OF DRONES, LAZARUS — AND THE OBAMA COMMAND


So, just as you do any day, you happen to be driving to the corner store to buy a quart of milk, when ...BOOM! YOU'RE EXPLODED BY A HELLFIRE MISSILE! What a way to start your day! (Note: Were you really  to be hit by a Hellfire, your car -- and you -- probably wouldn't even exist after the attack -- except as smoldering bits of.charred flesh and shards of twisted metal.) (Photo: courtesy of the US Army).

So, just as you do any day, you happen to be driving to the corner store to buy a quart of milk, when … BOOM! You’re EXPLODED by a Hellfire Missile! What a way to start your day!
(Note: Were you really to be hit by a Hellfire, your car — and you — probably wouldn’t even exist after the attack — except as smoldering bits of charred flesh and shards of twisted metal.)
(Photo: courtesy of the US Army).

(PROTONIUS, 09 March 2013, Updated 16 October 2013) — What happens to every American’s Constitutionally established freedoms, rights, and protections, which are supposed to insulate everyone in America (and indeed every American anywhere on Planet Earth) from EXTRAJUDICIAL SUMMARY EXECUTION by any element of the U.S. Government, when a U.S. President unilaterally GIVES HIMSELF — with or without Congressional backing and oversight — the alleged authority to send a Hellfire-missile-equipped unmanned aerial drone to hunt down and explode any person he wishes, American citizens included, anywhere in this world?

That’s the core-subject of my analysis below. Yet it’s it’s just a tiny fraction of, in my view, the increasingly vast panoply of freedom-destructive threats that are now coming into public view, right here at home, in the U.S., in our proverbial own back yard.

But even looking at this one component of those potential threats, what actually are we being faced with?

Drones. Drones that surveill. Drones that search. Drones that hunt. Drones that destroy. Drones that kill. And — thanks to all the reportedly massive data-tracking (including of GPS position-related data) of, seemingly, just about everybody, by certain Government agencies — drones that, whatever their mission, may well have the ability to go after their targets with hitherto uncanny precision.

In a battlefield scenario, drones can be essential to one side’s survival, the other side’s demise. Yet as of early 2011, thanks to the signing-into-law, by the man in the White House, of the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — plus his signing-into-law of similar versions of the NDAA in 2012 and 2013 –, the United States itself has also been officially, legislatively, categorized as a “battlefield“.

And So how are drones — which this Government has been pushing to be deployed in U.S. skies by the tens of thousands as soon as possible — to be used in this scenario?

And what are we, the public, to do about these developments?

Perhaps an important starting-point, from which to be able to generate practical answers, would be to explore exactly what the “drones situation” is and what, as it evolves, it may actually soon come to be.

And that’s my focus here.

Who am I? Well, I am not a military expert. nor am I affiliated with any political or economic sides of this issue, pro or con — but I do have something of a strong research-background, a strong interest in science/technology and politics, and I do, as well, have a strong commitment to the positive principles of freedom and rights as espoused in, among others, this nation’s most honored founding documents.

I’m a concerned American, my chosen “handle” is “Protonius”, and this “drones” issue is one that I believe should be of concern to us all. And I hope, with this blog, to be able to at least present  — as accurately and objectively as I can — a solid informational basis upon which readers can build their own views of these issues.

Note: As with all my commentaries that I post here on my blog, the following is my statement of opinion and, to the best of my ability, of issues, facts and other such information that reputable sources also say are in play. I also have no affiliation, pro or con, with any person or agency referenced in this commentary.

And now, as a very different-minded U.S. President declared from the East Front of the Capitol on a snowy January 20, 1961 over a half-century ago, in proposing what he predicted could be a long and hard journey to a hopefully brighter future for us all, “Let us begin”:

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DEATH FROM THE SKIES, FROM A CURRENT WHITE HOUSE OCCUPANT WHO SEEMS TO LIKE THE IDEA:

USAF "Reaper" Drone

USAF “Reaper” Drone
(Image: Courtesy USAF at af.mil)

So now, under “extraordinary circumstances”, this Executive Branch — i.e., this President (and any future such President) — allegedly has the authority to authorize a “military” weaponized drone-strike — i.e., an “execution”, a “murder” some might say — of anyone anywhere on the planet, also including within the United States itself?

That seems to be the news that’s now coming out of the Obama Justice Department, as reported by much of news media at the moment. For example, see this HuffingtonPost item at  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/05/us-drone-strike_n_2813857.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

That news, and more, regarding what some critics claim is really behind these developments – an actual, fast-emerging, and frighteningly-progressing danger to our Constitutional freedoms, they say – is also laid out in a hard-hitting analysis by NaturalNews.com’s Mike Adams at this URL: http://www.naturalnews.com/039391_drone_strikes_President_Obama_journalists.html

SEN. RAND PAUL (C-SPAN)-2

The underlying issue of the nexus between drones and our Constitutional rights was also the prime focus of U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s extensive March 6th filibuster on the floor of the United States Senate.

The C-SPAN video of Senator Paul’s filibuster is currently viewable, in its 13-hours-plus-entirety, at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/311354-1. I urge all who are interested in these issues – and who have the time – to personally view as much as possible of the Senator’s filibuster: it is, IMO, an outstanding call for redress regarding an extremely important — and urgent — issue relating to drones, the White House, the Constitution, and freedom itself.

Hear his presentation, listen to his warnings about the dangers of allowing this President (or anyone in power) to utilize “drones” (or, in essence, any similarly impactful means) in a way – particularly in a potentially deadly way – that, in the Senator’s view, overrides and negates the requirements and protections stipulated by the Constitution.

In addition:

If you scroll further down in this, my blog, you’ll see an extensive article that I composed not too long ago (and recently updated) — titled “OF DRONES, TERRORISM, FREEDOM — AND LAZARUS” (Link: http://wp.me/11O0b) — which I urge you to read. In part, it’s about developments in drone-technology — and about the potential dangers that, critics say, may be posed to our freedoms, our Constitutional rights, even our survival, not only by the design and use of these airborne “drones” but also by the design and use of what I would classify as their increasingly sophisticated robotic “brethren”, some constructions of which are already being deployed — and many of which, IMO, are certain to play a role in shaping what our future may come to be.

Artist's conception of the US Army's Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV)

Artist’s conception of the US Army’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV)

“Drones”, as you may be aware, come in a wide variety of sizes, designs, capabilities, ranging from huge modern versions of the “blimp” — such as the Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) — to the airplane-size Hellfire/Sidewinder-missiles-equipped “Predator” and “Reaper”, to board-game-size hand-launched “Quadricopters”, to bird-like “hummingbird” drones, all the way down to the recently-announced development of flíght-capable swarms of tiny flight-capable “insect” drones (MAV’s, or “Micro-Aerial Vehicles”) – with, reportedly, various of these types of craft capable of being equipped to spy, exert “crowd control” measures – and even to kill.

"HUNTER-SEEKER" Airborne Assassination Device (Fictional -- so far),  from the 1984 classic sci-fi film "DUNE".DESCRIPTION (vaia Wikipedia):  "Ravening sliver of suspensor-buoyed metal guided as a weapon by a nearby control console; common assassination device."["2] Floating in mid-air, it kills by entering the body and following nerve pathways to vital organs. A hunter-seeker is employed in Dune in an assassination attempt on Paul Atreides."

“HUNTER-SEEKER”
Airborne Assassination Device
(Fictional — so far),
from the 1984 classic sci-fi film “DUNE”.DESCRIPTION
(viaWikipedia):
“Ravening sliver of suspensor-buoyed metal guided as a weapon by a nearby control console; common assassination device.”[“2] Floating in mid-air, it kills by entering the body and following nerve pathways to vital organs. ….” 

If you thought that “1984” or “SKYNET“, or some of the people-subjugating or life-threatening technologies that you may have seen in the classic film “Dune” or in the “Stargate” television series, were to be eternally confined to the realms of fiction, my advice to you is this: think again.

Think that the idea of wholly autonomous, self-decisionmaking, killer-drones — drones that can independently decide upon and hunt down their own choice of targets, is also limited to the worlds of fiction? Wrong again! DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — and various major defense/weapons corporations, are reportedly already seeking to develop drones and other military-robotics that will possess those capabilities.

Think too of this: Who is developing these technologies and devices? For what purpose? And who should have – or does have, or will have – authority over, control over, the capabilities with which these technologies and devices will be imbued, and the choosing of the targets toward which these technologies and devices will be applied?

I.e., what are these things for? What, or who, will be be in control of their use? And what, or who, will be the controllers’ choice of targets?

And how might those factors impact upon our rights, on our freedoms, on our lives — on us?

Certainly various “drone” and “robot” technologies have their valid uses that, arguably, rather than hinder our freedoms, might help advance them, such as in the context of a war-zone military operation, or crime prevention and other legitimate law enforcement operations, wilderness and dangerous-areas exploration, medical emergencies and rescue scenarios, to name just a few potentially positive, societally acceptable, uses.

But, as with probably any technology, there is also a dark side. And currently, according to some observers of the political scene, that dark side is facing us here, in the heart of the USA, now.

Are “drones”, or “technological advances”, themselves the problem? Or is the core of the problem the issue not only of what these things can do but also of who is empowered to exert control over them, and of how those persons (or agencies, or even self-commanding computerized machines) choose to utilize those devices and technologies?

Thus, I submit the following analysis (see below) for your consideration. But first, please understand that the points therein are purely my personal opinion, I have no affiliation, pro or con, with any company, agency, organization, or politico connected with this topic, and that I present this analysis only in the sense of posing issues and questions that I think we all need to explore.

THE ANALYSIS: 

"The Thinker" (Auguste Rodin; at Philadelphia Museum)

“The Thinker” (Auguste Rodin; at Philadelphia Museum)

Regarding this current statement by the Obama Justice Department’s Eric Holder, that — as headlined in the above-mentioned HuffingtonPost article — “Drone Strike To Kill U.S. Citizen On American Soil Legal, Hypothetically” – what are we to think?
 

OBSERVATION:

IMO, this is not just about “drones”. Rather, this is about one underlying, fundamental, Constitutional issue: the Constitutionally specified — and limited — authority and powers of the Chief Executive, i.e., the President.

“Drones” (and the rapidly-advancing panoply of their robotic brethren) are just another set of tools in what may well be a seemingly unlimited array of tools, methodologies, and valid or invalid “justifications”, capable of being utilized — legitimately or otherwise — by “the powers-that-be”, for purposes of their choosing.

QUESTIONS:

 Copy of original initial page of the CONSTITUTIONIn the words of its Preamble: "We the People  of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Copy of original initial page of the CONSTITUTION
In the words of its Preamble: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

1. Where and how, specifically, does the U.S. Constitution state that the President has the authority to authorize and order the summary execution of anyone — citizen or otherwise — within the borders of the United States?

2. If the Constitution does provide such authority, what does the Constitution specify as to the conditions under which that authorization applies and the limitations within which that authority must operate?

3. Where and how, specifically, does the U.S. Constitution authorize the President — or even a duly-passed (and Constitutional) Federal law — to authorize any branch of the U.S. military, or even any branch of a foreign military power or agency, to conduct aggressive and even deadly actions against anyone — U.S. citizen or otherwise — within the borders of the United States?

4. If such authority, as per Item #3 above — and despite “Posse Comitatus” (Look it up!) — is Constitutionally authorized, what are the conditions and limitations that the Constitution specifies as when and how such authorization may be permitted to operate — and under which conditions such authorization must end?

5. Expanding on #4 above:

If — and that’s a conditional “if” –, according to the Constitution, the U.S. military can only be permitted to act in such fashion in a Constitutionally-defined time of “war”, and if there is currently no duly-passed currently-active Congressionally-enacted “Declaration of War“, then by what specific Constitutional authority can the President (or even a Federal law) authorize the U.S. military (or the military from any foreign source) to currently take aggressive and even potentially deadly actions against anyone — U.S. citizen or otherwise — within U.S. borders?

6. Similar questions to all the above, as to where and how and under what conditions the Constitution specifically authorizes the President (i.e., the Executive Branch) to authorize and order the summary execution of anyone (U.S. citizen or otherwise) within the U.S. borders?

7. As to each of the above six questions, under what circumstances, and under what limitations, does (or doesn’t) the Constitution authorize the nation’s President to command any (or every) of the individual states’ National Guard units to take such actions — including actions aimed at taking, on Presidential order, the life of an American on American soil?

8. Now, a “HOWEVER”:

What if, hypothetically, and without a “Declaration of War” having been duly issued, the Executive Branch becomes aware of — or claims that it has become aware of — say, some plot within the U.S. to “soon” or “imminently” activate some sort of “weapon of mass destruction” within a populated region — or in any region — of the U.S..

Suppose too that, in this hypothetical example, the purported existence of this alleged plot may no more than an erroneous misinterpretation of the facts, may be a fabrication – or that it may indeed be real.

Suppose too that, as per what is claimed to be the available information at the time, it would appear that the situation is extremely urgent and that the best way — maybe the only way — to shut it down is to have the military, and/or the affected state’s National Guard, and/or local law enforcement, and/or fighter-jets, helicopter-gunships, ground-assault teams, commandos, tanks, howitzers, “drones” — potential “assassins” all — immediately “go in for the kill”, in order to save that locality and its populace (or whatever is there) from destruction.

But what of the importance of first ascertaining on-site evidence of, and situationally actionable information” about, both the existence of and elements of the plot, such as the identification and location of the perpetrators and their alleged WMD?

Might an immediate launch of spy-drones – maybe along with any of a whole panoply of law enforcement and military personnel, machines, devices,  equipped with top-of-the-line spy-devices all – and with weapons at the ready, “just in case” – not only help generate that needed information but also, if necessary, help “neutralize” the situation?

And wouldn’t we – shouldn’t we – want to know,  and to know as immediately as possible, whether the alleged plot is as real as we may have been told it is? And what its parameters are?

And wouldn’t we want to know — that thanks to this fast and appropriate set of actions by our Government, our nation’s law enforcement agencies, our military, and so on — and their exceptionally well-managed use of these drones — that the plot and its evil perpetrators now no longer exist?

Or, at least, shouldn’t we want our Government, which we would hope is doing its best to protect our rights and to “provide for the general welfare”, to be able to immediately and comprehensively assess and eliminate the danger?

Against that backdrop, what should we then say as to whether or not we should require that a President (or the Executive Branch) be “hamstrung” by,  or be permitted to take “whatever action the President deems necessary” by, what the Constitution says as to what a President (and the Executive Branch) can or cannot do?

9. Yet, there’s an additional parameter — a critically important one — that comes into play at this juncture:

It’s the issue of the potential ease of intentionally manipulating, for political purposes,  public fear and panic.

Scene from the  classic 1956 film "Invasion of the Bodysnatchers"

Scene from the classic 1956 film “Invasion of the Bodysnatchers”

As has happened many times in our recent past, are we, as a people, to again allow ourselves to become so panicked with fear, that we become more than eager to permit, even urge, a President, or any branch of our Government, to ignore the Constitution and to just “pull out all the stops” to, allegedly, “save us from destruction”?

What’s that, you ask? Which “destruction”? The destruction that might result from an alleged “terrorist plot”? Or the destruction that might accrue to our freedoms and rights if we allow our Government to bypass Constitutional limitations on that Government’s power?

10. Now, add the following qualifier:

If, in such an exigent, WMD-related circumstance as described above, the Constitution does not authorize the President (etc.) to take such action, then to what extent, if any, should We the People be willing to allow the President (etc.) to take any unConstitutional, dictatorial, power unto himself?

And if we decide that it’s okay, in this specific instance, for him to take such power unto himself, what guarantee — if any — do we have that he will relinquish that power at a time when we feel he should relinquish it? Or that he won’t choose to keep and expand that power even further?

11. Next , we ride our proverbial “drone” into the realm of “conspiracies” – some of whose alleged facts, historically, have proven to be all too real:

On the one hand, if, hypothetically, a perceived “terrorist threat” on American soil turns out to be real, wouldn’t we want, and expect, our Government, and the leadership in that Government, to be able to effectively neutralize that threat a.s.a.p.?

But, on the other hand, what if the alleged plot, in this hypothetical example — even if the plot may be real — is a “False Flag” operation, created or promulgated “from the inside”?

Could that happen?

“False Flag” events, according to various political observers and historians, have certainly happened in the past. For example, as per various accounts: “Remember the Maine!”; the “Gulf of Tonkin Incident”; and, more controversially, but in the opinion of various critics, “9/11″.

If such a situation (i.e., real or “false flag”) might again be possible — meaning that a President then might not even hesitate to unleash a death-delivering attack-drone in your direction —  what should then we say as to the wisdom – or lack of wisdom – of either requiring, or not requiring, that the President (and the Executive Branch) inescapably adhere to the Constitution’s strictures?

In which such scenario – particularly if the choice of scenario might determine the President’s (and the Executive Branch’s) authority to use drones and to spy on, or even more determinedly go after, YOU – would you feel safest?

Is this what it might come to, here in the USA? (Photo: The time: World War II. The place: Saragasso, Italy. The Event: A woman, with child, others, look fearfully skyward, as life-threatening bomber-planes rumbled through the skies above.

Is this what it might come to, here in the USA? (Photo: The time: World War II. The place: Saragossa, Spain. The Event: A woman, with child, others, look apprehensively skyward, as potentially life-threatening bombers rumble through the skies.

12. Nice set of quandaries, aren’t they? Drones, robots, Constitution, politics, truths, falsehoods, misinterpretations, errors, privacy, rights, freedoms, wars, “battlefields”, “terrorism”, security, life, death – they’re all in the mix.

Maybe what it all comes down to, in addition to the complex of political, corporate, military, financial, cultural, and other, forces, is people — and particularly the quality of We, the People, on whose watch (but are we watching?) these developments are taking place — and particularly and especially the quality of those persons who, by whatever the process, have  gained the desire, ability, and power, to control, focus, direct, utilize, and profit from, these increasingly sophisticated, technological developments such as spy-devices, weapons-systems – and drones — in ways of their own choosing, whether we might like it or not.

13. So, where do we go from here?

Is the nation (not to mention this entire planet) now officially — as declared by some of our political “leaders” and by certain Federal laws of questionable constitutionality such as the NDAA — a battlefield in a war that, as Senator Rand Paul asked in his March 6th filibuster, is never to end?

Should that qualification automatically give a President, the Executive Branch, the military, or the Government as a whole, the authority to apprehend, detain, hold incommunicado, deny access to a lawyer or trial by jury or any part of thecivil judicial system, “interrogate”, and possibly summarily execute, anyone — citizen or otherwise — within U.S. borders or anywhere in the world?

In a traditional “shooting-war”, out on a real, traditional, battlefield, some mutually-accepted “rules of war usually apply, but basically it’s a case of “kill or be killed”. “Miranda Rights”? Access to a lawyer? Trial by a jury of one’s peers? “Right of Appeal”? Not quite.

But here, at home, in America, in our cities and towns, prairies and farmlands, mountains and valleys, anywhere “from sea to shining sea”, are we now to expect those same “rules of war” to apply here at home — and that our freedoms and rights, as guaranteed by a proud historical document that once made this country a “shining beacon on a hill”, are to just be allowed to evaporate into nothingness?

