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Spy Satellite Photos Used To Fight Drug Smugglers 381

Posted by kdawson
from the we-know-what-you-did-over-the-border dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, part of the Department of Defense, is using satellites to track the activities of drug cartels operating along the US-Mexican border. The agency is supplying photos to pinpoint Mexican narcotics operations and anticipate smuggling attempts into the United States. During a conference on border security held in Phoenix last week, Scott Zikmanis said his agency already has supplied some data to the El Paso Intelligence Center, a federal clearinghouse for investigating drug cartels. Any border-security surveillance will be done over Mexico, not the US says Zikmanis because a federal law, the Posse Comitatus Act, strictly limits US military operations on American soil unless such operations are authorized by Congress. Civil rights attorneys question the use of satellite technology in law enforcement. 'We are in the midst of a really dangerous time in terms of technology,' said Chris Calabrese, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. 'The idea that such a powerful tool might be turned on US citizens is really troubling.'"
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Spy Satellite Photos Used To Fight Drug Smugglers

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  • Military required? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ComputerDruid (1499317) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:34PM (#28017973)

    Is drug smuggling really such a big problem to require the use of military resources? It seems like something like this falls much more into the realm of law enforcement than something the military should get involved in.

    I know that it is sometimes called the war on drugs, but is it really so bad that it deserves to be called a war?

    • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:36PM (#28018017) Homepage
      Some people are expressing concerns about Mexico's stability in the face of drug-cartel related violence.
      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:40PM (#28018103) Homepage Journal
        "Some people are expressing concerns about Mexico's stability in the face of drug-cartel related violence."

        If that's the case, why doesn't the US just annex MX? I mean, we've already got about half the people here, why shouldn't we get the real estate too? Nice beaches, etc....

        :)

        • by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:52PM (#28018283) Homepage Journal

          Nice beaches

          Sexist bastard!

        • by mangu (126918)

          why doesn't the US just annex MX?

          Good idea! Then the drug smugglers would be US citizens, able to make use of their Second Amendment rights.

          Well, of course, they already do their shopping in the US anyway, but it would be slightly cheaper crossing the border, no need to bribe customs officers.

          • by corbettw (214229)

            Actually, that's (probably) not true. It's much easier to buy arms by the truck load on the black market from China, Russia, or Venezuela than it is to buy a few at a time in the US and sneak them back over the border.

        • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:05PM (#28018469) Journal

          If that's the case, why doesn't the US just annex MX?

          Because then we'll need a new "threat to the American way" to rile up the idiots so they can be politically manipulated -- illegal Mexican immigrants won't be usable for that anymore.

          Who would we blame for taking our jobs? Who would we blame for the drug trade? Who would we pay terrible wages to labor in our fields and in our kitchens -- they'd need to be paid a decent wage if we annexed Mexico!

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by publiclurker (952615)
            Easy, Guatemala and Belize are south of Mexico just waiting to be the new scapegoats.
          • Who would we blame for taking our jobs?

            Make it expensive to hire illegals and they'll stop coming. Then people will take jobs at a higher wage, things will get a bit pricier, and there's nothing to blame.

            Who would we blame for the drug trade?

            Remove the drug trade and there's noone to blame.

            Who would we pay terrible wages to labor in our fields and in our kitchens -- they'd need to be paid a decent wage if we annexed Mexico!

            Or, if we punish employers enough to remove the incentive, we'll pay better wages, and the CEOs will have to deal with just the one huge mansion.

            • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:46PM (#28019769)

              Make it expensive to hire illegals and they'll stop coming.

              How are you going to make it expensive to do something illegal? Are you going to pass a law?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by couchslug (175151)

            The "threat"(s) would be the failed culture, society, government (even if we annexed it we'd have to allow democracy which would return the same people to office), and economy of Mexico.

            While it is fashionable to point out what is wrong with the US, it's worth noting that we have vastly more immigration than emigration. If we add annexation of failed states to that, the ideal of a welfare state for Americans becomes even less practical.

