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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Drones Are Already Here: How's the City Council Going to Deal with This Pandora's Box?

Posted by on Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 5:59 PM

One thing was abundantly clear at this afternoon's city council meeting on Seattle's police drones (insert joke about the city council droning on here). Nobody likes them very much.

The ACLU doesn't like them, the public really doesn't like them, council members are skeptical about them (some more openly than others), and even assistant police chief Paul McDonagh kept a measured tone when talking about the latest, flashiest tool in crime-fighting technology.

Which makes all the political sense in the world: since the city found out that the police department acquired two drones with a federal homeland-security grant in 2010 (without telling anybody), the public response has been overwhelmingly negative.

This afternoon, the city council's committee on public safety, civil rights, and technology (Bruce Harrell, Mike O'Brien, and Nick Licata) met to discuss a proposed bill regulating how the SPD can use its two drones. Also at the table: representatives from the ACLU, the SPD, and the Seattle Human Rights Commission.

Towards the end of the meeting, council member O'Brien pointedly told assistant chief McDonagh he was "disappointed" that it was a "beg-forgiveness, not ask-permission conversation." In other words, not a meeting about whether Seattle police should have drones, but how they should be used.

During the public-comment period, speakers (11 in all, roughly a third of the attendees, not counting journalists) also complained about the fait accompli nature of the conversation. The afternoon's loudest applause went to O'Brien after he offhandedly mentioned the possibility of forcing the SPD give the drones back.

Still, we've got them. And committee chair Bruce Harrell sees an opportunity—to become the first city in the country to pass a law defining how and when police drones can be used.

At the meeting, council staff member Christa Valles said the federal government has issued hundreds of licenses for agencies to use drones, but there's almost no data, research, or community regulation of how and when they get deployed. (Though the city council of Charlottesville, Virginia voted this week to ban drones outright.)

If Seattle can pass a good, restrictive bill—courtesy of council member and current mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell—it could set a national precedent. And make a nice-looking feather in Harrell's cap.

But besides Harrell and assistant chief McDonagh, pretty much everyone else in the room (including Licata and O'Brien) seemed to fall somewhere between deeply skeptical and outright hostile to the idea that such a bill could be written and enforced, much less insure that police wouldn't succumb to the temptations of mission creep—today's tool to save an innocent baby held hostage by a mad gunman could be tomorrow's tool for unconstitutional surveillance.

And even if the city wraps a tight girdle around SPD's drones—what kind of data they can collect, when and how they can collect it, how long they can keep it before deleting it, when it is or is not admissible in court—what's to prevent the FBI or another federal agency from seizing that data and using it however they like? We've already seen what kind of batty undercover projects the FBI and the SPD have collaborated on.

Even the strictest city guidelines will inevitably become a Pandora's box and will inevitably be broken and abused.

And yet—the drones are here. And they're spreading. Even if Seattle throws its two in the trash, some politicians somewhere are going to have to make some rules.

The major points of the proposed bill, as described during today's meeting:

(1) It prohibits the SPD from buying more drones, or swapping or borrowing other drones, without the city's permission.

(2) Drones can only be used for data collection on a specific "target"—that can't just fly over crowds and collect general surveillance.

(3) Data gathered by the drones that isn't pertinent to some case must be deleted in 30 days.

(4) SPD must obtain a warrant to use its drones, except in "exigent" circumstances—search and rescue, hostage crises, etc.

(5) SPD's drones can use facial recognition and other biometric tools but only to identify their specific "target."

(6) Drones are not allowed to fly at night (already a federal regulation).

(7) Drones are not allowed to fly over heavily populated areas.

(8) There will be publicly available "compliance" audits and annual reports on drone usage.

Council members, along with their guests, debated some of these points. Council member Licata made the excellent points that (a) drones are being pushed on law-enforcement organizations by the growing drone industry and (b) that the devil is in the "exigent" exemptions on the SPD having to get a warrant. If those rules aren't iron-clad, there might as well not be any rules at all.

He pointed out that, at one time, the FBI identified Martin Luther King as the gravest danger to America. "If the FBI was in charge," he said, "they would be following him with drones."

Then the committee adjourned. It will meet again in a few weeks.

