Is the DHS turning into KGB-lite?
Paul Joseph Watson
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
In preparing to use surveillance drones for protests and “public safety,” the Department of Homeland Security is following Russia’s lead, where Vladimir Putin has approved a massive expansion of the technology specifically for the purpose of monitoring demonstrators.
As we reported last week in a story that has since gone viral, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano admitted that spy drones are now being readied to be used for “public safety,” or in other words any event at which a large number of people are gathered including protests.
“With respect to Science and Technology, that directorate, we do have a funded project, I think it’s in California, looking at drones that could be utilized to give us situational awareness in a large public safety [matter] or disaster, such as a forest fire, and how they could give us better information,” Napolitano told the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Simultaneously, the DHS is also buying large quantities of riot gear to deal with expected civil unrest at the upcoming RNC, DNC and presidential inauguration.
Spy drones the size of insects have also been reported by protesters attending demonstrations in New York and Washington.
However, the most aggressive push to use drones to keep tabs on protesters is undoubtedly unfolding in Russia, where the technology was first used six years ago at the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg.
“The police make no secret of the fact that they intend to use them for monitoring demonstrations and marches,”reports the Moscow Times. “In tender documentation to acquire two Zala drones, an Interior Ministry official from the Amur region said the technology would be used to monitor places where mass demonstrations are held, searches, and site surveillance. In March 2011, the head of Amur’s aviation operation center, Sergei Kanunnikov, explained to Amur.info, “They will be used mainly to maintain public order during local demonstrations and marches.”
Having received the green light from President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Interior Ministry has spent millions of dollars ensuring that 26 regions of the country have a fleet of drones available for monitoring street protests.
Russia is also preparing to use a fleet of spy drones to take on the job of “crowd control” at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Should we be concerned that the United States is following Moscow’s lead in turning to surveillance drones for spying on protests and crowd control, especially given the fact that demonstrations against the government in Russia are routinely met with brutal repression?
Members of the female punk band Pussy Riot still remain in prison six months later for protesting against Putin’s re-election at a Cathedral in Moscow. If convicted, the women face seven years in jail.
Given that authoritarian regimes such as Egypt’s infamous secret police have renamed themselves “Homeland Security” in an attempt to mimic the federal agency, the fact that the DHS is now aspiring to follow the example set by Russia’s authoritarian rulers in using spy drones to police protests is yet another example of how the DHS is fast turning into a KGB-lite – a politicized body that exists to deter Americans from exercising their constitutional rights.