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COVID Vaccine Mandate for Pilots Violates Federal Law, Puts Passengers at Risk, Citizen Group Warns

By Michael Nevradakis, Ph.D. | The Defender | April 18, 2022

The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) COVID-19 vaccine mandate for pilots violates federal regulations and places pilots and passengers at risk, according to a letter from the California-based Advocates for Citizens’ Rights.

The letter, only recently made public, was hand-delivered in December 2021 to then-director of the FAA, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and CEOs and legal counsel of major U.S. air carriers (American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines).

It includes data showing pilots across the aviation industry — including commercial, military and general aviation pilots — face increased health risks from the vaccines due to the unique nature of their profession.

The letter also states that a significant number of vaccine injuries and adverse effects involving pilots have been recorded, and in some instances have forced pilots to stop flying.

The letter claims:

  • Federal regulations that prohibit pilots who have received non-FDA-approved medical products, such as COVID vaccines, from flying are being violated.
  • Vaccinated pilots potentially are flying with abnormal health conditions that may be exacerbated by flying at high altitudes. These include heart damage and blood clotting, which could lead to stroke or cardiac arrest.
  • Some pilots have suffered death and serious injury following COVID vaccination.
  • The federal government is aware of the issues associated with the vaccines, based on complaints filed with government agencies.
  • The health risks to pilots from the vaccines may lead to a catastrophic event such as a plane crash, with multiple fatalities and significant legal and monetary liabilities for the government, insurers and airlines.

The letter was co-signed by a series of prominent figures, including:

In an interview with The Defender, Advocates for Citizens’ Rights attorney Leigh Taylor Dundas, lead signatory of the letter, said products authorized under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) are not fully approved by the FDA, and under EUA rules cannot be mandated.

“Our government has a long history, even with approvals and releases of products … of getting it wrong,” Dundas said. “Witness thalidomideDDT, all sorts of things like that.”

“As a former environmental attorney and now staunch defender of basic human rights and civil liberties … I get contacted a fair amount by concerned individuals from all walks of life,” Dundas said.

“I was aware from things I had been hearing at conferences … that the inoculation was presenting severe and sometimes fatal issues to those who took it.”

Dundas said:

“I became aware that certain military personnel who were high-ranking surgeons within the U.S. armed forces were not just anecdotally becoming aware that pilots were having severe incidents of injury, but also that statistically that was being borne out by way of the database.

“At the same time, I was becoming aware of similar incidents in the civilian pilot population. So the combination of the two made me sort of pull the string and try to determine if not only was the vaccination causing an increase generally of disease and fatalities among those who took it, but if perhaps [these adverse reactions were] due to the unique combination of pilots being at altitude for long periods of time.”

Dundas said it appeared from the anecdotal, subjective data she was hearing and raw statistical data coming out of the DOD databases that these military doctors had access to — that the pilots were uniquely likely to be suffering ill effects from the vaccines.

Significant health risks for pilots

The letter, along with the accompanying documentation, references numerous instances of adverse reactions sustained by pilots and other health risks they face as a result of the COVID vaccines.

The letter quotes flight surgeon and aerospace medicine specialist Dr. Theresa Long and cardiologist Dr. Peter McCullough, a cardiology consultant for the FAA.

Long and McCullough, who signed the letter, said:

  • “The risk of ‘post-vaccination myocarditis [is] not trivial.’
  • “The ‘aviation population is comprised of individuals with demographics that the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] and FDA established (on June 25, 2021) was at greatest risk for developing post-vaccination induced myocarditis.’”

Cody Flint, also a signatory of the letter, described his experience. Flint, based in Cleveland, Mississippi, is an agricultural pilot with 10,000 hours of flight time. He testified at a Nov. 2, 2021 U.S. Senate hearing on COVID vaccine injuries about the adverse effects he sustained.

Portions of Flint’s testimony were quoted in the letter, including:

“I have been very healthy my whole life, with no underlying conditions.

“I received my first dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine on Feb. 1 [2021]. Within 30 minutes, I developed a severe stabbing headache, which later became a burning sensation in the back of my neck.

“Two days after vaccination, I got in my airplane to do a job that would only take a few hours. Immediately after taking off, I knew that something was not right with me. I was starting to develop tunnel vision, and my headache was getting worse.

“Approximately two hours into flying, I pulled my airplane up to turn around and felt an extreme burst of pressure in my ears. Instantly, I was nearly blacked out, dizzy, disoriented, nauseous and shaking uncontrollably. By the grace of God, I was able to land my plane without incident – although I do not remember doing this.

