Thursday, February 16, 2012

How Badly Can Just One Corrupt Congressman Screw Up The Whole Nature Of The Nation? Let's Look At Buck McKeon And The Drone Industry


Buck McKeon is fighting for his political life-- and not just within the confines of the House Ethics Committee, where he stands accused of taking a massive bribe from Countrywide's predatory then-CEO Angelo Mozilo and delivering big-time for Countrywide in return. He may think-- or wish-- all his problems stem from a hacker, but it really looks like McKeon's career in congressional crime has completely caught up with him on several fronts at once. And if that weren't enough, Tea Party supporters in the Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and Antelope Valley area are freaking out over his sponsorship of the drone industry and a bill to allow 30,000 spy drones fly freely over the America sky, spying on U.S. citizens and threatening out liberty and our rights to privacy. He's lucky he doesn't have a primary challenger, although this stand alone is rapidly sinking his wife's attempt to defeat mainstream conservative Scott Wilk in a race for an open Assembly seat in the area. McKeon once bragged his name would win her the seat; now his name is the most toxic name in Santa Clarita politics.

With the L.A. Times now aroused as well, yesterday California investigative reporter Lee Fang exposed more of McKeon's drone perfidy. Thanks to a conservative onslaught in the House two weeks ago, the public can expect 30,000 domestic drones flying over the United States in the next eight years. This is a cataclysmic shift in the fabric of American life-- paid for by McKeon's campaign donors-- but never discussed by the American public. Did your congressman vote with McKeon for the drone takeover of America? You should take a look and make a mental note. Almost every Republican voted YES and all but 24 Democrats-- primarily members of the uber-corrupt, right-wing Blue Dogs and New Dems-- voted NO.

The dramatic change in policy, which has raised concerns with everyone from civil liberties groups like the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation to the pilot association and the Independent Institute, as well as conservative think tanks, occurred thanks to an aggressive and well-organized effort by drone makers and their lobbyists.

Yesterday, we reported how the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVS), a drone trade group, actually doubled its recent lobbying expenses. Today, we report on a PowerPoint presentation put together by top AUVS lobbyists Michael Toscano, Mario Mairena, and Ben Gielow. The 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. In the presentation obtained by Republic Report, there are several fascinating concerns raised by the lobbyists:

– Page 5: Drone lobbyists claimed access to airspace and “Global Conflict – particularly U.S. and allied nation involvement in future conflicts” will “either positively or negatively” influence “market growth” for the industry.

– 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 suggests 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 warn that they face concerns about “Civil Liberties.”

Enjoy the slide show (keep clicking)

McKeon is likely to lose his congressional seat in November to Democratic challenger Lee Rogers. And he's already reportedly in conversations with drone industry lobbyists for a whole new career on K Street. They take care of their own. And he very much is their own. [By the way, you can help Rogers replace McKeon in Congress at our Blue America ActBlue page.]

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At 5:25 PM, Anonymous me said...

Remember in 1984, the helicopters that flew everywhere, looking into peoples' windows to see whether they were committing crimes against the state? It seemed preposterous at the time.

George Orwell was a prophet.


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