      • by Hojima (1228978) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:01PM (#28018401)

        Some people are expressing concerns about Mexico's stability in the face of drug-cartel related violence.

        Then legalize the drugs. Then use the profits from the government-sold drugs to start up rehab centers. Problem solved.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by maxume (22995)

          Yeah right.

          I agree with you in principle, but this description of how it would play out borders on the hilarious.

          I mean, what do you do with the hundreds of thousands of people who are currently in prison on drug charges? Do you just let them out, or do you go further than that? What do you do about the thousands of socially marginal people who just lost their jobs (yes, if you are willing to risk prison to distribute drugs, you are likely socially marginal; sorry.)? And so on.

          • by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:18PM (#28018651) Homepage Journal
            I mean, what do you do with the hundreds of thousands of people who are currently in prison on drug charges? Do you just let them out,

            Well, yeah. Hell, it's already happening as budget shortfalls are making people realize that spending millions on keeping potheads locked up might not be the best way to spend cash.

            or do you go further than that?

            What, like give 'em a cookie or something?

            What do you do about the thousands of socially marginal people who just lost their jobs (yes, if you are willing to risk prison to distribute drugs, you are likely socially marginal; sorry.)?

            And...you lost me. Try this experiment: type in socially marginal jobs in Google, and be just fucking amazed at all the hits you'll get.

            And so on.

            So on what? you said in your first sentence that the implications of what GP said border on the hilarious, but the rest of your post...devolved somewhat. Care to actually explain yourself?
          • Yeah right (Score:4, Interesting)

            by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_20 ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:41PM (#28018961)

            I agree with you in principle, but this description of how it would play out borders on the hilarious.

            I mean, what do you do with the hundreds of thousands of people who are currently in prison on drug charges?

            Set them free. More people are in prison in the US, and the US has the highest highest prison population in the world [wikipedia.org], because of drugs than any other reason. And many of them are non violent.

            Right now people in prison now for drug offenses are a drain on taxpayers when they could be taxpayers themselves.

            Do you just let them out, or do you go further than that?

            You apologize for falsely imprisoning them.

            What do you do about the thousands of socially marginal people who just lost their jobs (yes, if you are willing to risk prison to distribute drugs, you are likely socially marginal; sorry.)? And so on.

            Citation NEEDED!!! I dare you to find science studies that reach that conclusion.

            I don't any now but I knew many people who bought, sold, and used illegal drugs and not one was worse than alcoholics I also knew. Those addicted to a legal drug are worse than those who use illegal drugs.

            Falcon

            • Re:Yeah right (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Martin Blank (154261) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:19PM (#28020105) Journal

              They were not, by and large, falsely imprisoned. They were found guilty and sentenced according to the law. I'm sure there are a few that are in there on questionable evidence, but the overwhelming majority of them were caught, tried, and sentenced as the system is supposed to work.

              That you do not agree with the law does not make it false imprisonment. I believe that a good portion of them should be let out, and that certain uses should be decriminalized (if not outright legalized), but that's a far cry from accusations of false imprisonment.

          • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:04PM (#28019981)

            If only there was some country that had already experimented with this... Oh wait. There is.

            In 2001 Portugal did just this. They decriminalized everything. [opioids.com] and 7 years later it's working better than imagined [salon.com].

            Everyone caught using is suggested to go to a class (but it's not required.). Sure they're a bit smaller than the US, but there's no reason it couldn't work here.

        • by aaandre (526056)

          Illegal drugs bring higher profit with no responsibility whatsoever.

          If the currently legal drugs like alcohol, coffee and tobacco become illegal, their prices will skyrocket, and the government won't have to put effort into quality control, regulation etc. Everyone who uses them will be a criminal and easy to jail when they become inconvenient for any reason.

          At the same time many people would be able to make a killing on the black market. Some of these people may or may not be in collusion with the governme

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PitaBred (632671)
        Imagine, if you will, that drugs were treated as a public health problem and regulated and taxed. What would happen to all the associated drug crime, where people can't go to police when they've been wronged?
    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:37PM (#28018029) Homepage Journal
      Why don't we just do something MUCH simpler...and start legalizing them for adults?!?