Has it now become Constitutional, and fully in line with American tradition in what used to be known as “the Land of the Free”, that, henceforth, any person – even a completely innocent person – anywhere in the U.S. (or the world) – can now suddenly, and without having been even notified that he or she might be a “suspect” of anything whatsoever, be blasted into a plume of blood and gore, from a Hellfire missile launched from a high-flying Predator-class drone? 

Or that that a similarly unsuspecting, and possibly completely innocent, person – anywhere in the U.S. (or the world) – may, in the not too distant future, suddenly realize that that little “mosquito” on his or her arm was actually a micro-drone, and that it has just now implanted a debilitating or mind-altering drug or microchip — or a poison — into the person’s bloodstream?

And that the mission-orders directing these life-altering events perhaps came from a Governmental agency, administrative bureaucrat — or even possibly from the office of a President? Or that the kill-order was intentional — or was a mistake?

Is this what our nation, our rights, our freedoms, our standards of justice, and of right and wrong, are to come to?

What can we do to turn the tide for the better?

13. Now, here’s an extra conundrum “to add some icing to this cake”:

According to various news reports – and as also discussed by Senator Rand Paul in his 03/06/2013 filibuster on the floor of the U.S. Senate –  the U.S. may not be quite alone with these issues. Nor may the nation be able to remain insulated from the potential intrusion of drones — drones under the control of masters who may well harbor hostile intent — flying into American skies from other shores:

According to those reports, it would appear that various other nations, other foreign agencies and organizations, some with far less scruples than are part of the American tradition, are also getting into the “drones” act, and it may not be long before what those foreign entities choose to do with their drones may well become of direct concern to every American, whether here at home or – just as noted above – anywhere on Planet Earth.

So:

How are we to develop an effective, workable, plan – one that hopefully safeguards and assures our Constitutional rights and freedoms – not only for our current situation but also as that future eventuality takes greater hold on our lives?

The ball, it would seem — or the “drone” — is “in our court”. 

P.S. — One last thing: you’re wondering, maybe, “What of Lazarus”?

Consider this: Our nation did had imperfect beginnings; the legalized enforcement of slavery, of captured and imported “negroes” being forced into a life of subservience and servitude, was an accepted — but already under debate — aspect of the young nation’s life. But even so, and even with that flaw, the fledgling nation was primarily established in the belief that the inherent freedom, dignity, and rights of Man — well, except, reprehensibly, for “slaves” — were all inalienable and of such preciousness, that the strengthening, protecting, and the defending of those qualities must always be of the highest of priorities for the nation to uphold.

Thus — and especially thanks to various major civil rights protections being enacted into law over the years, and even despite the rocks and ruts in the nation’s time-traveled road — at least the goal of seeking to protect and strengthen those freedoms and rights has been paramount in the desires of the nation’s people.

And that intense desire for these inalienable rights and freedoms: from where did it come? From, perhaps, the personal experiences of the original American colonists, who knew only too well what it was like to live a life of suffering under any of the oft-brutal, repressive monarchies and dictatorships that they had been only too thankful to escape?

Yet now, in this same — but also somewhat different — American nation just over two centuries later, here come the drones, along with a person with the title of  President who, with Congressional backing, has now authorized himself to unilaterally issue any number of orders to summarily execute anyone — including any American anywhere on this planet. And so, ask critics, what is being resurrected here? Is it merely a reformulated, high-tech, form of “freedom and justice for all”? Or is it, they ask, more as though one of the most frighteningly oppressive forces of yesteryear, but with incredibly greater powers for evil, is now being resurrected from the dead, right here in the heart of the nation that used to be known as “The Land of the Free”?

And so, in that sense, may I then ask you:

Are we witnessing, in effect, a resurrection of a kind of a benign “Lazarus” who only wants to “do good”? Or are we naively standing silently by as another kind of resurrection takes place —  of an extremely dangerous version of “Frankenstein’s Monster”, from whom there may ultimately be no escape?

Planet Earth: Now every square inch of it a "battlefield"?

Planet Earth: Now every square inch of it a “battlefield”?

(Note: If you, the reader, would like to submit your thoughts on these matters, please first register, log-in, and then submit your comment. In doing so, please be respectful, and please do not use obscene or otherwise inappropriate language, and do not state anything that could reasonably be interpreted as being slanderous or libelous or eminently false. Thanks.)

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Posted in DRONES, POLITICAL, Sci-Tech, SURVEILLANCE, TECHNOLOGY | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TROUBLE, RIGHT HERE IN RIVER CITY: WHO’S WATCHING US – AND WHY?


Planet Earth: Now every square inch of it a "battlefield"?

Planet Earth: Now every square inch of it — including the U.S. –
is a “battlefield”?

DISCLAIMER: As with all my posts in this blog,I have striven to be as factually accurate as possible, and my commentary below is purely my statement of my opinion regarding the subject at hand. If I have mis-stated any facts, I apologize in advance. This commentary is Copyright protonius.wordpress.com, 2013).

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(PROTONIUS, 5 July 2013) — There’s an intriguing June 30, 2013 article at TECHNEWS DAILY  (http://www.technewsdaily.com/18451-researchers-see-through-walls-with-wi-vi.html).

Eye_dilate (COMMONS.WIKIMEDIA.ORG; Public Domain)

Titled “Researchers See Through Walls With ‘Wi-Vi’ ”, the article tells of a new technology (which its inventors at MIT have dubbed “WiVi”) that may soon allow smartphones to actually SEE — and WATCH US — THROUGH WALLS.

Eye — er, I — ask:

With this, or a future variant of this, technology, who will be watching us — and why?

Once this technology goes beyond the “demonstration-stage”, develops further, and becomes publicly (or in other ways) available, how actually will it be used, and by whom, and for what purposes?

And toward what intended – as well as unintended – consequences?

Will it be used solely to help law-enforcement agencies to go after the “bad guys”?

Or will it also be used, by whomever or whatever the agency, in ways that may be far more concerning to everyone’s fast-disappearing vestiges of privacy and freedom, as the “surveillance state” takes yet another giant and immensely pervasive step into our lives?

Who, indeed, is watching -- and why

Certainly, it would appear that there can be a positive side to this technology: Crooks could potentially more easily be caught; military operations could potentially be made more successful; people in dire need of emergency assistance could potentially be more quickly located and rescued; and so on.

Who, indeed, is watching -- and why

In a grayer area, anyone using this technology could more easily intrude upon and spy upon the lives of others. Jealous lovers – or former lovers seeking divorce or revenge – could more easily spy on the affairs of their paramours and ex’s. Gumshoes could more easily spy on the doings of their targets. Voyeurs could more easily indulge in their favorite illicit pastime. And crooks – including those who might be out to steal, brutalize, or murder – could use this technology to more effectively gauge their chances of succeeding with their dastardly plans. And so on.

Who, indeed, is watching -- and why

And on the truly darker side – depending upon your point of view … Well, use your imagination:

If you were a governmental or military or corporate – or even a foreign – agency that had a profound and overbearing desire to know what your chosen targets are doing at any selected point in time, and if getting an indication of the activity that your targets are engaged in, on the other side of that wall, might be invaluable to your planning, how would you use this technology?

(Image Source: Donart Kelmendi  (“Donar 7”) via Wikimedia Commons).

(Image Source: Donart Kelmendi (“Donar 7”) via Wikimedia Commons).

Couple this new-found “see-through-walls technology” with all the rest of the secretive “digital-spiderweb” that is now being clandestinely and deeply intrusively being woven into our lives: what might that trend mean for those who control those technologies – and for those who are caught in those controller-flung webs?

Already, as has been intensively discussed in the world’s media of late, we have been learning of how elements of this “surveillance state” – elements governmental as well as corporate – are clandestinely and comprehensively accessing, tracking, and variously, according to some reports, data-mining, reportedly just about all of our telephonically and digitally-transmitted information.

And, it seems, more such intrusiveness is yet to come – and is coming fast.

Who, indeed, is watching -- and why

Surveillance-cameras by the hundreds, thousands, and more, are increasingly — and ever-more rapidly — appearing in public and private spaces in towns and cities across the U.S..

One unofficial, informal, estimate, at Wiki.Answers.com  (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_surveillance_cameras_are_deployed_in_the_US), puts the current number of these surveillance-cameras at an estimated 30 million.

Who, indeed, is watching -- and why

And where is the data from many of those devices, even many of the private ones, going? According to Wikileaks (as reported in the UK’s MAILONLINE  at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2187602/U-S-Government-secretly-spying-using-civilian-security-cameras-say-Wikileaks.html), much of that data is being fed directly to the Government’s hush-hush “anti-terrorist” program “Trapwire”.

Who, indeed, is watching -- and why

And that’s not to mention the burgeoning ubiquitousness of, in many public locations, high-tech lampposts that contain not only surveillance cameras but also “listening devices” that allow the authorities – whomever they may be in a given case – to listen-in on and track (and transmit onward and presumably data-mine) selected conversations of passersby.

Scene from the  classic 1956 film "Invasion of the Bodysnatchers"

You can run, but can you hide?
(Scene from the classic 1956 film
“Invasion of the Bodysnatchers”)

And let’s not leave out of this equation of all these other rapidly burgeoning, increasingly sophisticated, increasingly ubiquitous, surveillance-technologies, such as the technologies of “voice recognition”, “iris recognition”,        “face recognition”, “gait recognition” — and, according to some accounts, a possibly soon-to-be-applied, system that — from a distance — will reportedly employ an ability to identify us via “DNA and skin-recognition“.

And, it would seem, that’s only the beginning.

Who knows what variant of surveillance-technologies may be coming next?

With the ability offered by these relentlessly-progressing technologies to invade, sweep, data-mine, collate, and build “decision-matrixes” from, so many diverse, intricate, highly personal, sources and types of information about us, and with the desire of certain agencies to apparently erect an increasingly comprehensive, tight, and unforgiving – indeed, totalitarian – control on us all, how likely is it that “They” – with a capital “T” – will not be driven to know everything that they can possibly know about all of us — about you too – and to act on that knowledge?

A “see-through-walls technology”? Profound though its implications may be, it is obviously only part of the story.

Part of the matrix.

Part of the web — the informational web that is now being ever more tightly, ever more thoroughly, wound about us, each and everyone, until, perhaps, there may be no escape.

And the drones? Don’t forget the drones.

The drone known as "Predator".  How soon might this type of drone -- or others possessing even greater capabilities and technological prowess -- might soon be flying over your house? Note: A key component of the U.S. military arsenal in the fight against "terrorism", Predator drones reportedly are also used, at least in various of the "war zones" that are so often in the news these days, to kill.

The drone known as “Predator”.
How soon might this type of drone — or others possessing even greater capabilities and technological prowess — might soon be flying over your house?

Huge flying Predator-like drones. Swarms of mosquito-size drones. Speedy rock-climbing tread-crawling drones. Fast-galloping Cheetah-like drones. Untippable  stair-walking drones. Robotic crawlers, creepers, jumpers, climbers, shape-shifters, morphers. Drones that are programmed to “think for themselves” and carry-out missions “autonomously”, i.e., “as they think best”, whether their perceived mission is only to assist, to surveill — or to kill.

MEDICAL -  HEART-CHART - EndPlate (WIKIMEDIA; PUB DOMAIN)Oh, and about what you might previously have thought was at least one area of your most personal information that, if anything, would be sacrosanct from such intrusions? Just wait until Obamacare swings fully into force: think your medical records, and any health-related decisions made “in confidence” between you and your doctor, will remain private and confidential? And that that data will not be emanated – by legislative mandate – and channeled to destinations far beyond and without your knowledge or approval? And that whosever hands that data falls into, it won’t possibly be used against you?

Think again.

So, taking all the above concerns into account, and circling back to our starting-point:

This increasingly expansive, increasingly pervasive, privacy-destructive, intrusiveness, of which this “WiVi” “see-through-walls” technology is obviously just an additional — but significant in its potential — component of the issue of how all this data about us will be used: will it be used for good, for gray, or for evil? And, whichever the choice, “for good” or “for gray” or “for evil” depending upon whose point of view?

So, without going too far afield, let’s now plunge deeper into this potentially freedoms-treacherous dilemma:

Consider this concept: the potential melding of this new “WiVi” type of technology with the burgeoning nationwide (and beyond?) rollout of the electrical utilities’ “SMART METERS”:

SMART METER installed at a U.S. Naval Air Station.  (Image Source: U.S. Navy)

SMART METER installed at a U.S. Naval Air Station. (Image Source: U.S. Navy)

With the increasingly widespread installation of these “SMART METERS” across the U.S. (and Europe), and with – if the many reported allegations are true – “SMART METERS” often being forced upon homeowners’ homes regardless of the homeowner’s resistance, how long will it be before some version of “WiVi” technology might also be built-into “SMART METERS” — to provide visual surveillance of activities inside the residence — as the “surveillance state” ratchets-up yet another potential threat toward the destruction of our privacy (and, allegedly, our health)?

Remember, not only can “SMART METERS” keep a moment-by-moment track on a homeowner’s electricity-usage, and not only does “SMART METER” technology include the capability for a two-way radio-communication between the meter and the utility (or the utility’s device-equipped agents); “SMART METER” technology reportedly also provides the utility a remote means of tracking and regulating — including the ability to remotely selectively boost, reduce, or even turn-off — the flow of electricity to the individual location in question.

On the positive side, proponents say that this regulation-capability may prove invaluable to being able to more effectively distribute electrical power during a heatwave, for example, or to calculate the best times to pump-out higher, or lower, amounts of electricity to a community or to an individual user. And, proponents also say, it will be a cost-saver not only for the utilities but also for the homeowner.

But on the downside, say critics, the “SMART METER’S” technological capabilities give a utility — or a government — a frighteningly dangerous level of influence — even possibly of politically-motivated control — over any electricity-using American whose views might fall outside the boundaries of what those “regulators” feel is acceptable.

For example, suppose you need to conduct internet-based research or communication — which requires electricity for as long as you need it — but some external “authority” doesn’t like what you’re doing (or what they think you’re doing) — and they cut your electricity off?

With “SMART METERS”, say critics, they can do that.

Many “SMART METER” opponents have also been battling the emplacement of these devices on people’s homes — some homeowners even getting arrested for blocking utilities from installing these devices on their own homes –, on the basis that that these devices pose serious threats not only to residents’ (and neighbors’) health, via the devices’ high-intensity digital electronic transmissions, but also to people’s security, as, they claim, the devices’ data could potentially be hacked by unauthorized parties, or the flow of electricity could be hacked and controlled by unauthorized parties, and the homeowner’s electricity-usage — as noted above — could be monitored and regulated by the utilities (and possibly by government agencies) for political reasons.

Plus, critics also ask, what guarantees do we have that our electricity-usage data will not travel elsewhere even outside the purview of any “authorized” utilities and government agencies?

Of course, the power-utilities say that nothing of the sort will happen, that the data is unhackable, that no “politics” is involved, that there are no threats to health, and that these meters are safe.

So, to what degree are “SMART METERS” a possible new element of the “surveillance state”? Or are they as benign, benevolent, and their use as fully protective of our privacy-rights, as we might like them to be?

Same essential issues re this “WiVi” technology and its current or future variants.

Same issue, too, regarding the projected trend, by industry, toward embedding WiFi-or-other-Internet-linked connections and controls into an ever-expanding array of home-appliances and other such digital-based popular gadgets — even of the very homes in which we live. The positive side of that trend is that we each, presumably, gain greater and more practical control over those devices. But, say critics, imagine what may happen to our freedoms — even our abilities to deal with the basic necessities of living — if some external entity, such as a corporation or a government agency — or a hacker or a “terrorist” –, decides — without our approval — to access and take control over our appliances and systems?

credit-card-icon-WITH-EYE-2“Plastic” — i.e., credit-cards and debit-cards: Where do you suppose the data about how, where, and why, you rack-up charges in those handy little cards travels? And how about the increasing disappearance of access to cash-money, or the making “impractical” or “difficult” or an “indication of possible terrorism” the use of cash-money? Don’t get me started. This one you can research for yourself. Some useful search-terms: banks, cash, DHS, Starbucks.

But let’s go back to the microcosm of “SMART METERS” and potential variants of “WiVi“:

Imagine, even in these small examples, the immense profits — both financial and regulatory — that the rollout and application of “SMART METERS”, and the data that these devices generate, will likely bring to the utilities and related agencies, both here in the U.S. and, potentially, around the world.

Now, similarly imagine the massive, globally-based, profits that could accrue to the developers of any functional, practical, variants of “WiVi” technology.

What sort of company or agency wouldn’t want a piece of that profit-pie?

Is it beyond reason to wonder what role that such a profit-motive may play — or is already playing — in the further growth of the “surveillance state”?

Not to mention any of the other motivations that might drive the interests and actions of the “surveillance state”.

Hmmm. So we started this little bloggish analysis by exploring the potential ramifications of this “see-through-walls WiVi” development. Now, look at where it’s gotten us to!

And so, a question:

How much farther, how much more deeply into our lives, will the matrix of intrusion yet extend?

"Big Brother" (as depicted in the 1955 motion picture of George Orwell's prophetic "1984"): Is this how it begins? Is this where the use of these increasingly sophisticated -- and privacy-invasive -- surveillance-technologies can lead?

“Big Brother” (as depicted in the 1955 motion picture of George Orwell’s prophetic “1984”): Is this how it begins? Is this where the use of these increasingly sophisticated — and privacy-invasive — surveillance-technologies can lead?

How far into its web have we already walked – or been misleadingly cajoled – or been unceremoniously shoved, such that, just as in George Orwell’s “1984”, everyone (except anyone who somehow finds a way  “off the grid”) will increasingly come under permanent, ever-more-insidiously-driven, clandestine observation and unopposable control, by elements beyond our knowledge and control?

By elements whose motivations and interests may not quite comport with our own?

And of course, none of this is to also mention the likely myriad of surveillance-related technologies which presumably are now on the drawing-boards – or which, perhaps more correctly stated, are being rapidly generated by unfathomably sophisticated agencies and systems outside our purview – or are already deeply and invasively in-place and running at maximal possible speed.

For that matter, to what extent might any of these privacy-sucking technologies and systems possibly be in operation, right here and now — right here in River City?

And are they there for “good”, for “gray”, or for “evil”  — as defined according to whose point of view?

As the slick-talking huckster, “Harold”, sang in the Broadway hit “The Music Man”:

“Well, either you’re closing your eyes
To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge
Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated
By the presence of a pool table in your community.
Ya got trouble, my friend, right here,
I say, trouble right here in River City.”

Well, we’re not talking here of a “pool table” – but substitute the term “surveillance state” for “pool table” in the above lyric, and you might get my drift.

Who, indeed, is watching -- and why

Who, indeed, is watching — and why

In short:

Where, I wonder, are we headed?

And who will be watching?

And why?

