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Gov. Fallin and Steve McKeever’s Drone Questing Collaboration

fallin red queen

Kaye Beach

March 27, 2012

Interesting article published today by FastCompany;

Inside Oklahoma’s Quest To Dominate The American Drone Industry

How politicians, universities, and aerospace firms are teaming up to turn the Sooner State into America’s UAV capital.

. . .Oklahoma businesspeople, academics, and politicians are collaborating through an organization named USA-OK, which aims to make the heartland state the focal point of American UAV development. A quasi-affiliated group, the Governor’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Council (PDF), was formed via an executive order from Governor Mary Fallin in 2011. Both organizations are lobbying for commercial drone test sites in Oklahoma and increased government assistance [that means your tax dollars!] in luring more large military contractors to the state.

Stephen McKeever, Oklahoma’s Secretary of Science and Technology and a prominent figure in the state’s UAV industry, told Fast Company that Oklahoma is already home to approximately 15 companies servicing the UAV industry. . . According to McKeever, the state offers a variety of incentives and subsidies for aerospace companies of all sizes.

McKeever and Fallin are busy luring this industry to Oklahoma meanwhile Mckeever and Fallin killed HB 1556 which would have simply required law enforcement to get a warrant before engaging in targeted surveillance of individuals and prohibit weaponization of the drones.

. . .Last month, the FAA announced that they are seeking six domestic test sites for UAVs. Due to the obvious commercial possibilities in, say, selling small aircraft for $1,000 a pop to farmers and real estate agencies looking to do aerial monitoring on a budget, UAVs are potential huge business. Giants such as Boeing and hundreds of smaller companies see commercial UAV usage as a gold rush waiting to happen.

State authorities inside Oklahoma issued a strategic drone plan detailing ways to build up the local UAV industry. These plans center on bringing one of the domestic UAV test sites to Oklahoma, which already tests military UAVs. . .

The FastCompany article mentions the Oklahoma UAS [DRONE] Summit held this Tuesday in Norman, but like the media in general, provides little detail on the conference.  (No mention of ‘Pesky Critters’ at all.)

This week, a major UAV convention took place in Oklahoma as well. . . .The agenda includes discussions of UAV use by emergency first responders, the Homeland Security Department’s proposed domestic spy drones. . .

Drone manufacturers even have lobbyists. [You don’t say!]  . . .Michael Toscano, the organization’s president, advocates the integration of commercial drones into American airspace. Toscano, in an interview, stressed job creation possibilities if the FAA legalizes commercial drones.

AUVSI spent big dollars in lobbying on the FAA bill that expanded the use of drones in US airspace.  Their money was well spent too.

As a PowerPoint presentation recently obtained by Republic Report shows, the industry group all but wrote the legislation. “Our suggestions were often taken word-for-word,” it says. Read More

Mr. Toscano wasalso  right by Gov. Fallin’s and Stephen McKeever’s side on Jan 17th at a press conference held at the State Capitol in order to unveil the marvelous benefits of drone technology that is being cultivated with our tax dollars.

Interestingly, Toscano thinks that there is no need for addition privacy regulation.

Toscano says the drone industry thinks existing laws are sufficient: ”We believe that your Fourth  Amendment rights are protected.

Well that figures since legislation like Oklahoma’s HB 1556 might interfere with what Toscano sees as an open market.

Toscano. . .says there are nearly 19,000 law enforcement entities in the United States, of which only 300 now have aerial surveillance capacities.

“Those departments have helicopters which cost about $1,500 an hour to operate,” Toscano says. “You can fly these drones for maybe less than $50 hour. A lot of smaller departments can now afford this technology.” read more

Fallin_UAS_0

At the Jan. 17th press conference, McKeever said;

 “We fully recognize that reasonable people could have reasonable concerns and these must be dealt with that’s what our elected officials and government authorities are for.”

Fallin added that;

“We’re not interested in spying on anyone.”

Mary Fallin isn’t counting the little people.  Maybe she doesn’t consider what we would consider spying as spying.  Maybe she just thinks of as over sight.

Did you know that ‘OverSite’  is actually another great surveillance technology program  being promoted out of OSU’s Multispectral Laboratories and tested on unsuspecting Oklahomans at sporting events. 

‘To look at their RV parked at a game or concert, you’d never know that inside is all this technology and more’ link

umlThe Oklahoma State University Multispectral Laboratories (UML) is a public-private partnership “between the University and Anchor Dynamics Inc (ADI), which receives support from Ponca City Development Authority and ConocoPhillips, designed to accelerate commercialization of new technologies.”  http://www.okstate-uml.org/content/company-history

The UML acts as a “Trusted Agent” for U.S. Government, technology developers and operators.

Naturally, like the non-spying drones,  this is being done with a little boost from the non-spying Department of Homeland Security

The proof of concept demonstration was funded by the Department of Homeland Security. Link

OverSite incorporates facial recognition technology and a trick camera to spy on the crowd without them ever knowing a thing.  (but it’s not spying! It’s ‘OverSite’!) Read more 

And with all of the time, energy and money that has been spent, not one thing has been done to address the biggest concern of ordinary Oklahomans which is their privacy and safety.  It is the ordinary people of this state, after all,  who are paying for the ‘incentives’ being offered to court the drone industry here.

