Please check out the new blog on Drone Surveillance. This is real folks! http://reaperscomehome.
Dear Representative Whitmire:
The drone legislation continues to be troublesome, to say the least. Warrant-less surveillance is a shredding of our 4th Amendment rights. Your study committee produced the language. You have voted to fund this. It was a stealth move to bury it in the last budget bill. (I'm sure you have the exchange of emails.) It's time you lead and fix this abridgment. The article below demonstrates what is likely to happen on your watch and with your blessing. Your constituents will hold you accountable for your vote. You have an opportunity today to vote NO. Please remember your oath to defend our U.S. Constitution and every inalienable right in our Bill of Rights.
I hope I can look forward to delivering good news to the citizens of 113 that the below has been voted down.
218 Vincent Place
Hendersonville, NC 28719
On Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 12:39 PM, Rep. Chris Whitmire <Chris.Whitmire@ncleg.net> wrote:
Its status is hereà http://ncleg.net/gascripts/
BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?. Unanimous in the Senate and 106-4 in the House with four of the most liberal members voting against. Session=2015&BillID=s446& submitButton=Go
Have a nice week,
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Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2015 14:31:48 +0000
Senate Bill 446, which is on today's Senate calendar, was originally a bill about Loaner Vehicles. It has been amended in the House. It now has a number of provisions relating to government use of drones in North Carolina. Principally, it amends the State Chief Information Officer's authority to approve exceptions to the 2013 moratorium on govt. drone use.
It appears that the sole beneficiary of those exceptions so far has been the Next Gen Air Transportation group (NGAT), which is currently conducting tests on drones at a number of specific sites around North Carolina. To date, all of the reporting on those tests in the public media has been about the agricultural and other non-controversial uses of drones. However, there is one site where NGAT drone tests are occurring that the public has a right to know about, but currently has not been informed.
The private military contractor formerly known as Blackwater, outside Moyock NC, seems an odd place for a civilian, State-run drone testing program. However, public presentations available on ncleg.net, like this one by the SCIO himself, clearly show that tests are occurring there. And this presentation by the NGAT Director, Kyle Snyder just a few months ago, show that the drones being tested there are exclusively military surveillance in origin.
House Bill 4, the original bill containing the current drones legislation, appeared in the House J4 Committee earlier this year. The sponsor, Rep. Torbett was asked by another member to talk about the waiver granted for testing at Blackwater, referred to in the documents as 'Moyock'. Rep. Torbett's answer was "There has been no waiver for Moyock." (Audio here.) This flies in the face of all the documentation stating that there is SCIO-approved testing occurring at the Blackwater site.
Given the potential for spying on innocent Americans, and the record of government abuse of that potential over recent years, we have the right to expect complete transparency in the way our State government is using, or contemplating using, these powerful surveillance devices.
I urge you to block passage of Senate Bill 446 until the civil liberties of your constituents have been better protected.
8/9/2015 Drone legislation in Raleigh: The budget is six weeks late and the Senate and House versions are hundreds of millions of dollars apart, and it's not clear when or how they'll get it together and pass a budget.
Guess is that it's unlikely the drone legislation will come up at all - it's in the House transpo wishlist, and will go through unnoticed, like last year.
Here's the Senate budget conferees - anybody on there someone you could reach out to & ask them to make some noise about the drone language? Otherwise it's a done deal.
- Sen. Harry Brown, Chair
- Sen. Kathy Harrington, Chair
- Sen. Brent Jackson, Chair
- Sen. John M. Alexander, Jr.
- Sen. Tom Apodaca
- Sen. Chad Barefoot
- Sen. Tamara Barringer
- Sen. Stan Bingham
- Sen. Andrew C. Brock
- Sen. Bill Cook
- Sen. David L. Curtis
- Sen. Warren Daniel
- Sen. Rick Gunn
- Sen. Fletcher L. Hartsell, Jr.
- Sen. Ralph Hise
- Sen. Jim Davis
- Sen. Joyce Krawiec
- Sen. Michael V. Lee
- Sen. Tom McInnis
- Sen. Wesley Meredith
- Sen. E. S. (Buck) Newton
- Sen. Louis Pate
- Sen. Ronald J. Rabin
- Sen. Bill Rabon
- Sen. Shirley B. Randleman
- Sen. Norman W. Sanderson
- Sen. Dan Soucek
- Sen. Jeff Tarte
- Sen. Jerry W. Tillman
- Sen. Tommy Tucker
- Sen. Trudy Wade
- Sen. Andy Wells
5/31/2015: Drone Legislation Appears in State House Budget: http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/drone-legislation-appears-in-state-house-budget/article_f27e73e1-a5f0-51fe-8f5a-fa06b8542e7e.html
- Drone Bill In NC Budget - Again!! http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/House/PDF/H97v5.pdf. Call Chris Whitmire, Chuck McGrady, and Brian Turner. NO on drone surveillance.