Posted in DRONES, POLITICAL, Sci-Tech, SMART METERS, SURVEILLANCE, TECHNOLOGY, WiVi | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OF DRONES, TERRORISM, FREEDOM — AND LAZARUS


PROTONIUS HERE, WITH SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THE “30,000” DRONES THAT MAY SOON BE FLYING IN AMERICAN SKIES (OR ZOOMING INTO YOUR HOME?) — AND WITH AN UPDATE ABOUT THE POTENTIALLY LIFE-THREATENING HUMANOID & OTHER BIZARRE ROBOTS THAT, SOONER OR LATER, MAY BE INVADING YOUR STREETS — AND YOUR LIVES.

NOTE: MY COMMENTARY is purely meant to reflect my views on these matters. I have striven to be factually accurate; if I have misrepresented any facts or issues, please understand that any such misrepresentation was not intentional.

READER-COMMENTS, if focused on the issues at hand and if, in my view, within the bounds of propriety, are welcome, and may be submitted by first registering and logging-in; the link is below — or to the right of — the commentary.

DISCLAIMER: Any views or representations posted by commenters to this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect — and are not necessarily endorsed by — Protonius or this blog.

AND NOW, MY COMMENTARY (Copyright Protonius.Wordpress.Net 2012 and 2013):

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One Drone-design among many — and who’s to say what designs the future may bring? In any event, this Navy image is of a Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) X-45C on display at a 2005 Naval Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Air Demo at the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland. Operational missions listed for the X-45C “may include suppression of enemy air defenses; strike; electronic attack; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance”.

(PROTONIUS, 19 May, 2012, with updates as of 17 August 2012 and October 6, 2013) – “30,000 surveillance-drones, under the control of the U.S. Military and various law enforcement agencies, to potentially soon be flying in America’s skies”. 

All too true, thanks to a Congressional bill signed into law on February 14 of this year by Obama: the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 658).

But that’s not all! Now, this update:

“ROBOCOP” (character based on the “Robocop” films). What would a real “humanoid policing-robot” — or “pursuit-oriented robot” — look like, and what would it actually be equipped to do — and be capable of doing?
(Image source: “DMY/Sandbox, at Wikimedia Commons).

According to a 16 August 2012 report by Infowars.Com, “The Department of Defense has awarded a lucrative contract to an engineering and robotics design company {Boston Dymanics – ed.} to develop and build humanoid robots that can act intelligently without supervision. … While the Pentagon says the robots are for “humanitarian” missions, one cannot avoid thinking of the propensity to adapt this kind of military style technology for other more aggressive purposes. Indeed, the Pentagon has, in the past, issued a request to contractors to develop teams of robots that can search for, detect and track ‘non-cooperative’ humans in ‘pursuit/evacuation scenarios’ “. (Source: http://www.infowars.com/pentagon-developing-autonomous-humanoid-robots-to-perform-evacuation-operations/)

(10/06/2013 Update:) Still skeptical? Still thinking that the idea of developing a real-world “Robocop” is pure fiction? Then perhaps you might want to consider this 2013 Boston Dynamics project (affiliated with DARPA, the U.S. Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency), to develop “Atlas – The Agile Anthropomorphic Robot”. Here’s a photo:

"Atlas - The Agile Anthropomorphic Robot" (Boston Dynanics).

“Atlas – The Agile Anthropomorphic Robot” (Photo, courtesy of Boston Dynamics & DARPA).

According to Boston Dynamics ‘ website (http://www.bostondynamics.com/robot_Atlas.html), ATLAS is “a high mobility, humanoid robot designed to negotiate outdoor, rough terrain. Atlas can walk bipedally leaving the upper limbs free to lift, carry, and manipulate the environment. In extremely challenging terrain, Atlas is strong and coordinated enough to climb using hands and feet, to pick its way through congested spaces.” Further, says the website, “Articulated, sensate hands will enable Atlas to use tools designed for human use”.

And that’s just for starters.

How would you like a future version of ATLAS coming after you? To, perhaps, rescue you from harm — or to apprehend you for a perceived crime — or to hunt you down “with extreme prejudice”?

So it would seem that my speculations,  which are detailed in my original 2012 commentary below, as to the potentials that are now being pursued to develop and assign missions for increasingly sophisticated robotic technologies, have been right-on-target — and that it may indeed be fully rational to wonder how long it may be before We, the People, become — quite frighteningly — their chosen target.

Humanoid robotics — especially if weaponized — to do a controlling-agency’s bidding, especially if that agency does not quite have our “best interests” at heart? Non-humanoid, bizarre-looking, robotic devices, rumbling down our streets, scrabbling up our walls, clambering through our windows, slithering under our doorways — or even, on a “nanotechnology-scale“, being imprinted into our clothing, or infused into vaccines or into our food-and-water supplies, and becoming a more-or-less permanent component of our biological selves, so as to “tag” us, “track” us, “control” us, perhaps even to influence not only our physical, emotional, and mental states, but also to generate — upon command —  a particularly permanent result?

Is this the kind of future whose birth-stages we are now witnessing? Is this the kind of future that is now starting to first tentatively creep, then unsteadily saunter, and then aggressively gallop and swoop, into our lives?

These technologies, reportedly, are all on-track; perhaps the key question we are facing is: how will these technologies be used — and who will be the ones doing the using — and how do we fit into that picture?

Who of “we” will be in charge of these creations? Who will determine what these things may or may not do? What absolutely unbreakable “guarantees” will there be that these creations will be used only for “good” (and “good” by whose definition?)? Or, for any of these devices and technologies that are specifically designed to inflict “harm” to an “enemy” (but “enemy” by whose definition?), what are the absolutely unbreakable “guarantees” that “innocent” people will not, as a result, become the chosen targets or even become “collateral damage”?

Perhaps some answers to these questions are in my analysis below, in which I’ve tried to cover many of the key areas of what once may have been referred to as “things to come” but which, now, are apparently “just around the corner” — or are “already here”. (Note: Details on the topic of “nanotechnology” will have to wait for a future analysis.)

Let’s start with the issue of “the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012and the Drones:

Drones, now set to be launched into American skies by the thousands, and all to allegedly be utilized in a (perhaps endless?) “war” on “crime” and “terrorism” — a war in which, its proponents argue, these drones will make you more “safe” — but also a war in which, quite possibly, you yourself, and everyone else whom you know, even if you believe that you are completely innocent of any “wrongdoing”, might all too easily become targeted as “a person of interest”.

And what might be the consequences of that determination?

Is this the beginning of a no-longer completely fictional “SkyNet“?

“SkyNet” – Not just for “The Terminator” films anymore?

And so a whole host of critically important questions now arise:

Why was this bill, with its drones-aspect, and with so little Congressional (and arguably no public) debate, rushed into law?

With this bill’s passage into law, what has effectively happened to your Constitutional rights?

Why this giant “next-generation leap” to transform our nation into a “surveillance society”?

Why is this happening now? Why is it happening at all? Is it only to, allegedly, protect us, and the nation, from suffering at the hands of “the bad guys”? Or might there be other, less obvious, goals in mind?

And what may the future hold as these drones’ capabilitiesand the missions to which they will be put — morph toward goals that the American public may yet find unpleasant to envision, even now as drones by the thousands — unless something changes — will soon become ubiquitous in America’s skies?

Still skeptical that this will happen?

According to a 24 April 2012 report by the UK’s online Daily Mail (MailOnline), titled “Is there a drone in your neighbourhood? Rise of spy planes exposed after FAA is forced to reveal 63 launch sites across U.S .”, it would appear that the operation of  unrevealed numbers of drones — military, governmental, corporate, civilian — in America’s skies is already significantly underway — and that at least some of these drones “may have been designed to kill terror suspects”. (Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2134376/Is-drone-neighbourhood-Rise-killer-spy-planes-exposed-FAA-forced-reveal-63-launch-sites-U-S.html).

The U.S. military-operated drone known as “Predator“.
How soon might this type of drone — or others possessing even greater capabilities and technological prowess — be flying over your house?
Note: A key component of the U.S. military arsenal in the fight against “terrorism”, Predator drones reportedly are also used, at least in various of the “war zones” that are so often in the news these days, not only as observational craft but also in terms of another of their functions: to kill.

Military and law-enforcement (and corporate) controlled surveillance-drones flying over your head. Over your town. Over your property. Over your family members. Maybe even over you as you drive your car, go shopping, go to work, visit a friend, chat with neighbors, walk down the street, relax in your backyard – and who-knows what-else.

Surveillance-drones — with their autonomous mission-commanding non-human controls, or their software-determined targeting and responses, or their clandestine human masters at distant controls — seeking, viewing, analyzing, categorizing, and acting upon, anything and everything that they can determine about us as we, like ants on an anthill, scrabble about our daily lives while potentially benevolent — or malevolent , depending upon one’s point of view — eyes peer down at us from above.

The famous red eye of HAL 9000, from the motion picture “2001: A Space Odyessey”. (Image by Cryteria).

“Surveillance-eyes” by the thousands! 

Is this to protect us all from what We, the People, define as “crime” and “terrorism” – or might these drones, as part of this rapidly accelerating push toward surveilling us, instead become a tool — a weapon — that can be used against us, as those who are positions of governmental authority choose to apply their own definitions as to what, at any given moment, constitutes “crime” and “terrorism”?

Or, as some critics are also charging, is it even more than that? I.e., some critics ask, might these drones — especially in coordination with all of the other ways that various  Governmental authorities are increasingly devising to track and control our every move — become yet another component in a panoply of powerful tools intended to subjugate “We, the People” to the rule of a totalitarian state?

Law enforcement, as a category, generally asserts that these drones can be critically important, and valuable, to tracking-down criminals, locating and rescuing crime-victims, and even locating and rescuing lost Alzheimer’s patients and the like. If so, it would certainly seem that there is a positive side to launching — within tightly selected operational parameters — some of these drones into American airspace.

Who of us, for example, if we were the victim of a kidnapping, or were interminably lost in a hostile remote environment, or were cornered in a dark alley with someone holding a gun to our head, would not want a law-enforcement or other relevant agency to use all tools possible to find and rescue us from such a potentially injurious or deadly fate?

And who of us, for example, would not want a law-enforcement agency to be able to use all tools possible to locate and stop a “terrorist” from setting-off a bomb in a crowded street or shopping-center?

Utilizing the best that technology has to offer, to neutralize such dangerous situations and to save innocent people from such terrible fates, would seem to be an admirable – and worthwhile – goal, especially in this age of concern about “terrorism” and, against the backdrop of a severely strained global economy, about the possibility of a rising and broadening spike of domestic crime.

But what if  the definitions that a governmental or law enforcement agency applies to “crime” and “terrorism” substantially differ from our view of those terms? What if those authorities’ methods of using these particular high-tech tools to root-out and fight “terrorism” and “crime”, also happen, incidentally, to have the effect of destroying our freedoms, and putting us into the cross-hairs, and throwing us into the arms of a burgeoning, surveillance-oriented, increasingly dictatorial, form of government — what some believe is increasingly trending toward becoming a “police-state“?

Is that what we want? Is that to be our future, here in what used to be known as “the Land of the Free”?

OVERRIDING QUESTION: What is to prevent any of these drones, or similar technologies such as those outlined below, from being used in a way that abuses our Constitutional rights, or from being manipulated in such a way as to accidentally — or intentionally — cause damage to our life, limb, property?

There may, in some instances, be a positive side to the use of drones in U.S. airspace. But, from the standpoint of how the use of drones in American airspace might impact on freedom, it would seem that there is a negative side too — and it is huge.

FOX NEWS commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano (see http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31353.htm and http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/may/17/is-there-a-drone-in-your-backyard/print/), and other critics, reportedly see this pro-drone trend as constituting a dangerous, and completely unConstitutional – and therefore, in their view, illegal – development that potentially can be utilized as, and in the view of some observers may well be, a tool to advance the development of a “police state” – a “Big Brother” type of dictatorship, right here at home.

In their view, the deployment, at least as currently envisioned, of these drones into U.S. airspace, represents a huge danger to our freedoms – a danger that must, they say, be stopped at once, if our freedoms – such as they are – are to be preserved.

To which I add the following thoughts:

CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING 10 ISSUES:

This image reflects the comparitive orbits of the network of GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites circling the Earth. How comprehensive might a similar network — or multiple networks — of “spy satellites” perhaps look?

1. Hi-resolution military & related observational satellites — American and otherwise — hundreds to thousands of miles above Earth’s surface: To what extent may any of these have been — or perhaps still be — tasked with observing us and various of our activities? Perhaps it’s just a matter of how comprehensive and detailed the form of data-collection may be, what those who are operating these satellites determine to be the focus of their interest, the parameters within which these systems are permitted to function, and the limits of the satellites’ operational capabilities.

So, a question: How many of these satellites have been, or are, or may soon be, observing us, and in what degree of comprehensiveness and detail might they be doing that, and by whose (or which agency’s) command might they be doing it, and for what purpose? And to what use is that gathered-data — if indeed it is of our observed activities — being put?

2. But 30,000 airborne-over-the-U.S. spy-drones over a 10-year period? Who sets that time-frame, and who is to say that the deployment will actually be limited to just 30,000? And who, too, will be empowered to collect, store, distribute, and otherwise utilize, those crafts’ collected data?

According to a 02/08/2012 report by The Business Insider (at URLhttp://www.businessinsider.com/robert-johnson-bi-30000-drones-by-2020-2012-2#comments):

“Congress passed a bill this week paving the way for unmanned drones to ply American skies. The bill requires the FAA to rush a plan to get as many drones in the air as possible within nine months. How many drones are we talking? Shaun Waterman at The Washington Times reports the agency predicts that 30,000 drones could fill U.S. skies by the end of the decade. Naturally, many are concerned that surveillance by police and federal government agencies will skyrocket in response.”

The Pentagon - HQ for the U.S. DoD

The Pentagon – HQ for the U.S. DoD

Not only that, but reports have also come out that state that the U.S. Military has been accorded, or has given itself, the authority — which critics say is in violation of Constitutional law — to store and distribute any data that those craft collect incidentally, such as “accidental” imagery of a citizen’s private property, for a period of up to 90 days.

This powerful (in my view) video-clip of a May 14, 2012 FOX NEWS report of the situation goes right to the heart of this issue and is well worth a view. The URL is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg1TAAqrqMo .

As to the projected “30,000” over a 10-year period:

Why take all that time, and why stop at 30,000? And even if there are such projected limitations at present, who is to say that those limitations won’t soon be revised into obsolescence, as those limits are removed and the drone-related floodgates are flung more widely open?

The answer to those questions, in my view, is not quite “freedom-friendly”; instead – unless competent attention is now focused on safeguarding our freedom (and our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights) from these dangers – the trend, as I see it, is more likely to be as follows:

IMO, ultimately there may well be no realistic limit — other than one designed to “open the floodgates” — to the speed of deployment or to the number or range of designs of drones that may be deployed. In fact, as I see it, the design, manufacture, marketing, deployment, operation, of drones may well become the next “go-to” industry, with potentially immense profits that are just begging to be harvested, such that the drone (and related robotics) industry – and buyers – will soon be racing to make that figure of 30,000 “just a drop in the bucket” of what this industry – in tandem with a trend toward a advancing the interests of a police-oriented state – will really be attracted to generate.

For that matter, “The Business Insider”, in the same 02/08/2012 article that I mentioned above, also states that “The commercial drone market would be worth hundreds of millions more if the bill passes”. That reference was to the bill that, less than a week later, became FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2012; it was signed into law by Obama on 02/14/2012.

So, among the potential attractions — depending on motives of those who are involved in this scenario — of building, deploying, and operating these surveillance-drones, may well be the following:

– Gain of financial profit;

– Gain of increased political, business, or military influence;

– A big step forward in the tracking of, and coming down hard on, “crime” and “terrorism”;

– Increased accretion of and centralization of power;

– Diminution of the influence of, and diminution of the Constitutional rights and freedoms of, and — if these drones become weaponized and capable of launching an attack — possibly even the case-by-case survival of, the individual American citizen.

Welcome to what may well become America’s future.

3. Drone-design:

Are we talking low-flying Predators or Predator-cousins? Larger craft? Smaller ones, like model airplanes ? But who’s to say that these upcoming drones need resemble common man-made aircraft? Or even, if their purpose is to spy, that they need be of the “flying” variety at all?

The “Nano Hummingbird” surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft developed by AeroVironment, Inc. under contract to the U.S. Government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Perhaps it’s not yet equipped for high-altitude flights or missions lasting more than several minutes — but it does have its uses. And, what capabilities might future progress in its development bring?

For example, just scan the various news-reports, or videos on sites such as Youtube, for “drones” (and similar terminologies), and you will find that designers — often major industrial companies, some with military or law-enforcement ties — have already designed and been putting into operation drones of many different sizes, appearances, and capabilities — some of these creations even being as small as, and resembling,  side-scrabbling crabs, armadillo-like rolling balls, wall-climbing match-boxes, hummingbirds, or even flying insects.

Or even bizarre-looking, high speed, incredibly maneuverable, flying devices, some of which look  as though they might have been designed by “Alien” and “Prometheus” director Ridley Scott.

Want to see a version of the “Hummingbird” drone in flight? See the videoclip at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96WePgcg37I .

Or here’s a link to a Youtube clip of a homemade “Quadricopter” in actual flight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTWmOHedrXw&feature=related

Now imagine (or do an internet-search on) the more highly sophisticated designs of these things that are being constructed for — and to some degree are already in operational use for — the military and for agencies tasked with “law enforcement“, not to mention for other entities who wish to utilize such craft in the exercise of their own “special interests”.

Here’s a screenshot from the above-mentioned “homemade Quadricopter” clip:

               And you thought that “UFOs” were spooky?                         Screenshot of a “Quadricopter“, also known as a “Quadcopter” or “Multicopter“, in a demonstration-flight. This screenshot is from the full videoclip titled “best toy ever (multicopter)“, at URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTWmOHedrXw&feature=related .

View the videoclip; watch that device buzz and zoom through its unbelievably swift tumbles, twists, and turns. Then imagine how you might feel if such a device — a device under the control of some faceless, hidden, source, at whose intentions you could only guess — were racing above, or buzzing around, your head.

Not enough to catch your attention or, perhaps, to give you a sense of personal concern? Then take a look at this following videoclip, in which you’ll see a demonstration of swarms of quadricopters being flown in a variety of amazing, complex, coordinated, formations – and then imagine that such craft, at the behest of some clandestine entity in what may soon become our future, are directed to swarm around you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmWD76jwjbQ&feature=related

Now take that all a big step further ahead, and imagine (or do an internet-search on) the panoply of the more-highly-sophisticated drone-designs that are in the works, and the missions for which they are being constructed – especially as relates to the goals of the military, of agencies in “law enforcement”, of universities and laboratories of various kinds, and even of the entertainment-industry  — use your imagination — or, perhaps, of other entities who wish to utilize such cybercraft in the exercise of their own “special interests“.

So what are we really letting ourselves in for, as these “30,000” — a number that I suspect may eventually be far exceeded — start flying, buzzing, racing, circling, overhead and perhaps even “accidentally” coming much closer than that?

And might that projected “30,000” be limited to drones that only fly and which, by regulation — but remember: regulations can change — and regulations, sometimes all too easily, can also be circumvented! So, must these drones, of whatever design, fly only above a given altitude? Or might more (and more frightening) drone-capabilities, including other kinds of drones, operating under less stringent (or circumvented) regulations, also at some point be permitted to come into play — and into our lives?

