US citizens urged to oppose homeland drone surveillance

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-3-3 9:31:46

The conservative American Political Action Committee (AmerPAC) Saturday sent out mass e-mails to citizens, asking them to put pressure on the US Congress to stop surveillance of Americans using drones in US airspace.

The mass e-mail, signed by AmeriPAC chairman Alan M. Gottlieb, said that shocking news reports reveal that President Barack Obama will authorize the surveillance of Americans using drones in US airspace, and the US Homeland Security Department is purchasing ammunition.

"We must demand Congress get to the bottom of these stories and give the American people some answers. This Administration claims to be the most transparent Americans have seen in years yet the White House continues to side step and deny," the e-mail said.

According to the e-mail, "There is a brick wall between the privacy of individuals and public security that could be soon crossed."

"A camera on a public street corner for issuing speeding tickets is one thing but drones flying over that brick wall, invading the privacy of any Americans property and recording you in your back yard is extreme and illegal and unconstitutional," the e-mail added.

According to the e-mail, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has in the past year purchased over 2 billion rounds of ammunition.

"This is enough ammo to supply the US Military for years in an all-out war; the problem is that DHS does not supply our Military," the e-mail said.

According to the e-mail, the DHS is also involved in authorizing drones to fly all across the United States. They have created a video they are giving to Law Enforcement all over the country showing what these drones are capable of.

The video shows a drone overlooking two men making a deal over a military style firearm. The video depicts them as criminals even though private sale of firearms without a background check is perfectly legal, the e-mail said.

Drones come with an extremely expensive price tag. In order to get more of them into law enforcement agencies, the DHS has created a grant program in which they use hundreds of thousands of tax payer's dollars per drone, such as the one going to a sheriff's office in Texas for 500,000 dollars; 250,000 dollars of that was covered by the DHS grant, the e-mail said.

"Not only are these drones equipped with cameras, night vision, and heat sensing cameras, there are models that can be equipped with Tasers, shotguns, and even grenade launchers. These are drones they want to be flying around our neighborhoods that could have grenade launchers," the e-mail warned.

"Our economy is shrinking, unemployment is rising, and government spending is out of control. The DHS must think the United States is on a path of self-destruction with the actions they have taken of late," the e-mail stressed.

Press reports worried that the military rollout in process and planned, within the US, is massive: the Christian Science Monitor reported that a total of 110 military sites for drone activity are either built or will be built in 39 states. That covers America.

Last year, the US Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, with its provision to deploy fleets of drones domestically.

Jennifer Lynch, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, noted that this followed a major lobbying effort, a huge push by the defense sector to promote the use of drones in American skies: 30,000 of them are expected to be in use by 2020, some as small as hummingbirds - meaning that people won't necessarily see them.

Others will be as big as passenger planes. It is reported that police in Seattle have already deployed them.

Posted in: Americas

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