      Just doing that will cut the profit...and take a lot of the crime out of it.

      Start with pot...I mean, if people can grow it themselves, why buy from Juan the MX drug thug?

      • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:46PM (#28018185) Homepage Journal

        Actually, most people won't grow it them selves, they will probably buy in from a legal distribute, like cigarettes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Chris Burke (6130)

          Actually, most people won't grow it them selves, they will probably buy in from a legal distribute, like cigarettes.

          Yeah, and to me the biggest downside of legalization would be that the cigarette companies would start selling mj cigarettes that are significantly cut with tobacco. To them, THC's lack of chemically addictive properties would be a downside, and they'd want to continue to enjoy the benefits of an addicted customer base.

          It's so easy to grow (in the right climate) I can see many hippies doing i

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        Next, legalize opium... I mean, if people can grow it themselves, why buy from Arif the Taliban drug thug?

        While I don't have a problem with what recreational drugs people partake of in the privacy of their own homes, operating a car, boat, train, or plane while under the influence should result in the permanent loss of one's license to operate said vehicle.
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Of course, no one should operate a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs.

          Why should opium not be legal for recreational use?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Locke2005 (849178)
            Why should opium not be legal for recreational use? The point was, regulation of substances should be based purely on the amount of harm caused, not on the ease of manufacture of the substance. Personally, I believe people have an innate right to harm themselves (but not others), but I can understand how some people would differ with that opinion. Attempting to prevent people from harming themselves is essentially saying "Your (potential) value to society outweighs your right to self-determination." I think
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Xoltri (1052470)

          Next, legalize opium... I mean, if people can grow it themselves, why buy from Arif the Taliban drug thug?

          For suggested reading I would recommend The Consumers Union Report on Licit and Illicit drugs http://www.druglibrary.org/Schaffer/LIBRARY/studies/cu/cumenu.htm [druglibrary.org] . It's free online. It details how prohibition got us from relatively harmless opium to the dangerous drugs such as heroin.

        • by PitaBred (632671)
          I agree. Keep people from hurting others. There should continue to be very low tolerance for any intoxicated driving of any kind. But let people do what they will as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else directly.
        • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@noSpAm.yahoo.com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:31PM (#28018853) Journal

          Alcohol is legal. Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol is not legal. Why would you ever assume that just because drugs became legal that operating a vehicle under their influence would suddenly be OK?

        • Next, legalize opium... I mean, if people can grow it themselves, why buy from Arif the Taliban drug thug?

          Exactly!

          While I don't have a problem with what recreational drugs people partake of in the privacy of their own homes, operating a car, boat, train, or plane while under the influence should result in the permanent loss of one's license to operate said vehicle.

          Driving under the influence is driving under the influence, whether it's alcohol or another drug. Actually marijuana, pot, may help prevent some

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Petskull (650178)
        'Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do' by Peter McWilliams covers the effects of legalizing drugs in great detail. It also covers the social ramifications of legislating victimless crimes. http://www.mcwilliams.com/books/books/aint/303a.htm [mcwilliams.com]
    • by T Murphy (1054674) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:48PM (#28018221) Journal
      I doubt the military uses all of their satellites 24/7. When not in use for other things, why not use them to help fight crime? We spent ungodly amounts of money for those things I bet so we might as well get all the use from them we can. When the satellite can take pictures of the border it can only take pictures of what is in its line of sight, so using it to find people in Afghanistan isn't an exclusive task (may depend on how/whether the satellite can adjust its orbit).
      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:08PM (#28018505) Journal

        When not in use for other things, why not use them to help fight crime? We spent ungodly amounts of money for those things I bet so we might as well get all the use from them we can.

        Because we need to maintain a wall of separation between the military and law enforcement. Even if it's expensive to do so.