“My initial diagnosis of vertigo and severe panic attacks – although I’ve never had a history of either of these – was later replaced with left and right peri-lymphatic fistulas, Eustachian tube dysfunction and elevated intracranial pressure due to brain swelling.

“My condition continued to decline, and my doctors told me that only an adverse reaction to the vaccine or a major head trauma could have caused this much spontaneous damage.

“I’ve had six spinal taps over eight months to monitor my intracranial pressure, and two surgeries, eight weeks apart, to repair the fistulas. I have missed nearly an entire year of my life … I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fly again.

“… the FDA, CDC, and NIH [National Institutes of Health] refuse to acknowledge that real lives are being absolutely destroyed by this vaccine.”

The letter also refers to the case of American Airlines pilot Wilburn Wolfe, who suffered a major seizure following his COVID vaccination. Wolfe died, though not while he was on duty.

It also cites the case of a Canadian flight in December 2021 that was forced to divert back to the airport shortly after takeoff because the pilot, who was recently vaccinated, passed out.

In other testimony from the November 2021 Senate proceedings, Long said the U.S. military was aware of the risks to its pilots, but chose to proceed with its vaccine mandate for service members.

Long said:

“Last May [2021], I attended the Senior Preventative Leadership Program for the Army. When we were given an opportunity to ask the senior leaders questions, I simply asked: ‘So we skipped two years of Phase 2 trials, and three years of Phase 3 trials? We only lost 12 active-duty soldiers to COVID — yet we’re going to risk the health of the entire fighting force, on a vaccine we only had two months of safety data on?’

“The response was: ‘You’re damn right, Colonel. And you’re going to get every soldier you can to take the vaccine so I can get enough data points to determine if the vaccine is safe.’”

Long said numerous soldiers told her about “threats and intimidation” they faced to get the vaccines that were still under the EUA. She said the Army Public Health Command was “not tracking, tracing or monitoring adverse events.”

Additional testimony from Long, cited in the letter, concerned military pilots she treated for vaccine injuries:

“I saw five patients in clinic, two of which presented with chest pain, days to weeks after vaccination, and were subsequently diagnosed with pericarditis …

“The third pilot had been vaccinated and felt like he was drunk, chronically fatigued within 24 hours after vaccination, [stating] he drank a lot of coffee to ‘try and wake himself up’, and continued to fly, until he realized the problem wasn’t going away.

“After I reported to my command my concerns that — in one morning — I’d had to ground 3 out of 3 pilots due to vaccine injuries, the next day my patients were canceled, my charts were pulled for review and I was told that I would not be seeing acute patients anymore, just healthy pilots there for their flight physical.”

The letter referenced 10 reports from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) involving pilots who sustained severe injuries and side effects following the COVID vaccine. According to the letter, these 10 examples are a mere sample of the total number of injuries reported by pilots.

These injuries and symptoms included:

  • Heart attacks
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Pericarditis
  • Brain swelling
  • Elevated intracranial pressure affecting the spinal cord and brain stem
  • Sub-arachnoid hemorrhages (brain bleeding)
  • Blindness

Statements from the VAERS reports include descriptions of vaccine injuries reported by pilots.

One report (VAERS ID: 1026783-1) stated:

“The physician determined … I had an allergic reaction to the Pfizer COVID vaccine [that] severely increased the pressure in my spinal cord and brain stem. That pressure causes my vision problems and ultimately ruptured my left inner ear, breaking off several crystals in the process. I cannot fly with this condition.”

Another pilot stated (VAERS ID: 1743012-1):

“Symptoms began almost immediately [post-vaccination] as constant dizziness, body aches, overall weakness. Two months later I woke up with chest pain and difficulty breathing … I was diagnosed with inflammation of the heart cavity and pulmonary arteries … I was later diagnosed with vasculitis, specifically aortitis.

“I was completely healthy prior to the vaccination and there is not a single member of my family with any of the listed conditions … [I am] awaiting a medical evaluation … to determine if I’m allowed to remain on flying status and in the military.”

Another report (VAERS ID: 1768479-1) submitted by a pilot described the following:

“[The] morning following injection, I experienced extreme dizziness and brain discomfort. Dizziness was bad enough to make walking difficult and even created motion sickness … heights of about 10 feet give bad vertigo.

“I am a pilot and aircraft mechanic and this creates an issue working on jets … brain fog is also long-lasting still [sic] and makes mental clarity difficult, which was never an issue until the day after the shot.

