12 December 2011

The use of drones in North Dakota

From the StarTribune...
Janke knew the gunmen could be anywhere on the 3,000-acre spread in eastern North Dakota. Fearful of an armed standoff, he called in reinforcements from the Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three counties. He also called in a Predator B drone.
As the unmanned aircraft circled 2 miles overhead, its sensors helped pinpoint the suspects, showing they were unarmed. Police rushed in and made the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare.
That was just the start. Police say they have used two unarmed Predators based at Grand Forks Air Force Base to fly at least two dozen surveillance flights since then. The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration have used Predators for other domestic investigations, officials said...
The drones belong to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which operates eight Predators on the country's borders to search for illegal immigrants and smugglers. The previously unreported use of its drones to assist local, state and federal law enforcement has occurred without any public acknowledgment or debate...
For decades, courts have allowed law enforcement to conduct aerial surveillance without a warrant, ruling that what a person does in the open, even behind a backyard fence, can be seen from a passing plane and is not protected. Advocates say Predators are simply more effective than other planes.
More at the StarTribune.  Photo credit Eric Gay, Associated Press.


  1. Slippery slope... we'll soon be getting tickets in the mail for whatever THE EYE HOLDERS find profitable to prohibit.
    Tall grass in you backyard? Sunbathing? Leaves that you have not raked? Running at night? Making out in the woods?
    Collecting rainwater?
    Heck, half of these you could bill folks right now using Google maps.
    But with drones, you could bill hourly.

  2. Slippery slope? More like to Hell in a handbasket. What's wrong with connecting the dots on the latest treason by Congress. I'm speaking of course about the "National Defense Authorization Act" which allows the US Military to arrest and throw away the key on anyone (U.S. Citizen or not) accused of terrorist activies. No Lawyer,no trial and they have to answer to nobody about it.Who's to say picking up that pack of cigarettes isn't a terrorist activity in someone's book.

  3. Funny you should mention google maps. Most of the high resolution images for the US in google maps 'satellite view' is actually aerial photography as like as not commissioned by our various tax assessors offices and planning agencies just so they can take a peek at everyone's house; so they can tack on some taxes if you put in a pool, or bust you for a code violation if you put in an addition too close to the setback. As they are government products, they are available to anyone. So: traffic cameras are drones on a stick, Airplanes are drones with a dynamic organic control processor in the loop. In other words, I don't worry about drones, I worry about some misguided overly broad 'privacy law' that protects our civil servants from our ability to monitor them.

    More fun if you own a house: google '[your county name] tax assessor' or maybe 'property appraiser' or something like that. On that website search for your property by address or your name. Maybe you can search for the property of someone you don't like, or somebody you like too much(stalker). There is a WHOLE bunch of info that *I* think should be private, but isn't.

  4. "Previously unreported"? Only if you don't read any of the blogs I edit.

    From my personal blog, 02/17/2009:


  5. JK, if you want to find out what all your neighbors' homes are worth, just go to Zillow.

  6. Exactly
    But the county has owner of record, taxes paid, improvements, historic sales information, etc. and nobody saying boo about it, because, you know, drones.

  7. You can't pretend to be surprised, a new tool will always be used. And while I'm against increased surveillance on principle, I see little difference between a drone and a helicopter. Well, except for the million dollar maintenance fee.


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