As assistant chief McDonagh stepped out of city hall onto the wet sidewalk, a portly man in a suit—who wasn't at the meeting but seemed to know him—said hello.

"It's not often that you see chief McDonagh and the ACLU under the same roof!" the man joked. Assistant chief McDonagh gave a small, perfunctory smile.

 

Comments (63) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
You assume you live in a democracy, not a corporation.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on February 6, 2013 at 6:11 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 2
There's really only one solution: Use the drones to follow the SPD and record their every move. To ensure that they maintain the peace in such a way that also respects the human rights of the citizens.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on February 6, 2013 at 6:44 PM · Report this
douchus 3
I'm with #2. Make the drones only available to Internal Affairs (or whatever SPD has that is similar).
Posted by douchus on February 6, 2013 at 7:02 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 4
http://downwithdrones.com/

(Posted for entertainment purposes only. Because obviously, interfering with a police drone would be very illegal and just plain wrong.)
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on February 6, 2013 at 7:03 PM · Report this
Gern Blanston 5
I'm having a hard time getting worked up about these drones. They look like something a model airplane enthusiast would take to Gas Works Park on a Sunday. I don't see them picking off anarchists one by one.
Posted by Gern Blanston on February 6, 2013 at 7:09 PM · Report this
6
@2 Or use the SPD drones to track the FBI, NSA, TSA, ATF and CIA drones.
Posted by dirge on February 6, 2013 at 7:10 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 7
@4,5
Are those little drawings from the cartoon South Park? They are very cute!!
Posted by dnt trust me on February 6, 2013 at 7:17 PM · Report this
8
Someone at this afternoon's hearing called this a "slippery slope" and they are right.

We were warned 50 years ago by then President Eisenhower about the growth of the military-industrial complex. Nothing was done and we are now on a permanent war footing with our economy dependent on those corporations.

Our civilian law enforcement are acquiring military armaments and being trained as military to consider citizens expressing their first amendment right of free speech and dissent as a threat.

Wake up sheeple! It doesn't have to be this way.
Posted by nwcitizen on February 6, 2013 at 7:23 PM · Report this
9
"public really doesn't like them"

Hate to burst your bubble but a few screaming anarchists and failed hippies are not the 'public'.
Posted by Sugartit on February 6, 2013 at 7:29 PM · Report this
Sam Levine 10
OMG, it's technology that I don't understand! Everybody freak out!

Meanwhile, the police can already record you with the same commercial off the shelf camera that would be on a quadrocopter (with a flight time of 15 minutes) by holding it in their hands.

The police drive around with cameras all the time. They fly helicopters that can stay in the air longer than it takes for you to watch a TV show. They can fly a plane over your home and take pictures. If you're worried about surveillance you need to pass laws making it harder, not one particular incarnation of it.

tl;dr this is a legal problem, not a technical one
Posted by Sam Levine http://levinetech.net on February 6, 2013 at 7:48 PM · Report this
OOF POOF 11
So why are drones different from police helicopters?
Posted by OOF POOF on February 6, 2013 at 7:49 PM · Report this
12
Seattle PD doesn't have a helicopter. I bet they're one of the largest cities in the country that doesn't operate one. If drones are cheaper to operate than a helicopter, then why not use them the same way SPD would a helicopter?
Posted by Bax on February 6, 2013 at 7:49 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 13
Lessons from the Past:
The Securitate in Romania developed such a powerful apparatus for monitoring the citizens that 1 in 3 Romanians reported on their peers to the Secutitate. If you wanted to type a letter, you had to get the ribbon from the cops, and return it to them afterward. They would look at the ribbon to see what you had typed. If you wanted to talk on the phone, you would always hear this not at all subtle click indicating that there was a third party on the line. After a while, you developed aparanoid sense Romanians called "the cop in your head", a condition where you assumed that you were always being watched, wherever you were or whatever you were doing. Another thought process convinced you that nobody could ever confide in anyone, that nobody had a real friend, and that your own children might betray you-they frequently did. This made everyone an emotional cripple, and the scars are still evident when one interacts with someone who lived through that era.

Lessons from the Present:
The genie never goes back in the bottle. Once the atom bomb was built, despite ardent efforts from scientists, peace activists, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Nobel laureates and common people, the bomb just kept proliferating. Now, everybody's got enough to split the world in half a thousand times over. Germ warfare, chemical weapons, you can protest all you want, these horrors will never go away.the best we can do is limit their spread, and even that is Sisyphean. The genie never goes back in the fucking bottle.