“My heart has created irregular heart rhythms, I have physical stress and tire easily and my muscles will shake and twitch after minimal effort … my cognitive skills seem to have diminished from the lasting brain fog.”

Another pilot reported (VAERS ID: 1358033-1): “2 days after second shot, blood clot in left arm. Hit while walking in my home. Could not lift my arm. 5 days later heart attack. Pilot with EKG yearly. Last EKG less than one month from [sic] my heart attack on April 29, 2021.”

And one pilot reported (VAERS ID: 1376453-1): “Severe vertigo experienced for four days and counting … as a professional helicopter pilot, I cannot perform my job with these symptoms.”

In one report (VAERS ID: 1702509-1), submitted by a doctor, a pilot who was also a triathlete experienced pericarditis, chest pressure and irregular heartbeat after vaccination, with pain that “radiated to [the] jaw and neck,” “pressure in the chest” and difficulty walking, despite no prior heart problems.

Another report (VAERS ID: 1245452-1) submitted by a doctor described how a 37-year-old pilot who received the Moderna vaccine, and who had no prior medical history of heart conditions, sustained atrial fibrillation and a decrease in thyroid hormones, leading to him being kept off duty.

In one case (VAERS ID: 1388581-1), a doctor who is also a commercial airline pilot reported “subarachnoid hemorrhage” and “associated nausea, vomiting and photophobia.” According to the VAERS report, the doctor “remains off work pending FAA evaluation.”

This sampling of reports from VAERS is likely only the tip of the iceberg, according to Dundas, who said:

“It’s known that there’s a 1% reporting rate to VAERS, that there’s 99% underreporting. So if you looked at what was already in there, within a few months of this [vaccine] being rolled out and mandated to the pilots, you rapidly did the math … and realized that we are absolutely destroying the health of our pilots.”

The military’s own database, Defense Medical Epidemiological Database, found similar instances of injuries, Dundas said:

“When you looked at the data that these high-ranking U.S. military doctors were seeing, what you rapidly realized is that in all of the years prior to 2021, for the five years preceding that point in time, the total cumulative number of incidents of disease and injury in this database were 1.7 million every single year.

“Then, in January 2021, the U.S. military decided to essentially mandate that their service members take the vaccine, and it was fortuitous that they did it in January; [this] made for a very clean cut in terms of analyzing the data set.

“Within the first nine months [of 2021], the total number of incidents of disease and injury in the U.S. armed forces jumped from a very stable baseline of 1.7 million per year … to almost 22 million … and the year wasn’t even over. That was just the first three quarters of 2021.

“[These were] injuries where military pilots were walking off of flight vehicles, clutching their chests, complaining of chest pain. The military refused to take that seriously and ordered the doctors who would normally be sending these soldiers for cardiac MRIs and EKGs to basically write it off as anxiety or some such [condition].”

Josh Yoder, a pilot with a major commercial airline, Army combat veteran and former flight medic, co-founded the U.S. Freedom Flyers (USFF), an organization opposing vaccine mandates for pilots.

In an interview with The Defender, Yoder said vaccine injuries among airline crews are “extremely common” and are being “actively covered up” by airline companies and the FAA.

Yoder told The Defender :

“U.S. Freedom Flyers receives almost daily communication from airline pilots who are flying with symptoms such as chest pain and neurological conditions post-vaccination. Most of them are afraid to come forward and seek medical attention for fear of losing their flight medicals.

“USFF has documented cases of blood clots, strokes, cardiac arrest, unconsciousness and sudden death among airline professionals which have been medically linked to the COVID-19 vaccinations.”

FAA ‘betting the farm’ a major catastrophe won’t occur

Dundas told The Defender the FAA is aware of these risks associated with the vaccines but is sweeping the problem under the rug.

She said the agency may be hoping “redundancy” in the cockpits of commercial airliners — meaning that two pilots are jointly in charge of flying the aircraft — will be enough to stave off a potential disaster.

“Where that analysis breaks down is during takeoff or landing,” Dundas said, “because during takeoff and landing, you’re not on autopilot. You’ve got both pilots fully engaged, but one of the pilots actively has his hands on the joystick and the controls.”

She added:

“If you’re 300 feet or 1,000 feet above, coming in for a landing … you’ve now got a massive gross muscle unit seizure as [the pilot’s] hand is on the yoke, that’s going to dip a wing and you’re going to have an entire plane full of people cartwheeling down the runway … probably with a mass fatality event at the end of the line.

