Political Puppets Play Security Theater, But Feds Set the Stage

July 28, 2012 in News

Danny Benavides
Traces of Reality
July 28, 2012

House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management Hearing henry cuellar Michael McCaul Jeff Duncan republican democrat austin texas laredo border drones military defense contracts

Last week, Traces of Reality covered the domestric drone issue, with emphasis on the implications for the homebase in Laredo, Texas. News of Vanguard Defense Industries‘ helicopter-styled Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), dubbed “Shadowhawk”, spread quickly, with its invasion of Laredo also reported on Texas Observer this week.

Concerns and outcry from constituents seem to have grabbed the attention of Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus co-chair Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas, Boeing, Honeywell) and fellow CUSC member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, Honeywell, Northrop Grumman), elected to represent the Laredo and Austin areas respectively, especially. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina, Honeywell, Boeing, Force Protection, Raytheon, Halliburton, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin) introduced the proceedings during this past week’s House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management hearing, held on July 19, 2012, where some of the concerns raised herein were echoed.

Yet, the most disconcerting aspects of domestic drone use, namely the inherent militarization of American airspace and the accountability that must be demanded, were mostly ignored. Moreover, the remedies endorsed by the members of Congress present at the hearing were disappointing, but business as usual (literally). One can almost hear the lobbyists whisper the questions into our Representatives’ ears.

For those less masochistic (who may not wish to eradicate two hours of their day), what follows provides a quick recap of what you need to know from this Congressional hearing: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been deeply interested in UAV utilization since 2004 and presently owns and operates 10 drones of its own.

Law enforcement agencies and state universities have also latched on to the drone craze, and the equally crazed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to select 6 “test cities” for domestic drone use. UT Radionavigation Laboratory Assistant Professor Todd Humphreys testified at the hearing, but believes the most worrisome problem with domestic drone operations is that the Department of Homeland Security has not yet regulated or seized authority over the industry. Humphreys suggests that while the FAA holds safety as its primary objective, it is security (as in internet, national, and social) from the Department of Homeland Security that Congress should be seeking with regard to domestic drone deployment.

Though “safety” and “security” are two different words that describe the same quality, this is of no matter, because Federal government officials are always omnipotent and infallible when centralized control is institutionalized. So goes the promise from the pandering politicians, anyway. The Congressional representatives nod their heads in agreement as another consolidation gets underway, DHS money is laundered from politicians approving federal grants, over to companies and entities with well-connected lobbyists (such as AUVSI, for example), and then from those benefitting companies back to the politicians for a heckuva’ job well done. No doubt, this is the precise model of just about every single government program in effect today.

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Yet, the most crucial issue within this matter looms: Who will be responsible for errant or erroneous UAV operations? Will Homeland Security express the same manner of accountability for drone strikes as the CIA for its undertakings in Pakistan? When a drone flying above America crashes or attacks, harming or destroying life and property, which Homeland Security bureaucrat will be fired or prosecuted for the violation? What agency or department will be scrutinized or subpoenaed? The record of accountability for the federal government has been utterly dismal, and exponentially so, since that one fateful morning in September of 2001 that the Constitution of the United States first began its descent into the shredder. The age-old adage continues to hold true: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither.”

Consider also the danger in assigning operational and political responsibility of any given government program to a body whose agents, officials, or representatives are the very cause of the problem said program is implemented to solve. This is especially true in two key aspects in relation to the proposed UAV solution: ruthless Mexican drug cartels and militant Islamic terrorists.

Wherever cartels are entrenched, death follows. This is no surprise as any black market requires conflict resolution with violence inflicted upon life, liberty, and property to maintain its market and its power. Consider, for instance, the equivalent bloody episode visited upon Chicago amid Alcohol Prohibition during the 1920s and into the 1930s. Booze and spirits were the scourge du jour, but outlawing these goods from the free market merely forced the industry underground, offering a lucrative black market where only criminal enterprises (producers and pushers) could operate and profit.

With such opportunity, it became impossible for the Central Intelligence Agency to miss the party. One can spend days on end peeling the drug war onion, being reminded by infamous drug kingpin “Freeway” Ricky Ross, that he never owned the giant C-130 aircraft to transport the enormous quantities of cocaine he was moving at the time. But this article’s focus will remain fixed to the immediate area.

Just a couple of years ago, a nominal head of the notorious Sinaloa cartel in Mexico officially thanked the United States government and several of our past presidents for the boon of business drug cartels alike have witnessed. Simultaneously, Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, an official spokesman for Chihuahua, Mexico asserted that the CIA “manages the drug trade,” but does not seek to eliminate it. Never fear, citizens, this man was “not a high ranking official,” so say the overlords of thought management.

After all, supporting a drug cartel under the table is the best defense against an out of control paramilitary gang like Los Zetas, itself an organization trained and aided by elements of the United States government. Still, reports of obscene amounts of dollars — washed, rinsed, and dried through a handful of Too-Big-To-Fail American banks — persist just below the radar of public awareness. This arrangement would indicate that government operatives, via contract or regulation, stand to gain ad infinitum. It is true, however, that the United States, via some functionary group or another, fights all sides of the Drug War; in financial terms, this could be considered geopolitical diversification.

And so it goes for the realm of international terrorism as well. America’s present Public Enemy No. 1, embodied by the militant al-Qaeda jihadis, seem to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The group itself was an invention of Western government agencies, and the “relationship never ended.”

During the Cold War, radical Islamists were America’s ally against the Soviet Empire. In the 21st century, so-called terrorists became a politician’s best friend. So much so, that the aforementioned “Increased Domestic Drone Use” Congressional hearing invoked “9/11″ nearly a dozen times within the first ten minutes. Diversification. Nevermind the fact that President Barack H. Obama’s first American drone kill was a citizen born in New Mexico, Anwar al-Awlaki. Also forget that this same “terrorist mastermind” attended a formal event at the Pentagon just months before September 11, 2001. This is but a mere coincidence, and not at all indicative of a pattern of setting up patsies to fulfill the Problem-Reaction-Solution equation, of which the ghosts of Shoe and Underwear bombers continue to haunt in airports across America.

The fact that the United States openly supported and armed the Libyan opposition forces which led to Gaddafi’s death is also unimportant, citizen. And deja-vu with Syria… What else did you expect? The long, sordid history of U.S federal agencies, such as the FBI, CIA, DEA, or BATF, training, funding, and providing material support to terrorist factions is extremely troubling, to say the least. In case after case, the Border Patrol or Police Department right hand is oblivious to the actions of the FBI or ATF left hand. Elements of the United States government, rogue or otherwise, are always sure to take full advantage of the opportunities these conflicts present.

Yet here we are, ready to acquiesce the total control of American airspace to the same Federal authorities who have relegated all air travel to the level of a two-fer cavity search-cum-irradiation. Americans en masse have become too accepting of more laws and more governmental bodies instituted to make every second of life flawlessly happy and safe, and failing gloriously time after time.

The same government that raises mischief with one hand rises to the rescue with the other, while using both handfuls to extract what it can from the population in wealth and freedom. The same talking heads bobble: “Drones are for your safety” and “[We must] go after those folks who are actually hurting, assaulting and kidnapping people.” As expected, bureaucrats voice simple solutions to coverup the symptoms, while avoiding the underlying metastasizing problems at the foundation of the border region’s weakness: stupid laws and gutless politicians on the take.

Failure to address the battle of liberty versus tyranny will guarantee the degradation of Webb County on par with what those in the area have seen unfold just across the river. Cast aside the conditioning, gullibility, and naiveté. But most importantly, do not abandon liberty for it is a gift innate in our humanity that ambitious politicians cannot destroy.