Lessons from the Future:
If you look at a population pyramid for the US demarcated by age, you see that ours is top-heavy, meaning that at some point soon there will be more people over 85 than there will be under 14. As people grow older, they naturally become more risk-averse. This is partly because being risk-averse lends itself to longer life spans, and partly because the increasing vulnerability of old age prompts one to seek aid from the authorities. The elderly tend to favor law-and-order candidates, and are more willing to sacrifice civil liberties in favor of protection from threats real or perceived. This is why candidates can get elected by thumping on public safety, even though murder rates are at a historical low. Since 10,000 Americans turn 65 every hour, politicians will begin offering up ever more visible public safety measures to woo the aging vote.

When the Baby Boom was young, they protested against excessive government intrusion on the lives of citizens. Senator Frank Church's probe into FBI activities and FISA could only happen when the majority of voters were young and confident enough in their ability to protect themselves. Now that the Baby boom is old, you will see the opposite take place. This trend will continue until the Baby Boom dies off to the point where our population pyramid once again has a larger number of young than old.

Conclusion: We're fucked, and it will be a long time before it gets any better. Will it get as bad as it did with the Stasi or the Okrana? Who can say?
More...
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on February 6, 2013 at 8:03 PM · Report this
14
@12, because drones are evil and Bush used drones and they did the building 7 and they're like from that Terminator movie and also they gave my child the autism.
Posted by GermanSausage on February 6, 2013 at 8:08 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 15
Can't fly at night or in heavily populated areas? That seems to preclude their use at all around Puget Sound for fighting crime.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on February 6, 2013 at 8:09 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 16
15,

That was never the point. The point is to visibly appear the be fighting crime. People would never see the drones at night anyway, thus making them useless. People can see them during daylight, and the politicians want the people to see these drones and think, "Ah!The police are protecting me from criminals. I will vote for that mayor and that county commissioner and that governor and that president again, or for someone of that party if said politician is term-limited"

Fighting crime would make sense, if there was any crime to fight. Seattle is, statistically speaking, one of the safest cities in America. Our rates for sexual assault, murder, and assault and battery are very very low. We stand out in terms of car theft, that's the one area where we are worse than most cities. For the rest of it though, we look very good indeed.

That's the reality. But people don't vote based on reality, they vote based on perceived reality. And to be perceived as fighting crime, even if there isn't any to fight, makes you re-electable. McGinn is up for election against a formidable opponent. Gotta win the granny vote so Ed Murray doesn't get into City Hall.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on February 6, 2013 at 8:37 PM · Report this
JonnoN 17
SPD used to have helicopters but they crashed them.
Posted by JonnoN http://www.backnine.org/ on February 6, 2013 at 8:41 PM · Report this
18
Yeah, what 15 said.. Where does SPD have jurisdiction that IS NOT heavily populated
If you can't grow Cannabis because of restrictive zoning, then ZONE the drones so they can only fly over the cannabis farms...;-D
Posted by pupuguru http://www.godsweed.org on February 6, 2013 at 8:43 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 19
I'm sorry, why do we HAVE to have them? Does the city council not have the power to simply tell SPD "You may not use these", and then deny them any funding for storage, maintenance, training, or operation of drones, or prohibit SPD from storing them in the city?

Then, if the Feds want to ship us drones, and train us on them, awesome. The Feds can pay for their storage costs and dust collection in some hanger down at Sea-Tac airport.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://www.zombo.com on February 6, 2013 at 8:44 PM · Report this
Daddy Love 20
yeah, NO FUCKING DRONES! Is that so hard to understand?
Posted by Daddy Love on February 6, 2013 at 8:55 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 21
And so many thought all this nonsense was over with Bush. Ha!
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on February 6, 2013 at 8:55 PM · Report this
22
I think everything recorded by drones should be immediately available publicly. That would keep the cops honest
Posted by DJSauvage on February 6, 2013 at 9:08 PM · Report this
Gern Blanston 23
@7 Yes. South Park avatar creator.