Little people, little problems.  We have our nightmares and they have their dreams. . .

Stephen McKeever, a transplanted Brit living in Oklahoma, dreams of turning his state into the capital for drones — the unmanned aircraft that, the Federal Aviation Administration predicts, will swarm the skies by the thousands within two decades. Read more

Drone Industry Bucks for Drone Caucus Members Including 3 Oklahoma Congressmen

Kaye Beach

July 11, 2012

(OK Rep. Frank Lucas is in OK D-3 not D-1 as originally shown.  Apologies for the error)

As you are probably aware, Oklahoma has been chosen as a site to test and fly drones for the Homeland Security Department’s program for Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (RAPS).  Of course there has been a lot of work done behind the scenes to get the drones moving in US airspace.  This has been an uphill battle waged for years by industry lobbyists and other drone aficionados. Last February Americans found out that it was ‘all systems go’ and we are now cringing at the thought of  some 30,000 drones being unleashed over our heads.

The information below reveals some of the money behind congressional drone industry advocacy but you should also know that the industry practically wrote the groundbreaking drone unleashing legislation as well.

– Page 6: The drone lobbyists take full credit for authoring the expansion of domestic drone use codified in the FAA authorization bill passed last week, noting “the only changes made to the UAS section of the House FAA bill were made at the request of AUVSI. Our suggestions were often taken word-for-word.”

Source-Drone trade group presentation document exclusively reported by Republic Report on Feb. 15, 2012

On a side note, one of the reasons I am fighting so hard against the collection of our biometric information is that no matter which type of surveillance tech really gets your dander up, whether it be CCTV, RFID, drones or simply the garden variety type of data mining and surveillance – biometrics enables these already too-close-for-comfort surveillance technologies to become unbearably personal and dangerously specific.  Biometrics is the glue by which all the other forms of technological scrutiny are married to our very selves.  My attorneys and I agree that our bodies are protected under our state Constitution and by state statute – the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act.  The lawsuit filed on my behalf addresses among other things the mandated collection of citizen’s biometrics when obtaining a state driver’s license.

The argument being made for Oklahoma’s active courting of this industry, of course, is an economic one which sure makes it tough to argue against, but I will predict that in the end it will not be everyday Oklahomans who will reap the benefits of this projected economic boon and they certainly won’t end up any more free with the evil mites buzzing overhead.

Now, have you ever  heard of the ‘Drone Caucus”?

As reported by KPBS on July 5, 2013;

SAN DIEGO — You’ve probably heard of the Congressional Black Caucus, or perhaps the Progressive Caucus. But what about the drone caucus? Officially, it’s the Unmanned Systems Caucus.

Primarily, the caucus advocates for drones — those pilot-less planes infamous for their role targeting insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They’re used as a spy tool in Iran, a drug-fighting tool in Mexico and an anti-smuggling tool along the U.S.-Mexico border.

. . .It’s definitely a powerful caucus,” said Alex Bronstein-Moffly, an analyst with First Street Research Group, a D.C.-based company that analyzes lobbying data.

. . .Many of the drone caucus members are well supported by the industry they endorse. According to Bronstein-Moffly’s data, the 58 drone caucus members received a total of $2.3 million in contributions from political action committees affiliated with drone manufacturers since 2011.

Read more The Drone Makers And Their Friends In Washington

The report details donations from the top five drone industry donors to just the border state members of the drone caucus but didn’t elaborate on donations received by other members of the drone caucus so I took a look at our Oklahoma Congressional Representatives who are acting as drone advocates as members of the Unmanned Systems Caucus.

Top five drone donors to the drone caucus

  1. Lockheed Martin
  2. Boeing
  3. Northrop Grumman Corp.
  4. General Atomics
  5. General Dynamics

Tom Cole  OK-4

Campaign Donations from top five drone donors 2011-12

Boeing 8,500

Lockheed Martin 6,500

General Atomics 2,000

**Raytheon 4,500 (Raytheon is also a big player in the drone industry)

**BAE Systems 3,500 (BAE Systems is also a big player in the drone industry)

**Honeywell 3,000 (Honeywell is also a big player in the drone industry)

**Mantech 3,000 (Mantech is another drone industry player)

**Alliant TechSystems (ATK)   1,500  (ATK is another drone industry player)

http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cid=N00025726&cycle=2012&type=I&newMem=N&recs=100

Dan Boren OK-2

Campaign Donations from top five drone donors 2011-12

Northrop Gumman 2,000

**Raytheon 3,500 (Raytheon is also a big player in the drone industry)

**Honeywell 3,000 (Honeywell is also a big player in the drone industry)

**Textron Inc. 2,000 (Textron Inc. is another drone industry player)

http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cid=N00026481&cycle=2012&type=I&newMem=N&recs=100

Frank Lucas OK-3

Campaign Donations from top five drone donors 2011-12

Lockheed Martin 4,000

http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cid=N00005559&cycle=2012&type=I&newMem=N&recs=100

This is just the merest scratching of the surface-there is probably much more money and perks being doled out.  Stay tuned.