4/14/2015 To House Standing Committee
Hugh.Blackwell@ncleg.net, Rob.Bryan@ncleg.net, Jacqueline.Schaffer@ncleg.net, Susi.Hamilton@ncleg.net,Jay.Adams@ncleg.net, John.Ager@ncleg.net, Dan.Bishop@ncleg.net, Nelson.Dollar@ncleg.net,Mike.Hager@ncleg.net, Howard.Hunter@ncleg.net, Ralph.Johnson@ncleg.net, Bert.Jones@ncleg.net,Bobbie.Richardson@ncleg.net,
Chairman Rep Davis and Rep Ford, Vice Chairman Rep Langdon, and Members Rep. Ager, Rep. Boles, Rep. Brawley, Rep. R. Brown, Rep. Burr, Rep. Cleveland, Rep. Faircloth, Rep. Farmer-Butterfield, Rep. Fisher, Rep. Floyd, Rep. G. Graham, Rep. Holley,Rep. Jeter, Rep. Luebke, Rep. Pendleton, Rep. Ross, Rep. Setzer, Rep. Szoka, Rep. Warren, Rep. Watford
It is my understanding that the drone bill, H4, Clarify Unmanned Aircraft System law, is back on the Local Government Committee agenda for this Thursday, April 16, 2015.
Unfortunately for North Carolinians, it does not amend the drone law passed last year, but it does amend the moratorium set in 2013. More troubling is that it does re-state and expand the State Chief Information Officer's authority to issue waivers for law enforcement drones.
H4 needs to be blocked from going forward until the drone law (conveniently buried on pages 227 – 231 of the 256 page SB744 - the NC Budget Bill tha passed in August, 2014) giving law enforcement wide authority to conduct warrantless surveillance is repealed or significantly amended. These provisions are a violation of our 4th Amendment right to privacy.
At the very least, H4 should be an opportunity to require the State Chief Information Officer (SCIO) to answer publicly exactly what he has used the waiver authority for up to now:
One of your current waivers is for testing at the Moyock facility known as 'Academi.' Exactly what type of testing is going on at the company-formerly-known-as-Blackwater, and does it include any military drones or personnel?
Why was it deemed appropriate or necessary to involve a private military contractor in a civilian State-funded drone testing program?
What other military-related testing is happening under the current waivers issued by the SCIO?
H4 appears to allow the SCIO to issue waivers for political subdivisions of the State (including local law enforcement) to acquire and operate drones before the implementation of the knowledge and skills test required by GS 63-95. Have any entities other than the NGAT (NextGen Air Transportation) testing program operated by NCSU requested permission to acquire drones, and will any requests for law enforcement purposes be made public before they are granted?
In the interest of transparency, will you release all the information regarding testing of drones in NC, including all previous and pending COA applications (FAA Certificates of Authorization and/or Certificates of Airworthiness),information on planned future drone testing locations, etc.?
Is there currently an existing site, or a plan to open a new site in western NC?
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your reply.
828 692 3117
218 Vincent Place
Hendersonville, NC 28739
A brief historical overview of the drone legislation now law in NC that was buried in the NC budget Bill, SB744, pages 227-231 of a 256 page bill. This is how it happened.
HB 312 Preserving Privacy Act of 2013. Referred to Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House on 3/18/2013 and is still sitting there. This bill protects privacy and stipulates warrants must be issued for searches. http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/PDF/H312v1.pdf . This bill was never enacted. (Bill primary sponsors: Tim Moffitt).
Instead of HB312 going forward, HB 1099 that tramples on our privacy rights was filed on 5/15/2014. It was last referred to the committee on Rules and Operations in the Senate on 6/30/2014. The drone legislation cleared the House and Senate. (HB 1099 died in the Senate but the language was resurrected in the NC budget bill, SB 744. ) Tim Moffitt and Chris Whitmire sponsored HB1099, the language came out of a study committee on the use of drones. http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2013&BillID=HB1099&submitButton=Go
The language of HB 1099 was lifted word for word and buried in the NC Budget bill, SB744 on pages 227-231 of the 256 page bill that was signed into law on 8/7/14. http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2013&BillID=sb744&submitButton=Go
10/12/2014: In an attempt to find out how the drone language was included in the NC budget bill, then NC Speaker of the House, Thom Tillis, was quoted in a Winston Salem Journal article - "That legislation - I honestly can't tell you in the conference if it was a proposal out of the Senate or the House." In that same article, Rep John Torbett (R and primary sponsor of the drone legislation) said that the GOP caucus 'was well informed" about the legislation. In addition, in an email to Barry Summers, he said "I sought to include the language into the ($21 billion dollar NC) budget bill (SB744) after Senate colleagues showed interest in its passing," http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/evolution-of-drone-bill-stirs-questions/article_1cf43c0a-1a65-5f65-b42d-cdfc9940038b.html
it seems that many in the legislature assumed that the leaders had worked out key concerns about privacy rights (which was not the case). It appears that no questions were asked regarding the language.
