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Drone Industry wrote the legislation governing domestic drone use

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More Tales of Our Bought Congress. But this time it's not just bought congress people; it's a whole Bought Law.

For a mere $280,000, spread across an unknown number of eager congressmen, the Drone Industry has bought a law allowing anyone in the United States, including cops, to buy and use ... drones.

As a result of this law, already signed, new drone sales are expected to reach 30,000 additional units in the next few years. (So, let's say a new drone costs $1 million; that means ... carry the three ... gosh, a whole lot of money.)

I'm going to name this the Drone Manufacturers CEO Bonus Act of 2012. (Reasons stated below; for the rubes, they're calling it an amendment in the FAA Reauthorization Act, but we know better.)

The Drone Industry has been caught bragging that it co-authored the amendment. Says a leaked industry slide presentation: "Our suggestions were often taken word-for-word."

Here's Lee Fong at the Republic Report, who is doing magnificent work on this continuing story. Fong reports (my emphasis and paragraphing):

[A] lobby group — which maintains an official partnership in Congress with Reps. Buck McKeon (R-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), and dozens of other lawmakers — was the driving force behind the domestic drone decision passed last week.
Fong offers selections from the lobbying group's presentation, eerily titled "Connecting the Unmanned Systems Community Across the Globe":
■ 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.

■ Pages 10-12: The drone industry eagerly anticipates that civil drone use, including use of drones for “suspect tracking” by law enforcement, will soon eclipse military use of drones.

Under a section called “Challenges facing UAS,” the lobbyists listed “Civil Liberties.”
I'm kind of a page 5 fan myself:
Globally, the unmanned systems market was estimated to be between $5.5 billion and $6 billion dollars in 2010[.]
And "factors that will influence market growth"? Well:
1. Access to Airspace
2. Expansion of civil/commercial UAS operations
3. Global Conflict–particularly U.S. and allied nation involvement in future conflicts
Oh good; global conflict.

This is not to shock you (I hope it doesn't). This is to impress you that Drone Industry CEOs have hired competent help.

After all, what better way to stuff your pockets than to use corporate money to buy a chump-change Congress ($280,000 is nothing compared to the profit on 30,000 military-style aircraft). Remember, the ROI on defense bribes is upwards of 100:1. And these lobbyists are pros; they deliver.

In case you haven't figured it out, here's the whole process from start to finish:

    ▪ CEO gives corporation's cash to lobbyist
    ▪ Lobbyist takes a nice cut, passes cash to Congress
    ▪ Congress pockets cash and passes law (in this case, to open the entire U.S. domestic market to lobbyist's product)
    ▪ Democratic president signs law
    ▪ Corporation books profits
    ▪ CEO loots corporation via compensation, stock, bonuses
    ▪ CEO & sixth wife buy seventh house in Tahiti
    ▪ Lobbyist & eighth wife join them for nine holes of golf

It's the old, old story.

And what do you get? You get to worry about everyone in the country watching your every move. Then you get to hear from the Democratic president how bad the Republicans are. Then, on April 15, you get to pay for the privilege of sending your tax dollars to Tahiti — since there's no conscience exemption for bribe-hating you.

If you're interested, the whole presentation is below (don't miss page 13, on regulation):

Did you also catch page 11, "Non-Military Applications"? I see all kinds of "pipe/power line surveillance" possibilities (insert Keystone-"terrorist" wisecrack here).

And this is kind of cute (page 8): Define "small unmanned aircraft as weighing less than 55 pounds". Can you imagine the market for Apple iDrones? Those Chinese children will be ever so pleased.

There's much more on the pesky civil liberties "challenge" from Digby, who tipped me to this story.

(Money-plane image via Shutterstock.)


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