Pentagon testing mass surveillance by balloon through the Midwest

Jon

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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/2019/aug/02/pentagon-balloons-surveillance-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.
 
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Tidewater

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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/2019/aug/02/pentagon-balloons-surveillance-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.
 

TIDE-HSV

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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...
 

seebell

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From 2015.
https://www.cnn.com/2015/10/30/opinions/hertling-why-military-uses-blimps/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.
 
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rgw

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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.
 

Jon

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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
 

rgw

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Right, I've seen a few surveillence drones be operated but they never left installation airspace
 
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Tidewater

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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.
 
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Jon

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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
 

Tidewater

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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.
 

rgw

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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.
 

TIDE-HSV

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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...
 

rgw

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As long as they're testing the stuff in military airspace/property then I reckon that is fine. That is by doctrine how that kind of training goes.
 

Tidewater

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The problem with not worrying at all about this is the history of our government collecting data it shouldn't.
I get that. The NSA was doing this and probably others.
The article was vague in its attempt to create the impression that the U.S. military was collecting information on U.S. citizens inside the U.S.
Inside the intelligence community, they know that if an intelligence operative collects information from a U.S. citizen inside the United States without court order, he knows he risks going to jail. If it comes to daylight, then everybody involves will be scrambling to cover their involvement in the activity/find that court order, because without one, somebody's going to jail.
You could write your congressman and ask for details on these tests and what safeguards were in place to make sure the military did not collect intelligence on U.S. citizens within the United States.
 

NationalTitles17

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I get that. The NSA was doing this and probably others.
The article was vague in its attempt to create the impression that the U.S. military was collecting information on U.S. citizens inside the U.S.
Inside the intelligence community, they know that if an intelligence operative collects information from a U.S. citizen inside the United States without court order, he knows he risks going to jail. If it comes to daylight, then everybody involves will be scrambling to cover their involvement in the activity/find that court order, because without one, somebody's going to jail.
You could write your congressman and ask for details on these tests and what safeguards were in place to make sure the military did not collect intelligence on U.S. citizens within the United States.
Who went to jail for previous systematic collections?

Look, I don't know the purpose of these tests and I get that maybe they are testing and not collecting but we do have a history.
 

uafanataum

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Who went to jail for previous systematic collections?

Look, I don't know the purpose of these tests and I get that maybe they are testing and not collecting but we do have a history.
Look, you should ignore history. This is a new government under a new president. The military has pinky swear promised not to do the bad stuff they did in the past. Furthermore our current president hires only the most honest people, unlike past presidents.
 

Tidewater

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Who went to jail for previous systematic collections?
G. Gordon Liddy?
Snowden has been pilloried in absentia for exposing the NSA metadata collection so I guess you have a point.
Look, I don't know the purpose of these tests and I get that maybe they are testing and not collecting but we do have a history.
To me it is obvious they are testing a piece of kit for use outside the United States.
The Army was heavily involved in apprehending "political prisoners" during the Lincoln Administration, but that was before the Posse Comitatus Act.