        I wouldn't welcome any more steps towards the US becoming a fascist state.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          For me it really depends on which satillite your using. If it is a Sigint/comint then yes I have a problem with it. If it is a photoint then no I really don't
          They can only see what you could see from a plane anyway. Train some civilian interpreters and there is your separation.

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        When not in use for other things, why not use them to help fight crime?

        When the satellites are over the US, why not use them to check for cars parked in front of fire hydrants? Remodeling being done without required permits? Littering? Dog owners not picking up their droppings? Violations of housing development CC&Rs? Unlawful gatherings without permits? Expired parking meters? Jaywalking? Zoning ordinance violations?
      • by aaandre (526056)

        Jaywalking is a crime. Speeding is a crime. Maybe we should mandate satellite-friendly car tagging and skull tatoos so that everyone will be identifiable from space.

        That way we can start ticketing all speeding and jaywalking criminals.

        We can crime-fight and collect the money to keep the crime-fighting effort at the same time.

        And, when we need more money, we can make more things illegal. Like not reporting a crime.

        • That way we can start ticketing all speeding and jaywalking criminals.

          I've always said the best thing that could ever happen to traffic is that every speeder gets ticketed. It'll suck for exactly 1 day, and then the unprecedentedly large riots would ensure that the speed limit gets raised to a reasonable number. And maybe they'd have to stop putting a "speed limit 45 next 10 miles, minimum fine $375" sign five miles back from every construction site that is a solitary orange cone six feet from the road ne

      • by couchslug (175151)

        Border control is a legitimate military function, and the data can be shared between agencies.

        Mexico is an unconventional threat, its people forced out of the country by the failure of their culture, society, and government. Monitoring as much of the border areas as practical is common sense.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ViennaSt (1138481)

      I will be the fear monger here.
      Read this shit [cnn.com]
      It's scary as hell! Maybe the US needs the technology to counter people like this--the drug cartel is running havoc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Considering that the man was a coyote, It's hard for me to feel empathy for his situation given that coyotes frequently pack people (who are willing to die to get here) into conditions which even slaughterhouse cattle would envy, all for the mighty buck.

        The guy also had a day job. If border crime is as ruthless as the media says it is (and I doubt that because I've lived on the border for 18 years of my life), then a man with a family would be wise to stay out of the traficantes' business.

        [tinfoil ha
      • by PitaBred (632671)
        Ask yourself why the drug cartels and immigration coyotes exist and are so profitable. If you answered "because of prohibitionist, Protestant knee-jerk drug and anti-immigration policy", you win. Change the policy, and the violence stops. This proposal is like trying to treat a broken arm with vicodin. Sure, some of the pain stops, but it ain't gonna fix the REAL problem, which is that demand for drugs exists, and you CANNOT fix that. It's impossible. As long as substances exist that make people feel better
    • by dave562 (969951) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:50PM (#28018253) Journal

      It's pretty out of control down in Mexico. The cartels outgun the law enforcement agencies and they have paramilitary training. It isn't unheard of for drug gang enforcers to use bodyarmor, automatic weapons and hand grenades.

      I'm not as worried about the spy satellites as I am about the government using Mexico's problems as justification to limit our 2nd amendment rights. The handwriting is on the wall with this one. There are numerous stories in the news about how the guns in Mexico are coming from the United States. I can see what is going on in Mexico being used as yet another justification for a NAU style homogeonization of laws (read: a further erosion of the Constitution by entering into treaties with foreign countries).

      • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... g ['s.o' in gap]> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:26PM (#28018777) Homepage
        Lots of stores in the news about US guns in Mexico... the problem is, those are very tortured statistics [agonist.org]. Sure, most of the guns that can be traced do get traced back to the US. But for the overall total of guns sourced from the US, nobody knows for sure [latimes.com].
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dave562 (969951)
          You're confusing the issue with facts. So long as the media reports that guns are going to drug smugglers who are killing women and children, the government gets their justification to clamp down on gun rights.
          • by PitaBred (632671)
            It'll take time, but those facts are becoming easier and easier for people to find out. They're starting to realize the bullshit that's going on in the mainstream press. When everyone agrees with each other on a story, there's something fishy going on. I give it another 20 years or so before everything starts being turned on it's head. We either go full-on authoritarian dictatorship here in the US, or things make a change for the better. I've seen signs of both.
    • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      Where do you draw the line between military and law enforcement? Its outside of our borders, but dealing with a non-state organization who have made attacks on our territory and citizens... in many ways similar to hunting down bin Laden and al-Qaeda (neglecting the misadventures that followed).

