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“Accidental” Air Force Spying on You Is Now Legal

Written by Gary North on May 11, 2012

The Air Force is launching a fleet of drone spy planes across American skies.

These are data-gathering devices. They hold data for 90 days whenever they accidentally collect it over the USA.

Why hold it at all?

Legally, the Air Force is not supposed to snoop on citizens of the USA. But if they take off from American soil, and they just happen to keep the cameras running, it’s “no harm-no foul.”

Collected imagery may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent,” reads the instruction (.pdf), unearthed by the secrecy scholar Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. That kind of “incidental” spying won’t be immediately purged, however. The Air Force has “a period not to exceed 90 days” to get rid of it — while it determines “whether that information may be collected under the provisions” of a Pentagon directive that authorizes limited domestic spying.

What the Air Force intends to do with such data is a mystery to the public. It takes human resources to evaluate data. Why would the Air Force tie up these resources?

The Air Force offers this one: to observe natural disasters. But why should it do this? What is the authorizing mission?

Then there is this: studying environmental changes? Really? Like what? Why?

The Air Force may want to keep tabs on a military base. That makes a little sense. Is the Air Force expecting terrorists to attack a military base? Dumb terrorists, maybe.

If I were a terrorist, I would avoid military bases.

Who will police the erasure of the tapes? How do we know the tapes are erased?

We don’t. We won’t. We can’t.

What if another agency asks for a little data-sharing?

The skills gained by Air Force drone operators will be highly marketable to other government agencies. This is a career path with a high payoff.

Drones are going to be used by many agencies as their prices fall. Their prices will fall.  As more are ordered and deployed, the division of labor takes over. Innovation accelerates.

Used drones will get cheaper. Your local sheriff’s department will be able to afford one. It will be the “in” thing for a department to have.


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10 thoughts on ““Accidental” Air Force Spying on You Is Now Legal

  1. I wonder if it is legal for someone to "Accidentally" shoot one down… oops, I am so sorry, I do not know how my gun went off when I dropped it…

  2. I am kidding of course… I just find it interesting that the government is always inadvertently doing things to its citizens, however if anything inadvertent really happened by a citizen, it would be a crime.

  3. Windpilot_One says:

    First let me state that I do not endorse this loss of privacy and freedom. However the precedent is in place and satellites and surveillance from the sky as well as security cameras in public have been used without privacy and freedom concerns for decades. If our forefathers had any hint that this technology was conceivable I suspect they would have banned it in the late 1700's with the courts either striking it down or trying too "control" the populace and expand governmental powers which was the opposite of the Framers of the Declaration and the Constitution were absolutely opposed. The Tenth Amendment "The powers not delegated …. nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." I know of no permission given by the people nor the states therefore it at least is unconstitutional. However current and past Executives, Congress and the Courts have so abridged our rights that we have replaced God and our liberty with Governmental dependance and control never considered as reasonable nor authorized by those God Fearing Patriots who sacrificed their lives, honor and fortunes to give us a country and government that we have now allowed it to be the nanny instead of its true purpose, limited government to serve the people not control them. Wake up America!

  4. Hopefully, the pilots will remember their oath to "protect and uphold the people and the Constitution" and refuse to gather information against or even for the people of the U.S.A.

  5. Navy Vet says:

    Just wait and see what happens when one of these spy planes crashes into a neighborhood and kills innocent people. What a price we have to pay in order to give liberals the right to "accidentally" collect information on law abiding citizens.

  6. rationalconservative says:

    Remember the movie "Enemy of the State" with Will Smith? And you thought it was just fiction.

  7. Beepster says:

    Are you talking about the "pilot" on the ground who is controlling the drone?? If he/she does, that person is out of the military. Fact of current life in the US. I'm not nearly as worried about this intrusion as I am about sicking the military onto the people who try to protect their rights, themselves, and their families during the upcoming martial law episode that will be declared before Nov elections.

  8. 1776Patriot says:

    "I was just following orders. "Thats what German soldiers of WW2 said. If your commander says watch that guy he's a terrrorist you just follow orders. If you say NO he is an American. Thats a refusal to obey an order. Your arrested and the next guy takes your seat. When they arrest enough soldiers they all fall in line.

  9. Hotnike says:

    Why are you saying you are kidding. They spy on us illegally and we can take them dowm legally.

  10. glop, I don't think that drones have "pilots…