http://www.southparkstudios.com/avatar
Posted by Gern Blanston on February 6, 2013 at 9:33 PM · Report this
24
what about the 5mil DHS just spent on surveillance cams to be installed from alki to shoreline? are we going to start putting them on wooded hiking trails next? c'mon slog; this is just wrong; please make some stink.
Posted by carsten coolage on February 6, 2013 at 9:33 PM · Report this
25
I got 20 angles in my carburetor! If the drones just get one of them the CIA won't let me have grape soda!!
Posted by scared shitless - don't trust FICA! on February 6, 2013 at 9:43 PM · Report this
fletc3her 26
This is our tax dollars at work. A drone manufacturer has sold thousands of these things to police agencies all over the country who have no idea what to do with them.
Posted by fletc3her on February 6, 2013 at 9:50 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 27
I like drones.

But why are we so scared of SPD taping us? And why do we assume the FBI/CIA aren't?
Posted by Matt the Engineer on February 6, 2013 at 9:52 PM · Report this
28
Each day, it's getting to be more like those sci fi films from the 60's and 70's.
just say NO to Drones in this city.
Enough with the surveillance already. This is too much.
Posted by Fire Chief on February 6, 2013 at 9:58 PM · Report this
29
@5, Gern wrote, "I'm having a hard time getting worked up about these drones. They look like something a model airplane enthusiast would take to Gas Works Park on a Sunday."

Please consider not what these $40,000 unmanned flying surveillance cameras look like today, but what the $1000 models will look like in ten years. Advances in technology are likely to outpace related legislation. If we don't get on top of this now, we're bound to find ourselves arguing that no, the police cannot simply station a drone over every block, even though their budget will accommodate the fleet.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 6, 2013 at 10:20 PM · Report this
30
@10, Sam wrote, The police drive around with cameras all the time. They fly helicopters that can stay in the air longer than it takes for you to watch a TV show. They can fly a plane over your home and take pictures."

The pervasiveness of each those methods of surveillance has a natural limiting factor: scarcity of in-person, human, operators. The stealthiness of them is someone limited by the size of them and the volume of noise they generate.

I don't want autonomous and/or remotely-operated police drones on the street any more than I want them in the sky.

"If you're worried about surveillance you need to pass laws making it harder, not one particular incarnation of it."

I agree. We should pass laws severely restricting our government's use of all remotely-operated surveillance machines. Until that happens, we should deal with the arrival of every new machine of the sort individually.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 6, 2013 at 10:33 PM · Report this
31
@11, Oof wrote, "So why are drones different from police helicopters?"

It's more practical to perform more intense recording of everything that everyone does once he steps outside with small, quieter, inexpensive, unmanned, flying surveillance cameras than it is to do so with police helicopters.

@12, Bax wrote, "If drones are cheaper to operate than a helicopter, then
why not use them the same way SPD would a helicopter?"


I think it is unlikely that we will be able to restrict the use of drones to tasks which are now accomplished by helicopter. Drones are not simply a less expensive replacement; they are a greater risk to our freedom to go about our lawful business in public without our government making records of our every move and storing them away forever. I do not want to live in a place like that.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 6, 2013 at 10:45 PM · Report this
chaseacross 32
Is there a meaningful distinction between a drone (controversial, symptomatic of the militarization of police), and a helicopter (uncontroversial, an accepted tool of law enforcement). I just plain don't see it. I'm comfortable if someone wants to argue on degrees, that drones go too far, but all I see is a way to, say, tail a vehicle without having to pay someone $100,000 a year to do it.

Much of the opposition I'm hearing is knee-jerk repugnance at the word "drone" and the inevitable association with there drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, et al., or opposition to surveillance of public places. The first objection is ridiculous on its face (I'm not hearing opposition to airplanes because air strikes are an instrument off war in that region), the second is suspect given that there never has been a reasonable expectation of privacy in the public square. Given the proliferation of CCTVs for private security, cell phone cameras, not to mention GPS, that horse is already done gone out the door.
Posted by chaseacross on February 6, 2013 at 10:52 PM · Report this
chaseacross 33
@31 Please point me to the article of the Constitution guaranteeing the right to be invisible. I appreciate not wanting to be constantly observed by the harsh microscope of the state, but even if the SPD had fifty drones, I'm still not seeing a slope that ends in a Two Minute Hateb and Batman shooting Boromir in the face.
Posted by chaseacross on February 6, 2013 at 11:03 PM · Report this
34
@ 1 If that was true Romney would be President right now

Do we have an official poll on this or we just guessing when we say public doesn't like it based on one meeting.
Posted by Seattle14 on February 6, 2013 at 11:29 PM · Report this
35
Brendan's report of today's meeting on Harell's police drone authorization bill is encouraging, but I want the council to think bigger. Sure, Harrell has the opportunity for ground-breaking municipal policy on drones. Let's consider pole-mounted surveillance as well.