“Even if you’re betting the farm, as I believe the FAA right now is, because they don’t have a choice, the water is already under the bridge on pilot redundancy. All it takes is bad timing for one of these events to occur on takeoff or landing. And you’ve got an unrecoverable airplane, [a] fatal crash, which the Department of Justice frowns upon.”

Yoder, also addressing this risk, said:

“Pilot redundancy is a critical component to aviation safety. The topic of adverse vaccine reaction and pilot redundancy is a complex one that requires in-depth analysis which the FAA has never studied.

“Critical phases of flight such as take-off or landing pose the greatest risk to passengers, should that be the moment a pilot experiences known side effects of these inoculations, such as blood clots, stroke, cardiac arrest or sudden death, which could lead to an unrecoverable event.”

FAA, airline industry violating federal regulations

In addition to numerous documented instances of pilots sustaining significant injuries and side effects — or even dying — as a result of the COVID vaccines, the letter also indicates the vaccination itself, let alone the vaccine mandates, may be in violation of federal regulations.

Specifically, the letter accuses the FAA, and the aviation industry, of:

“ … putting both pilots and the general public at risk of death and/or serious injury by operating in contravention of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, §61.53, and related guidance which together operate to disallow medical clearance of pilots who have injected or ingested non-FDA approved products — like the COVID-19 inoculation.”

The letter goes on to clarify this clause in the federal regulations prohibits aviation medical examiners from issuing medical clearances to pilots who use non-approved medical treatments, such as those that are being administered under an EUA instead of full FDA approval, and new medications fully approved by the FDA less than 12 months prior, stating that the FDA:

“ … generally requires at least one year of post-marketing experience with a new drug before consideration for aeromedical certification purposes.

“This observation period allows time for uncommon, but aeromedically significant, adverse effects to manifest themselves…”

The letter further quotes the federal regulations as stipulating:

“[N]o person who holds a medical certificate issued under part 67 of this chapter may act as pilot in command, or in any other capacity as a required pilot flight crewmember, while that person … [is] receiving treatment for a medical condition that results in the person being unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation.”

As stated in the letter:

“[P]ut simply, any pilot flying right now who has been vaccinated in the United States has almost certainly NOT [emphasis original] received an FDA-approved vaccine …

“And even were such pilots to have received an FDA-approved vaccine, under relevant federal regulations, the pilots should still not be flying for 12 more months …

“The reason for this cannot be overstated: history and common sense evince that significant time must elapse post-FDA approval to ensure that new medical products do not end up causing adverse effects (as did Thalidomide and glyphosate).

“This is particularly true when the individuals who are receiving such new, experimental medical products are spending significant amounts of time at high altitude, and are in control of large vehicles carrying hundreds of other passengers, who could all die or be severely injured should the operator suffer an adverse health event.”

As previously reported by The Defender, and as outlined in the letter, none of the COVID vaccines currently available and being administered in the U.S. have received full FDA approval.

“We’ve got the FAA, a federal regulatory body, that is charged with protecting the safety of the flying public, as well as pilot safety, ignoring their own rule and the guidance on it,” Dundas said.

“Here, we’ve got an inoculation that is wholly unapproved, at least in the U.S., and yet we’ve got major carriers … who are not just ignoring this rule, but mandating their pilots to take this. And we’re seeing hellacious, horrifying results,” she added.

Dundas said the letter clearly warns the government and airlines of the legal and financial liabilities they would face should an airline disaster occur that is traced back to an adverse vaccine-related event suffered by a pilot — especially as it would be on the record that these entities have been made aware of such a risk.

As legal precedent, she cited a $2.5 billion fine levied by the DOJ in January 2021 against Boeing for “fraud conspiracy” involving safety issues with the 737 Max airplane, stemming from Boeing’s concealment from regulators of potential safety issues involving that model of aircraft.

The settlement included payments to the families of passengers who were killed in crashes involving the 737 Max.

Dundas likened the vaccine injury data involving pilots to the internal 1977 Ford Motor Company “smoking gun” memo that revealed the company was aware of safety issues with the Pinto model of automobiles but considered it more cost-effective to pay off future victims than to issue a recall and rectify the problem.

“Essentially what I was doing with the way I crafted the letter was … I was putting all the players in the industry, the regulator, the airline companies and the insurers for the companies, on notice that you probably have a problem here based on the numbers [of adverse vaccine events affecting pilots] that we are seeing,” Dundas said.

The letter provides an estimate of the likely amount of compensation that would result from a hypothetical accident if it could be traced back to an issue the airlines and regulators were aware of: $2 million to $3 million per person.

This amount, according to Dundas, would be “separate from punitive [actions], from fines assessed by the DOJ.”

