Monday, October 31, 2011

What Kind of Bird is That?

Hey, we thought those drone birds were just indigenous to the Ay-rab lands! We thought they was just gonna be used for taking out turr'sts!

Boy, I've heard of chickens coming home to roost ... but chickens are a little different from flying imperial deathbots, aren't they? Yeah, but weren't our supervisors supposed to reserve those Flying Fists-O-Fury for the camel jockeys? Weren't we just supposed to amuse ourselves on YouTube, watching drone snuff-porn clips? Why, having fought the terrorists there, are they getting ready to fight us here? Check it out:
CONROE, Texas -- A Houston area law enforcement agency is prepared to launch an unmanned drone that could someday carry weapons, Local 2 Investigates reported Friday.

The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in Conroe paid $300,000 in federal homeland security grant money and Friday it received the ShadowHawk unmanned helicopter made by Vanguard Defense Industries of Spring.

A laptop computer is used to control the 50-pound unmanned chopper, and a game-like console is used to aim and zoom a powerful camera and infrared heat-seeking device mounted on the front.

"To be in on the ground floor of this is pretty exciting for us here in Montgomery County," Sheriff Tommy Gage said.
So, this high-ranking clown in the Army of Domestic Occupation is "pretty excited." I don't know about you, but when these overupholstered militarized skinheads start getting excited, I start getting more worried than usual. Wonder what the Shur'f finds so exciting?
Michael Buscher, chief executive officer of manufacturer Vanguard Defense Industries, said this is the first local law enforcement agency to buy one of his units.

He said they are designed to carry weapons for local law enforcement.

"The aircraft has the capability to have a number of different systems on board. Mostly, for law enforcement, we focus on what we call less lethal systems," he said, including Tazers that can send a jolt to a criminal on the ground or a gun that fires bean bags known as a "stun baton."

"You have a stun baton where you can actually engage somebody at altitude with the aircraft. A stun baton would essentially disable a suspect," he said.

Gage said he has no immediate plans to outfit his drone with weapons, and he also ruled out using the chopper for catching speeders.

"We're not going to use it for that," he said.
Now, there's an impressive collection of weasel words. Mostly, for law enforcement, they focus on what they call less lethal systems. And Shur'f Tommy has no immediate plans to weaponize his deathbot. But think of the possibilities ... some anonymous porker having the ability to tase you, bro, from the air, with no peasant having the slightest ability to individually identify the LEO who's serving and protecting him. But at least the Shur'f firmly denies any intention of using his remote warrior to catch speeders. I feel better already!

But, well, uh ... I mean, could anything ... you know ... go wrong?
In September 2008, the Government Accountability Office issued a 73-page report that raised issues about police drones endangering airspace for small planes or even commercial airliners.

The report's author, Gerald Dillingham, told Local 2 Investigates that 65 percent of the crashes of military drones on the battlefield were caused by mechanical failures.

He said a police UAV could lose its link to the ground controllers if wind knocks the aircraft out of range or the radio frequencies are disrupted.

"If you lose that communication link as the result of that turbulence or for any other reason, then you have an aircraft that is not in control and can in fact crash into something on the ground or another aircraft," said Dillingham.

Pilots of small planes expressed those concerns in the original 2007 Local 2 Investigates reporting on police drones, and the FAA reported then that police departments across the country were lining up to apply for their own drones.

At Montgomery County, Franklin said an onboard GPS system is designed to keep the UAV on target and connected with the ground controllers. He said coordinates are plotted in advance and a command is given for the UAV to fly directly to that spot, adjusting to turbulence and other factors. He said he and the other controller can alter "waypoints" quickly on the laptop to move the chopper to areas that had not previously been mapped out. He said the aircraft moves at a speed of 30 knots, which he said makes it unsuitable for police pursuits.

Small aircraft pilots have expressed concerns that drones cannot practice the "see and avoid" rule that keeps aircraft from colliding in mid-air. Since the camera may be aimed somewhere else, pilots said police controllers may not be able to see and avoid other aircraft in the area during a sudden police emergency.

Gage said he would take every concern into account as his UAV is deployed.

The only routine law enforcement flights inside the United States over the past four years have been the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Their border flights over Texas and Arizona have included one crash, where the drone lost its link to the ground controller.
Oh, well, then ... nothing can go wrong! (Even though it sometimes does, but ... never mind.) Franklin says so, and the Shur'f is taking every concern into account! It's kind of like those no-knock, dynamic entry SWAT raids, where the chair-moisteners with any sort of warrant to serve dress up in all-black costumes and throw some flash-bangs and shoot any dog within sight and bust in and ... I mean, they never do that at the wrong address, do they? It's not like anybody ever gets hurt or killed, do they? Well, in any case, don't worry about it ... if anything does go wrong with the deathbot, the Shur'f will do a rigorous five-minute investigation of himself, and will conclude: unfortunate isolated incident, department procedures followed throughout, officers not at fault, nothing to see here, move along, move along.

Folks, you wanted a military empire, and you got one, and now you're its subjects. For my part, I reserve the right to complain bitterly, because I didn't want one, but I got the one you ordered, and I'm its subject, too. The chickens, and other -- more exotic -- flying creatures, are coming home to roost. Snarling kickers of swarthy butts overseas, and respectful public servants in a constitutionally-limited republic at home? You might want that arrangement, but it can't be had. So enjoy what can be had.

(Thanks, Agitator, for the link.)


Mimi said...

Even Orwell didn't envision a horror like this one. I wonder if there's ANY kind of protest or outcry in Texas about it. Will look it up.
Huh, I could apply the phrase "domestic drone" to myself, but the joke's on me, I guess.

Phil Marx said...

"To be in on the ground floor of this is pretty exciting for us here in Montgomery County," Sheriff Tommy Gage said.

I bet that's the same thing the young Nazi soldier said when told he would be guarding the gas chamber.