Forget about police drones. City Council should:

  • Forbid government staff use of any remotely-operated or autonomous recording device without warrant

  • Restrict government use of facial recognition technology and other biometric identification on any device to confirming the identity of the target of a warrant

  • Forbid government staff from equipping any remotely-operated or autonomous device with weapons

  • Forbid government staff from conducting general surveillance of the public with any device

Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 7, 2013 at 12:20 AM · Report this
chaseacross 36
@35 So no more dashboard cameras? That's definitely going to help accountability.

Aaron Dixon spoke here on Monday -- he was the captain of the Black Panther Party here in Seattle in the 60s. The Panthers were well-known for their sous-veillance tactics, the open observation of police. Who says drones aren't a protection of public space against the arbitrary exercise of police power? We can be concerned about the proliferation of surveillance devices without hysterics.
Posted by chaseacross on February 7, 2013 at 2:16 AM · Report this
37
South Seattle is an exigent circumstance - a few actual strikes down there wouldn't hurt anything either.
Posted by Stranger'sWorstNightmare on February 7, 2013 at 7:12 AM · Report this
38
@36: Dashboard cameras are neither autonomous nor remotely-operated.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 7, 2013 at 7:43 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 39
As long as they aren't flying drones into my house, I'm not that worried about them. If they're used in public places, who cares? Don't do things in public that you want to keep private. If you carry a mobile phone, you're putting out more information about yourself and location than a drone could collect. What kind of data do you fear that a RC model helicopter with a camera can collect on you as you walk down a city street (Where you're probably on a camera anyway)?
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on February 7, 2013 at 7:51 AM · Report this
40
@39: There's a big difference between walking down the street, saying something that I know my friend or neighbor will hear, and making a permanent government record of what I said and where I went. Just because I do something publicly doesn't mean my government should record and stockpile that information about me.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 7, 2013 at 8:25 AM · Report this
41
Comparing police drones to helicopters is like comparing city-wide CCTV to a reporter with a camcorder.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 7, 2013 at 8:26 AM · Report this
42
First - The city council needs to address the fact that it has a rogue police department.

UW Grants and Contract Services has a long standing history of handling such situations where a grant application is tendered without pre-approval by the university. All grant applications must go through a process where they obtain sign-offs from all the lateral agencies affected and then the line of those above the party initiating the proposal before any transaction happens. For instance, if someone in the Department of Surgery wants to accept a proposal for a contract from a pharmaceutical company or apply for a grant with the FDA, both require that all aspects, including budget and all costs to the UW that will be incurred, are provided and defended. Letters or forms of support from other UW parties that may be affected or have some association with the proposed work must be provided with sign-offs from those department heads. Then the entire line up in the hierarchy all the way to the dean of the School of Medicine must sign off.

In the case of the City Seattle and this drone issue, the SPD would not have been able to "Do it and apologize later". Instead the city council could have saved everyone a lot of grief by both reviewing the contract and scanning the proposal for online perusal by the public.