Did letter cause FAA director to resign?

In February, then-FAA director Steve Dickson suddenly announced his resignation, effective March 2022, claiming it was “time to go home” to his family.

Dickson, however, had previously faced controversy. For instance, during his confirmation as FAA director, allegations arose that during his previous tenure overseeing the pilots of Delta Air Lines, a Delta pilot was grounded in 2016 after she raised concerns regarding the airline’s approach to managing safety risk.

According to Yoder, the real reasons for his resignation may have had less to do with a desire to spend more time with his family and more to do with the hand-delivered letter he received in December 2021.

“Dickson’s resignation came on the heels of the tremendous pressure being applied to the agency via Leigh Dundas’ FAA letter, along with back-channel communication and media attention from [the] U.S. Freedom Flyers,” Yoder said.

Dickson’s promotion of unapproved experimental vaccines for pilots, which violates the FAA’s own guidance, caused a dangerous situation for not only pilots but also the flying public, Yoder said.

“Documented cases of pilots experiencing severe adverse reactions in flight accrue daily, thanks to an inept response from the FAA,” he said. “Internal reports from FAA employees reveal a scandal-ridden agency which needs to be destroyed and rebuilt from the ground up.”

“The FAA’s primary charter is safety and they have failed miserably by approving experimental vaccines for pilots with zero long-term safety studies.”

According to Yoder, the FAA, even following Dickson’s resignation, does not appear to have taken concrete actions in response to the letter.

“Rather than being proactive, the FAA and the airlines have chosen to ignore a prominent passenger safety issue,” Yoder said.

“Historically, it’s taken a fatal crash or series of near misses to execute change within the agency. Fundamental change to safety policy within the FAA is typically written in blood,” he said.

According to Dundas, a recent spate of widespread flight cancellations and protracted delays in late 2021 and up to the present — frequently blamed by airlines on such factors as poor weather — are in fact connected to pilot action in relation to the vaccine mandates, for two reasons: opposition to the mandates, and an abundance of caution by pilots who call in sick at the first sign of any symptoms of illness:

“I think it’s twofold, and I think you’re seeing two things and they’re very logical,” Dundas said, noting that pilots, along with certain other transportation employees, are technically not allowed to go on strike without first exhausting their collective bargaining remedies. That’s the federal law that’s been in existence for decades.

“But this is a cat of a different color,” Dundas said. “You are mandating, against other federal law … an inoculation that you’re not allowed to mandate, and it’s likely unconstitutional.”

“So you have a lot of sectors in transportation that are really not happy saying get the jab, get the jab or your job is going goodbye,” she said.

Dundas added:

“What you saw … were segments of these transportation sectors saying, ‘you know what, we operate heavy machinery and we are required as well by rule and law in many cases to not operate these large pieces of equipment if we are remotely under the weather.’

“So, I think you saw a convergence of two variables. I think you saw pilots who were unhappy at being made to work in unsafe working conditions … in conjunction with a pilot population that was getting now not just the first shot, but the second shot and/or the third shot and a cumulative consequence and concatenation of adverse health events.

“[T]hey [the pilots] are, in many cases, highly educated, caring human beings, [who] wake up in the morning and go, ‘You know what, I’m not 100%, I’m not fit to fly, I’m going to call out sick because I don’t want to take other people down with me if I’m about to have a stroke.’”

Dundas said a recent flight of hers from Salt Lake City was delayed for almost a full day following an adverse event affecting one of the flight attendants scheduled to work on that flight.

Dundas also cited conversations with pilots who told her “they wanted no part of the mandate.”

According to Dundas, the reasons for their opposition were described in the following terms:

“[W]e see our colleagues dying and or stroking out or having cardiovascular events that they are not recovering from.

“And so, we quit rather than sacrifice our health or possibly our lives. And now we’re flying charters [private aviation] where [COVID vaccination] is not a mandate, it’s not required.”

