Sun. Apr 14th, 2024
Dragon Fly or Dragon Spy? @2012 Karla Fetrow

By: Karla Fetrow

Do you remember watching the 2008 “Get Smart” movie, that rollicking comedy about a bumbling agent and his much sexier, far more competent partner?  In the opening scene, Agent 23 smashes a fly that had somehow gotten into the Mission Control room; only it wasn’t a fly at all, but a miniature drone.  The madcap technical scientists are devastated by this act of sabotage on their latest invention, and we should be devastated too; because that fly wasn’t the imaginative gimmick of a spy comedy bordering on sci-fi, but the very real and latest surveillance equipment of the US Government.

With its usual glossy sales pitch of good will, the US Government’s military research center has described how these tiny drones, built to mimic flying insects, can benefit us in future conflicts.  The bugs will be able to infiltrate enemy camps, recording and taking photographs without detection and locate survivors buried under a bomb attacks, a heroic conclusion except it would have been far more comforting if the pitch had concluded that it would help to locate civilians buried under the rubble of a natural disaster.  As is in all advancements of technology, the first trend of thought is how it can be used in war.

These war-like tendencies that had once concerned itself mainly in foreign engagements, has in recent years, turned its attention to the vastly growing discontent of the civilians they are supposed to be protecting.  Although they are in denial, the first observations of this new technology surfaced in 2007, when civilian anti-war protesters reported seeing bizarre, flying objects hovering above their peaceful march and accused the US Government of secretly developing robotic insect spies.  The unofficial comment was a reply to the Daily Telegraph, by Tom Ehrhard, a retired Air Force colonel and expert on unmanned aerial craft, told the Daily Telegraph at the time that ‘America can be pretty sneaky.’

The following year, the US Air Force unveiled insect-sized spies ‘as tiny as bumblebees’ that could not be detected and would be able to fly into buildings to ‘photograph, record, and even attack insurgents and terrorists.’

We should be devastated because the cap has been taken off on what can be described as terrorist activity.  American and foreign opposition to any disagreeable government policy can now be technically defined as potential terrorism.  This is a very hard blow to the tenements of democratic freedom, which can only be effective as an evolving concept. Under the 4th. Amendment, ratified in 1791, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This amendment was written in at a time when our fore-fathers visualized the unscrupulous means of a tyrannical government to squelch all opposition and sought to safeguard against abuse of power, as tyranny is always the temptation of high office.  They were not able, however, to visualize the development of a technology that would have at its disposal the ability to listen in and tape conversations without entering the home, to photograph from a distance, and even to track where people go.

With the advent of the cell phone and Internet communications, wire-tapping has already gone on an unprecedented rampage.  The Bush Administration  acknowledged that intelligence agencies conducted warrantless eavesdropping on Americans with the help of Telecom companies such as Verizon, AT&T, and Qwest.  All three of these Telecom companies faced multiple civil lawsuits related to their handling of phone records and all three have been  granted  immunity from prosecution.

All three were granted immunity because their services were “necessary” for National Security.  Bush put the tender feelings of the Telecom companies ahead of the privacy rights of civilians. Mike McDonnell, Director of National Security, feels that immunity is necessary for encouraging telecommunication agencies to continue cooperating with intelligence agencies and to prevent them from going bankrupt.

The American Civil Liberties Union already has its hands full trying to control an agency full of bugs.  They have filed lawsuits, motions, and complaints in over 27 states so far to oppose any legislation that encourages unchecked government surveillance.

We should feel devastated because instead of upholding the law, the government has found ways to get around it in the subterfuge of statutes.  Any lawyer will tell you that statutes have nothing at all to do with actual Constitutional law.  Statutes are freely written into law by legislators, generally under the prompting of lobbyists, special interests groups; such as real estate companies and insurance firms; to favor and protect their ventures.  Statutes are not static nor irreversible.  Neither are they voted upon by the citizens.  If we took all the statutes and comprised them into one volume, that book would be twenty-four feet long.  If we took the time to study all the statutes currently in place, we would discover that under these pseudo-laws, every single citizen is a felon.  Is it really any wonder then that the United States has a larger percentage of its population behind bars than any other country on earth?

The technology for the insect sized drone hasn’t been perfected yet.  Its movements are mechanical, it can’t hover and it can’t land with precision, but researchers are confident it’s only a matter of time before their tiny machines can fly among the insect crowd virtually undetected.  This statement makes it rather obvious that the first concern is not for using artificial bugs as a life-saving advantage.  If the drones use was specifically for detecting signs of life buried under rubble, there would be no need for stealth.  It would be considered a marvel in engineering.  All the evidence points to one great obsession; surveillance of both domestic and foreign populations.

