What does Vermont have in common with small countries invaded by the US? Unmanned drones. Millions of dollars worth, keeping crops, people, backyards and homes under surveillance.
Drones like the ones in these pictures have been seen flying over Vermont.
Using airborne evidence, the State Police sometimes make a follow-up visit to determine exactly what a crop is, as has happened in Addison County. As the Addison Independent has printed, the police produced no warrant. In spite of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees our rights against warrantless searches and seizures.
This discovery has emerged in the wake of surveillance cameras recently deployed in Burlington, Rutland and smaller towns. A multi-million dollar investment in surveillance of Vermonters, made especially significant by the fact that the Legislature cut food assistance to Seniors and the disabled. In 2011, attempts were made to cut teachers pensions; cuts which, according to sources within the State House were initially severe but too politically damaging.
Protests outside the State House against a breaking of the social contract coupled with raised taxes, began in the 2011 legislative session. Now the Legislature’s talking about cutting off fuel assistance to Seniors as well. Why is surveillance of Vermont citizens so important to Montpelier, more important than taking care of our Seniors?
According to a breaking story on North Country Public Radio (January 14), drone flights were claimed to be only training missions, and only in New York State. For the purpose of training drone operators, say the New York National Guard. These are the same MQ-9 Reaper as is deployed in Afghanistan.
The ‘training-only’ claim appears to be false.
According to the Vermont Civil Liberties Union, “The use of drones to monitor civilians within the U.S. raises significant privacy concerns. Such technology could allow police to record the activities of the public below with high-resolution, infrared and thermal-imaging cameras…”
Legal changes are proceeding to ease the way for drones to be used commonly by police. The Washington Post stated, “by 2013, the FAA expects to have formulated new rules that would allow police across the country to routinely fly lightweight, unarmed drones up to 400 feet above the ground — high enough for them to be largely invisible eyes in the sky”.
Why, one might ask. Coming in the wake of NOFA-VT opening up their keynote address to a Monsanto lobbyist and then firmly backing the Food Safety Modernization act, many steps are being taken in both DC & Montpelier this year to sharply increase regulation against small family farms.
Since when are small independent farms a problem? Why was Chuck Ross, a political operative with close ties to Monsanto, appointed head of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture… which immediately proceeded to crack down on raw milk cheesemaking? Is this still Vermont?
The latest is a series of proposed rules by the DOT, forcing operators of small farm equipment to obtain a Commercial Drivers License (CDL), a certification which includes police work, drug tests, and proof of citizenship.
The impact to Vermont’s small farm economy could be severe. It is logical to assume that drones would be used for enforcement, just as today helicopters are used to look for cannabis on Vermont Farms.
What can ordinary Vermonters do about this?
Hold the Vermont Legislature accountable.
The Legislature makes the laws, laws that, according to the US Constitution, supersede federal laws. But not many folks understand this. So when Vermont has been pressured to yield up major assets; e.g. our Vermont Guard to the Afghanistan Occupation, our hydroelectric dams to TransCanada and our surface water to Entergy and our groundwater to bottling companies, it is fashionable to blame the governor, especially if the governor is a Republican.
But it is the Legislature who willingly maintain the tax-free status of the entities named above and others.
Hold them accountable. Demand to know why, demand that they act according to the wishes of their constituents. Vote them out of office!
In reality it is the Legislature that allows, forbids, funds, tolerates, or looks the other way. An agency carries out policy. An agency may not make policy.
Vermonters can’t do anything about Monsanto’s control over the USDA and their $149 billion budget, run by a Monsanto insider and lobbyist. We can’t affect UN’s Agenda 21. That part of US sovereignty has recently been ceded. Congress, unless the incumbents are replaced, will continue to pursue an agenda which has nothing to do with the interests of their constituents, no matter who is elected president.
This, domestic surveillance in Vermont, we can do something about.