It was recently reported in the mainstream media that a minimum of 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly received radar devices which allow them to actually see through walls and into people's homes. What is even more disturbing than the recent reports is the fact that these devices have already been in deployment for the past three years, with very little mention in the courts or the media.
For the past few years, the government has spent at least $180,000 on devices that can search your home without a warrant. L-3 Communications, the company that makes the "Range-R" spy device, has estimated that they have sold about 200 radars to 50 different law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The devices were said to cost roughly $6,000 a piece.
According to the manufacturers brochure, the Range-r can detect even the slightest movements through walls, including the normal movement associated with breathing.
With an effective range of up to 50 feet, the system can “see” through walls, floors and ceilings constructed of reinforced concrete, cement block, wood, rick, adobe, glass and other common non-metallic construction materials.
The technology itself is not necessarily alarming, and does provide a potential benefit. However, it's the secretive nature of its use and the lack of transparency applied during its implementation that should cause apprehension.
The recent reports have obviously concerned anyone who cares about their privacy, and many civil rights organizations are asking for more information.
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"The idea that the government can send signals through the wall of your house to figure out what's inside is problematic. Technologies that allow the police to look inside of a home are among the intrusive tools that police have," Christopher Soghoian of the ACLU said in a statement.
The use of these devices were entirely secret until December, when they were brought up in a Denver court case involving the arrest of a man who was wanted for violating his parole. In his case and in many others, the scan of the home was conducted without a search warrant, effectively allowing officers to search for people in their homes without even going inside or obtaining court permission.
Even the judge presiding over that case seemed disturbed by the implications of the technology, saying to the court that "the government's warrant-less use of such a powerful tool to search inside homes poses grave Fourth Amendment questions."
As expected, the agencies who have been playing with these new toys insist that they are absolutely necessary to protect us from the "bad guys," and many in law enforcement are actually unhappy that the public even knows about this technology.
"If you disclose a technology or a method or a source, you're telling the bad guys along with everyone else," William Sorukas, a Representative of the US the Marshals Service told reporters.
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he is also the owner of a successful music promotion company. In 2013, he became one of the organizers of the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at bookpatch.com.