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Spy Satellite Photos Used To Fight Drug Smugglers 381

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

    Enough said.

  • 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?

  • Well (Score:2, Insightful)

    by moogied ( 1175879 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @05:40PM (#28018097)
    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 geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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 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 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 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?
  • what is needed? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by falconwolf ( 725481 ) <falconsoaring_20 ... oo.com minus cat> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:24PM (#28018765)

    Really, electronic fencing with video based surveillance is all you really need with camps every few miles or so.

    No, what's really needed is to get rid of stupid, liberty denying, racist laws.


  • by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw@ y a h o o . 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?

  • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:34PM (#28018891) Journal
    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 Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:56PM (#28019103) Homepage

    (I do think that there are some people who might feel like maybe the time they spent in prison was a bit unjust when they get out because the law was changed because it was decided that putting people in prison for the things they did was unjust; they might not be entirely satisfied with just getting out)

    And? No really, and?

    You realize almost no one is in prison for life without parole due to drugs... they're going to get out eventually, and regardless of whether the law has changed, they are probably going to see their incarceration as unjust.

    So what are you implying will happen? They'll riot through the streets until they get... whatever it is people who were unjustly imprisoned are supposed to get? Because surely ending right back in prison for justified reasons is what they'll be after. But hey let's say that whatever it is you're trying to say will happen is true. And this is why you don't want drug offenders released. So does this mean we can't ever release them?

    Oh and they'll need jobs, like everyone else who gets out of prison. So, we better keep them incarcerated?

    You really have to do a better job of explaining what these "considerable difficulties" you see are, because you're not making much sense.

  • 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?

  • by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:40PM (#28019691) Homepage

    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 am saying that a different drug should have a different legal attitude

    that the same policy on all drugs is illogical, simply because it ignores different effects of different drugs. most importantly: addiction. additionally: inebriation

    so, for example, nicotine is highly addictive, but it doesn't inebriate. so you can handle a job/ relationship: legal

    lsd is highly inebriating, but not addictive: legal

    alcohol, marijuana: weakly, moderately addictive/ inebriating

    but meth? heroin?: highly addictive, highly inebriating: illegal

    understand me now?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:58PM (#28019913)
    Yeah. Pass a law that creates the mechanism and funding to effectively enforce that law. There is a big difference between just saying something is illegal and actually stopping people from doing it. Personally, I do not think lawmakers should be passing laws that they have no intention of actually fully enforcing.
  • Re:Yeah right (Score:5, Insightful)

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

  • You Joke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geoffrobinson ( 109879 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:29PM (#28020203) Homepage

    But Mexico has/had soldiers on their southern border to prevent people from coming in.

    Plus they have draconian immigration laws relative to the USA.

    Their hypocrisy vis a vis their complaints about crackdowns on illegal immigration against their citizens is ignored.

  • illegal drugs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by falconwolf ( 725481 ) <falconsoaring_20 ... oo.com minus cat> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:18PM (#28020941)

    That said, yes, pot heads shouldn't be in jail. But... Get to drugs much harder than that and they should be. Harder, more addictive, drugs add to crime, and not just drug crimes. Hard drug users are a deeper social problem than the mere moral crime of marijuana use.

    Where is the evidence from peer reviewed scientific studies that shows drugs cause deep social problems? Oh and don't forget to include alcohol, I bet it causes a lot of problems.


  • by david_thornley ( 598059 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @09:42AM (#28024595)

    Employers like having a supply of illegal labor that they can, in effect, abuse. Until there is enough of a penalty for hiring illegals that it makes having easily exploitable labor not worth it, people will continue to hire illegals.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson