Advertisement

Drt-1301C installed on RC-26 surveillance plane.

Drt-1301C installed on RC-26 surveillance plane.

The Texas National Guard has used over $373,000 from drug related asset forfeitures on a state of the art air craft. The National Guard has purchased 2 Drt-1301C and installed them on a pair of RC-26 surveillance planes.

The Drt, affectionally referred to as the Dirt Box, is designed to mimic a cell phone tower. The Dirt Box has the ability to connect to 10,000 phones simultaneously and record conversations in real time.

“The Texas Observer” acquired documents that detail the capabilities and functions of these devices. All smart phones within a one third mile are tricked into connecting to it. Once connected, the operator has access to the users location, people called, texts and pictures.

Advertisement

This invasion can be done remotely and neither the victim or the cell phone provider will be aware of the attack. The planes are not commissioned for use against ordinary citizens.

Advertisement

The National Guard is planning on using these two air crafts for counter narcotics operations. The Department of Justice issued regulations in 2015 to permit this kind of surveillance with probable cause. The Texas National Guard is pushing the boundaries of the legal limits because the National Guard is a military force. They may not have the legal authority to use these devices for spying purposes.

Advertisement

Police forces across the nation use these devices from Los Angeles to Chicago. The United States Marshalls fly these Dirt Boxes on Cessna planes, which fly across the nation.

The predecessor technology to the Dirt Box is called the Stingray. Stingray’s have a long history of use with police departments in the United States. Powerful in their own right, a Stingray is a cardboard box juxtaposed to the Dirt Box.

Recently studies have shown that Stingrays are statistically used on low income, minority communities. In September 2017 a federal court has ruled that a warrant is required before one can be used.

The older Stingrays are not capable of capturing content. The DRT box will ensnare everything from everybody. Civil liberties advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, are issuing statements to comment on the constitutionality of these practices.

When asked, the National Guard refused to speak about the process in which a warrant was obtained prior to the use of the electronic eavesdropping devices. It is hard to imagine how different modern society would be today without the efforts of mass surveillance.

Advertisement

The majority of mass shooters in the United States over the past decade has been on an FBI watch list. Simply because someone is being watched doesn’t mean they are going to be prevented from carrying out an attack or trafficking.

For every person that slips through the cracks, it is nice to believe that our agencies apprehend four score that. Since the September 11 terrorist attack in 2001, and the passing of the Patriot Act, American citizens have come under extreme scrutiny.

The legality of such actions has been called into question in the past. Many intelligence agencies still undoubtedly use blanket surveillance to sweep a wide swatch of information with or without obtaining warrants.

What these agencies do with the information they collect seems to be the larger issue. Our tech companies and Silicon Valley already sell all the information they collect to third parties.

If our Intelligence Community begins to sell all their information to third parties or foreign entities, a revolution would ensue.  Trading privacy for security can only work when protections are set up for the people.

Privacy is a right that should not be forfeited lightly. Security is a privilege that we entrust entirely to our government. Where our personal security is outlined in the Second amendment, the right of privacy is adhered to in the Fourth Amendment.

"The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom." - Supreme Justice William O. Douglas

“The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom.” – Supreme Justice William O. Douglas

Justin William O. Douglas found that the right of privacy is outlined in the bill of rights. Protection from self-incrimination in the Fifth Amendment, and freedom of association listed in the First Amendment are a few the justice named.

Justice Arthur Goldberg proclaimed that privacy is a right of protection from government intrusion. The justice had listed the Ninth Amendment citing that the right of privacy was reserved for the people. Other Supreme Justices took note that privacy is protected under due process of the Fourteenth Amendment.