Ah, but wait a moment! “Insect-Drones” also limited to flying only above a given altitude — how practical might that restriction be — especially if such a drone might be designed to unobtrusively scoot into our homes or to quietly alight onto a nearby wall, desk, countertop, bric-a-brac, or even on our shoulder, to secretly spy on us — or to even do worse than that?

Ever been stung by a bee?

And what about “climbers”, “crawlers”, shape-shifting “slitherers” and “morphers”, and more such seemingly bizarre cybernetic creatures that also are now being developed for “surveillance” — and potentially for other less savory — purposes? Does a supposed “altitude-restriction” have any practical relevance to their possible use, as the cybernetic net around our society — and around our freedoms — tightens?

Even so: remember, we’re only looking at projections based on what is publicly known as to current technologies; who can say what technological breakthroughs will emerge and be applied, toward watching and responding to our every move, as we inexorably move headlong into our future?

4. A closer look: is “SURVEILLANCE” all?

Here’s looking at YOU, Kid!
(Image: courtesy of Thomas Tolkien)

As I suggested above: would these drones, whether of the “flying” or of the “rolling” or “crawling” or “climbing” or “running” (etcetera) variety, be limited – by structural design as well as by law – to having only observational capabilities?

For example, even if they were limited to “observing” — a limitation whose applicability seems to open to serious question — what “observational technologies” would they be limited to employing?

Common civilian-camera low-megapixel “daylight-imaging” technology only? Not likely.

It would seem that various drones, if purely observation-designed, would also likely be equipped with, and empowered to utilize, whatever other forms of intrusive “observational, mission-specific” capabilities that state-of-the-art technologies can offer, such as, for example, high-power optical and digital zoom and magnification capabilities, face-detection/recognition, gait-detection/recognition, light-amplification, infrared thermal and night-vision technologies, and any number of other advanced forms of multispectral/object-recognition and scanning technologies “that can get the job done”.

And that’s just for starters.

How about also, I wonder, additionally utilizing the various other kinds of advanced technologies that NASA, for example, uses in its Lunar and interplanetary missions — technologies that go well-beyond the above-mentioned observational capabilities? Or how about other surveillance (and attack-related?) technologies, whatever they may be, that perhaps have been developed for and successfully utilized in this nation’s various military operations, such as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan?

But, as to just the possible visual-observational capabilities alone, take a look at the 12/29/2011 BBC News item at URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16358851 . It’s headlined “US Army unveils 1.8 gigapixel camera helicopter drone” — and it is an eye-opener!

Headlined “US Army unveils 1.8 gigapixel camera helicopter drone”, the article states that the Army says that this new technology promises “an unprecedented capability to track and monitor activity on the ground”, and, in part, adds the following information:

The drone’s specially-equipped 1.8 gigapixel camera “offers 900 times the number of pixels of a 2 megapixel camera found in some mobile phones. The system can provide real-time video streams at the rate of 10 frames a second”, can “track people and vehicles from altitudes above 20,000 feet (6.1km) across almost 65 square miles (168 sq km)”, and “operators on the ground can select up to 65 steerable ‘windows’ following separate targets to be ‘stared at’. Vehicles, people and other objects can be tracked even if they move in different directions.”

How would you like something like that to be flying overhead and peering down at you from above?

But is “visual observation and tracking” to be the limit of what any of these projected drones will be designed — or commissioned — to do? Might other “surveillance” technologies — and applications of those other technologies — also come into play?

How about “air-sniffing” or chemical-detection or other technologies to remotely detect not only potential “terrorist materials” but also to detect — as was demonstrated in the Vietnam War, for example — hints of human biological activity, for tracking (and targeting) of selected population-groups or individuals?

Or what of technologies that would allow for the remote detection and analysis of such  things as “interesting” patterns of electricity-usage or of analog or digital signal sources and transmissions, or even of tapping into — and jamming, altering, or otherwise affecting — digital communications (perhaps as an adjunct to how extensively our nation’s digital communications are, in many cases, reportedly already being surveilled)?

More to the point: in the hunt for “terrorists” and “crime cells”, for instance — and if the reportedly widespread and “legalized” Governmental ability to hack into every American’s digital communications is any example — by what logic would a drone-based effort to detect “criminals” and “terrorists” in America not also include whatever digital-hacking technologies that might help in such an effort?

And yet it still doesn’t necessarily end there. As time progresses, and as these technologies become more sophisticated — or as the drones become more intrusive — what additional drone-based detection-capabilities might also come into use?

What exactly, in essence, is entailed in the concepts of “observation”, “detection”, “tracking” — e.g., surveillance”? Isn’t this, too, a key question that we all should be asking — and for which we should demanding clear answers?

5. But is “DETECTION” all?

What if the capability to “deliver payloads” is also, at some points and in some cases, designed into any of these drones? Again, please take note of that key line in the above-mentioned Daily Mail (MailOnline) article of 24 April 2012, which states that  that at least some of the drones that are already being flown in America’s skies “may have been designed to kill terror suspects”.

So perhaps it’s not an idle question to ask whether any of these upcoming “30,000” craft may – by whatever the justification – be designed with, and operated with, the capabilities to also deliver payloads.

And what kinds of payloads might those be? Might they include, for instance, the targeted release of clouds of nanochips for tracking of (or to otherwise affect) individual targets? Or systems designed to remotely access or disable a target’s (or target-area’s) communications-grid, power-plants, computer-systems, transportation-systems — e.g., the target’s infrastructure? Or to deploy high-tech “crowd control technologies”, such as directed-energy  infra-red beams of pain or deafening beams of ultrasound or micro-second-delayed soundwave-beams that retransmit and disrupt whatever a targeted-person is trying to say – technologies that reportedly are already being developed for potential military and “crowd-control” use?

Or, as with the Predator-missions overseas — or in line with the above-mentioned Daily Mail article’s report — might any of these upcoming drones also be equipped to, as it were, “take a target out”?

And what if that “target” just happens, by intention or error, to be you?

In short, what are the limits – in actuality to what these drones will be permitted to employ?

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral - re-enactment. (Photo © by James G. Howes, 2008)

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – Tombstone, Arizona (re-enactment). (Photo © by James G. Howes, 2008)

What, by law (and by which law?), will these drones be limited to doing? What will be the safeguards, if any, against their misuse? Who will fight to crush crime and to protect our rights? And who gets to decide?

Or is this just the start of a new – but potentially of great concern to a free people – form of “the wild, wild West” — or of “1984”?

6. And what of the deployment of OTHER types of drones, on American soil?

If these currently-discussed “30,000” flying-drones are allowed, by law, to potentially intrude, within the U.S., on every person’s outdoor — or possibly even more than that — activity, who is to say that the next step — building on that precedent — won’t possibly also be the Governmental approval of the use of any of a whole range of ground-based (or ground-and-air-based) robotic devices rolling or speeding or galloping or crawling or climbing all over the place, spying on us – and possibly targeting us – at just about every turn?

Note: Will such permissions be given? Perhaps time will tell. But as to the technological side of this equation, if you think that I’m “imagining things”, may I suggest the following:

As I noted above (in my 17 August 2012 update), now DARPA has contracted with Boston Dynamics for the designing and construction of humanoid robots, those robots to be capable operating autonomously — i.e., without direct human control — and to be employed in “evacuation/pursuit” operations. Certainly these devices could serve in a way that is “angelic” — but what guarantee is there that they won’t instead be tasked to “do the work of a devil”?

“BigDog” robots trot in the shadow of an “MV-22 Osprey”. “BigDog” — modeled on the actual dynamic muscular and skeletal structure of a dog — is a dynamically stable quadruped robot created in 2005 by Boston Dynamics with Foster Miller, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Harvard University Concord Field Station. “BigDog” is already in service to the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

Now take a look at this photo. Those four-legged “critters”, both of a robotic type named “BigDog”, are actual, and astoundingly capable, robots, that can rapidly walk, run, jump, climb, carry heavy loads — even be weaponized — and possess who-knows what additional capabilities their designers may choose to give them.

And that’s “just for starters”. This photo dates from 2005; just imagine how far their technological prowess may have progressed since then. But take note: this family of robots is already in military use.

Care to see more?

Go to Youtube, punch-in “Boston Dynamics” (or go to this URL: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=boston+dynamics&oq=boston&aq=5&aqi=g10&aql=&gs_l=youtube.1.5.0l10.841.1956.0.4275.6.4.0.2.2.0.70.266.4.4.0…0.0.FsEiO4v47a0 ), look at some of their amazing videos of robotic devices that they’re building– and some of which arealready being deployed — for military and other uses.

Or, at Youtube, just punch-in the term “Robots” or “Robotics” or “Military Robotics” — for example, go to URL http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=military+robots+and+the+future+of+war&oq=military+robot&aq=3&aqi=g10&aql=&gs_l=youtube.1.3.0l10.13035.19767.0.23831.10.10.0.0.0.0.119.729.9j1.10.0…0.0.Qo1nyguo-uc  — and view the videos that come up.

Or take a look at some Youtube-clips that fall under the category of “Spy Robot Insects” — at URL http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=spy+robot+insects+&oq=robot+insec&aq=3m&aqi=g2g-m3&aql=&gs_l=youtube.1.3.0l2j0i5l3.18478.22766.0.26324.9.6.2.1.2.0.133.462.5j1.6.0…0.0.59SyIVhJ6tM – and see what a whole range of other companies and inventive technologically sophisticated individuals are coming up with in the area of robotics.

The aerial surveillance device known as the “Insectothopter”. It was designed and utilized by the CIA back in the mid-1970s. Reportedly, it showed great promise — but the project was eventually dropped due to the Insectothopter’s susceptibility to being blown about by strong winds.

Here’s one such little creature that was built for the CIA as far back as 1975: the “Insectothopter”.

About the size of a dragonfly, this spy-thing was gasoline-engine powered and actually flew. The project was reportedly eventually abandoned, as the device was difficult to control in headwinds.

But Governmental and other agencies, in the U.S. and abroad, continue to press ahead with the R&D of technologies for similar “flying-insect” robotic devices that are collectively classified as “Micro Aerial Vehicles” (MAV’s) and even tinier robotic spies classed as “Robobugs”.

For some fascinating details about those developments, you may find it worthwhile to access the article titled “From Insectothopter to Delfly” at the website of the West Holland Foreign Investment Agency, at http://www.westholland.nl/from-insectothopter-to-delfly .

But, wait a sec; as the saying goes, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”.

How about some real cybernetic creatures that are now already being created, and from which the emerging science of combining synthetic constructs with actual living organisms — whether for purposes of spying or delivering “payloads” — may well lead to monsters — insect-size or otherwise — whose missions may transform our lives in ways that, until now, have only been the stuff of science fiction horror-films and nightmares:

Bugs — yes, actual living insects — are now being experimentally, in laboratory-settings, outfitted with human-controlled neural implants that reportedly can control where, when, and how, these insects move or fly. But that’s not all. Experiments have already been demonstrating how such neural implants, into living insects, reportedly can tap into the insects’ visual systems and project onto a computer-screen what the living insect is seeing!

Evidence? Tap into these “buggy” videoclips and see for yourself:

– “Cyborg insects “: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSCLBG9KeX4&feature=fvwrel

– “Cyborg beetles to be the US military’s latest weapon”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i-_1QdY2Zc&feature=related

And then also consider some of the non-biological — but perhaps in other ways astounding — shape-shifting creations that are now also under development and which, it would seem, may also be morphed into our lives in ways and for purposes — purposes perhaps including but also going beyond “surveillance” — as yet to be determined:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq8Yw19bn7Q&feature=relmfu

Would you suspect that all these developments are being pursued just for the fun of it? Or only for entertainment, or purely for positive and personally helpful purposes, or even just  for financial profit? Or to spread peace and freedom, enhance and strengthen our tenuous grasp of privacy and liberty, keep our nation and its people (and the rest of the world?) “safe and secure”? Or might some other motives — or, regardless of motives, other outcomes — perhaps, be at work?

Could the potential “filling of the skies” with drones also be part of some other plan meant to obfuscate something else that may be going on in our skies?

I don’t know — but as I implied above, I suspect that if this is all new to you, you may be find it worthwhile to carefully consider these questions.

Either way, having viewed those videos and having read-up on these robotic creations, imagine any of these creations being commissioned to come to your town and to your street — and to your house — to spy on you.

Or to do more than just that — to you.

All in the name of, ostensibly, “helping people” and “fighting terrorism” and “fighting crime”.

Well, helping people, and fighting crime and terrorism, can be a good thing, of course. And perhaps the idea of these particular types of robotic creatures coming to spy on — or to do something to — Americans on American soil, would seem — to some people at least — to extend beyond the limits of permissibility except, perhaps, as tools to truly help people in need and to avert acts of “crime” or “terrorism”.

Then again, in the current — and increasingly divisive — political climate, perhaps some people might have what in their view is a more sanguine approach to these developments.

And perhaps it all comes down to a matter of definition, and of whose definition is the one that rules.

But either way, take note:

As I mentioned above, some of these types of robots have been designed for — and are currently are being deployed in — military use in actual battlefield operations; these are not toys, nor are they fiction. Nor might their potential uses necessarily be quite so innocent.

And also take note:

What if — as in the classic Michael Palin film “Brazil” (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil_%28film%29), which I highly recommend that you view — the authorities’ definition of “crime” and “terrorism” turns out to not quite dovetail with your definition of those terms?

And then ask yourself:

Against the backdrop of this current Governmental authorization for some 30,000  airborne spy-drones to fly-and-spy over localities across the U.S., is the additional thought of a similar — or more far-reaching — Governmentally-authorized use of any of these OTHER types of robotic-creations, on American soil, so far-fetched?

Too, to what extent might any of these robotic-creations, or other such creations that have yet to emerge from the drawing-boards, be empowered — whether in the near or not-so-distant future — by our representatives in Government, or by the military, or by any national, state, or local, law enforcement agencies, or even by elements of private industry, to intrude on our lives?

7. OK, so there are obviously  MAJOR Constitutional and privacy issues involved in this shift toward moving the U.S. a big step closer to becoming what some might call an increasingly-intrusive surveillance-oriented state.

“Big Brother” poster, based on George Orwell’s classic book “1984”.
(Image via Free Art License; Copyright © Frederic Guimont)

But is that degree of “surveillance” — danger to our freedoms though it may be — the limit of the problem?

Say critics, add to that scenario the impact, on our freedoms, of, for example, the Patriot Acts; the expanding encroachment on our freedoms by the TSA; NSA surveillance (according to such organizations as the Electronic Frontier Foundation) of millions of Americans’ telephone and  internet communications; the NDAA Acts (2012 and 2013 versions); various Executive Orders authorizing (illegally, say critics) the assassination — without notice or right to a trial — of American citizens; the FATCA Act (look it up!); and now the newly-proposed ExPATRIOT Act (which some critics say is so freedom-destructive that, in their view, it may well serve as the precursor to what they warn may be the next step: that of locking every American citizen — via the Government locking onto every American’s money — into “a land of no escape”: a financial version of the Iron Curtain, which, say critics, will have as its effect “No Exit Allowed”).

And now add these newly-authorized tens of thousands of spy-drones to the mix — and a chilling question leaps to the foreground: WHAT’S NEXT?

But “shooting-down a drone”, as FOX NEWS commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano recently referred to as some people’s proposed solution to this drone-deployment?

Not a great (or practical) solution, in my opinion — unless the goal is to actually bring the full force of the state down upon both the shooter and on anyone else who also may, collaterally, be classified — by that state — as a potential threat to the “public order”.

DETENTION, ANYONE?
Well, although this is an Iraq-based U.S. Army photo of a suspect being lead to detention, maybe it still gets the idea across: for those “who take the law into their own hands” and attempt to illegally attack a Federally authorized drone, what might be the consequences?
(Image source, from Wikimedia Commons:
“Description Spc. Colby Richardson detains a man after he is identified as a possible suspect.
Date 15 June 2007
Source US Army images
Author Air Force Staff Sgt. Quinton Russ (on duty)”.)

I.e., what better opportunity — from the viewpoint of (in some people’s view) a state or authority that’s “just waiting for an excuse” — for that state to institute local, regional, or national, martial law?

Or, at a minimum, for that state or authority to simply apprehend the shooter — along with anyone and everyone that the state or authority asserts (legitimately or otherwise) was in some way “associated with” the shooter or the “plot” — and then charge him/her/them with a major crime, convict him/her/them, and throw him/her/them into prison (or, using the “military detention” provisions of the NDAA, possibly “disappear” those persons)?

Hmm, but what about shooting — or swatting with a rolled-up newspaper, for example — a “bug-drone”? For most people, isn’t swatting a bothersome bug a normal, common, thing to do?

Still, the issues would seem to be complex; and what might be the broader result if the nation were now to become a sort of “wild, wild West” where everyone — everyone who still possesses a gun — starts “shooting up the place”? This, I do not advocate.

My view: Far better to offer, and to vigorously (but within the legal system) promote, more-productive, anti-crime, pro-freedom, alternative solutions — solutions that will work to both stem this pro-surveillance-state trend (and the dangers to our freedoms that the deployment of these drones may bring), and which will also be seen as acceptably positive (and Constitutional) by our lawmakers and law-enforcers — and by We, the People.

8. But assume that this pro-drones movement just keeps burgeoning, and these spy-things get launched. What about the incidental dangers – the dangers of “collateral damage”?

Aside from the Constitutional and privacy issues, what will be the legal issues if and when any of these flying spycraft causes a passenger-plane or helicopter to crash, possibly also causing passenger-deaths?

And what will be the legal issues if any of these spycraft plummets downward — whether due to malfunction or command — or even launches an actual attack — and causes property-damage or personal-injury or death? What rights would the injured party (or the party’s family or estate) have for redress, and who should get sued?

Along those lines: contemporary news-accounts every so often tell us of how drone-attacks, by U.S.-operated airborne drones, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, have caused “collateral damage” — “damage” in which innocent civilians have been “accidentally” killed. If any such drones, with attack-capabilities, even if not intentionally targeted our way, are launched into America’s skies, who among us would feel comfortable with the possibility that we, or a family member or friend, might even remotely have the possibility of coming to be listed as “collateral damage”?

“Compensation”? Would that make such a victim “whole”?

Or would the Government (or whichever agency is involved) have already shielded itself and the drones’ manufacturers and operators from all prosecution — much as America’s vaccine-manufacturers are shielded, by Federal law, from public prosecution — even if their devices cause injury or death?

Note: The issue of whether or not these spy-drones might intentionally be employed to attack targets  is not idle speculation. Reportedly, some law enforcement authorities are already recommending that some of these drones be equipped with crowd-control devices or even weapons.

For example, CBS DC (at URL  http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/05/23/groups-concerned-over-arming-of-domestic-drones/ ) offers this report:

“Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Texas told The Daily that his department is considering using rubber bullets and tear gas on its drone.”

