WASHINGTON – The disturbances in Baltimore last week never reached the intensity of those in London in 2011 nor of those in Paris in 2005, but the deployment of military assets, including spying devices adapted from theaters of war, were a preview of tactics for dealing with future protests.
Soon after Baltimore was plunged in turmoil following the death of a young black man at the hands of the police and thousands of members of the military National Guard were deployed in the streets, the authorities launched more secretive methods of control.
At least two surveillance aircraft equipped with the latest espionage technology flew stealthily over the city and always under the cover of night.
One of them, a propeller-driven Cessna, was registered in the name of NG Research, a company almost impossible to track, and another, a jet, did not even show its identification number on the Web sites that compile public radar information.
When the new U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was asked Friday about these flights, the official in charge of federal police agencies, including the FBI, cleverly dodged the question.
“I think that - someone came to me and said something about, you know, ‘Were you flying drones over Baltimore?’ And I thought, I don’t really have any drones,” Lynch said, as if she had only been asked about unmanned aircraft.
According to an investigation by cybernauts and studied more in depth by the Washington Post, at least one light plane and another larger one, both with flight crews, flew in circles over Baltimore for several nights.
The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, has officially requested information about these high-tech surveillance tactics, operated with the utmost secrecy and about which both the use they are put to and their justification remain unknown to the public.
In a statement to Efe, Nathan Wessler, an ACLU attorney and privacy expert, said it is feared that these techniques, more than helping to fight crime, “are deterrents to the right to protest” by making it clear that “Big Brother is watching you.”