We should feel devastated because a peaceful society is, by necessity, dependent on listening to both sides of any argument or disagreement.  It’s built on communications; i.e., free speech, and compromise.  A peaceful society cannot exist as an entity ruled by force, squelching all opposition in its formative stage.  Nor can the progression of true law, built on the principles of natural human rights evolve into a meaningful statement of modern awareness as long there is fear of government retaliation.

We are fearful.  The US Government has repeatedly demonstrated that it puts the rights of monopolistic power ahead of the rights of its citizens.  It has demonstrated repeated aggression in foreign affairs, despite the protests of its constituents.  It has invaded our privacy.  We are fearful because the government has disguised its ill intent behind statutes that were not agreed upon by the constituents and that do not comply with Constitutional law.  We should be devastated, but we should not be defeated.  A government that spies on its people is also fearful.  It fears the power of  opposition.  It fears the voices of the righteous that would make this opposition a cohesive force.  It fears We the People, and rightly so, because together we can dissolve the unconstitutional statutes that justify invasion of privacy through a war on terrorism; a war that is their own making.  Together, we can show we are not terrorized; that we are communities that do not need  brutal force to govern us, and exterminate the insects of surveillance.

By karlsie

Some great perversity of nature decided to give me a tune completely out of keeping with the general symphony; possibly from the moment of conception. I learned to read and speak almost simultaneously. The blurred and muffled world I heard through my first five years of random nerve loss deafness suddenly came alive with the clarity of how those words sounded on paper. I had been liberated for communications. I decided there was nothing more wonderful than writing. It was easier to write than carefully modulate my speech for correct pronunciation, and it was easier to read than patiently follow the movements of people’s lips to learn what they were saying. It was during that dawning time period, while I slowly made the connection that there weren’t that many other people who heard the way I did, halfway between sound and music, half in deafness, that I began to understand that the tune I was following wasn’t quite the same as that of my classmates. I was just a little different. General education taught me not only was I just a little isolated from my classmates, my home was just a little isolated from the outside world. I was born in Alaska, making me part of one of the smallest, quietest minorities on earth. I decided I could live with this. What I couldn’t live with was discovering a few years later, in the opening up of the pipeline, which coincided with my first year of junior college, that there were entire communities of people; more than I could possibly imagine; living impossibly one on top of another in vast cities. It wasn’t even the magnitude of this vision that inspired me so much as the visitors who came from these populous regions and seemed to possess a knowledge so great and secretive I could never learn it in any book. I became at once, very conscious of how rural I was and how little I knew beyond the scope of my environment. I decided it was time to travel. The rest is history; or at least, the content of my stories. I traveled... often to college campuses, dropping in and out of school until one fine day by chance I’d fashioned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve worked a couple of newspapers, had a few poems and stories tossed around in various small presses, never receiving a great deal of money, which I’m assured is the norm for a writer. I spent ten years in Mexico, watching the peso crash. There is some obscure reason why I did this, tightening up my belt and facing hunger, but I believe at the time I said it was for love. Here I am, back home, in my beloved Alaska. I’ve learned somewhat of a worldly viewpoint; at least I like to flatter myself that way. I’ve also learned my rural roots aren’t so bad after all. I work in a small, country store. Every day I greet the same group of local customers, but make no mistake. My store isn’t a scene out of Andy Griffith. The people who enter the establishment, which also includes showers, laundry and movie rentals, are miners, oil workers, truck drivers, construction engineers, dog sled racers and carpenters. Sometimes, on the liquor side, the conversations became adult only in vocabulary. It’s a good thing, on the opposite side of the store is a candy aisle filled with the most astonishing collection, it will keep a kid occupied with just wishing for hours. If you tell your kids they can have just one, you have an instant baby sitter; better than television; as they agonize over their choice while you catch up on the gossip with your neighbor. We also receive a lot of tourists, a lot of foreign visitors. They are usually amazed at this first sign of Alaskan rural life style beyond the insulating hub of the Anchorage bowl. Many of them like to hang around and chat. They gawk at our thieves wanted posters. They laugh at our jokes and camaraderie with our customers. I’ve learned another lesson while working there. You don’t have to go out and find the world. If you wait long enough, it comes to you.

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11 thoughts on “America Bugged by Drones”
  1. I don’t know that it is stopable. The most dangerous individual is a fearful one-a fearful government will do anything.

