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Police employ Predator drone spy planes on home front -

Police employ Predator drone spy planes on home front -
Reporting from Washington — Armed with a search warrant, Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke went looking for six missing cows on the Brossart family farm in the early evening of June 23. Three men brandishing rifles chased him off, he said. Janke knew the gunmen could be anywhere on the 3,000-acre spread in eastern North Dakota. Fearful of an armed standoff, he called in reinforcements from the state Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three other counties. He also called in a Predator B drone. As the unmanned aircraft circled 2 miles overhead the next morning, sophisticated sensors under the nose helped pinpoint the three suspects and showed they were unarmed. But that was just the start. "We don't use [drones] on every call out," said Bill Macki, head of the police SWAT team in Grand Forks. The drones belong to U.S. Congress first authorized Customs and Border Protection to buy unarmed Predators in 2005. In an interview, Michael C. Related:  surveillanceUS law enforcement & criminal justicePOLICE

Thailand: $13 Million for Lese Majesty Web-taps | Asia Pacific | World By Alex JohnstonEpoch Times Staff Created: December 14, 2011 Last Updated: December 14, 2011 Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej waves from his wheelchair in Bangkok on his 84th birthday Dec. 5, 2011. (Pairoj/AFP/Getty Images) Thailand has approved a $13 million budget to tap into websites with content related to lese majesty (an offense that violates the dignity of a ruler), or information that is critical or insulting to the country’s monarchy, reported the Bangkok Post. Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said his committee has been tasked with purchasing equipment that would “be used to obtain communications network data” that could be used as evidence, the Post said. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is highly revered in Thailand and many locals consider him semi-divine. Last Thursday, Thai-born American Joe Gordon, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for using the Internet to spread information against the king.

The Silent Treatment Illustration: Brian Stauffer [Editor's note: This story first ran online in December, 2011. This is the updated version that appears in the March/April 2012 issue of the magazine.] "THIS IS A COLLECT CALL from a correctional institution," says the robotic female voice at the other end of the line. After a moment of confusion, I realize it must be Felix Garcia, whom I'd visited several weeks earlier in a northern Florida prison. He's serving a life sentence on a robbery-murder charge for which his own brother now admits to framing him. Felix is deaf, which is why he's using a TTY operator. Felix lost most of his hearing when he was still a kid. "Felix," I plead awkwardly. "I won't do it,'' he says finally. I repeat: "Do not kill yourself." "Yes, sir." Felix grew up in Tampa, one of six children in a working-class Cuban American family. A good-looking kid with a sweet demeanor, he managed to make it through school by getting girls to tutor him—or help him cheat.

NSA Gadget Transfer Program Turning Local Cops into Spies By Activist Post With the media spotlight shining on police militarization, most Americans know something about the federal 1033 transfer program that enables police departments to get military equipment like armored vehicles, high power weapons, grenade launchers, and even bayonets. But most Americans don't realize that local law enforcement agencies can also acquire spy gear from the feds. The NSA transfers electronic gadgets to a variety of agencies including local law enforcement, and it is as simple as catalog shopping. This is yet another example of the tangled web of cooperation between state and local law enforcement, and the feds - a phenomenon quickly devolving America into one massive interconnected surveillance state. These transfer programs have largely gone unnoticed. The catalog contains the following mission statement. Some of this technology is specifically marketed to law enforcement: Here are just two examples of the technology your local cops can get their hands on.

Occupy Wall Street's 'occucopter' – who's watching whom? | Noel Sharkey and Sarah Knuckey Tim Pool's 'occucopter' is a response to the police eviction of Occupy Wall Street protestors from Zuccotti Park, New York. Photograph: Keystone USA-ZUMA/Rex Features The police may soon be watching you in your garden picking your vegetables or your bottom. As police plans for increasing unmanned aerial surveillance take shape, there is a new twist. Private citizens can now buy their own surveillance drones to watch the police. This week in New York, Occupy Wall Street protesters have a new toy to help them expose potentially dubious actions of the New York police department. Now the protesters are fighting back with their own surveillance drone. Pool is attempting to police-proof the device: "We are trying to get a stable live feed so you can have 50 people controlling it in series. This is clever stuff and it doesn't stop there. Ordinary people having the technology to watch the watcher is not something George Orwell predicted in his futuristic vision of 1984.

Spray Anything: Marketing Crowd Control to Cops When Lt. John Pike pepper sprayed Occupy protesters at the University of California-Davis last week, many were outraged at a clearly disproportionate use of force in a nonviolent situation. Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore cop turned academic, wrote that even though he'd been trained to pepper spray noncompliant suspects, actually doing so would be "dumb-ass." But that shift isn't just about police departments buying body armor and tanks. Naturally, cops are the major target for this market, and weapons manufacturers peddle a wide array of less-lethal tools to departments large and small. Below, a small sampling of the less-lethal weapons being marketed to police officers as crowd control tools. Spray it, don't say it: Defense Technology, a subsidiary of the weapons maker BAE Systems, markets these fire-extinguisher-sized cannisters of pepper spray as "crowd management" tools. Defense Technology Priax ALS Technologies Pepper Ball Combined Tactical Systems Taser Magnum Tactical

Obama Signs Bill Creating “Amber Alert” System for Violence Against Police Officers By Carey Wedler On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed a new bill intended to help keep better track of violent attacks against law enforcement. S.665 is also known as the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015, named for two NYPD officers killed late last year. It will set up infrastructure at the local, state, and federal level to keep meticulous track of acts committed against police. According to Congress’ website, the bill will create a Department of Justice-sponsored “Blue Alert” system, which mirrors the Amber Alert system created to locate abducted children. The bill defines “Blue Alert” as …information sent through the network relating to: (1) the serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty, (2) an officer who is missing in connection with the officer’s official duties, or (3) an imminent and credible threat that an individual intends to cause the serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer.

FOIA Documents Show FBI Illegally Collecting Intelligence Under Guise of “Community Outreach” December 1, 2011 FBI Storing Information on Activities Protected by the First Amendment, Memos Obtained by ACLU Show Make a Difference Your support helps the ACLU stand up for human rights and defend civil liberties. Give Now FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; NEW YORK – The FBI has been illegally using its community outreach programs to secretly collect and store information about activities protected by the First Amendment for intelligence purposes, according to FBI documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union. “The trust that community outreach efforts aim to create is undermined when the FBI exploits these programs to gather intelligence on the very members of the religious and community organizations agents are meeting with,” said Michael German, ACLU senior policy counsel and a former FBI agent. FOIA documents showing instances of inappropriate intelligence gathering include:

America Edges to Brink of Armed Police Drones Europeans are lagging the United States in using aerial drones for police work – and they don’t really mind. A county north of Houston made news in Europe at the end of October by taking delivery of a new “weaponizable” drone, a squat remote-controlled helicopter called a ShadowHawk that can fire Tasers or beanbags at people on the ground. Police in Montgomery County say the drone would chase drug smugglers or escaping criminals. Alarmed Europeans wondered if some aspect of drone warfare — so far a problem only for terrorists and other strangers in poor and distant countries — had come home to the First World. “In the end the police have the same consideration as the military,” writes a columnist at Telepolis, a tech website in Germany, “namely that using drones in risky situations can keep personnel out of danger.” Surveillance drones tend to be popular with border-patrol agencies in the U.S. and Europe. But an armed police drone would be new. [class name="dont_print_this"] [/class]