February 10th, 2012
Technology used to hunt enemy combatants in Afghanistan will be used for “non-emergency incidents” within the U.S.
(PaulWatson) – The Department of Homeland Security plans to spend up to $50 million dollars on a spy system that has been used to hunt insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan for the purposes of “emergency and non-emergency incidents” within the United States.
The DHS is seeking four contractors to provide “aerial remote sensing” services, using LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology fitted to drones or manned aircraft that will provide surveillance capability for “homeland security missions,” as well as “management of emergency incidents by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional offices, joint field offices and by state and local government.”
“DHS believes these airborne images are essential for homeland defense missions, such as planning for National Special Security Events (Super Bowls or a national political conventions come to mind); enhancing border, port and airport security; as well as performing critical infrastructure inventories and assessments,” reports Government Security News, adding that the technology will be used for “emergency and non-emergency incidents nationwide.”
The DHS expects successful contractors to “ensure imagery can be acquired, processed and delivered in 48 hours or less and the ability to support simultaneous missions in multiple geographic locations.”
LIDAR spy technology, which uses ultraviolet, visible, or near infrared light to track objects or people from the sky, has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan to track insurgents. The US military has praised the technology for its proficiency in providing “battlefield surveillance” and being able to easily locate enemy combatants due to it being “especially useful at seeing through foliage.” LIDAR can be deployed using both manned and unmanned aircraft.
The U.S. Air Force “has already deployed an unknown number of LIDAR aircraft to map all of Afghanistan,” reports MSNBC, with the 3-D laser mapping technology also being adapted to work aboard U.S. Special Forces helicopters such as the Blackhawk or Chinook to help hunt insurgents.
According to Raytheon, one of the companies that develops LIDAR, the technology is adept at tracking “people in crowded environments for safety and security,” because unlike traditional surveillance methods, LIDAR is honed to measure characteristics of individuals and keep them tracked within a “grid cell” so they cannot evade detection.
Under the terms of the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, the whole of America has been defined as a battlefield, with the government reserving the power to have “belligerents,” including American citizens, arrested and detained indefinitely without trial.
US law enforcement bodies are already using drone technology to spy on Americans. In December, a Predator B drone was called in to conduct surveillance over a family farm in North Dakota as part of a SWAT raid on the Brossart family, who were suspects in the egregious crime of stealing six missing cows. Local police in this one area have already used the drone on two dozen occasions since June last year.
Last summer, the Department of Homeland Security gave the green light for police departments in the United States to deploy the ShadowHawk mini drone drone helicopter that has the ability to taze suspects from above as well as carrying 12-gauge shotguns and grenade launchers. The drone, also used against insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, is already being used by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office in Texas.
The DHS has also provided drone surveillance for foreign countries, aiding Jamaican authorities in a botched drug raid that led to the massacre of 73 civilians last year.
A bill passed in by Congress this week paves the way for the use of surveillance drones in US skies on a widespread basis. The FAA predicts that by 2020 there could be up to 30,000 drones in operation nationwide.