The Daily” also reports (at URL http://blog.thedaily.com/search/drones), in part, the following:

“The United States is beefing up its anti-terror arsenal with the Kamikaze Drone. … The drone finds you from above, divebombs and crashes into you…. Smaller than a backpack and boasting a stealthily silent motor, the Switchblades deliver real-time video to personnel who navigate them remotely, and can be steered directly into a target, where they’ll detonate on impact. Think of it as a smart, remote-control grenade with wings.”

And those examples are aside from the allegation, by critics, that all those “wonderful killing-devices and technologies”, that were developed for use in those overseas “wars against the terrorism”, are now looking for a new — and potentially profitable — home.

We can hope that those concerns are not the case. And that the American airspace deployment of drones such as these is a fully reasonable — and necessary — thing to do  in order to safeguard the nation from threats of destruction — threats which, perhaps, may be all too real.

But what if the concerns of the critics are valid — that the alleged “terrorist” threat “from outside” is actually not quite so real, and that the fact instead is that the raking-in of huge financial and political profits, and the gaining of increased control and subjugation of We, the American people, are the intended targets?

As the saying goes: stay tuned.

9. Wait there’s more! Every hear of “cyber attacks”?

Who knows what a computer-hacker, with the requisite skills, tools, and access, might be able to do in regard to any drones whose command-and-control systems are less than unbreakably secure?(Source of, and info about, the above image is descried at Wikimedia Commons as follows:
“Donart Kelmendi is a computer hackers and he has attacked Websistes of Serbia, Greece.He has attacked Serbia websiste of educational establishments and the various ministries and other regions of Serbia and other regions of Serbia very websistes.On Greece has attacked up 1.000 websistes of Grece, and enter the lot servers to TV on very states.
Date 30 January 2012
Source Own work
Author Donar7″

According to various news reports & commentaries, “cyber attacks” — whether from “hackers” or from other sources with disruptive intent — are happening now and are steadily becoming an increasing threat to the security of America’s infrastructure.

So, now plug these airborne “drones” into that equation: 30,000 (minimum, I suspect) drones flying overhead in the next several years. Who’s to say that not a single one of them — let alone any number of the full 30,000 — will be 100% secure from falling under the control of — or being operationally disrupted by — “hackers” and/or “terrorists”, who, perhaps, would figuratively “drool over the prospect” of putting those commandeered in-flight drones to other “special” use?

Where are the safeguards against that possibility from becoming a reality?

(June 25, 2012 UPDATE: Seems my speculation about “terrorists” possibly taking control of these drones was right-on-target! FOX NEWS is now reporting that this danger is real:

          “Professor Todd Humphreys and his team at the University of Texas at Austin’s Radionavigation Laboratory have just completed a successful experiment: illuminating a gaping hole in the government’s plan to open US airspace to thousands of drones.

          They could be turned into weapons.

          “Spoofing a GPS receiver on a UAV is just another way of hijacking a plane,” Humphreys told Fox News.

          In other words, with the right equipment, anyone can take control of a GPS-guided drone and make it do anything they want it to. …

          Humphreys says the implications are very serious. “In 5 or 10 years you have 30,000 drones in the airspace,” he told Fox News. “Each one of these could be a potential missile used against us.” “

(SOURCE: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/06/25/drones-vulnerable-to-terrorist-hijacking-researchers-say/#ixzz1yopyHezO)

Now envision the possibility that various of these drones, having fallen under the control of hackers — including, perhaps, criminals and “terrorists” — are also weaponized.

Get the picture?

10. So, in sum, where are all these drone-related issues actually headed?

How do we safely resolve the issues of protecting the nation from “terrorism” while also preserving our “freedom” (including not only freedom from “terrorism” but also, um, freedom from “terrorism”)?

I.e., what is the definition of “terrorism” today — and who gets to define it, especially in our current political context in which, or so it seems, the definition flexes and twists, such that, according to surveys, many Americans now fear their own Government and that same Government, in the view of some, seems to fear whole categories of the nation’s own People?

Who, then, in that context, and in the eyes of the other, becomes the potential “terrorist”?

Screenshot from the 1936 epic motion picture “Things to Come”.

And so now, against that backdrop, HERE COME THE DRONES?

As, perhaps, in this prescient clip — at URLhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPJsnTegGlA&feature=related  from the 1936 H.G. Wells epic motion picture “Things to Come”?

Hopefully all these issues will get resolved amicably, peacefully, successfully, and to the benefit of the nation, the People, and the fundamentally important concept of protecting our lives and our freedoms.

But how to achieve that goal? Or is that just “wishful thinking”?

To borrow a line from “Captain James T. Kirk”, in which he wistfully commented on the situation in which one man (“Lazarus”) and his other-dimensional counterpart (an opposite “Lazarus”) were consigned to be at each other’s throats for eternity:

“What of Lazarus? What of Lazarus?”
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Posted in DRONES, POLITICAL, Sci-Tech, SURVEILLANCE, TECHNOLOGY | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Voyage THROUGH the Earth’s Seas — at 3,600 miles per hour?


NOTE: My following commentary is Copyright protonius.wordpress.com 2014. In it, in stating my opinion of the matter in question, I have attempted to be as factually accurate as possible; if I have mis-stated any fact, please be assured that the mis-statement was purely unintentional. And now, to my commentary:

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EARTH(~1DATELINE 09/16/2014: Want to take a little HYPERVELOCITY ride — through Planet Earth’s oceans — from, say, Los Angeles to Taiwan, in under two hours, or from, say, New York City, to London, in just under one hour?

If so, then grab your flippers and scuba-gear — actually, probably all you’ll need is a thin magazine to skim through, and a sense of adventure, and maybe a strong stomach to handle the hypervelocity acceleration/deceleration (and any potentially life-threatening dangers that might be encountered in the waters along the way), and maybe a solid life-insurance policy — and hop aboard! The new, sleek, rocket-propelled, three-thousand-six-hundred-miles-per-hour CHINESE behemoth of the world’s underseas, now reportedly being developed, may soon be available to zoom you — or other selected passengers, equipment, devices, cargo, even perhaps weapons — at tremendously fast speeds, to almost any coastal destination on the planet.

That is, if and when the kinks in the technologies involved are worked out, and the vessel is actually constructed, tested, and declared ready for action. But, reportedly, the fact is that these aspects of research, toward designing and putting into operation a hypervelocity, thousands-of-miles-per-hour capable, maneuverable undersea craft, are well-in-the-works.

According to a 08/26/2014 online report by the Washington Post (http://tinyurl.com/olteltw) and a 09/15/2014 online report at WallStreetDaily (http://tinyurl.com/nvxuj8b), both citing information coming from a report in the South China Morning Post (apparently http://tinyurl.com/nmuq47a), research into actualizing this type of hypervelocity submarine technology is now deeply underway at laboratories in China, and potentially holds tremendous promise — but toward what ends?

I would assume that certain aspects of these particular technologies, if successfully applied and actualized, hold great potential — both positive and negative — depending upon how, and for what purposes, and toward generating what kinds of effects, those technologies are applied.

U.S. Navy A Poseidon C-3 (UGM-73A) fleet ballistic missile lifts off after being launched from the submerged nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine USS ULYSSES S. GRANT (SSBN-631). This is the 70th test launch of a Poseidon C-3.

U.S. Navy A Poseidon C-3 (UGM-73A) fleet ballistic missile lifts off after being launched from the submerged nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine USS ULYSSES S. GRANT (SSBN-631). This is the 70th test launch of a Poseidon C-3.

Civilian luxury-travel? Industrial cargo transport? Transportation of military commandos? Emergency delivery of food and medical supplies? Rapid delivery and launch of nuclear-warhead-tipped SLBMS, i.e., submarine-launched ballistic missiles, on almost “a moment’s notice”?

Or all of these possibilities, and more?

Even if, in this research, China is “leading the pack” — but that’s not quite clear to me as being the case, at least based on the above articles — it would seem to me that these are vitally important questions to consider — and, that one way or another, whether with these particular technologies or other ones along these lines, hypervelocity-capable methods of transport will not only come about but will also then continue to progress to even greater capabilities thereafter — and that those means ot travel will include methods of hyperspeed travel not only through Earth’s oceans but also through … well, you name it.

Consider, for example, Elon Musk’s proposal for a hypervelocity, above-ground vacuum-tunnel-based, potentially world-encompassing, four-thousand-mph, civilian transportation system which he calls the “Hyperloop” (http://www.spacex.com/hyperloop and http://tinyurl.com/hyperloop-1).

And don’t forget at least the idea of a system of wormhole-technology-derived “star-gates“: fiction at the present (?) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stargate), but in the future, who knows?

But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. So let’s get back to the issue currently at hand:

Aspects of these current hypervelocity-submarine-based technologies have reportedly already been successfully applied to developing high-speed, “air-bubble cavitation-based” torpedos, for example; and although the fastest of those torpedos — at least as per the publicized reports — has been able to race (?) at only up to a measly 96 kmh (i.e., that’s a bit less than 60 mph), how close is that speed to the projected submarine’s hypervelocity of 3,600 mph?

Gosh, that’s a difference of only 3,540 mph — a mere bag of shells! (You’ll please pardon the Jackie Gleason reference: http://tinyurl.com/gleason-shells-1 and http://tinyurl.com/gleason-shells-2).

But if the scientists working on this technology consider the projected 3,600 mph as their (current) goal, might there at least be a likelihood that, sometime in the relatively near-term, they will find a way to achieve even a modicum of that goal?

For that matter, I would find it hard to imagine that a whole range of possible answers to these, and more, questions are not already being intensively pursued by governments, industry, and other entities, that have an interest in where these efforts may lead — and in how those developments — or potential countermeasures — might best be applied.

Even as the South China Morning Post piece explains, it is not only China but also several countries that are pursuing one or another version of these technologies, for application toward creating superhigh-velocity efficiently-maneuverable undersea vessels.

But, even as that paper itself notes, even the experts, working in those labs in China, are cautioning that there are yet huge technological hurdles to overcome before a workable technological plan can come to fruition.

So how soon will you be able to book a seat on China’s — or Russia’s, or the US’s, or, maybe, “SPECTRE’s” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPECTRE) — hypervelocity undersea potentially game-changing speed-demon? And are you ready to physically and psychologically handle accelerating to 3,600 mph?

Or will those proposed “air-bubble cavitation” and “maneuverability” technologies, as currently envisioned, succeed in developing a vessel of such proposed capabilities? Or will the design — at least in the early stages — be forced to be cut-back to only a piddly hundred-or-so mph capability?

Or will the idea behind these technologies lead to other, more advanced, technologies — technologies that, perhaps, will succeed at meeting and even exceeding these goals?

Anyone want to offer a guesstimate?

Now, as to a more detailed analysis of the currently proposed (as per the above news-accounts) hypervelocity submarine technologies, I offer the following personal observations below. But, as they are somewhat extensive, I would say this:

If you are interested, please read on. SCUBA - Diver_Propulsion_Device_(DPD)_STIDD

But if you feel that you’ve “had enough”, you have my permission (not that you need it!) to resume your surfing to wherever else you may want to go, and I promise — at least as far as I’m able — that the Chinese submarine people probably won’t come after you. Yet. ;-)

 

NOW FOR THOSE ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS:

IMO, and although I am not privy to the scientific details of the research, it seems to me that there are multiple problems with this propositional technology:

1.  Steerability, as proposed, might, in my view, be a major problem. The proposed idea of the vessel exuding a “shell” (= my word) of a “lubricating liquid substance” assumes that, somehow, and perhaps at some infrequent points in time, or even much of the time, portions of the vessel — even if “encased” in a “protective” lubricating-substance, would be essentially in kinetic contact with, and powerfully resisted by — and capable of being torn apart by — the water.

Yet the overall hypervelocity concept is, purportedly, based on the idea that no components of the vessel would ever — while traveling at a given hypervelocity speed — be in direct contact with (i.e., never be subjected to any appreciable resistance from) the water. So even if the vessel, or a component of the vessel, is temporarily encased in a thin veneer of some “lubricating liquid”, how does that configuration magically negate the fact that that portion of the vessel, when exposed (even if “protected” by “lubrication”) to the surrounding water, will be physically resisted by, and even slammed by — and will potentially be torn apart by — the water’s intense and potentially component-shredding resistance?

Thus, at least based on the above articles’ information, this aspect of the proposed technology make no sense — in my opinion. Rather, as I see it, it’s like saying “Here’s a great idea: Let’s design a new kind of military tank, one even better than the Abrams, even better than top-rated German Leopard 2A6 Kampipanzer! We’re going to triple the armor, quadruple the firepower, and exponentially quazillionate the speed! Plus, so that the guys inside can also have the ability to poke their heads up through the hatch to peek outside once in awhile as the tank is rocketing at hypervelocity-speeds, we’re going to shield their helmets with cellophane — certainly that will protect them, as the zillion-mile-an-hour speed of the wind whipping by them will simply — and oh-so-gently — slide off the cellophane and leave our guys untouched!”

Okay, so somebody prove my hypothesis wrong.

2. But suppose that the proposed hypervelocity submarine vessel is, somehow, safely and effectively steerable. How safe from damage or destruction — or from causing damage or destruction — would that vessel be, at hypervelocities, from encountering — i.e., ramming into — any solid item of any appreciable, even perhaps minutely small, size — that gets in its way? Would that “obstruction” be essentially disintegrated and the submarine remain unscathed? Or would the submarine, as well, be ripped-into by the impact?

Do the answers to those questions depend, perhaps, on the nature of the collisional body, such as solidity, shape, size?

WHALE - 800px-Humpback_Whale_underwater_shotFor example, whales — unlike commercial airlines or shipping-lines — are not quite known (at least in the “human” world) for submitting and then following “underwater flight-plans” that might otherwise help a human navigator avoid a collision.

Would this hypervelocity submarine, zipping through the ocean’s waters at 3,600 mph, actually be able to safely and seemingly eye-blink-rapidly be able to maneuver out of the way of a free-swimming whale?

Or, what if this new sub is designed to plow through any such obstacle, unscathed, regardless of the consequences to that obstacle — an obstacle which, more likely than not, was (until the encounter) one or more living creatures, creatures such as a school of fish, or a flock of hard-shell tortoises, or a bevy of walruses — or even, perhaps whales?

In that scenario, with this proposed hypervelocity submarine technology, are we to “just forget about” caring for whales anyway, and remodel our thinking to simply and blithely accept the idea that if any whale is “just  too stupid” to stay out of the sub’s way, that the stupid whale just “deserves” to be liquidated anyway?

I would also question the ability of this hypervelocity sub to safely navigate around other, more solid and potentially dangerous, subsea obstacles at those hypervelocity speeds — but I leave that issue to others to figure out.

3.  I don’t claim to be an expert in these areas, and perhaps the scientists involved have solved the basics of empowering the proposed vessel — as with some torpedoes utilizing a similar technology — to stay afloat (or on a chosen path) even when, by design, the vessel is enclosed in an “air-bubble cavitation”.

However, what puzzles me — in my ignorance — about that reported technological capability, are a number of reports — accessible on the net (and some of which were also viewable on the BBC and other media) — that offer an explanation of how ships have “mysteriously disappeared” in the “Bermuda Triangle“.

Bermuda_Triangle_(clear).svgSay the reports, the ships were sunk by the massive upwelling, beneath the ships, of methane-gas bubbles emerging from the sea-floor. This upwelling of gas-bubbles, underneath the ships, meant that the ships, as a consequence, were suddenly sitting not on a consistently dense body of water but, in essence, on a turbulent sea of gas — gas that obviously could not support a ship; and, as a result, the ships sank. (Details:  http://tinyurl.com/bubbles-sink-ships-1 and http://tinyurl.com/bubbles-sink-ships-2 and http://tinyurl.com/bubbles-sink-ships-3).

So here’s my question: Although I assume that the proposed hypervelocity submarine vessel would be equipped, via ballast and compressed air and other relevant methods, to maintain whatever keel, i.e., undersea “altitude”, would be necessary, is it at all possible that the vessel’s being “enveloped” within its own-generated “air-bubble cavitation” would create a situation analogous to that faced by those ships in the “Bermuda Triangle”, in which they “tried” — against the pull of gravity, and with catastrophic results — to ride atop a pocket of gas?

4. Now, to the other issue, mentioned almost as a footnote, in the above articles: the proposed propulsion system:

What, exactly, kind of rocket are they talking about? A solid-or-liquid-fueled chemical-propulsion-based rocket , that will spew out highly pollutive and possibly life-and-environment-endangering toxic chemicals (and other energetic effluents) into the water? Or would the rocket’s propulsion-system be based on some new form of nuclear-and/or-plasma-based propulsion, which would most likely also pump life-and-environment-endangering substances, both chemical and energetic, into the water?

And if either of those mechanisms — or similar — is to be employed, are we then, again, supposed to just ignore those destructive consequences, because, “after all”, it’s “so much more important” to be able to speed through the oceans, whether for civilian, industrial, or military purposes, than to waste our precious time worrying about the fate of the world’s oceans (and the creatures that, until this technology’s onslaught, the oceans offer life — life which, in great measure, supports our lives)?

5. But here’s an additional puzzle: What ever happened to the idea — which, as I understand, was actually put into practice awhile back — of propelling specially-designed submarines via MHD, i.e., MagnetoHydroDynamics? Those types of submarines have no external propellors, no external propulsion mechanisms; rather, those vessels are propelled — from the inside — by the controlled imposition, transmitted through the hull, of energy on the surrounding water.

Could this technology offer a more feasible potential for developing not only a hypervelocity-speed undersea capability but also for generating a “frictionless envelope” around the vessel and also for developing a controllable “shaped energy-field” — perhaps the energy-equivalent of “fins” or a spaceship’s “thrusters” — to enable a measure of relatively frictionless controlled navigation?

Well, that idea is just my own thought — but, who knows? Maybe some agency is already hard at work on the concept, and is maybe already far beyond it.

But, either way, the observations that I mentioned above, as to the potential dangers to the vessel and to the environment and to life-forms in that environment, would, in my view, still pertain.

But since when have any environmental, even life-endangering, concerns, held back any thrust of technology, when the interests — particularly if sufficiently influential and/or powerful — behind pursuing that particular technological development were single-mindedly set on achieving their goals, and the “collateral damage be damned”?

Perhaps that too is a consideration that deserves the world’s close attention — because, and even though we may welcome whatever technological advances that, in our view — or in our dreams — may make our lives better or at least may make some things more convenient — maybe it’s important for us all to keep in mind that some dreams take the form of nightmares — and that this is our planet, too, and it needs to be protected from harm.

Confucius_Statue_at_the_Yushima_SeidoAfter all, to borrow the words of Confucius, If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand.

Or, conversely, in the worlds of Melvin Cowznofski, or was it maybe Alfred E. Neuman: “What, me worry?”. ;-)

Alfred_E._Neumann

 

 

 

 

 

Have  a nice hypervelocity subsea day.

– Protonius.

(NOTE: To offer relevant — and well-mannered — comments, please first register at right. Thanks.)

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The Masters of Technology — and the Transmogrification of Humanity


(This commentary is Copyright 2014 by protonius.wordpress.com.)

