Perhaps emboldened by the perceived impotence of the ACLU, BORDC, Center for Constitutional Rights, “Oath Keepers” and other toothless rights watchdogs, not to mention the inability of Occupy Wall Street to penetrate the mainstream media blackout of efforts to repeal NDAA, on Monday 6 February 2012 H.R. 658 – euphemistically labelled the “FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act” – sailed through the Senate (75-20-5) on its way to the White House where some say our unexpectedly pro Super PAC President Barack Obama is expected to swiftly sign it into law:
As were Sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 – which despite Obama’s signing statement and other claims to the contrary codify the indefinite detention without charge or trial of American citizens on American soil – tucked neatly away in H.R. 658 (and possibly never read by many of our lobbified legislators) is Section 320, officially summarized as follows:
“Requires the FAA Administrator to: (1) develop plans to accelerate the integration of unmanned aerial systems [drones] into the National Airspace System, and (2) report to Congress on progress made in establishing special use airspace for the DOD to develop detection techniques for small unmanned aerial vehicles and to validate sensor integration and operation of unmanned aerial systems. Directs the DOD Secretary to establish a process to develop certification and flight standards for military unmanned aerial systems at specified test sites.”
With that exposed, a more fitting moniker for H.R. 658 might be the “Skynet Surveillance Enabling Act of 2012″. According to USA Today, “Drones, perhaps best known for their combat missions in Afghanistan, are increasingly looking to share room in U.S. skies with passenger planes… Now, organizations from police forces searching for missing persons to academic researchers counting seals on the polar ice cap [are] eager to launch drones.” In less candy-coated and more specific terms, once the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Wide Area Aerial Surveillance System – or WAASS (think Skynet) – drone surveillance network enabled by H.R. 658 is in place, privacy in our real as well as virtual worlds will become a thing of the past. Big Brother will be able to spy on just about anyone doing just about anything just about anywhere on American soil. As DHS stated:
“The primary objective of WAASS is to provide persistent, long-term surveillance over urban and rural terrain at least the size of 16 km2. The surveillance system shall have an electro-optical capability for daylight missions but can have an infrared capability for day or night operations. The sensor shall integrate with an airborne platform for data gathering. The imagery data shall be displayed at a DHS operations center and have the capability for forensic analysis within 36 hours of the flight.”
And as was previously reported, “Skynet” citizen surveillance has already begun:
Welcome to 1984.