      Personally, I'm not seeing what the big deal is, its only being used outside of the US borders and its being used for national security, exactly what they're supposed to be used for.

    • by mangu (126918) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:08PM (#28018503)

      Is drug smuggling really such a big problem to require the use of military resources?

      Isn't protecting the borders exactly what the military are supposed to do?

      • by Daimanta (1140543)

        Not protecting the borders in THAT sense.

        Protecting the borders in the invasion sense, not the smuggling sense. The few countries that watch their border with soldiers are afraid of an enemy invasion(like North Korea and probably hotbeds like India/Pakistan, Iran/Iraq etc.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by benjamindees (441808)

          Over ten million people have illegally entered this country, destroyed our economy, and likely influenced our elections.

          I call that an invasion.

          States have every right and duty to demand border enforcement from the federation.

    • I know that it is sometimes called the war on drugs, but is it really so bad that it deserves to be called a war?

      Calling it a war on drugs is nothing more than propaganda. If government really wanted to stop drug smuggling and gang, organized crime, violence they'd legalize drugs. Treat them just as one of the most dangerous drugs, alcohol, is treated. Legalize and tax them. If someone is under the influence when they commit a crime charge them for that crime. If they get pulled over while driving char

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:36PM (#28018011) Journal

    Enough said.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by the_humeister (922869)

      No kidding. More people have been killed in 2008 due to drug violence in Mexico than US casualties in Iraq for the same year!

    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:49PM (#28018229) Homepage
      Mexican drug smugglers are not limited to cannabis. They also move an enormous amount of cocaine and meth. While legalizing cannabis should have been done years ago already, meth is so clearly destroying the heartland of America (and even making inroads into big cities) that legalization and taxation is not an option.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Is meth "destroying the heartland" or are whatever conditions making the heartlanders turn to meth "destroying the heartland"?

        It is arguable that some drugs might sneak up on you, notably the socially acceptable ones; but you don't go from boy scout to raving meth head without some outside motive.
        • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:14PM (#28018591) Journal

          but you don't go from boy scout to raving meth head without some outside motive

          Are you an expert on addiction? On the physiological and psychological pathways to addiction?

          No? Didn't think so.

          Plenty of people have gone from boy scout to raving meth head. Addiction to meth, like addiction to alcohol, often results in comorbidity with other psychological diseases (like chronic depression, different types of schizophrenia, etc). It's a bit of chicken-or-egg problem, but modern research suggests that not only can meth and/or alcohol addiction exacerbate existing pysch disorders, but they can cause disorders in people with no prior history of mental disease.

          Anything that screws with your neurotransmitters can screw with your mental health.

          • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:28PM (#28018801) Journal
            "without some outside motive"

            I'm not saying anybody is immune to meth addiction, or addiction generally. Once you hit the neurochemistry, anything is possible. I am suggesting that people don't just pick up meth the way they just pick up scrapbooking or model airplanes. The fact that meth is seriously bad news, even by drug standards, is well known. I'm saying that, without some impetus, people don't just pick up things with reputations like that.

            Different societies, and different subsections of society, have different rates of drug use, drug abuse, and adverse drug outcomes. They also use different drugs in different proportions. That is what I'm talking about. As you say, meth can get to pretty much anybody once they start using it. However, some circumstances are more likely than others to induce them to do that. That was the point of my question.

            What is it about the economic, social, political, arrangement of the area that causes people to pick meth up in greater numbers?