(Dateline: Planet Earth, 07/18/2014) –

Humanity at a Technological Precipice? (PHOTO CREDIT: Billy Hathorn. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License via  WIKIMEDIA).

Humanity at a Technological Precipice? (PHOTO CREDIT: Billy Hathorn. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License via WIKIMEDIA).

HUMANITY, uncertain yet hopeful, being prodded by a complex of furtive forces from behind while being lured forward by thoughts of technological enchantments ahead, is already dipping its toe over the precipice, and hoping — on faith, hubris, ignorance, or deception — that instead of this step leading to a terrifying plummet toward a dark and foreboding oblivion, the marvels of technology will materialize a magnificent life-saving bridge beneath the strider’s feet, and that the future, toward which the strider is ever-more rapidly striding, will be glorious.

The Perisphere, at the 1939 New York World's Fair. (PHOTO CREDIT: Photographer Leo Husick, via Author Bvhwiki @ Wikimedia)

The Perisphere,
at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
(PHOTO CREDIT: Photographer Leo Husick, via Author Bvhwiki @ Wikimedia)

But glorious, in the usually hoped-for sense of the word? 

Or “glorious” in the way that the future of the “civilized world” was predicted to soon become, via the marvels of technology, as envisioned in the World’s Fair of 1939 — just as the horrors of World War II were instead about to dawn?

Ah, but a bridge of technological marvels: wouldn’t that be a saviour to the future of Humankind?

Or would it?

And what might happen if no such bridge appears?

Would there perhaps be an errant sapling branch, or a jutting rock-ledge, or a miraculously-appearing “safety-net” — comprised of some other “new technology” — reaching out from the cliff’s craggy slopes to rescue the faller and save Humanity from a disaster of Humanity’s own making?

The "Humani Victus Instrumenta: Ars Coquinaria" ("Instruments of Human Sustenance: Art of Cooking"), an engraving thought to be by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Carlo Urbino, or Giovanni Camocio, circa 1569 A.D..

The “Humani Victus Instrumenta: Ars Coquinaria”, an engraving thought to be by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Carlo Urbino, or Giovanni Camocio, circa 1569 A.D..

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Laboratory researcher inspecting a microbial culture in a test tube.

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Laboratory researcher inspecting a microbial culture in a test tube.

It would seem that a carefully wrought, journey across that bridge could indeed lead to the development of wondrous technological advances  meant to serve the needs of Humanity.

But is it possible that this journey may also bring something else — something technologically terrifying — to life?

 

After all, it’s not as though such a possibility is something new. Rather, it’s happened before — many, many, times before.

Consider one such example that ought to resonate with everyone on Planet Earth: the threat of human extinction, whether via global pandemic, global biological warfare, or via the planet-encompassing ravages of a global nuclear war:

Image of the "Teapot Dome" nuclear+bomb explosion.

Image of the “Teapot Dome” nuclear+bomb explosion.

And what, if again faced with the threat of such an eventuality, should Humanity do then, to save itself?

During the 13th century, Saint Thomas Aquinas sought to reconcile Aristotelian philosophy with Augustinian theology -- and assiduously researched the question of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. (IMAGE SOURCE: London's National Gallery).

Saint Thomas Aquinas  (image from Tryptych,London’s National Gallery).

In the 13th Century, St. Thomas Aquinas crafted a learned treatise that explored the question of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin — an issue that was considered to have great meaning for Humanity’s place in the scheme of things.

Today, or perhaps at some point in the not too distant future, and hopefully with just a bit more of what we consider as “science” on our side, |Humanity may well be faced with a similar dilemma:

Whether as a consequence of “happenstance” or of our own doing, we may be faced with the  urgency of answering this riddle:

Proposed "Space Habitat", capable of housing & supporting thousands of people,  (NASA, 1970s).

Proposed “Space Habitat”, capable of housing & supporting thousands of people, (NASA, 1970s).

How many humans will be able to escape Planet Earth — and be able to escape while escaping is still possible — to survive and thrive elsewhere?

And in such a situation, to what degree will technology — or the issues of who holds technology’s reins and of  how well or poorly the technology  is understood — be the deciding factor in Humanity’s fate?

 

Too, the potential benefits of tapping into “atomic energy”, such as for power-plants or for the use of radioactive isotopes in medical studies and cancer-treatments,  have generally been seen as holding great promise “for the benefit of all mankind”. 

Yet, clearly, there has also developed along with the probing of the atom’s energetic core a monstrous, potentially life-threatening, danger:

Radiation-Warning Symbol-

Radiation-Warning Symbol-

As with the Cold War threat of widespread destruction, even human extinction, via nuclear war — or, perhaps, even via the potential and actual dangers of a Chernobyl or a Fukushima or of hundreds of nukes falling into the hands of murderous terrorists — one need only look at how these and related technology-based situations have altered the fabric of our lives and, in many cases, opened the door to an uncomfortable truth: that positive, uplifting, beneficial-to-Humanity discoveries emerging from technology may also have a flip-side — one that may well be employed, by accident or intention, to threaten the survival of all Humankind.

True, without much of what we call “modern technology”, we would probably be living before the Stone Age — not in it, because the use of stones in those times was considered (but not in so many words) high-tech, and our lives would have been brutal, loaded with illnesses, hardships, and suffering, and short. So please understand that I am NOT railing against technology or efforts to “push the envelope” to new and exciting heights. What I AM trying to illuminate is the potential danger to Humanity as whole if requisite caution is NOT employed in those efforts along the way. 

For example, consider the positive potentials — and also the potential dangers — that may yet emerge from the ambitious research that is currently underway in such areas as:

Artist's impression of X-46 Drone landing on a US Navy aircraft-carrier.

Artist’s impression of X-46 Drone landing on a US Navy aircraft-carrier.

– the development of autonomous, i.e., self-controlled, decision-making, military robots and missile-firing drones. (NOTE: Want to gain a deeper insight into what this expansion of “drone” technology may mean to us all? See my commentary titled “Of Drones, Terrorism, Freedom — And Lazarus“, at this URL: 

http://tinyurl.com/omeqzax    

Electon micrgraph of reconstructed 1918 Influenza Virus that killed millions.

Electon micrgraph of reconstructed 1918 Influenza Virus that killed millions.

– the laboratory-generated creation of new, virulent, and deadly, species of viral and bacterial life-forms;  think of the  potentials of these developments helping scientists create more effective “biological shields” against terrible diseases — but consider too what the accidental or intentional release, into the human environment, of such organisms as these, may do to the human race: think SARS, think N1H1, think MERS, think Dengue, think Ebola, think fear, think manipulation, think “Pandemic”;

Model animation of bDNA molecule. (Author: Spiffistan)

Model animation of bDNA molecule.
(Author: Spiffistan)

 

– the laboratory-generated designing and structuring of new forms and qualities of DNA, a process commonly known as  “genetic manipulation” and “genetic engineering” — a process whose impact may be both negative and positive and which has been generating tremendous controversy, both in the U.S. and abroad, as to the underlying motivations behind these developments and as to these developments’ impacts on agriculture, livestock, human health and survival, and on the human genome itself;   

MRI image of human brain. (Source: NASA)

MRI image of human brain. (Source: NASA)

 

 

– developments in biocybernetics and brain-biochip-implantation, including, in part, the bioelectronic melding of (and perhaps alteration of and control of) a person’s “consciousness” with  implanted or external computer-linked systems and networks;  imagine, too, not only the personal and societal implications of technologies that allow a person’s “consciousness”  to leave the biological body and take up residence in a distributed computer-system  — but imagine also the question of which persons, which sectors of society, might be allowed that possibility and for whom that possibility might be refused;

Computer-generated image of Fullerene Nanogears. (Source: NASA)

Computer-generated image of Fullerene Nanogears.
(Source: NASA)

– the projected design, construction, and injection, of microscopic psychology-physiology-altering nanobots into a recipient’s bloodstream, the nanobots allegedly being intended for purposes of improving the recipient’s health — but some observers wonder if, in some cases, there might be other intentions or unintended outcomes involved;            

– and more:

All these developments stand to transmogrify what, at the journey’s start, was “today’s” version of  Humanity (as we currently identify it), into something significantly different, even as the journey is yet underway: into a species of living beings — unless extinction intervenes — that are no longer what we, today, might classify as being exclusively — or perhaps even recognizably — “Human”.

Star Trek: Borg in Docking-Station. (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Wichary via Wikimeda)  (ATTRIB Michael Wichary via Wikimeda)

Star Trek: The Borg. A possible version of the “humans” of our future? (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Wichary via Wikimeda)
(ATTRIB Michael Wichary via Wikimeda)

These are legitimate concerns, because, in government, corporate, and academic science laboratories, this transmogrification process has already begun.

But there’s more: 

And, more likely, what if the "Master", in this master-slave relationship,is not just a PERSON but a SYSTEM?

And what if the “Master”, in this master-slave relationship, is not a PERSON but a SYSTEM?

What if the journey so transforms Humanity that, due to the process itself — as well as due to the economic, societal, cultural, corporate, national, international, military, political, and other “special interest”, forces behind the process — the Transmogrified become, by the very nature of the Transmogrification, the ultimate mind-controlled slaves in an absolute and possibly unbreakable master-slave relationship?

In such a scenario — which is no longer limited to the realm of “science fiction” — the following truly foundational issues arise and cry out for answers:

 

What roles would a person’s ability — or inability — to access and process information, such as via a brain-link to storehouses of digital knowledge and rapidly-provided calculations — or even to be digitally approved for a given process — play a role in that person’s position in society or even in that person’s ability to survive?

As a direct or indirect consequence of what these new technologies come to be and as a consequence of how these new technologies may be applied, who of these future categories of  human beings — current Humanity’s descendants — may be the slaves, and who may be the masters?

And who, or what forces, should have the right — or the power — to make that determination?

And what if, as some observers are asserting is the case in regard to the application of some technologies, the “Plan” is to use those technologies to bring Earth’s human population — which now numbers in the 7-billion range — down to a “more manageable” number: 500,000?

And is any of this the path that Humanity, which,  for whatever the reasons, should — at least at this stage — inadvertently allow to happen or intentionally seek to take?

And, ultimately, this question:

Whither Freedom?

These, in my view, are incredibly important issues that, even within the next few years, appear to be destined to gain an even more powerful — and well-founded — sense of urgency — IF the “powers-that-be” allow it — because these issues impinge directly on how the advance of a range of technologies, and the motivations of the forces behind developing and applying them, are leading to a major transformation of our future — and to a fantastic, and concerning, and yet-to-be-fully-comprehended, TRANSMOGRIFICATION of the Human Race.

And THAT, in my view, should concern us all.

(Actually, this is a photo of famed silent-film star BEN TURPIN --but who am I to quibble?)

(Actually, this is a photo of famed silent-film star BEN TURPIN –but who am I to quibble?)

I rest my case! …

… but only for the moment!

– Protonius (my pen-name).

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ADDENDUM: I’ve also researched and written on this topic elsewhere — but the for moment I’ll just note, for those who are interested, that I found a very informative current article (not written by me) about how a number of these various Humanity-transformative technologies are progressing, that I think you might like to read; make of its findings what you will. The URL is: http://tinyurl.com/m3lhhmu

At that site, I also added a comment on these points; I herewith reproduce that comment (with some revisions) below. Hopefully it can offer some additional insights as to this issue of where an incautious pursuit of various transformative technologies may, in my view, possibly be leading us:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> (THAT COMMENT:)<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

IMO:

These (Note the use of the plural) diverse and multifaceted tech-developments, according to my understanding of the trends involved, are not only are being conceptualized and pursued by diverse sources with diverse interests -– and progressing forward at an increasingly rapid rate –but the potential application of these technologies also portend whatever impacts their designers and implementers want (or don’t want) them to produce.

And what THOSE eventualities may encompass is anybody’s guess.

But this issue, of how any particular technological development might be employed – such as “for good” or “for evil”, and including the issues of whether or not the actual impact is “intended” or “accidental” – has probably been with Humanity ever since our progenitors were able to make conscious choices.

However, in my view, what is different in the current instance, by orders of magnitude, is that what is being predicted here is not just a question of the survival or extinction of all Earth-based Humanity in Humanity’s current form – an issue which has been with us since the start of “Atomic Era” and global concerns over the threat of chemical-biological warfare.

What is new is that these projected trends, in the design and application of implantable “brain-chips”, injectable “nanobots”, the projected ability to upload a person’s very “consciousness” into digital networks and systems, to add an ever-expanding capacity to transform humans into biocybernetic organisms, and the like (because, of course, there’s so much more to come), stand to massively TRANSMOGRIFY – whether for “good” or for “evil” – the very structure, design, capabilities, survivability, destiny, and identity, of Humanity itself.

Decades ago, I attended a high-level science conference at which one of the speakers warned that some of these developments – such as the “computerization” of the human brain, replete with implants to allegedly expand the implantee’s access to (or subservience to or control by) a vast array of informational and decision-making resources – were already on the way. He specifically warned of, in his view, the tremendous DANGERS of letting these trends develop without Humanity FIRST EXTENSIVELY EXPLORING AND BUILDING SAFEGUARDS into how these technologies should – or should not – be allowed to be applied.

Yet here we are today, edging ever more rapidly toward the possibility of a technological “Nirvana” – after all, for example, some “direct-brain-stimulation” “brain-chip implant technologies” are already offering the promise of tremendous physical relief to some Parkinson’s patients, and there is research underway to evaluate the use of such implants in persons suffering from Epilepsy.

But, at the same time, we have also entered a potentially frightening age – which some observers say is “only the beginning” – in which certain elements, utilizing the leading-edge of various technologies, are reportedly aiming at – and achieving a substantial level of effectiveness at – attaining “total awareness” of every living Human’s digital (or otherwise identifiable) personal information, for purposes that are under debate.

I.e., “security” – and of what or of whom?

Control – and of what or of whom?

And a subset of those two parameters:

“manipulation” – and of what or of whom”?

Control the information, and thus control the views of the recipient of that information.

Control the processes by which a person’s mind/brain functions, and thus potentially control the person’s decision-making processes and other psychological/physiological functions.

Control the psychophysiological structure and design of the person, and thus control … Well, maybe you get the idea.

Cure illnesses, generate previously undreamed of physical and psychological capabilities, upload consciousness into external systems for longevity and processing, create potentially endless life-spans, bring a new “Nirvana”, to those who are thusly Transmogrified — or, via those same systems, deliver the Transmogrified to a new and frightening version of “Hell”. Which shall it be?

So as Humanity, such as it currently identifies itself, juggernauts ever more rapidly toward generating, “sophisticating”, and implementing these Human-transformative technologies — and as the forces that are empowering these transformative developments may have their OWN motivations in mindhow can we Humans be certain – if at all – that these developments are 100 percent “for our benefit” as WE define “for our benefit”?

Is that which is currently being called “Transcendence” – i.e., the predicted outcome of the design and application of these and other technologies that may forever alter the identity of the Human Race – something that we, “The People”, should all rush to embrace?

Or is the truth of the matter more close, perhaps, to the views held by the fictional Chief Scientist in the original film “Planet of the Apes”, “Dr. Zaius”?

When asked what Astronaut Taylor – who had escaped and was riding into the distance – would find, Dr. Zaius grimly replied with two simple but hugely portentous words:

“His destiny”.

Zaius foretold what was in Taylor's Destiny: Discovery of the remains of the Statue of Liberty -- the fall of the human race at its own hands (In the original motion picture "Planet of the Apes".

Zaius foresaw what Taylor would soon discover: The remains of the Statue of Liberty, and the destiny of the human race. (From the original motion picture “Planet of the Apes”.)

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Posted in DRONES, POLITICAL, Sci-Tech, TECHNOLOGY | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WHITHER OSAMA, WHITHER THE TRUTH — AND WHY?


(NOTE: The following commentary — UPDATED on 05-11-2013 & 11-15-2014 — expresses my opinion, including what I believe to be factual assertions as referenced in my research; if I have mis-stated as fact anything that is not fact, it was unintentional.  Except for my updates, some of which are clearly labeled and others of which expand on certain previously-stated thoughts, the bulk of this commentary is an expanded, revised, version of my earlier 2011 post at ConservativeByte.com.

Plus, your comments (which will be subject to review, so please insure that they are within the bounds of propriety) are welcome — just register and log-in @ the link that’s somewhere in the right-hand column, and submit your comments there. Okay, now to the good stuff:)

Blog & Commentary: © protonius.wordpress.com, 2011 & 2013 & 2014, all rights reserved. 

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Osama Bin Laden - From CIA Bounty-Leaflet05/03/2011 (with, most recently, a bracketed 11-15-2014 Update)Mastermind of Global Terror. “Wanted, Dead or Alive”, since September 11, 2001. Able to evade ten years of multi-trillion-dollar international bombing campaigns and vicious military onslaughts in a single bound. Bane of Modern Civilization, but Hero to Many Muslims and Haters of the West. And now — he’s dead. Dead, and in almost no time at all,  Gone. Finito. Bottom of the Sea.

Or so we, the public, are told.

Perhaps it’s all true, and perhaps we’ll be hearing increasingly more details in the days ahead, as to how it was all accomplished. Even as I write this piece, in D.C. the purported facts of the matter seem to be starting to emerge with increasing rapidity — so I guess that we’ll see what we shall see.

(START OF 11/15/2015 UPDATE):  But now the puzzle takes a new turn:

Last week — November 7, 2014 — a person claiming to be an ex-Navy SEAL (and I assume that he is who he says he is) claimed to be the SEAL that personally shot and killed Bin Laden during the 2011 raid at what has been said to be Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound (http://tinyurl.com/SEAL-WHO-SHOT-OBL-1). I get the impression, but I do not know for a fact, that he is probably telling the truth. If his tale is true, it could put a lot of speculation — but not all of it — to rest, as many questions, both political and tactical, still remain open. But now his revelations, and their timing, also bring up a new set of questions, and among them are these:

          (a) Why now?

          (b) Might the timing of this revelation, which was made shortly AFTER the 2014 Congressional elections, have been chosen so as to not influence the elections or not be charged as being a “political ploy” in the run-up to the elections?

          (c) Might timing have been chosen, or influenced, by the President’s currently miserable ratings in the polls, such that any “credibility-boost”, much like the idea of “any old port in a storm”, would be welcomed by the White House?

          (d) Or did this ex-SEAL simply decide — free from the forces of politics — that he had remained silent long enough, and that the American people deserved to know the truth?

          (e) And, as various critics of the official account of the raid have also been asking — and as I further explore below — was the “Bin Laden” who was allegedly killed at Abbottabad as per the official account actually Osama Bin Laden? 

And equally importantly, whatever the full truth of the matter, there is this far broader question: To what extent in relation to this entire Bin Laden affair — through the Bush I and Clinton and Bush II and Obama terms in the Executive Office — have the American people possibly “been played”?

