Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest
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  1. #1
    BamaNation Hall of Fame Jon's Avatar
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    Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    Remember when a large group of imbeciles descended on Texas because of a rumor that Obama was going to declare Marshall law?

    I wonder what they think of placing camera's and radar throughout the Midwest with DVR capability now that it is being done by a Republican admin

    to be fair this program pre-dates Trump, I was against it under Obama too.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...llance-midwest


    The US military is conducting wide-area surveillance tests across six midwest states using experimental high-altitude balloons, documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reveal.Up to 25 unmanned solar-powered balloons are being launched from rural South Dakota and drifting 250 miles through an area spanning portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri, before concluding in central Illinois.
    Travelling in the stratosphere at altitudes of up to 65,000ft, the balloons are intended to “provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats”, according to a filing made on behalf of the Sierra Nevada Corporation, an aerospace and defence company.
    The balloons are carrying hi-tech radars designed to simultaneously track many individual vehicles day or night, through any kind of weather. The tests, which have not previously been reported, received an FCC license to operate from mid-July until September, following similar flights licensed last year.
    Last edited by Jon; August 3rd, 2019 at 10:50 AM.
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  2. #2
    BamaNation Hall of Fame Tidewater's Avatar
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    Re: Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    Remember when a large group of imbeciles descended on Texas because of a rumor that Obama was going to declare Marshall law?

    I wonder what they think of placing camera's and radar throughout the Midwest with DVR capability now that it is being done by a Republican admin

    to be fair this program pre-dates Trump, I was against it under Obama too.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...llance-midwest
    I think the Guardian has badly garbled this one.
    1. If a soldier conducts "surveillance" of U.S. citizens within the U.S. (or someone who orders a balloon to do so), he stands liable for a lengthy prison sentence. The Posse Comitatus Act makes it illegal for soldiers to conduct law enforcement within the United States (passed in 1877 because the U.S. was so terrible at law enforcement during Reconstruction). Even National Guard soldiers on a Title 10 (federal) status cannot. They can while on a Title 32 (state) status.
    2. SOUTHCOM does not control military operations within the United States. NORTHCOM does (within very specific legal circumstances). This looks to me like a test of a concept that was conducted within the United States (i.e. in NORTHCOM's area), and, if adopted, the system will only be used outside the United States (i.e. in SOUTHCOM's area).

    I recall a couple of decades ago, the Army was testing using high altitude dirigibles as comms platforms. Much cheaper than putting a satellite in orbit, but they dropped the idea.

  3. #3
    Senior Administrator TIDE-HSV's Avatar
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    Re: Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    Quote Originally Posted by Tidewater View Post
    I think the Guardian has badly garbled this one.
    1. If a soldier conducts "surveillance" of U.S. citizens within the U.S. (or someone who orders a balloon to do so), he stands liable for a lengthy prison sentence. The Posse Comitatus Act makes it illegal for soldiers to conduct law enforcement within the United States (passed in 1877 because the U.S. was so terrible at law enforcement during Reconstruction). Even National Guard soldiers on a Title 10 (federal) status cannot. They can while on a Title 32 (state) status.
    2. SOUTHCOM does not control military operations within the United States. NORTHCOM does (within very specific legal circumstances). This looks to me like a test of a concept that was conducted within the United States (i.e. in NORTHCOM's area), and, if adopted, the system will only be used outside the United States (i.e. in SOUTHCOM's area).

    I recall a couple of decades ago, the Army was testing using high altitude dirigibles as comms platforms. Much cheaper than putting a satellite in orbit, but they dropped the idea.
    Same thoughts I had. It could only pass muster as a training/experimental exercise. The Guardian probably is unaware of the niceties...
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  4. #4
    BamaNation Hall of Fame seebell's Avatar
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    Re: Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    From 2015.
    https://www.cnn.com/2015/10/30/opini...mps/index.html

    Primarily, it's because aerostats are extremely cost-effective. These aircraft can remain aloft for up to 30 days at a time, providing 24/7, 360-degree radar coverage. The same daily coverage would take four or five fixed-wing surveillance aircraft per day, with related aircraft crew requirements, increased fuel usage, and wear on an ever-decreasing Air Force surveillance fleet. Experts estimate an 80%-85% cost saving.

    Beyond that, the JLACMENSS is extremely effective. The 360-degree coverage extends 340 miles, allowing the paired aerostats continuously to scan an area the size of Texas between the cities of Boston and Raleigh, North Carolina. The networked capability -- between the two aerostats, the armored mooring station, the ground fire control systems, and any mix of Army Patriot Missiles fired from a ground base, Navy Standard Missile 6's (SM-6) fired from an Aegis Cruiser, and Air Force Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles fired from an aircraft -- make this an extremely flexible system. While currently used in the Department of Homeland Security as part of Operation Noble Eagle


    I think the US Navy experimented with tethered balloons for over the horizon radar. Much cheaper than aircraft.
    Last edited by seebell; August 3rd, 2019 at 02:31 PM.