I suggest we do not jump to considering ordinances any further. I propose the city nullifies the contract since the SPD did not have the authority to 'sign' for the City of Seattle.
Posted by soul source on February 7, 2013 at 8:35 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 43
40, Anything private you say or do in a public setting, you are relinquishing control over that information. You don't get to dictate how others use data you freely made public.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on February 7, 2013 at 8:54 AM · Report this
44
@43: Rob: We, collectively, get to dictate *everything* our government does with data everyone freely made public. I want them to ignore that information unless they have a specific reason to record it.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 7, 2013 at 10:08 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 45
44, Keep telling yourself that. You don't have a constitutional right to privacy if you voluntarily made your information public. If you post a naked picture of yourself online to a publicly available site, you don't get to dictate what happens to it. If the government decides to track and store publicly posted nude shots, there's nothing you can do about it. Tabloids can freely photograph and videotape celebrities in the street. There's no legal expectation of privacy in public places.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on February 7, 2013 at 10:23 AM · Report this
46
@45: I don't expect parabolic microphones listening to my quasi-private conversations conducted in public, quietly, yards away from anyone else, and you don't expect a camera to be looking up your skirt. It's reasonable to demand that our government not use robots to track and record what we say and where we go whenever we step out of our homes.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 47
45,You already have been recorded in public places. You will continue to be recorded in public places. If you put on clothes, you are stating that you don't want to be seen naked in public. The space under your clothes is a legally private area. If have a conversation in a public space anyone can legally buy extended listening device, listen in. They even sell them in toy stores. For under $500 anyone can legally buy a fairly sophisticated consumer grade drone that could record you as legally a person could follow you with a hand held camera in a public setting. You can't demand that someone destroy a video of a kid's birthday party in a park because you wandered in the frame, and that camera owner can do whatever he or she wants with the video.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on February 7, 2013 at 11:28 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 48
@43 how is the 24th floor of an apartment building that the pervy drone looked into a "public setting"?

Cause drones can do that. And there are optical window mikes that use the reflected sound waves off of windows to pick up audio of you doing it inside your bedroom with closed doors, through the balcony window.

Or at least there were during the 1980s when we used them.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on February 7, 2013 at 11:31 AM · Report this
Michael of the Green 49
Letting the ACLU use drones to monitor police... there's potential in that idea.
Posted by Michael of the Green on February 7, 2013 at 11:44 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 50
48, I didn't say recording people in their homes was legal without a warrant. In fact, I said that I'd have a problem with that. I repeatedly stated "public spaces".
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on February 7, 2013 at 11:50 AM · Report this
51
@Brendan,

Hell's bells, guy, this sounds like just so much "conspiracy theory" to me. . . or does it?

http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/excerpts/e…

The term “conspiracy theory” did not exist as a phrase in everyday American conversation before 1964. The conspiracy-theory label entered the American lexicon of political speech as a catchall for criticisms of the Warren Commission’s conclusion that President Kennedy was assassinated by a lone gunman with no assistance from, or foreknowledge by, any element of the United States government. Since then, the term’s prevalence and range of application have exploded. In 1964, the year the Warren Commission issued its report, the New York Times published five stories in which “conspiracy theory” appeared. In recent years, the phrase has occurred in over 140 New York Times stories annually. A Google search for the phrase (in 2012) yielded more than 21 million hits—triple the numbers for such common expressions as “abuse of power” and “war crime.” On Amazon.com, the term is a book category that includes in excess of 1,300 titles. In addition to books on conspiracy theories of particular events, there are conspiracy-theory encyclopedias, photographic compendiums, website directories, and guides for researchers, skeptics, and debunkers.

http://memoryholeblog.com/2013/01/20/cia…

http://abs.sagepub.com/content/53/6/795.…

This article explores the conceptual, methodological, and practical implications of research on state crimes against democracy (SCADs). In contrast to conspiracy theories, which speculate about each suspicious event in isolation, the SCAD construct delineates a general category of criminality and calls for crimes that fit this category to be examined comparatively. Using this approach, an analysis of post—World War II SCADs and suspected SCADs highlights a number of commonalities in SCAD targets, timing, and policy consequences. SCADs often appear where presidential politics and foreign policy intersect. SCADs differ from earlier forms of political corruption in that they frequently involve political, military, and/or economic elites at the very highest levels of the social and political order.The article concludes by suggesting statutory and constitutional reforms to improve SCAD prevention and detection.
More...
Posted by sgt_doom on February 7, 2013 at 12:16 PM · Report this
52
@44, Phil M --- you sound positively insane, dood, and hopelessly ignorant of your environment.
Posted by sgt_doom on February 7, 2013 at 12:18 PM · Report this
53
@47: Rob: You're making straw man arguments. I'm not suggesting that we restrict the ability of the public to record in public. I'm suggesting that we demand that our government not use unmanned or remotely-controlled robotic devices to perform general surveillance of the things we say and places we go when outside the privacy of our homes. The fact that one does something in public is not justification for our government to make a permanent record of that action.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 7, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Report this
54
@33, jpmchaseacross,

"Please point me to the article of the Constitution guaranteeing the right .."