As in so many issues in the political arena -- whether it's about Bin Laden's fate or the "War on Terrorism", where is the dividing-line between "Truth" and "Illusion"?  (PHOTO CREDIT: "Escherian" Brett Jordan, via Wikimedia, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

As in so many issues in the political arena — whether it’s about Bin Laden’s fate or the “War on Terrorism”, where is the dividing-line between “Truth” and “Illusion”?
(PHOTO CREDIT: “Escherian” Brett Jordan, via Wikimedia, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

Whatever the case, might we be justified in hoping that this ex-SEAL’s revelations about the 2011 Abbottabad raid may now open the door for new revelations to start emerging, and for obfuscations to be peeled away, so that we can begin to see a truer picture of what this whole Bin Laden affair has actually been about?

I.e. wherein lies the full truth of the whole affair?

It will be interesting to see what truths — if any — emerge, and where they may lead. (END OF 11-15-2014 UPDATE).

But what if these expectations are just “wishful thinking”? What if, as would be the case in a highly effective “psy-ops” operation, public perception is being intentionally manipulated so as to overshadow and replace what may be a partially, or even significantly, different reality?

There’s also the editorially-concerning issue of how Obama, judging by his televised “victory speech” late Sunday evening (05/09/2011), seems to be personally claiming the lion’s share of the credit for this alleged OBL-liquidation event, almost as though Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, had only a passing connection to either initiating and fighting the “war on terror” or to the global hunt to ferret-out and capture or kill Terrorism’s alleged Mastermind, Osama Bin Laden.

Was Obama’s assessment of where to place credit fair — or even correct?

But, for all the above issues, as of this moment at least, the key question comes down to this one:

Where is the truth?

And, most significantly, to what extent might any of the official Obama Administration tale of Bin Laden’s execution, “muslim-respectful preparation of the body”, or expedited “burial at sea”, be true?

Or might any of it be a fabrication?

And if the tale is all true, what were the motivations behind these choices  — and were they wise?

Removing an evil purveyor of death and destruction from the world-scene would indeed seem to be a good thing. And to all accounts — in the West at least — Osama Bin Laden certainly would seem to “fill the bill” for being, in essence, Evildoer Number One.

But was it Osama Bin Laden whose life was allegedly brought to an ignominious end the other day?

At least at this stage of what the public has been told,  maybe this was Bin Laden, and maybe it wasn’t.

U.S. Air-Strikes at Tora Bora

Isn’t it interesting that there were claims made years ago that Bin Laden (OBL) was killed in late 2001 at Tora Bora or that he died , of Marfan’s Syndrome, even shortly before that time — the claims backed-up by informed, though debatable, assertions to the effect that subsequently-appearing audio/videotapes allegedly of OBL were all re-workings of old videos or, more blatantly, cleverly-produced fakes?

Along those lines, isn’t it interesting that OBL has, according to various accounts, allegedly not been heard or seen “in the flesh” — at least not alive — since mid-to-late 2001?

Isn’t it also interesting, as some observers have pointed out, that many of those purported Bin Laden audio/videotapes that arose during the Bush II years just “happened” to surface at moments when Bush’s popularity-ratings were at all-time lows or when a major negative news-item about a particular Bush action was hitting the headlines?

Is it possible that OBL was really “out there” all that time and, somehow, that OBL just managed to issue his audio/videotapes (a) in ways that intentionally made their authenticity suspect and (b) at just those particular moments when their release could help generate much-needed public support for Bush?

Of course, since we, the public, may or may not — depending on one’s perspective — ever be given the actual or full truth of any of these points, is it perhaps possible that OBL indeed has been alive and active all these years, until now? And that the guy who was now killed — i.e., killed “this time” and none of those alleged prior 8 or 9 times — was indeed OBL?

Who knows?

But now, with the alleged body allegedly gone, and just the claims — true or not — that the “proof” is in the DNA and (unreleased) photographs and, I suppose, in the “eyewitness accounts” of his (or whomever’s) alleged executioners, maybe the question of whether or not we accept those pieces of alleged evidence as true comes down to this one question:

Whom do you trust to be telling us, “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”?

Could it be that the timing if this “We Got Him!” tale is just purely coincidental?

Or, on the other hand, might the timing of this event be at all connected wth –

(a) the fact that Obama is in the midst of rapidly expanding debate as to whether or not he (Obama) is Constitutionally eligible to serve in the Presidency, and,as some critics charge, would be only too happy for that debate to fade from the public’s consciousness?CONSTITUTION - ELIGIBILITY

There’s even a Federal Court that yesterday started holding hearings on this his eligibility — the same day that his announcement about the killing of Bin Laden might be sure to keep the news of the Court’s hearings off the front-pages;

800px-Twenty_dollar_bills (PUB DOMAIN; by MERZPERSON, at WIKIMEDIA; hi-res)

(b) the fact that the U.S. economy, and the dollar — especially thanks to Obama’s policies — are reportedly both teetering on the edge of a cliff, such that the Federal Reserve Bank is now said to be creating (“out of thin air”) billions — nay, trillions — of fiat dollars in a desperate effort to keep the economy afloat, and the IMF too is warning that the U.S. economy is headed for a downfall.

It would seem that Obama’s announcement about the death of Bin Laden could well serve to minimize public attention on these dire fiscal issues — which, critics assert, are taking place due to his policies and under his watch — and he thus needs a distraction from those issues — a distraction which, thanks to the White House-provided “official story” of this Bin Laden raid, could come in the form of a positive boost in the polls;

(c) an effort to shield Obama from catching flack for having committed the U.S. to yet a third war — the one in Libya — which also happens to be the one about which he had initially said it would be over “in a few days”?

OBAMA - 110328-D-WH123-001 (Obama addresses National Defense University, March 28, 2011, re Libya. White House photo-Pete Souza)

President Obama delivers an address at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., March 28, 2011, to update Americans on the situation in Libya. (PHOTO CREDIT: White House photo/Pete Souza)

Certainly world events can arise unpredictably and require responses that may, by coincidence, appear to have been generated to suit a “hidden” purpose. But, “politics being politics”, could it be that it’s just a coincidence that all these issues are “at play” — plus that Obama’s re-election campaign, now underway, could be in serious need of some “can-you-top-this?” event — such as the demise of Bin Laden — to make Obama now appear to be “the greatest thing since sliced bread”?

I guess it also doesn’t hurt that the date of the alleged extinction of OBL also just happens to be on, or just about on, the 66th anniversary of the alleged death on April 30, 1945, of Adolf Hitler — as though that “coincidence” might be a minor but interesting point that would be “kept in reserve” for its possible p.r. value. Or, it could be purely an odd, and unplanned, — but interesting, actual coincidence — couldn’t it?

But of course, maybe it’s all in how one defines one’s choice of parameters — so maybe all the above “coincidences” are based on too-loosely-defined, overly broad, and therefore inaccurate, assumptions.

Or are they?

Take your pick.

But then again…

Isn’t it also interesting, that even if this was OBL who was killed as Obama has officially claimed, OBL was reportedly sought out (or at least so the results suggest) not so much to be captured and interrogated for the “treasure-trove” of  terror-network information that he would likely have possessed; nor to be brought to Guantanamo to serve an unspeakably harsh “life-sentence”; nor to be hauled before an international court for “crimes against humanity (and the U.S.)”; but instead — if “any sign of danger” were to arise during the SEALS-siege of his alleged Abbottabad-compound —  to be killed — and, in fact, killed “on-sight”?

Where is the logic — except, perhaps, for a superficial “appearance’s sake” — in immediately (allegedly) killing the one person whose vast knowledge of  his own terror network’s operations might otherwise, if tapped, have been instrumental in helping the U.S. (and the west) to gain an important advantage this war?

And, too, there’s this additional puzzle:

How is it that the official orders — also presumably coming directly from Obama — appear to have possibly also included a requirement that,  following the assassination, OBL’s body must not be subjected to public (or independent forensic) scrutiny but instead must be quickly and irretrievably destroyed – in this case by an alleged (and swift) “burial at sea” at a location that would also be kept “secret” from the world — a process that:

     (a) would make impossibleor at least exceptionally difficult and questionable — independent verification of the identity of who was actually killed, and –

     (b) would make impossible the extrication from OBL — if indeed it was he whom the SEALS killed — of any of his likely vast mental “compendium” of secrets and information that, or so we had been lead to  believe for all these years, would presumably be tremendously revealing and of inestimable value to the U.S. in this so-called “War on Terror”?

(NOTE: Whether that alleged “burial at sea” actually took place, or whether the body was secretly delivered elsewhere, is explored elsewhere in this commentary.)

Hmmm … But what if that latter point, i.e., the purported necessity of immediately killing OBL rather than trying to extract vital information from him, somehow conflicts with Obama’s “official” position that “terrorism”, and the “war on terror” (except when applied to Bin Laden or to Obama’s immediate predecessor in the White House) has now, thanks to Obama, become little more than a toothless relic of pre-Obama history? And that, thanks to Obama, the whole concept of “terrorism” — somehow embodied only within the now-assassinated Master Terrorist Osama Bin Laden — has now been swiftly and permanently liquidated (Sorry for the pun!) from the face of the Earth?

I wonder what Bin Laden’s alleged “partner-in-crime” Aymon Al-Zawahiri would say to that.

(ADDITIONAL 11-15-2014 UPDATE): As we now, years after I posed some of the above questions, can see, the purported death of Bin Laden has nowhere near ended the threat of terrorism in the world today; and, according to many observers, the terrorism threat-level since then has in fact increased. Go figure. (END OF ADDITIONAL 11-15-2014 UPDATE.)

But let’s get back to some fact-based nitty-gritty:

Considering the fundamental precepts of criminal law and of how to properly investigate a crime-scene, as well as to learn, from a suspect, as much as possible about past or planned future crimes, what sense does it make not to preserve for analysis, but instead to get rid of, the suspect and the secrets that he holds within his mind, — i.e., the evidence — and to do it all as fast as possible? *

(May 2013 RELEVANT ADDENDUM):

Boston Marathon Explosion. (Image: by Aaron "Tango" Tang, Cambridge, MA, via WIKIMEDIA Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License).

Boston Marathon Explosion.
(Image: by Aaron “Tango” Tang, Cambridge, MA, via WIKIMEDIA Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License).

Consider the currently hotly-debated issue — directly relevant to the above question — that has emerged regarding the official interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two brothers who official sources allege carried out the recent bombing of the Boston Marathon.

Early on in the interrogation, Dzhokhar allegedly was forthcoming with valuable information — but then a Judge showed up and read Dzhokhar his “Miranda Rights” — and, reportedly, Dzhokhar promptly stopped answering questions.

Consequently,  that Judge’s actions — in essentially instructing Dzhokhar that Dzhokhar had every right to refuse to divulge any information — has raised many people’s ire: what more were the Tsarnaev brothers’ plans? Was anyone else involved? What elese did the brothers, or whomever they were colluding with, have in the works? All important things for investigators to know — but now the one person who knew the answers was choosing to remain silent. (END OF May 2013 RELEVANT ADDENDUM.)

So, similarly, back to May 2011:  Allegedly the SEALS, operating at the behest of Obama, have an unbelievably valuable chance to take Bin Laden into custody and, by whatever means, to interrogate him for all he’s worth. But instead, the instant they allegedly see him, they allegedly kill him, and then, allegedly, they dump his dead body at an undisclosed location at sea.

But here’s an additional twist:

According to some reports (http://rt.com/news/osama-body-wikileaks-stratfor-949), Wikileaks has revealed some cables attributed to the intelligence-agency STRATFOR, those cables alleging that OBL’s body was not dumped at sea but was instead flown on a CIA plane “onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda [Maryland]” (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/medtour/afip.html) presumably for autopsy an/or other purpose.

AFIP - Armed Forces Institute of Pathology buildings. NOTE: The Institute permanently closed on 09/15/2011, just about 4 months after Bin Laden's body was allegedly brought there. (PHOTO: Courtesy National Museum of Health and Medicine.)

AFIP – Armed Forces Institute of Pathology buildings (6900 Georgia Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20306).
NOTE: The Institute permanently closed its doors on 09/15/2011, just about 4 months after Bin Laden’s body was allegedly brought there.
(PHOTO: Courtesy National Museum of Health and Medicine.)

So, who knows?

So if — that’s if — this STRATFOR revelation is accurate — which would indicate that the White House’s “official account” on this point is a lie — then what might that discrepancy tell us in regard to whether we, The People, should invest our full trust into anything that this White House tells us regarding this Bin Laden story?

It has been said that “Dead men tell no tales”. And this one, whoever he allegedly was, certainly is keeping quiet, taking all his secrets — at least those that he had held in his mind — to his grave.

But, either way, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS “PICTURE”?

How is it that with the long-established precedents, of so many “enemy combatants” having been swept into the Guantanamo-net of life-long prison, plus their being relentlessly interrogated for their tiniest droplets of information — and even with “9-11 terror mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed being not only captured alive but also waterboarded to force him to spill his purported secrets — that now, despite all these precedents and basic precepts of criminal investigation (and even those illegal, unethical — but applied  — methods of torture), suddenly we have an order, reportedly issued by or at least authorized by the current President of the United States, to permit or, as some critics assert, to even require, the Navy SEALS-team to not capture but to promptly kill Bin Laden — and to dispose of Bin Laden’s body in an untraceable, irrecoverable way — and to do it all as fast as possible?

And even if the quoted STRATFOR report is correct as to what was done with the body, I ask again: what is wrong with this picture?

Was this Presidential authorization predicated on concerns over what might otherwise have been the aftermath — such as increasingly widespread “terrorist” attacks on the U.S. — if Bin Laden were to be captured and held, alive, in, perhaps, Guantanamo or an overseas “rendition prison”, for a length of time, even for a lifetime?

Was it thought that in such an situation, Bin Laden might become a “living martyr”, an ever-inflaming “fuel” for the anti-American passions of the Al Quaeda cause — and a seemingly endless (and deadly) “albatross around the U.S.’s neck”?

But even if that were the case, is “hurry up and murder the bastard and dump his body where nobody can ever find it” (or send the body to Bethesda for examination — and then perhaps to a secret burial or cremation?) a proper demonstration, to the world, of “the American way”, or of what, in the American view, now constitutes “justice”?

If this was indeed Osama Bin Laden, and if, as appears to be the case, he was as evil as he’s been depicted, then perhaps he received “his just desserts”.

But even if that’s the case:

Was the choice of action purely predicated on revenge and revilement?

Was it to rid this planet of a truly horrible, broadly dangerous, person?

Was the choice of action predicated on a desire to demonstrate that those who violently oppose the U.S. will inevitably meet an ignominious and violent end?

Was the plan basically to just get rid of a hated mass-murderer and be done with it, “no questions asked”, even regardless of whatever value he might have been to the west if captured and kept alive?

How reasonable — especially for the U.S., which traditionally has sought to project an image to the world of always “taking the high road” — would either of those decisions be?

Or could it be that the thought was to “de-exist” even “the very being” of Bin Laden — e.g., to make him an “un-person” — in the hopes that his influence would disappear with his body, such that the world, particularly his supporters, would quickly and simply consign him to being an anachronism who now belongs in the past, a once-powerful but cruelly destructive phantasm whose influence and existence is best left forgotten?

Where, in the history of human civilization, has that approach ever worked — or hasn’t it been more the case that the very opposite result would be the more likely to emerge?

Or, perhaps, could it be that the idea was to quickly “destroy the evidence” – meaning, first and foremost, to intentionally and as immediately as possible kill Bin Laden, based on the possible concern that Bin Laden, if left alive — even if taken into custody –, might somehow be accorded (against Administration wishes) an opportunity to publicly expose secrets that some in Government would rather remain hidden?

Did the orders authorize the killing of Bin Laden — and if so, under what circumstances? I.e. was his life to be protected at all costs, or was the plan that the lives of the SEALS would have to come first, even if their safety might mean that Bin Laden must die?

Or is it possible that the orders were to kill Bin Laden, and to do it a.s.a.p.?

What exactly were the orders?

And even if we hypothesize, for the sake of argument, that the plan was to take Bin Laden alive, but that the SEALS, being under enormous stress at the time, panicked — which I don’t buy: these guys are trained to be top-notch at what they do! — and consequently shot the man dead, what does such a situation — however the raid allegedly went down — say about the Presidential planning of this operation?

In addition:

If this raid and assassination etcetera really happened as described — at least for the most part — and someone whom we, the public, have been told was bin Laden — was thusly killed and disposed of, what does that say about all these reports (maybe 8 or 9 at least) over the years, starting as early as late 2001, that stated that Osama Bin Laden was already officially declared dead years before this Abbottabad incident?

Or, adding complications to the speculation, could it be — as some claim — that even though Bin Laden has been dead all these years – or has possibly been held alive, inprisoned, in secret, for all these years and been “squeezed” for information until he had none left to give — that for all these years it was politically valuable to some Governmental “top echelons” to keep the specter of Bin Laden, as the world’s “Number One Terrorist”, alive — and that the ultimate act of actually killing him (or of killing someone who could be officially claimed to be him) would also be“a well-timed political feather in someone’s cap”?

So, was the alleged dead man Osama Bin Laden?

Photo allegedly of Osama bin Laden watching TV at his Abbottabad compound in Pakistan. (PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Federal Government.)

Photo allegedly of Osama bin Laden watching TV at his Abbottabad compound in Pakistan.
(PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Federal Government.)

Maybe, or, as some critics allege, maybe not.

Was Bin Laden killed some days ago in Abbottabad as Obama claims — or was Bin Laden instead now killed (or died years ago and “kept on ice” until now) in some secret rendition-prison, his usefulness (except for this final instance) having expired, such that his this Abbottabad raid offered an expedient frame for his “demise”?

Maybe, or, as some critics allege, maybe not.

But whomever this alleged person was, was getting rid of him in this manner actually a good thing for the U.S.  – especially considering the seemingly completely incongruent fact that the Obama Administration is now also increasingly  ratcheting-up — instead of down — the extensiveness of its anti-terrorist (?) surveillance of everyone in the U.S.?

As to getting rid of OBL — if he was indeed as monstrous as he generally has been portrayed to be — I go with the phrase “Good riddance to bad rubbish!”.

November 24, 1963 -- RUBY SHOOTS OSWALD

November 24, 1963 — Inside the Dallas police station, the accused assassin of JFK — Lee Harvey Oswald — is fatally shot by local nightclub owner Jack Ruby. Oswald was accused of being the “lone assassin” of JFK — a charge that the LBJ-appointed Warren Commission later also officially stuck with — but various other investigations over the years declared that the Warren Commission’s official report was a “whitewash” and that Oswald — even if he was involved with the JFK assassination-plot — was probably telling the truth when, shortly after being arrested, he declared “I’m just a patsy”. 

But on the other hand, what truths are we really dealing with here — and what truths are perhaps being kept hidden from our view?

And, if truths are being kept from us, by whom, and for what purposes?

Or, to paraphrase what Lee Harvey Oswald declared shortly before he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby: are we “being played for patsies”?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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“OBAMACARE” on the Downturn: Awareness on the Rise?


(Note: The following commentary is meant to convey my OPINION on what I perceive to be a matter of significant public importance. If, in this commentary, I have erred by misstating or misrepresenting anyone or anything, please know that that was unintentional. I hasten to add that I have no affiliation with any party, pro or con, involved in this issue. Also, you may, if you wish, submit your comments, if they are within generally acceptable standards of decorum, via a clickable link that is either just below this commentary or perhaps is in the column at the right. Thanks! And so, now, to begin:)
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"Obamacare": In some aspects, a laudable goal - but could it also be that "the Devil in the details"? (Photo: Whitehouse.Gov)

(NY, NY, 10/28/11) — Obamacare”:    So now, say surveys, Americans are increasingly seeing it as a negative.