            I'm sorry if I expressed myself poorly. I neither think nor intended to imply that resistance to drugs one has been exposed to differs substantially between people(though, with some drugs, there does seem to be a genetic factor). I do think that there are significant differences between social contexts in how many people are induced to be exposed to drugs.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        OMG like meth could someday come to Philly?

        The collective amnesia that goes on with the drug war is so sad.

        Decades ago, before pseudo was the precursor and little old ladies and everyone else had to sign books to get allergy medicine, the meth precusor was p2p. There was a decades old movie where Harrison Ford lived amongst them Amish because of police conspiracy involving p2p.

        I keep hearing how the meth menace will spread from the mid west to the east coast. I just laugh because the only thing that has cha

      • by corbettw (214229)

        meth is so clearly destroying the heartland of America (and even making inroads into big cities) that legalization and taxation is not an option

        You're making the assumption that if meth were legal and regulated that it would continue to destroy people. I'm not convinced that's the case.

        You're also making the assumption that it's better to restrict people's freedom and have a quasi-police state for everyone than to let a few people who chose to ruin their own lives continue to do so quietly at home. I'd much have more freedom for all, even if that means the few people who can't handle that freedom destroy their own lives. As you've observed, they're

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by DigiShaman (671371)

          You're making the assumption that if meth were legal and regulated that it would continue to destroy people. I'm not convinced that's the case.

          I doubt you know anyone who's a recovering meth or heroin addict.

          I've known a friend back in the 90s who recovered only to have relapsed again. It doesn't just destroy their lives, but also family members close to them. If they're lucky, they turn suicidal and get it over with quickly. If they got balls, they die via suicide-by-cop (very rare, but does happen)

          As for

      • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:34PM (#28019601) Journal

        Alcohol destroys lives too. We tried prohibition, and found that it only made things worse. Given that anyone who wants meth can get it anyway, why not legitimize the trade, make a profit off of it, and treat those with a problem medically instead of criminally?

  • Well (Score:2, Insightful)

    by moogied (1175879)
    To those that don't know.. phoenix/tucson are seeing record kidnappings and murders. These are being primarily carried out by drug cartels. CNN and Fox have been talking about it, which makes this a political move to calm the masses.
    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      "To those that don't know.. phoenix/tucson are seeing record kidnappings and murders. These are being primarily carried out by drug cartels. CNN and Fox have been talking about it, which makes this a political move to calm the masses."

      How about they just secure (physically) the border??? Just stop them from coming across with drugs? Stop all illegal migration north of the border?!?!

      • by geekoid (135745)

        How about you bother to attempt to understand the scope of what you are saying they should do?

        • by Vancorps (746090)

          Few people truly comprehend this problem as the ramifications of the possible solutions.

          If you make it difficult for people to cross the border then all kinds of commerce is also hurt so it costs you more than just materials to build a wall but also lots of lost revenue.

          Think about how many people you probably know that avoid flying because they hate airports and the security bullshit you have to put up with?

          From my own corporate experience, you make security so unfriendly and people will either circumve

        • by PitaBred (632671)
          He's probably from New England or something. One of my favorite aphorisms about England (and by extension, New England because everything is so close together): "In England, 200 miles is a long way. In the US, 200 years is a long time". It depends entirely on your perceptions. I had a friend from England out on vacation who wanted to see Four Corners, Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon. In a 3 day weekend. Go have fun with a map with that one ;)
          • Where are you starting and finishing? If you're coming from, say, Flagstaff, it's doable, in three days. Will you get tons of "quality time"? Maybe not. But you can certainly get a little more than the "Clark Griswold head bob" scenic view.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dave562 (969951)

      The LA Times has been on it much longer than CNN and Fox have.

      http://projects.latimes.com/mexico-drug-war/#/its-a-war [latimes.com]

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:41PM (#28018115)

    So, does anyone think the US is interested in, say, chinese or russian sattelite images of the US for this purpose?

    Anyway, I find it hard to believe that law enforcement is not following the letter of the law and saying "It's not on soil! It's in SPACE!"