Most troubling are warrantless surveillance at open-invitation gatherings, including private property. When Tillis was given the scenario - "So, for example, if the Tea Party decides to have a fundraiser at a shooting range - if they announce it on their Facebook page, they've invited the police to come in and conduct surveillance." Tillis responded "If you'd like to get information on that - I'm not sure that that's the case," referring to the event as one that would likely be considered a 'private gathering."
This is how the drone language became law on 8/7/2014: House members received a bull-point memo highlighting the details of the transportation section of the budget. The 3rd page of the memo contained one sentence "Establishes a regulatory framework for the commercial operation of unmanned aircraft, including training and licensing through the NCDOT Division of Aviation."
4/7/2015: The 2012 FAA re-authorization act directs the FAA to work with the DoD to drop restrictions on military drones in domestic airspace by the end of 2015.
It specifically addresses both "civil" and "public" unmanned aircraft. "Public aircraft" is the FAA's euphemism for military.
From the Senate version of the 2012 FAA Modernization nd Reform Act:https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/14c91e201656e626?projector=1
1st amendment issues
Drone controversy in NC continues: This is how it happened: http://scrutinyhooligans.us/2015/02/17/this-is-how-that-happened/#more-40260
Drone bill giving law enforcement even more authority: http://ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2015&BillID=h4&submitButton=Go
2/27/2014: Story in the AC-T today about a local business expanding jobs. http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20140228/NEWS01/302280022/Black-Mountain-drone-manufacturer-adding-75-jobs#
The Pentagon desperately wants unrestricted access to US airspace for their military surveillance drones, including the Global Hawk. Sure, jobs are great, but at what cost?
Kearfott to expand, add 75 jobsBLACK MOUNTAIN Kearfott Corp. will expand its manufacturing operations, adding 75 jobs with an investment of $11.8 million over the next three years, Gov. Pat McCrory and N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announcedFriday morning.
The manufacturer of navigation systems for drones and other military equipment currently employs 336 workers at its Black Mountain facility, which has been in operation since 1955.
“Kearfott carefully evaluated several potential locations for expansion, with Western North Carolina emerging as the clear winner,” said Kearfott President, Craig Scott. “Our high technology inertial and motion control product line developments depend on the highly- skilled workforce available in the region. We have had a long-standing presence in the area and are pleased to contribute to the well-being of the community.”
Friday’s announced expansion should help beef up the Kearfott workforce in Black Mountain, following layoffs last summer. Former employees said that about 90 workers were cut in the wake of federal budget cuts, especially in defense spending. Kearfott officials did not return calls at the time.
“This company is truly the face of advanced manufacturing in Buncombe County,” said David Gantt, Chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. “This high tech, highly skilled and well compensated workforce is recognized around the world for excellence and innovation. I am thrilled to see a world-class employer like Kearfott investing and creating jobs in our community.
Salaries will vary by job function, but the average annual wage for the new jobs will likely exceed $46,000 plus benefits. The Buncombe County average annual wage is $35,784.
“Kearfott has been a tremendous asset to Western North Carolina for over 50 years and it is exciting to see them poised for growth,” said EDC Chairman Paul Szurek, chairman of the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville and Buncombe County. “We expect them to continue to provide high-value jobs for the next generation. These are the types of jobs for which, just two weeks ago, Buncombe County dedicated its new STEM High School, better preparing our youth for meaningful careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.”
Originally founded in 1917 and acquired by Astronautics Corporation of America in 1988, Kearfott Corporation is an industry leader in advanced inertial navigation and motion control systems. Headquartered in Little Falls, New Jersey, the company is recognized as an innovator in the design and development of navigation and motion solutions for land, sea, air and space including NASA’s Voyager I Spacecraft, the first spacecraft to venture into interstellar space.
For the expansion, Kearfott was awarded a performance-based incentive grant from the One North Carolina Fund of up to $75,000.
2/24/2014Barry Summers on Messer show re: drones: http://downloads.iheartradio.
Safety measures sold to us for the sake of the greater good. Life in the emerging Police State.
Aug. 2013 Indyweek story about moratorium on drone use in NC, the exception that allows McCrory's Chief Information Officer to waive the ban, and the creation of the NCDOT-funded testing program now in progress:
Chief Information Officer Chris Estes former position was "Principal in the Strategy, Technology, and Innovation practice" at Booz Allen Hamilton - meaning, he was at the top of one of the chief private sector contractors for the NSA.
Presentation made to House UAV Committee last Tuesday. Page 15 shows that the state is currently contracting with the company formerly known as Blackwater to test drones:
It now appears the plan to test at Mills River has been spiked, after the town started asking questions. As I understand it, the planned testing has been moved south into Dupont State Forest. No idea when that will begin.