  2. I know that this does seem intimidating, but there are effective counter-measures to electronic surveillance – one that immediately springs to mind in the HERF gun (a device that creates an EMP field that’s devistating to electronic devices): these devices are powerful enough to disable cars and plans for them can be found on the internet – if you or some one you know has the necessary skills, one can be assembled from a car battery and some miscellanious parts from a hardware store. If you and a few of your fellow subversives are planning an important face-to-face meeting and you’re concerned about evesdroppers, take one of these and “spray” the room before you start and then interrupt the discussion at random intervals for additional “spraying” to keep those pesky insect drones away…

  3. “…one that immediately springs to mind in (sic) the HERF gun (a device that creates an EMP field that’s devistating (sic) to electronic devices)”

    You’re missing the point entirely.

    The point is this: We live in a police state, funded by the 1%, who own the nation’s wealth.

    With that much raw power (that’s what wealth is), they’re going to win this fight, until or unless succeeding generations manage to get lucky, like we did in the 1700’s, and manage to raise a crop of selfless leaders like Jefferson and his pals.

    History says otherwise – which is why the American experiment was worth saving. Unfortunately, we’ve now got three generations who decided education was worthless or something to be despised and suspected, while provincially-minded bullshit and superstition were to be respected.

    Now, the only thing left is to either revolt, or leave.


  4. Grainne, most assuredly we cannot keep the government from developing its spy technology any more than we would have been able to prevent the development of the atom bomb, but we already have an amendment in place that insures citizens’ privacy, an amendment that has existed over two hundred years. The amendment has been circumvented through a statute, which is not lawful and can be revoked. Yes, we have a fearful government, but they have been able to get away with “anything” precisely because people have thrown up their hands and said there was nothing we could do about it.

    There are things we can do about it. We can get over our fear of terrorism and realize who the real terrorists are. We can join or support the existing organizations that are trying to defend our basic rights. We can quit throwing our freedoms away for a false sense of security. We can demand the end to unlawful statutes that put the individual citizen in jeopardy. This might throw us into civil war, but do you really want the alternative? We are suppressed and criminalized, our privacy has been invaded, we have been set at odds against each other simply to further the exploits of unlawful government with the malicious intent of conducting little wars at home and abroad, keeping its citizens bankrupt. The Orwellian nightmare has begun.

  5. Azazel and Will both posted a comment while I was answering Grainne’s. Will, i agree with you in every detail, except one; this group of young people growing up are extremely aware. I am proud to say my daughter recently purchased and read the book “1984” in two days. She spent over an hour discussing it with me as she could see all the parallels between Orwell’s genius creation and the society we live in now. She is not an exception. I hear the energy of the youth and their consternation. The Constitution is worth saving; it is a priceless jewel; and i believe if anyone manages to produce leaders that reflect the values of these tenets of freedom, it will be our youth.

  6. @ W.D. Noble,

    1. The founders of the U.S. were by no means selfless – the American Revolution was a calculated risk on their part (one that paid off – for them) and, once the Brits were driven out, they made damn sure that the common man had only a *minimal* voice in the affairs of the state: that’s why so much power was held by the unelected Senate (yes, the first Senator’s were not elected – not even as a show in a rigged race for the office), the electoral college was put into place (just in case some radical actually *did* manage to win fair and square at the ballot box) and the vote was restricted to land-owning, white males (as opposed to today, where everyone can vote in a meaningless farce: rather than restirct the vote, they depower it now…).

    2. There’s more to winning a conflict than just raw power and wealth – you may be right in that the ruling classes control most of the resources, but the thing about resources is that they can be taken away via expropriation by force of arms or destroyed via sabotage.

    Like it or not a full-scale rebellion is coming and soon (within the next 10-15 I’d say…) and the U.S. as you know it is headed out the door – the state knows this and is paranoid: hence the reason for boosting it’s “internal security” apparatus – it knows the only real chance it has of surviving is to stop rebels before they organize and become strong enough to pose an existential threat to it (and that’s what all this high-tech surveillance is all about – stopping rebellions before they start). Once the guerilla war starts within its own borders it’s game over for the state since it doesn’t have the means to retain control of its global empire *and* put down a full-blown civil war at home.

