Obama Deploying Drones Around U.S.

Photo Credit: WNDBy Steve Peacock. The deployment of federal drones in and around U.S. shores represents one of the Obama administration’s next steps in the nation’s expanded use of unmanned aircraft systems for surveillance purposes.

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, or ONMS, recently acquired Puma UAS – a type of drone that the U.S. Navy also uses – for operations off the coast of Los Angeles.

ONMS now is enlisting contractor support in expanding UAS use in California, Hawaii, Florida, and Washington state. Vendors experienced in working with law enforcement and military personnel are needed for this endeavor, according to a solicitation that WND located through routine database research.

The Puma drones – which are small enough to launch by hand – will be used by ONMS to enforce federal regulations, the document says.

The ONMS drone project will focus on Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary located northwest of LA. However, the contractor also will assist Puma UAS operations at Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Midway in Hawaii, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in Washington. Read more from this story HERE.

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Photo Credit: LA TimesJudge torn over lawsuit in drone strike that killed Americans

By Michael Doyle. Courts cannot second-guess drone strikes that kill U.S. citizens overseas, an Obama administration lawyer argued Friday.

A Republican-appointed judge sounded dubious about the expansive claim, saying she was “really troubled” by assertions that courts are completely shut out of the drone strike debate. But for other legal reasons, the judge also sounded hesitant about a lawsuit targeted at top military and intelligence officials for violating the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens blown up in foreign lands.

“There are instances where wrongs are done, but for one reason or another they cannot be remedied in a civil suit,” U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer said.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, representing a family member, have sued former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other former officials over the two separate drone strikes that killed three U.S. citizens in Yemen. The Obama administration wants the lawsuit dismissed.

The lawsuit is the latest challenge to the administration’s secretive war-fighting practices that have mobilized skeptics on both the right and the left. ERad more from this story HERE.

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Photo Credit: U.S. Air ForceU.S. military drone surveillance is expanding to hot spots beyond declared combat zones

By Craig Whitlock. The steel-gray U.S. Air Force Predator drone plunged from the sky, shattering on mountainous terrain near the Iraq-Turkey border. For Kurdish guerrillas hiding nearby, it was an unexpected gift from the propaganda gods.

Fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, filmed the charred wreckage on Sept. 18 and posted a video on YouTube. A narrator bragged unconvincingly that the group had shot down the drone. But for anyone who might doubt that the flying robot was really American, the video zoomed in on mangled parts stamped in English and bearing the label of the manufacturer, San Diego-based General Atomics.

For a brief moment, the crash drew back the curtain on Operation Nomad Shadow, a secretive U.S. military surveillance program. Since November 2011, the U.S. Air Force has been flying unarmed drones from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey in an attempt to suppress a long-simmering regional conflict. The camera-equipped Predators hover above the rugged border with Iraq and beam high-resolution imagery to the Turkish armed forces, helping them pursue PKK rebels as they slip back and forth across the mountains.

As the Obama administration dials back the number of drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, the U.S. military is shifting its huge fleet of unmanned aircraft to other hot spots around the world. This next phase of drone warfare is focused more on spying than killing and will extend the Pentagon’s robust surveillance networks far beyond traditional, declared combat zones.

Over the past decade, the Pentagon has amassed more than 400 Predators, Reapers, Hunters, Gray Eagles and other high-altitude drones that have revolutionized counterterrorism operations. Some of the unmanned aircraft will return home with U.S. troops when they leave Afghanistan. But many of the drones will redeploy to fresh frontiers, where they will spy on a melange of armed groups, drug runners, pirates and other targets that worry U.S. officials. Read more from this story HERE.