murdered by pistol thugs near the Historic USO Club building. More powerful lighting is in the plans there. Does that make anyone nervous? Only the robbers, killers and drug peddlers.

I live downtown, and it gives me a sense of  heightened security when I hear our WPD helichopper overhead, usually in response to a 911 about a crime committed, and a criminal on the loose. Many of these enemies of a safe city have been corralled and put in the slammer, convicted, and sent to prison. Good riddance. Anybody want to ground these surveillance aircraft?

Our city is networked now with street-level crime-fighting surveillance cameras which are effective in making would-be criminals nervous, and preventing many crimes which would otherwise have been committed. Who's in favor of trashing this important crime-fighting equipment? Huh?

Look around you -- anywhere. You'll see, and benefit from, technology that keeps you safer than you would be without it. Just one example -- the blinking signals at the railroad intersections that warn us of oncoming trains. Your approaching vehicle triggers them. You stop. You live. Who gets nervous over that?

Well, as usual, I have gone far afield on this mainline sermon. I have given plenty of evidence that drones -- which do exactly what these other electronic devices do, only better -- are vital to the health, security and safety of our Cape Fear Region. But our selective indignation zones in on drones. Doesn't make sense.

Finally? I'll bet you enjoy GOOGLE EARTH, an astounding surveillance system which brings the whole world to our computers. I have seen their fancy wide-angle camera systems around Wilmington shooting updated material. One guy (not in Wilmington) claimed his privacy was invaded when he was caught urinating in somebody's yard. Was that you? That satellite system is so highly sophisticated that the North Koreans complain that it is exposing their missile-launching silos and causing them considerable embarrassment. Got a problem with that?

All of the machinations over drones is misplaced. And it plays into the hands of governments and ideologies which want to work harm for America. Just tonight, there was a hyped-up story on complaints around the U.S. of the evils of surveillance drones.

Bull Pie! Know what this is really all about? This is expertly generated and publicized propaganda placed in the public eye, depicting American "concern" and fear over the "eye in the sky". If they can stampede our citizens into deploring and complaining about our drones, our enemies -- communists, socialists, radical Islamists, Majia, and others without names -- they will dampen enthusiasm for systems that are our own, working for us, working against mobsters and jihadists, and perhaps create uneasiness about drone application.

Recall President Reagan's brilliant "Space Missile Shield" planned as an umbrella of protection from ICBMs? This was vehemently derided by liberals in the U.S. press as "Star Wars", and this propaganda was effective in slowing its development. It was planted by Russian propaganda professionals. In more recent years, we have seen another initiative along these lines. Russia's Medvedev bristled and complained. If the Russians shake their nuclear arsenals in mock anger, we're on the right track. 

There's lots more to be said about this drone issue. But I cranked this out in a hurry. I'll do a better job later. But just let up a bit, guys and gals. Please. Let's remember who the enemy is.

Charlottesville, Va., has become the first city in the United States to formally pass an anti-drone resolution.
The resolution, passed Monday, "calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court," and "pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones."

The resolution passed by a 3-2 vote and was brought to the city council by activist David Swanson and the Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group based in the city. The measure also endorses a proposed two-year moratorium on drones in Virginia.
Councilmember Dede Smith, who voted in favor of the bill, says that drones are "pretty clearly a threat to our constitutional right to privacy."
"If we don't get out ahead of it to establish some guidelines for how drones are used, they will be used in a very invasive way and we'll be left to try and pick up the pieces," she says.

VS: If Councilmember Smith hands off our drone surveillance to crooks and communists, she may actually be one of the pieces.