Baltimore: Shadowy aerial surveillance of recent riot areas reported

Baltimore: Shadowy aerial surveillance of recent riot areas reported

[Ed. – Raise your hand if you’re surprised.  Didn’t think so.  Emphasis added.]

Shayne’s [Tweet] helped unveil…a previously secret, multi-day campaign of overhead surveillance by city and federal authorities during a period of historic political protest and unrest. …

Discovery of the flights — which involved at least two airplanes and the assistance of the FBI — has prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to demand answers about the legal authority for the operations and the reach of the technology used. Planes armed with the latest surveillance systems can monitor larger areas than police helicopters and stay overhead longer, raising novel civil liberties issues that have so far gotten little scrutiny from courts. …

When Cimbolic saw Shayne’s query about the flights, he checked the aviation radar Web site and began tracking the first, smaller Cessna as it was still in the air.

It showed a continuous, circling path that appeared to have its center directly above the intersection of Pennsylvania and North avenues, where the most violent unrest was centered after Gray’s funeral on April 27. …

That plane was registered to NG Research in Bristow, near Manassas Regional Airport.  Searches of public records revealed little about the company, which could not be reached. …

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Cimbolic was beginning to worry that he had overreacted when he noticed, on the same flight-radar Web site, the second plane flying higher in the sky, carving bigger loops above West Baltimore. The Web site reported that this plane was a Cessna 560 Citation V, a small jet. But it showed no tail number, offering no possible trail to Federal Aviation Administration records. This only heightened his curiosity.

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