Offices of two US Senators contradict statements of Special Operations Command
June 29, 2012
The U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), part of the Department of Defense, has denied operating surveillance drones in two different states, issuing statements that have been proven to be completely false.
Headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, USSOCOM is the Unified Combatant Command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Commands of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.
As reported by the open information advocacy group Public Intelligence:
Following our publication last week of a map of current and proposed Department of Defense drone activities within the U.S., several journalists with local publications around the country wrote articles regarding drone activities that were listed in their area. David Brooks of the Nashua Telegraph wrote about the listing of New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington as the site of a USSOCOM drone activity involving small unmanned aerial vehicles including the Raven and Wasp. Corey Pein of the Willamette Week wrote about a planned USSOCOM drone activity in Portland that was listed as utilizing the same types of drones.
The drone activity map was constructed using public U.S. Air Force presentations from 2010 and 2011 (image below). Portland, Oregon was listed as as a proposed drone site controlled by USSOCOM.
Public Intelligence notes that when the reporters contacted USSOCOM for clarification and further details, they were told that the information on the map was inaccurate and that USSOCOM does not operate drone bases in either area.
However, further investigation revealed that activities and exercises using surveillance drones in both areas were indeed carried out under the authority of USSOCOM in 2010 and 2009 respectively.
Furthermore, the use and storage of drones was confirmed by the offices of Senators in both states:
In New Hampshire, a local newspaper has now confirmed with the office of Senator Kelly Ayotte that in 2010, Navy Special Operations Forces utilized areas around Mt. Washington to conduct training operations using Wasp and Raven drones. David Brooks of the Nashua Telegraph was further able to confirm via Army Lt. Col. James Gregory that similar exercises were also conducted in 2009 using the same types of drones.
In Oregon, the Willamette Week was able to confirm with the office of Sen. Ron Wyden that drones are currently stored in Portland for several military units in the area.
“If the military wishes to counter controversy from the increasing integration of drones into domestic airspace, then it may help to not make statements to press that are inaccurate or disproved by publicly available congressional reports.” the group notes, adding that USSOCOM “denied or misrepresented” its involvement in domestic drone activities and actively sought to shut down any exchange of information on the matter.
A recently uncovered Air Force document raised alarms over military use of spy drones in US skies. The document outlines how to circumvents privacy laws and clears the way for the Pentagon to use drones to monitor the activities of Americans.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.