Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spy in the Sky

By Capt. Fogg

You expect the smaller government gospel in Texas and Texans will tell you that the damned government should stay out of private matters like dragging gay men to death behind pickup trucks, instituting safety standards for drilling rigs and demanding proper accounting practices from Bush beloved companies like Enron, but there's an alternate logic in Texas; one that has no problem with the government spying on us with unmanned drones. Following us down the road recording our movements and our speed and our destinations, peeking into our back yards. The largest of these things are as big as airliners and the smallest, I'm told, can fly right into your window. Some are remotely operated, some are almost autonomous. They can see in the dark, they know when you're sleeping; they know when you're awake -- well, maybe not, but they know if you've been good or bad.

Of course there's support for patrolling the borders with these machines, which are much cheaper to operate and aren't dangerous to the operators, but they pose a collision hazard to civil aviation and the FAA, pushed by manufacturers, fear-mongering politicians and the government, has been trying to balance the need for aviation safety with the lust for more government surveillance. Texas officials, including Gov. Rick Perry, Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, are so hot to employ drones on the border and who knows where else that they're trying to twist the President's arm. Cornyn, for instance is blocking a Senate confirmation vote on Michael Huerta, Obama's nominee for the No. 2 FAA job, until he gets his way.

Of course there are legitimate uses for drones, but there are legitimate dangers, not all of which concern collisions and the urge to deploy more eyes in the sky; the insistence that we can and must trust the government with another spy tool seems to make liars out of the people making careers out of telling us we can't trust anyone but them.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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