Friday, December 20, 2013

Debating drones

A few stories related to drone surveillance caught my eye and may interest Grits readers:

The city of Alpine in Presidio County rejected a proposal that would have made it one of six FAA testing sites for drones. Reported a local TV station:
Alpine was designated as a possible launch and recovery site last month but city council members voted against it.

Pilots in the area, including Kevin O'Cuillin, were worried about safety.

"It's a very dangerous situation. A drone can't see us. As we learned earlier, there is no air traffic control," O'Cuillin said.

Residents in the tri-county area do feel better. Oscar Cobos started a petition against drones in Alpine and talked with Presidio County about taking measures to prevent a testing site.
Meanwhile, down south, "The U.S. Border Patrol will evaluate the use of three helium-filled surveillance balloons along the Texas-Mexico border that were originally used by the Department of Defense in Iraq and Afghanistan," reported AP. See earlier Grits coverage of surveillance blimps on the Texas-Mexico border.

Finally, at Slate, Nabiha Syed discusses why the FBI thinks warrantless drone surveillance is legal. Regular readers know that, after the passage of HB 912 last session, state and local law enforcement in Texas must now get a warrant to use drone surveillance, and the new statute includes a super-tough exclusionary rule when agencies use them without one.


Anonymous said...

CBP Assumes Operational Control of Tethered Aerostat Radar Systems (TARS)

(Monday, November 04, 2013)
Washington - U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently assumed responsibility for the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) from the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The aerostat-borne surveillance system—operating in the U.S. since 1978—provides radar detection and monitoring of low-altitude aircraft and surface vessels along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Florida Straits, and a portion of the Caribbean.

USAF and DHS personnel began the formal transfer of the TARS program, contracts, and operations responsibilities in March 2013. On July 1, 2013, CBP assumed official program and contract management responsibilities and have assumed all funding requirements in FY 2014.

The program consists of eight TARS aerostat sites with six along the Southwest Border (Yuma and Ft Huachuca, Ariz.; Deming, N.M.; Marfa, Eagle Pass, and Rio Grande City, Texas) and additional sites in the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico.

[From the CBP website]:~)

Anonymous said...

We have drones running government. No surprise.