But on what basis might that reported shift be justified?

Is “Obamacare” really that bad?

Isn’t it supposed to improve the nation’s, and our, “healthcare” system, for the benefit of us all?

Well, on the one hand, doing away, as it does, with the restriction on “pre-existing conditions” seems, in my view, to be a strongly positive, important, humanitarian, and eminently constructive move, one that, by itself, should theoretically — if we put aside other considerations (such as this action possibly increasing our costs or reducing the quality and availability of our care) — be welcomed and valued by everyone who’s desperate to be covered by healthcare insurance in this country.

But please take note of the above word “should“. Because if doing away with the “pre-existing conditions” requirement also happens to generate a decidedly customer-unfriendly increase in the cost of premiums, or a patient-hostile reduction in the degree or scope or availability of coverage — well, there again,  it would seem, “the Devil is in the details”.

But certainly an end to the “pre-existing condition” requirement, as “Obamacare” mandates, is, at least in theory, an important and positive step — in my opinion — toward hopefully creating a more equitable, more compassionate, system of healthcare for all.

In addition, as I see it, designing a healthcare system that would provide truly great healthcare, affordably and accessibly, for every American — including, without restriction,  for “the elderly” — and which would provide that care without damaging the insured’s pocketbook, privacy, freedom of choice, and other such freedoms and rights — must certainly also be an admirable goal.

But does “Obamacare” do that?

IMO, not quite. And in some ways, perhaps it does quite the opposite.

And that’s on top of the various calculations, from critics and other sources, that the numbers are now increasingly showing that “Obamacare” is already in some ways damaging the current American healthcare system; shredding Obama’s oft-touted promise that under this Plan “you can choose your own doctor”; harming seniors’ (and Medicaid recipients’) ability to get necessary healthcare or even be seen by a doctor; forcing numerous businesses to shut-down their employees’ healthcare-coverage by the tens of thousands of policies; generally raising healthcare premiums all across the country; forcing many Americans who are studying medicine — and forcing many Americans who are already in the medical profession in this country — to rethink their career-choices and abandon it (or the United States) for other pastures; and on and on.

And that’s aside from the Plan’s various mandates that , say critics, tear into the privacy and confidentiality rights of healthcare consumers (which would, by force, under “Obamacare”, be every American); of doctors; of hospitals; of the until-now-sacrosanct doctor-patient relationship; and would even intrude into the full panoply of — in case you hadn’t noticed this part of the “Obamacare” law — every American’s personal finances, via a first-ever-in-history authorization and systematization, by “Obamacare”, of using the IRS as an enforcement-arm of this purportedly wonderful new “healthcare plan” that’s supposed to be so good for “We, the People”.

Got that?

Not that some of the prominent “healthcare plans” proposed by the Republican Party are quite the solution either, in my opinion; aspects of those plans, too, in my view, leave much to be desired. But that’s a subject for a separate analysis.

"... to promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity ..."

In the meantime, say some critics, “Obamacare” — regardless of whether or not the impetus behind its initial conceptualization may have been one of “political one-upsmanship” or of honor and high moral principle — appears to instead be constructed in such a way as to violate both the spirit of the Constitution and the letter of the Constitution; and in so doing, say critics, “Obamacare” thereby unConstitutionally aggrandizes to the Federal Government — and unConstitutionally takes away from “We, the People” — an enormous chunk of power over our lives.

“Obamacare”, critics additionally charge, does this not only “in the moment”, as its elements go into effect, but also in that it establishes, most concerningly, a dangerous precedent — one that they say could easily provide the basis for, even invite, this current or future Administrations (or a “central government” of whatever form it may take at the time) to assert even greater, more extensive, more intrusive, more overbearing, more “control-oriented”, and more threatening, authority, over “We, the People” — and we may not be quite pleased with where that path may lead.

If this current Government can do this, say critics, just imagine what that knowledge can empower this Government, or any of its successors, to do next.

And then: whither us?

"... that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." (Photo: NPS.Gov)

Is this what “We, the People”, really want? The promise — but in many ways not quite the reality, and in some ways quite the reverse – of the presumably well-intentioned goal of providing “healthcare for all”?

In pressing for an improved healthcare system, did we really mean to push for a huge and ever-expanding encroachment by a Central Government on our individual freedoms and rights?

Did “We, the People” also ask for, cry for, stand up with one voice to call for, a healthcare system that would raise our healthcare-costs (as is reportedly already happening due to “Obamacare”), reduce the amount of time and guidance and services that our doctors and hospitals could provide for us at our times of need (much as reportedly is currently already happening, or will  increasingly be happening, due to “Obamacare”)?

Did we somehow fail to take into account warnings, by critics and even by the CBO, that the shifting, by this Administration, of enormous sums of money away from Medicare in order to help fund “Obamacare” would be tremendously harmful to an already-stressed Medicare system — warnings which, according to news reports, are now coming true?

Did we really, with full understanding of the consequences, opt for a system that would especially reduce and with even greater constraints ration the amount of time and guidance and services that our doctors and hospitals will provide to our elderly – an entire class of our fellow human beings which would include not only our elderly friends and loved ones but also, sooner or later, us?

Or, for anyone who, under this Plan, becomes (un)fortunate enough to reach the Medicare-age of 65, and then at some point needs serious medical care, will a denial of needed medical treatment, or a prescribing of what in essence might be an open-ended period of physical or psychological suffering (even if on the Obama-suggested “painkiller”), or a hastening of that individual’s death, be presented to that individual (or to his or her doctor) as, essentially, the only viable options?

Did “We, the People” – who, according to polls at the time the “Obamacare” bill was being shunted through Congress, expressed in overwhelming numbers opposition to various key provisions of the then-proposed bill, such as –

* the “individual insurance-purchase mandate”, or

* the IRS tie-in as an enforcement-arm of the mandate, or

* the mandatory periodic “end of life” planning-reviews, or

* the digitization and centralization (and consequent data-sharing risks and the loss of doctor-patient privacy) of all our medical records, or

* the provisions that threaten doctors for noncompliance with mandates that  require that they cast aside their own best medical judgment in order to instead defer to Federally-generated, middle-management-driven, bureaucratically-determined, medical “guidelines” … 

— did we really agree to all that? 

(Photo: by "Friend of Wikimedia User Ysangkok")

Did “We, The People”, in wanting “healthcare for all”, really want our “representatives in Washington” to instead devise a law which, while answering some of our healthcare-needs, might also, as critics claim, reduce the overall quality of our healthcare, take away key aspects of our personal freedoms, take away (and possibly put at great risk) a vital component of our privacy, take away even a single one of our Constitutional rights (as via the “personal purchase-mandate”), damage our doctor-patient relationship, and also create the potential to bring the full force of a powerful Governmental agency down on us for our own “noncompliance”?

Uncle Sam wants YOU.

Did we really want our Government to establish a law that would automatically declare every citizen of our nation as, in effect, a potential criminal, subservient to the long arm of the law via the IRS, if we fail to comply with the “Obamacare” mandate that requires, under penalty of law, that we purchase — at our own expense no less — a product from a private company?

Is that what we wanted?

Is that to be “the new face” of our “Uncle Sam”?

But wait a moment; how about the positive side to this “Obamacare” coin — the side that many millions of Americans resoundingly praise as being one of this nation’s most profound, most compassionate, most revolutionary, most urgently needed, advances?

Certainly it appears that there are positive aspects, in principle and also in fact, within parts of the system known as “Obamacare”. And, as I would also agree, a healthcare-coverage system that would improve on what, in the view of many, is currently a deeply flawed healthcare-coverage system in this country, is intensely and urgently needed; in my view, it is unacceptable that this nation — traditionally (until recently) one of the most widely admired countries on this planet — has such an apparently difficult, costly, problematic, system of providing decent healthcare to its own citizenry.

"No Solace", by fallingwater123 / ©

I also concur in any heartfelt desire to extend a compassionate, healing, uplifting, saving-grace, to all who are in need; how, I wonder, can anyone be so heartless as to “turn a blind eye” to someone who, regardless of age or standing, and through no fault of his or her own, desperately needs appropriate medical care but doesn’t otherwise possess the ability to obtain it?

How could “We, the People”, as a nation, be so callous as to turn our backs on so many millions of our fellow Americans who are currently trapped in, or are even now falling into, that abyss?

What fate has befallen that phrase of conscience that exclaims “There but for the grace of God go I”?

And where is there any shred of “humaneness”, of any thought of extending some compassion to our fellow human being, in coldly declaring that if those who are less fortunate than us weren’t able to earn the ability to pay for needed care, then who are we to care a whit about their agonized pleas for a helping hand?

Perhaps, these thoughts, even if viewed through a political lens, are what may have been going through Obama’s mind as he conceptualized and pressed for his vision of a healthcare system that would potentially be accessible to, and empowering for, us all.

Perhaps.

Too, in my view, the goal of extending healthcare – or what, in my preference, should be the goal of extending great healthcare – to all of our nation’s people, including to the poor, the ill, the currently uninsured, the elderly, and all of us – is a goal that is eminently worth striving for and achieving — if we can do it without concurrently causing ourselves harm.

But what if our perception of reality, and the underlying reality itself, are two distinctly different things, each potentially leading to profoundly divergent life-altering outcomes?

Should the goal of attaining “universal healthcare” — the general perception of which seems to paint a highly positive picture — be sought at the cost of a reality that may well include our loss, to even a partial but significant degree, of portions of our freedoms, of our civil liberties, of our Constitutionally established rights, of our ability to access and afford or receive the quality of medical care that our condition actually demands?

Elderly Woman - Photo by Chalmers Butterfield

And what if, despite all the comforting speeches and promises, the reality of the plan is such that its very design threatens the fate of our elderly loved ones (and at some point possibly ourselves) by consigning them to be eligible to receive only increasingly restricted, increasingly narrowed, “rationed”, care — a diminished level of care that, in practice, may possibly have the effect of intensifying their suffering and/or hastening their demise?

And why should this be?

Might it, even in a purely medical context, be the wisest and most compassionate choice possible and truly in that patient’s best interest?

Or might that rationing essentially be enacted not because of the patient’s true needs but instead because a bureaucratic and politically-directed system has decided, for coldly calculated non-medical reasons, that this, perhaps, is the “most expedient way” for “the system” to cut costs, to juggle expenses, to help other parts of the system work (or appear to work), or even to fulfill a momentary — or personal — political need?

Note: As to that latter possibility, you might recall the fact that this Administration, in starting to enable elements of “Obamacare”, chose to remove approximately $500,000,000 from Medicare and Medicaid, in order the shift that money into supporting “Obamacare”. Is this how they plan to “support” healthcare “for all” — and especially healthcare for the elderly?

In my mind, that one action alone certainly is a major clue — and it is frightening.

Or does no one recall that uniquely-concerning 2009 statement by Obama — the one in which he suggested, in an ABC NEWS “Questions for the President” piece, that for some elderly persons, it might be appropriate for the Government to advise that person’s doctor that it makes more sense to have the elderly patient to “forego the surgery” and instead opt for “the painkiller”?

Or am I the only one — and the answer is no, I am most assuredly not — who sees that admonition, especially when it’s coupled with certain related components of “Obamacare”, as yet another possible warning as to how our elderly might actually be treated under “Obamacare”?

But judge for yourself — view and listen to the Youtube video-clip in which Obama makes that statement. It’s at this URL:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-dQfb8WQvo

So I ask: 

"Big Brother": Is this how it begins -- or is it where it can lead? (Photo = from 1955 film of George Orwell's "1984")

Is this what we are now being conditioned to meekly accept as the predestined, carved-in-stone, fate of our elderly — and of the powerlessness of ourselves to generate the courage to come up with — and to push for — a better path for all?

When, in American history, or in our current times, did “We, the People” decide that it was a good idea to take some of our most cherished humanitarian principles – principles that we have traditionally held most dear – and simply dump them for the sake of “expediency”?

For those who are still fortunate enough to have decent healthcare coverage in this country, especially the kind (if such exists) which the insurer will not pull out from under us when we need that coverage the most, I propose that we can be thankful for those aspects of our healthcare system that work for us and which — to a point, at least — are usually there for us when we need it.

I also do grant, from personal experience, that although my healthcare coverage over the years has not, in my view, been perfect, and has cost me significant funds, it absolutely helped me at times of great need; without it, I expect that I would have had impactful problems, financially and, possibly, healthwise as well. So I do give the system, and my insurers in those instances, a great deal of credit.

But at the same time, I also see — as do many other fellow Americans — a great many deeply concerning faults with this nation’s contemporary, pre-“Obamacare”, so-called “healthcare insurance” system: faults that, in some instances, as have been shown in various news reports, are enough to make a person scream in outrage, crumble in sorrow, suffer in agony, or, for some, even die.

Yet, nothing is perfect. And most (or all?) healthcare insurers,  in this country, are, essentially, businesses, and as such, presumably they must operate on a profit-making basis in order to remain viable. But at whose cost?

That our nation’s current, traditional, healthcare system would also be structured in such a way as to, in effect, facilitate or even promote such negative outcomes as those mentioned above, especially when more humane, more healing, paths might otherwise have been made available by those same insurers; and when, at the same time that a person’s coverage is being unfairly dropped or the cost of his or her premium is, through no fault of his or her own, skyrocketing, while the insurance company is pulling in huge profits and its CEO is taking home a multi-million dollar salary and a wealth of perquisites — this situation, in my view, is unacceptable and a clarion call for reform.

Against such a backdrop, it’s no wonder that Obama — even if purely or primarily for political reasons — is pushing for an overhaul of the American healthcare system — and, in my view, it’s no wonder that such movements as “Occupy Wall Street”, within  their apparent multiplicity of goals, are pressing for a what they believe can be more equitable system of financial and social structures for the nation — and for ourselves.

Whether they’ll get it right, of course, remains to be seen.

So let’s probe just a bit further, for a moment , some of the downsides of the current system. And then let’s take a closer look at “Obamacare” to see if it, too, offers — or mandates — any corollaries to those negatives. Because, in my view — and apparently unlike Nancy Pelosi — who, as you may recall, urged the House to first pass this “Obamacare” bill and then, after passage, get to know what’s in it — it is important that we get a handle on this situation before it gets its hands on us.

So, consider:

How horrendous it is that, for example, if, in this nation, an insured person – one who has somehow been fortunate enough to even be able to afford coverage by a health-insurer – can in some instances be unceremoniously, and, in my view, inhumanely, forced out of that coverage, or be simply dropped from that coverage, through no fault of his or her own, particularly when he or she needs that coverage most.

How terrible it is, in my view, that a person who, through no personal fault, contracts an illness or undergoes some physically (or psychologically) damaging trauma or injury, and then, because that problem becomes classified by the insurer as a “pre-existing condition”, is unable to obtain health-insurance coverage at his or her time of great need — or is “kicked out of coverage”, on the insurer’s excuse that there was some alleged discrepancy in the person’s application.

Plus, how positive is it – and in my view the answer is that it is the opposite of positive – that our nation’s system of “healthcare insurance” relies primarily on “allopathic” (i.e., “western”, pharmaceuticals-based) medicine and provides essentially no — or very limited — coverage for non-allopathic, non-pharmaceutical, alternative approaches to healthcare, even though, in the opinion of many proponents of such alternate approaches, those alternate approaches can often be superior to, safer than — and cheaper than — the allopathic paradigm.

But what about “Obamacare”? As per my understanding, it seems that it, too, overall, fails to give any real support to those alternate approaches – meaning that once again, “We, the People”, under “Obamacare”, and whether we like it or not, will primarily be stuck with just a “new version” of the same old western medical paradigm. But the “packaging” will be different.

Then the question becomes, to what extent do you trust — or fear — the packager? And how confident do you feel about the efficacy and safety — and accessibility — of what may be in the package?

However, on the positive side, “Obamacare” does appear to have some good within it. And, IMO, the idea of creating a system that would provide “quality healthcare for all” is hard to fault.

And under “Obamacare”: No coverage-denial based on “pre-existing conditions”. No dropping an insured’s coverage without cause (or at all?). Presciptions drugs, well, maybe mostly covered, but the formula is unclear (at least to me at this moment). Coverage: available to every American, including — by whatever the title of the moment — “illegal aliens”.

But funded? Supported? Well-planned? Ready to go? All of it supportive of and respective of our freedoms and liberties and Constitutional rights? And all of it in our best interests? Who’s kidding who?

Plus:

Suddenly offer the promise of heathcare coverage to an additional — depending on whose numbers you believe are accurate — between approximately 15-million and 48-million currently uninsured people, and where is the Plan supposed to get the money to do this? Where, for that additional estimated 15-to-48-million people, is the nation supposed to find the doctors, the nurses, the rest of the needed medical staffs, the hospitals, the medical supplies and equipment, the facilities, the medicines?

Take more money from Medicare and Medicaid?

And that’s not to also mention that insurers — who, because of the Plan’s personal- purchase-mandate, stand to rake in a veritable fortune once the Plan goes fully into effect — have already been raising their premiums to counter, they say, the costs that they are now being forced to absorb because of the Plan’s mandate that the insurers do away with their “pre-existing conditions” rule.

Nice.

What a mess. Um, in my opinion.

But, aside from the allegation, according to critics, that “Obamacare” will be massively underfunded and, by sheer numbers, will vastly overwhelm the nation’s already-overburdened and severely-stressed medical personnel and resources, there is the following assertion that some critics have also advanced: that despite whatever lofty goals may have propelled this Plan into law, “Obamacare” is dangerously suffused with  freedoms-destructive, privacy-shredding, healthcare-quality-reducing, end-of-life-promulgating, authoritarian-power-centralizing, flaws – flaws that, for what is supposed to be a “free society”, can well instead create a chilling counterpoint to the Plan’s purported benefits.

So, which way to go?

Should we be psychologically “locked into” thinking that there are only two paths to consider – the contemporary, still primarily operative, private insurance-companies system, versus the “Obamacare” system?

Or might there be a better, third path, even a fourth or a fifth path, that we should open our minds to conceiving and to consider pursuing?

Must whatever “healthcare” plan we, or “They”, come up with, be infused with – along with “the good stuff” – a really dangerous load of bad stuff?

Must every field of beautifully blossoming, heavenly-scented flowers have vicious venom-fanged snakes slithering in the grass?

Can’t we create a reality that’s better than that – or which at least diminishes the flaws to insignificance?

Whatever the answer, one particular image comes to mind that perhaps illustrates, at least for me, the heart of my concern in this whole matter:

Picture, if you can, that indelible moment in the  classic 1950s film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, as actor Kevin McCarthy, in his role as the lone alien-pursued survivor who has discovered the truth,  seeks in vain to warn people of the invasion that’s taking place right before their eyes, as he turns to the camera and declares:

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers": A parable for our times?

“You’re next!

You’re next!

– Just a thought.

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