The DHS and FBI are evidently flying dozens of (spy) planes in the skies over America day after day according to a report from Peter Aldhous and Charles Seife of BuzzFeed.com.
Quote, “Dozens of U.S. government aircraft take to the skies and slowly circle over American cities. Piloted by agents of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the planes are fitted with (steerable) high-resolution video cameras (night vision, FLIR, thermal, IR) often working with ‘augmented reality’ software that can superimpose onto the video images everything from satellite imagery, street and business names to the owners of individual homes.”
The planes also apparently carry devices that can track the cell phones of people below.
The FBI and DHS told BuzzFeed that “their planes are not conducting mass surveillance”…
…which reminds me of a saying,
“If you believe that, then I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you…” 😉
According to the report, there are at least 200 government aircraft used in the surveillance and “most of the aircraft are small, flying a mile or so above ground, and many use exhaust mufflers to mute their engines — making them hard to detect by the people they’re spying on.”
The following video shows some of the capabilities of the FBI surveillance aircraft (promotional video from Churchill Navigation).
While the BuzzFeed story did not refer to the following spy plane technology (ARGUS), I wrote about it back in 2013 for your interest…
Another spy plane technology that is apparently flying over America looking down at you is something called ARGUS (Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System). The following video is a glimpse into its stunning capabilities:
As mentioned earlier, according to BuzzFeed.com, some of (qty unknown) the spy planes apparently are also equipped with devices called (Stingrays) that are actually simulators mimicking cell phone towers which ‘spoof’ people’s phones into connecting to them. Among other things, the Stingray reads the unique identification codes of the cell phones enabling the system to track them — even if they are indoors, in dense crowds, or otherwise hidden from view.
“When people think of surveillance, they think of the NSA, or of specific people being tracked…” “They aren’t necessarily thinking about planes circling overhead of American cities and doing god knows what. It’s important for people to be aware.”
The following incredible flight maps show DHS and FBI spy planes circling over American cities.
The government’s airborne surveillance has received little public scrutiny — until now. BuzzFeed News has assembled an unprecedented picture of the operation’s scale and sweep by analyzing aircraft location data collected by the flight-tracking website Flightradar24 from mid-August to the end of December last year, identifying about 200 federal aircraft.
The following is a sampling of images that I captured from their nationwide mapping efforts:
The following is a zoom-able map showing time-lapse of spy plane activity captured by BuzzFeed News:
While there’s little doubt that these spy planes and technological systems are being used for genuine and legitimate purposes to capture ‘bad guys’ and/or to secure the borders (even though we let most of them go under the current executive administration’s policies), it certainly raises serious and equally legitimate questions regarding our fourth amendment rights, our rights to privacy, and proper oversight and compliance with the law.
The government has acquired absolutely stunning surveillance technology (with countless and untold billions of dollars with your money), which has the potential to crush your perceived notion of privacy in your own home and your own person. There’s always the argument to be made that “I’m not doing anything wrong, so who cares…”, but it is a foolish notion to assume that one day this incredible power will not bite you in the ass…