Please point me to the section of the Constitution guaranteeing the right of the Corporate Fascist State to exist instead of a democracy, especially an economic democracy, dood?

Posted by sgt_doom on February 7, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Report this
55
Some douchetard said:

But why are we so scared of SPD taping us?

Why should a hapless victim, set up by a rogue King County cop some years back for a murder that rogue cop committed, concern you, douchey?

Why should alleged murders by SPD members since the 1970s concern you, douchey?

Why should the findings of the Knapp Commission on police corruption concern you, douchey?

Personally, perhaps for the very same reason you inability to locate your vagina doesn't really concern me nor anyone else, but we don't want to ever see you, or those culprits mentioned, in positions of any responsibility, nor anywhere near handguns or drones, get that douchey?
Posted by sgt_doom on February 7, 2013 at 12:25 PM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 56
53,Virtually all video surveillance cameras are remotely operated. You are already recorded everyday you leave your house by cameras that are controlled by people in other locations. They might be miles away, and can move the camera zoom in on you.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on February 7, 2013 at 12:40 PM · Report this
57
I think I'm understanding the logic here. Camera in patrol car that catches cop doing something bad in public = okay. Camera in patrol car or on helicopter or on drone that catches bad guy doing something bad in public = unconscionable intrusion of privacy. Got it.
Posted by Bax on February 7, 2013 at 1:04 PM · Report this
58
@53 - I take it you have been demanding that WA DOT remove all traffic cameras, then? After all, they're making a permanent record of what we do in public.
Posted by Bax on February 7, 2013 at 1:17 PM · Report this
59
@57: Bax: Network of cameras in public creating government database with records where everyone has been when going about his or her almost-entirely-lawful and occasionally-unlawful business = surveillance state

@56: Rob: It seems that you didn't understand @53.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 7, 2013 at 1:19 PM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 60
59, I understood just fine. Your point is silly. You are already being recorded by unmanned, remotely operated cameras.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on February 7, 2013 at 1:26 PM · Report this
61
@58: See also: "WSDOT answer questions about privacy and records of SR 520 bridge crossings". Please note that WSDOT staff do not have the history of expression of disdain for civil liberties that SPD staff do.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 7, 2013 at 1:51 PM · Report this
chaseacross 62
I'm as skeptical of police power as anyone; it's something we need to be wary of. What frustrated me in this conversation is the hysterics, the tinfoil-hat tenor of the discourse. We need accountability in our police departments, but even ten drones in the hands of city police doesn't make a police state. Further, there are obvious public benefits available: cheaper surveillance of known offenders, creating video records of police encounters, reducing fatalities from high speed chases. I heartily endorse the Council's efforts to create some kind of framework for their use. I just don't want the conversation to be dominated by the sort of people that try to make you watch Zeitgeist.
Posted by chaseacross on February 7, 2013 at 2:45 PM · Report this
63
@62, Chaseacross wrote, "even ten drones in the hands of city police doesn't make a police state"

That's another straw man. I, along with, I suspect, a majority of the people offering calm, rational, thoughtful resistance to this program, am not concerned much about today's $40,000 drones that run for ten minutes on a charge, but about the $1000 drones we're bound to see in a few years. That's not tinfoil-hattery, it's technological and economic reality. Consider the falling cost, shrinking size, and increasing capabilities of CPUs, RAM, and batteries. If we don't address the relevant issues now, we're going to be scrambling to deal with a potential fleet of drones that fit neatly in SPD's budget without them needing to sneak around and secure US Department of Homeland Security grants or funnel the money through the innocent-sounding but paramilitary-gear-funding Seattle Police Foundation.

You know what is tinfoil-hat-class hysteria? The idea that there are crazed mass-murderers lurking around every corner just waiting to blow us all to smithereens the moment we're outside the watchful eye of surveillance cameras. I refuse to be terrorized by the United States government and its corporate partners, by way of our local peace officers's Special Operations Unit or otherwise.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 7, 2013 at 3:37 PM · Report this

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