Letter calls on FAA, airlines to take immediate action

The letter from Advocates for Citizens’ Rights calls for immediate action by federal authorities and air carriers, including:

  • Medically flagging all vaccinated pilots.
  • Adaptation, on the part of the FAA, of a screening program requiring all vaccinated pilots to undergo medical recertification, including D-Dimer, Troponin, and EKG tests, as well as cardiac MRIs, with medical clearance issued to vaccinated pilots only if they present “a clean bill of health on ALL [emphasis added] tests.”
  • Medically decertifying and grounding any pilot who fails one or more of the aforementioned tests, or who otherwise displays symptoms of possible blood clotting issues or myocarditis; re-testing these pilots at six-week intervals until they return to a medically acceptable condition.
  • Allowing commercial aircraft to be operated only by pilots who can show a clean medical examination undertaken a minimum of five days after each COVID vaccination and booster shot, stating that “the current FAA wait time of two (2) days is insufficient to detect a significant number of blood clotting and myocarditis cases (which are manifesting more than 47 hours post-inoculation).”
  • Immediate investigation, on the part of the FAA, of all commercial air carriers and all insurance companies providing coverage to commercial airlines, regarding the application of federal do-not-fly regulations.
  • Creation, by the FAA, of “a database to track pilot adverse events in a manner similar to VAERS,” stating the likelihood that “medical adverse events post-vaccination in pilot populations are occurring at greater rates than have been tracked or monitored in either civilian or military populations …”

“[A]ny in-house counsel, any CEO, any insurance company number-cruncher, any airline regulator who reads this [letter] is going to be nothing if not clear about the fact that … there is a problem brewing,” Dundas said.

“Right now, they have completely abandoned their duty to both the pilot population and the American flying population by allowing carriers to mandate a non-FDA-approved medical intervention, in violation of their own regulations and guidance,” she added.

Yoder expressed his unease with the current level of safety of air travel as a result of the vaccine mandate for pilots, stating that passengers are taking a risk by flying.

“Every time a passenger flies with a fully vaccinated crew, they are accepting a predictable risk that their pilots have been injected with an inoculation which has known side effects of blood clots, strokes, myocarditis, all of which can lead to cardiac arrest, incapacitation and sudden death,” he said.

Michael Nevradakis, Ph.D., is an independent journalist and researcher based in Athens, Greece.

April 19, 2022 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 1 Comment

The Criminal Prosecution of Boeing Executives Should Begin

Mish Talk | September 18, 2020

Damning details of purposeful malfeasance by Boeing executives emerged in a Congressional investigation.

FAA, Boeing Blasted Over 737 MAX Failures

On Wednesday, the Transportation Committee Blasted FAA, Boeing Over 737 MAX Failures

The 238-page document, written by the majority staff of the House Transportation Committee, calls into question whether the plane maker or the Federal Aviation Administration has fully incorporated essential safety lessons, despite a global grounding of the MAX fleet since March 2019.

After an 18-month investigation, the report, released Wednesday, concludes that Boeing’s travails stemmed partly from a reluctance to admit mistakes and “point to a company culture that is in serious need of a safety reset.”

The report provides more specifics, in sometimes-blistering language, backing up preliminary findings the panel’s Democrats released six months ago, which laid out a pattern of mistakes and missed opportunities to correct them.

In one section, the Democrats’ report faults Boeing for what it calls “inconceivable and inexcusable” actions to withhold crucial information from airlines about one cockpit-warning system, related to but not part of MCAS, that didn’t operate as required on 80% of MAX jets. Other portions highlight instances when Boeing officials, acting in their capacity as designated FAA representatives, part of a widely used system of delegating oversight authority to company employees, failed to alert agency managers about various safety matters.

Boeing Purposely Hid Design Flaws

The Financial Times has an even more damning take in its report Boeing Hid Design Flaws in Max Jets from Pilots and Regulators.

Boeing concealed from regulators internal test data showing that if a pilot took longer than 10 seconds to recognise that the system had kicked in erroneously, the consequences would be “catastrophic”.

The report also detailed how an alert, which would have warned pilots of a potential problem with one of their anti-stall sensors, was not working on the vast majority of the Max fleet. It found that the company deliberately concealed this fact from both pilots and regulators as it continued to roll out the new aircraft around the world.

In Bed With the Regulators

Boeing’s defense is the FAA signed off on the reviews.

Lovely. Boeing coerced or bribed the FAA to sign off on the reviews now tries to hide behind the FAA.

 Only One Way to Stop This

There is only one way to stop executive criminals like those at Boeing.

Charge them with manslaughter, convict them, send them to prison for life, then take all of their stock and options and hand the money out for restitution.

September 20, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | 1 Comment

After Bragging about Using Surveillance Law to Catch Terrorists, Government Balks at Proving it in Court

By Matt Bewig | AllGov | June 24, 2013

Even as the Obama administration continues its aggressive defense of the PRISM domestic spying program, with defense and intelligence officials claiming that it foiled as many as 50 terror plots, the Justice Department continues to play coy, as though PRISM did not exist.