    3. I didn’t miss the point – a large part of warfare (both conventional and unconventional) revolves around information: counter-measures against surveillance (electronic or otherwise) play an important role in denying the enemy (i.e. the police state) vital information about an insurgency’s plans – and denial of intel gives the advantage to the guerrillas (since it’s difficult to win an unconventional conflict via brute force). The police state has some powerful capabilities, but is not by any means invulnerable…

  7. As far as phones being tapped goes there is some good news for those concerned about their privacy. A full restore of your device should remove any rogue applications that may have been installed without your knowledge. When it comes to land lines however it can be more difficult since these are usually physical rather than software based. There is more information available at Cell Phone Tapped

  8. Mitch, i don’t think they need miniature drones for most of their domestic spy techniques. Internet, cell phones, even our choice of television stations, as well as the foods and items we buy that are tracked through our discount or credit cards allows the government to maintain a profile on every one of us. I think the addition of bugs are meant primarily for “trouble shooting” target areas whenever one of their illegitimate statutes are likely to cause protest or resistance.

    I’ve been watching closely the policy toward gun laws. The government has successfully adverted this amendment right in a number of states through statutes. It is now targeting states that continue to maintain the right to keep and bare arms. Recently, feds tried to pull the records of everyone who has bought a gun in our state. Gun sellers resisted handing over the information, but this does not mean the feds will simply shrug and give up. Far from it. They will continue to add statutes to the Homeland Security Act until everyone who owns a gun can be added to their list of potential terrorists.

    Another basic amendment right in jeopardy is freedom of religion. There is an active, organized effort to implement a State religion at the exclusion of all others. This State religion would not only dismiss alternative religions to Christianity, it would exclude Christian religions not in compliance with their fundamental doctrines.

    Many of these statutes meant to revoke our basic rights are still in the developing stage, but their purpose is to program the populace into complete compliance. The compliance isn’t to maintain law and order, but to accept you are guilty under the laws of statutes and must pay your way out through penalties, fees and labor. While we can’t stop the government from bugging us, we can demand that the use of secret recordings of private citizen’s conversations; a statute introduced by ex-President Bush’s Homeland Security Act: not be admissible in a court of law. It’s just one small step in regaining our rights to privacy, but a necessary one to reverse this take-over of Corporate law.

  9. I am particularly interested that you brought up the state religion part. This has been a concern of mine too. Nearly every Christian religion looks forward to a “Nation under God” it is so incredibly easy to convince Christians into a state run church and yet it is a trap, as that church can easily then be converted to anything. It was what Nazi Germany was beginning to do before they fell. And there were plenty of christians in camps who were against the state church.

  10. “Like it or not a full-scale rebellion is coming and soon (within the next 10-15 I’d say…) and the U.S. as you know it is headed out the door…I didn’t miss the point – a large part of warfare (both conventional and unconventional) revolves around information: counter-measures against surveillance (electronic or otherwise) play an important role in denying the enemy (i.e. the police state) vital information about an insurgency’s plans….”

    Well, we can agree on the first part.

    As to the second, good luck with that NERF gun (and with your ‘fortified land’, for that matter) – because the government has a forty-year lead on you.

    Even an armchair-tactician such as yourself knows this much: You can’t win a fight like this. This isn’t Cuba in 1957; as I pointed out to Jen on her post this week, this isn’t El Salvador, either.

    Think East Germany in 1955. They had a for-s**t economy – but they kept their populace in line. Very few made it out. That’s the kind of place they’re building here.

    While armed-insurrection is likely, we should be hoping for a rapid Balkanization and a dissolution of the U.S.; not itching for a fight as you seem to be doing.

    Me? I’m working toward being out of here, and gone – because the best way to avoid such things is to be someplace where they are not.


  11. 1. It’s called a “Herf” (high-energy radio frequency) gun – not NERF gun. And those things are powerful enough to fry a car’s electrical components.

    2. The state thought they had a nice lead over the Iraqi and Afghan insurgents as well – and we both know what’s going on over there today…

    3. I’m not itching for a fight so much as accepted that it’s inevitable – and the goal of the guerrilla insurgent isn’t to “win” (at least not as most people understand the concept) so much as deny the enemy victory until it has been bled dry: the goal is to thoroughly exhaust the state’s capacity to put down resistance.

    4. The East German police state didn’t have (1.) a well-armed or trained population to start an effective insurgency, (2.) an abundance of resources that potential insurgents could stockpile before the iron curtain descended (as the place was pretty much wrecked by a World War when that police state set up shop) and (3.) the U.S./NATO empire has no external lifeline to rely on (as the East GErmans had the U.S.S.R. to fund them – allowing them to operate with horrid economic conditions).

    So, to echo your own words, this isn’t East Germany…

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