    • So, does anyone think the US is interested in, say, chinese or russian sattelite images of the US for this purpose?

      Yes. But why bother with chinese or russian images, when they can just swap intel with the UK or other close allies?

      Anyway, I find it hard to believe that law enforcement is not following the letter of the law and saying "It's not on soil! It's in SPACE!"

      Well, I'm sure that competent lawyers could convince a judge that the spirit of the law would forbid this as well, even *if* the letter of th

  • query: (Score:3, Funny)

    by UncleTogie (1004853) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:44PM (#28018151) Homepage Journal

    Did we check to see that US military flights over another sovereign nation would be OK with them?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      Once you get above the magic 100 km marker, its all international space.

      Originally, when Sputnik flew over what might have been considered US airspace, the Eisenhower administration intelligently agreed that it was legal and valid... otherwise you couldn't have any kind of orbit that wasn't geostationary.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by UncleTogie (1004853)

        Originally, when Sputnik flew over what might have been considered US airspace, the Eisenhower administration intelligently agreed that it was legal and valid... otherwise you couldn't have any kind of orbit that wasn't geostationary.

        Ok, I'll bite... if it's international space, then why worry about posse comitatus in this case?

        • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

          Because we don't want to have our own military/intelligence services spying on US citizens on US soil?

          The satellites may very well be over the US when they're observing the border, the key is that the product is strictly restricted to images of areas outside of our borders unless strict court proceedings are followed... and continued development of commercial offerings make that less important.

          The real problem is that its a fuzzy area between law enforcement and national security. I think the strict adhere

  • Spy Satellite Photos Used To Fight Drug Smugglers. So what do they do now? Perhaps they fight. For the right. To parteeeeee!
  • While the spy satellites are indeed owned by the military, no military troops are being deployed to meet up with the smugglers. While I haven't exactly read the act lately, I thought it just prohibited the active deployment of troops... I was not under the impression it prohibited cooperation between the military and DoJ.

    The GPS system is owned by the military too, but nobody argues that the use of GPS isn't permissible because merely because it's owned by the DoD.

    SirWired

    • by pthisis (27352)

      While the spy satellites are indeed owned by the military, no military troops are being deployed to meet up with the smugglers. While I haven't exactly read the act lately, I thought it just prohibited the active deployment of troops... I was not under the impression it prohibited cooperation between the military and DoJ.

      The posse comitatus act prohibits military cooperation with law enforcement fairly broadly, but additional laws passed in 1981 give the effect you note when dealing with drug cases--the mil

  • Damn (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:02PM (#28018413)

    I knew we shouldn't have run the whole drug-smuggling operation on the roof.

    At least all of our communications were done inside, on the phone. Those should be safe.

  • Wait until Argus hits the skies.

  • Why waste these spy cameras on drug smuggling when we can catch dogs in the act of shitting on the path? Children can't play in some areas without stepping in dogshit it's time we had action on this. Why won't they think of the children.....and the parents who have to clean them afterwards. At least drugs can make you a little more chilled when scraping another round of dogshit from your soles.
  • by kmike (31752) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @12:05AM (#28021629)

    Interesting that while US is trying to do something about Mexican drug smuggling (probably because it borders with US), they turn the blind eye (or even worse) to the Afghanistan drug production, which floods the Europe with locally-produced opium. It is estimated that Afghanistan is accountable for more than 90% of world's opium production, and most of it goes to the Europe.

    It is also worth to note that before the US invasion of Afghanistan, Taliban was able to contain the problem - the drug production declined some 94% during its reign.
    But ever since the fall of Taliban regime, opium production has continued to rise each year at an alarming rate:

    "The increase in opium production in Afghanistan was from 185 metric tons in 2001 to 6,100 metric tons in 2006." http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/afghanistan/drugs-market.htm [globalsecurity.org]

    One has to wonder about the US involvement in this:
    "Who benefits from the Afghan Opium Trade?" http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=3294 [globalresearch.ca]

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