This disconnect likely arises from the fact that government surveillance often turns out to be a two-edged sword when prosecutors bring criminal charges against alleged wrongdoers. Implementing the constitutional right of “due process under law,” state and federal laws require prosecutors to share all relevant information with defendants, which their attorneys use to identify exculpatory facts and witnesses and develop legal defenses.

In the case of teenage terror defendant Adel Daoud, attorneys alleged in papers filed last week in federal court that the government has not lived up to its obligations. Daoud, an American citizen, was arrested and charged in September 2012 with plotting to blow up a downtown Chicago bar.

Three months later, during a debate on the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which the Obama administration claims as the legal basis of its PRISM domestic spying program, a key Senator claimed that the FAA had helped investigators catch Daoud. Specifically, on December 27, 2012, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-California), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, stated that the FAA had helped thwart “a plot to bomb a downtown Chicago bar” that fall.

If that is true, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure would require the government to share the results of the surveillance that led investigators to Daoud, yet prosecutors refuse even to confirm or deny the substance of Feinstein’s comments. Daoud’s attorney, former federal prosecutor Thomas A. Durkin, argues that the government manipulates “a Global War on Terror playbook” to its advantage and then refuses to disclose it.

“Whenever it is good for the government to brag about its success, it speaks loudly and publicly. When a criminal defendant’s constitutional rights are at stake, however, it quickly and unequivocally clams up under the guise of State Secrets,” wrote Durkin in a court filing demanding the government confirm or deny the use of the surveillance.

“Whether the government relied on FAA surveillance when it obtained its FISA order is a crucial element of giving adequate notice to criminal defendants. The government should be compelled to provide a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to the question of whether its evidence was obtained or derived from electronic surveillance conducted under the FAA,” the motion explains.

To Learn More:

Chicago Federal Court Case Raises Questions about NSA Surveillance (by Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post)

Teen Terror Suspect Says Feds must Admit Spying on Him, Americans (by Chuck Goudie, abc7 Chicago)

June 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , | 1 Comment

Supreme Court Dismisses Challenge to FISA Amendments Act; EFF’s Lawsuit Over NSA Warrantless Wiretapping Remains

By Cindy Cohn and Trevor Timm | EFF | February 27, 2013

Yesterday, the Supreme Court sadly dismissed the ACLU’s case, Clapper v. Amnesty International, which challenged the FISA Amendments Act (FAA)—the unconstitutional law that allows the government to wiretap Americans communcating with people overseas. Under the FAA, the government can conduct this surveillance without naming individuals and without a traditional probable cause warrant, as the Fourth Amendment requires.

The court didn’t address the constitutionality of the FAA itself, but instead ruled that the plaintiffs—a group of lawyers, journalists, and human rights advocates who regularly communicate with likely “targets” of FAA wiretapping—couldn’t prove the surveillance was “certainly impending,” so therefore didn’t have the “standing” necessary to sue. In other words, since the Americans did not have definitive proof that they were being surveilled under the FAA—a fact the government nearly always keeps secret—they cannot challenge the constitutionality of the statute.

EFF’s Warrantless Wiretapping Case, Jewel v. NSA, Is Not Affected by Clapper

It’s shameful that the courts again have cut off another avenue for accountability regarding the NSA’s warrantless and unconstitutional surveillance activities. But as disappointing as the Clapper decision is, the good news is the decision likely won’t adversely affect our Jewel v. NSA lawsuit, which we argued in district court in December of 2012. Indeed, the Clapper decision makes the Jewel case one of the last remaining hopes for a court ruling on the legality of the warrantless surveillance of Americans, now conducted for over a decade.

The Ninth Circuit has already ruled that the Jewel plaintiffs have standing under settled law. The court’s decision is based on solid ground because we have presented the court with evidence that dragnet warrantless surveillance has already occurred, through testimony and documents from AT&T and NSA whistleblowers. In fact, the court specifically differentiated the two cases in its Jewel opinion:Jewel has much stronger allegations of concrete and particularized injury than did the plaintiffs in Amnesty International. Whereas they anticipated or projected future government conduct, Jewel’s complaint alleges past incidents of actual government interception of her electronic communications.”

Clapper v. Amnesty’s Catch-22

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court’s requirement in Clapper that a future harm must be “certainly impending” to allow a case to go forward is very troubling, especially in the context of cases involving secret surveillance.

As Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissent points out, future conduct can never be predict anything with 100% certainty, and if certainty was a requirement for standing, then virtually no cases would ever reach conclusion. Justice Breyer runs through dozens of cases where standing has been found for plaintiffs in situations where plaintiffs had a reasonable fear of harm, and in many of those cases, the plaintiffs were much less certain than the lawyers, human rights workers and journalist in Clapper.