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    Re: Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    Haven't read yet but this can't be right because this is a pretty clear violation of every regulation I've ever had powerpoint'd at me about Title 10 status conduct in stateside missions for disaster response.
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  6. #6
    BamaNation Hall of Fame Jon's Avatar
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    Re: Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    Quote Originally Posted by TIDE-HSV View Post
    Same thoughts I had. It could only pass muster as a training/experimental exercise. The Guardian probably is unaware of the niceties...
    did anyone read the article? Pentagon Testing Mass Surveillance Balloons across the US

    so yes that would be an experimental exercise
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    Re: Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    Right, I've seen a few surveillence drones be operated but they never left installation airspace
    Last edited by rgw; August 4th, 2019 at 04:22 PM.
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  8. #8
    BamaNation Hall of Fame Tidewater's Avatar
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    Re: Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    did anyone read the article? Pentagon Testing Mass Surveillance Balloons across the US

    so yes that would be an experimental exercise
    Then why include this?
    “We do not think that American cities should be subject to wide-area surveillance in which every vehicle could be tracked wherever they go,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. Even in tests, they’re still collecting a lot of data on Americans: who’s driving to the union house, the church, the mosque, the Alzheimer’s clinic,” he said. “We should not go down the road of allowing this to be used in the United States and it’s disturbing to hear that these tests are being carried out, by the military no less."
    It certainly creates the impression that the U.S. military is planning on "collecting data on Americans."

    If a news network in a story on Elizabeth Warren were to state "I don't think Elizabeth Warren should be discussing outlawing private property," that would be seen as fairly yellow journalism, because, to my knowledge, Warren has never advocated outlawing private property.
    Last edited by Tidewater; August 4th, 2019 at 02:19 PM.

  9. #9
    BamaNation Hall of Fame Jon's Avatar
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    Re: Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    Quote Originally Posted by Tidewater View Post
    Then why include this?

    It certainly creates the impression that the U.S. military is planning on "collecting data on Americans."

    If a news network in a story on Elizabeth Warren were to state "I don't think Elizabeth Warren should be discussion outlawing private property," that would be seen as fairly yellow journalism, because, to my knowledge, Warren has never advocated outlawing private property.
    you realize that during the test they are collecting info don't you? You should, the sentence you chose to copy both mentions it to be a test and discusses the type of data they are collecting. Are we supposed to not care just because it is a test?

    this is all part of a larger problem. The city I live in for example has been placing car tag readers on every police car and randomly around town. That isn't exactly dissimilar data that the government is hording on our movements.

    it isn't yellow journalism to call this out, this is disturbing
    "There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist." - Terry Pratchett

  10. #10
    BamaNation Hall of Fame Tidewater's Avatar
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    Re: Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    you realize that during the test they are collecting info don't you? You should, the sentence you chose to copy both mentions it to be a test and discusses the type of data they are collecting. Are we supposed to not care just because it is a test?

    this is all part of a larger problem. The city I live in for example has been placing car tag readers on every police car and randomly around town. That isn't exactly dissimilar data that the government is hording on our movements.

    it isn't yellow journalism to call this out, this is disturbing
    While I appreciate you getting back in touch with your libertarian roots, this is just a non-issue.
    Not being involved in the issue, this is only speculation, but it might allay your fears.
    The office running the "test" might want to test the balloons ability to track a car over several hours, or hundreds of miles. They randomly select a car on the highway, making sure they do NOT know the driver's identity (because conducting surveillance on a U.S. citizen without a warrant and any DoD involvement with law enforcement inside the U.S. would be illegal and somebody would be risking going to jail), and track the movements of the car for a specified amount of time. When they time is elapsed, having satisfied the purpose of the test, they drop the track. I'm no lawyer, but in such a case, I believe no laws have been broken because no surveillance of a U.S. citizen has been conducted inside the U.S. and no laws have been enforced.

    Once they move the balloon outside the U.S. they can track a foreigner's car outside the U.S. from his (foreign) residence to his (foreign) place of work, to his (foreign) doctor or wherever. This is done all the time now, using airplanes.
    Because it involves foreign airspace, it probably means gaining the host nation's permission and the cost of doing business is probably sharing the intel gleaned from the op.

  11. #11
    BamaNation Hall of Fame Bamaro's Avatar
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    Re: Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    FWIW, most cities are already loaded with surveillance cameras. You cant go anywhere without being captured on cameras.

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    Re: Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    Quote Originally Posted by Bamaro View Post
    FWIW, most cities are already loaded with surveillance cameras. You cant go anywhere without being captured on cameras.
    True enough but I'd prefer our military not deploy those things stateside. Whatever police state we already exist in would only get worse; heck that kinda stuff is usually the first steps towards a military coup.
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  13. #13
    Senior Administrator TIDE-HSV's Avatar
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    Re: Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

    Quote Originally Posted by rgw View Post
    True enough but I'd prefer our military not deploy those things stateside. Whatever police state we already exist in would only get worse; heck that kinda stuff is usually the first steps towards a military coup.
    Playing devil's advocate, then should they test them in other countries? That might not be practical...
    "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. - Ellen Parr"

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    "When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." - Sinclair Lewis

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