Breyer summed absurdity of the “certainly impending” standard by saying, “One can, of course, always imagine some special circumstance that negates a virtual likelihood, no matter how strong. But the same is true about most, if not all, ordinary inferences about future events. Perhaps, despite pouring rain, the streets will remain dry (due to the presence of a special chemical).”

This standard is especially problematic when the harm is illegal surveillance conducted via secret government programs.  Unlike physical searches of the home, communications surveillance is by its nature hidden from the people affected, and national security surveillance is rarely made public or used in domestic criminal prosecutions. Thus, under the Supreme Court’s rule, regardless of whether its surveillance was legal or constitutional, the government can deny standing to a victim of illegal surveillance just by never revealing its illegal actions to the person affected. Essentially, one can’t challenge the government’s surveillance unless the government agrees.

Indeed, in arguing that its ruling does not mean that government surveillance under the FAA can never be reviewed by the courts, the Court could only point to situations in which the government intentionally revealed its surveillance.1

Allowing the Executive broad unfettered powers to “turn the Constitution on and off at will,” is exactly what the Supreme Court refused to do in Boumediene v. Bush, but what it appears to have allowed here.

It’s not even clear that the majority even understands the real scope of the FAA. In the opinion’s first sentence, Justice Alito refers to “individuals” that can be warrantlessly surveilled, but as we’ve explained many times, and the dissent notes, one of the most odious parts of the law is that it allows the government to get one court order for groups or categories of people—potentially thousands of people can be affected at a time.

The Shrinking Ranks of Warrantless Wiretapping Cases

This is the second ruling in the past year in which the government has convinced the court to dismiss challenges to the NSA warrantless wiretapping program on technical grounds, when there is ample evidence of wrongdoing. In 2012, the Ninth Circuit reluctantly dismissed the Al-Haramain case on “sovereign immunity” grounds despite a lower court ruling the government had violated the Fourth Amendment. The court reasoned that because of a glitch in the language of FISA statute, the plaintiffs had to sue individuals in the government in their personal capacities and couldn’t sue government agencies themselves or government officials in their official capacities.

We look forward to the district court in Jewel v. NSA determining that our case can move forward, and that the government can, once and for all, be held to account for the NSA’s unlawful and unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping program.

  • 1. The court also noted that a provision of the FAA allows a service provider, presumably in a fit of patriotic fervor and a willingness to pay expensive attorneys for its customers, challenges the government on its own, in secret. Yet even under this provision, the victim of the surveillance is unable to seek judicial review.

February 27, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Supreme Court Dismisses Challenge to FISA Amendments Act; EFF’s Lawsuit Over NSA Warrantless Wiretapping Remains

In a Major Privacy Victory, Seattle Mayor Orders Police to Dismantle Its Drone Program After Protests

By Trevor Timm | EFF | February 8, 2013

In an amazing victory for privacy advocates and drone activists, yesterday, Seattle’s mayor ordered the city’s police agency to cease trying to use surveillance drones and dismantle its drone program. The police will return the two drones they previously purchased with a Department of Homeland Security grant to the manufacturer.

EFF has been warning of the privacy dangers surveillance drones pose to US citizens for more than a year now. In May of last year, we urged concerned citizens to take their complaints to their local governments, given Congress has been slow to act on any privacy legislation. The events of Seattle proves this strategy can work and should serve as a blueprint for local activism across the country.

Back in early 2012, the Seattle city council was told that the Seattle police agency had obtained an authorization to fly drones from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). But they did not find out from the police; they found out from a reporter who called after the council after he saw Seattle’s name on the list obtained by EFF as part of our lawsuit against the FAA.

City council was understandably not happy, and the police agency was forced to appear before the council and apologize. It then vowed to work with the ACLU of Washington and the FAA to develop guidelines to make sure drones wouldn’t violate Seattle citizens’ privacy. But as long as the guidelines weren’t passed in a binding city ordinance, there’d be no way to enforce them.

After a townhall meeting held by police, in which citizens showed up in droves and angrily denounced the city’s plans, some reporters insinuated that city counsel members’ jobs could be on the line if they did not pass strict drone legislation protecting its citizens privacy.

Documents obtained by MuckRock and EFF in October as part of our 2012 drone census showed that the Seattle police were trying to buy two more drones despite the controversy. But that ended yesterday as the Mayor put a stop to the program completely.

Critics of the privacy protests said the participants were exaggerating the capabilities of the Seattle drones, given they would only fly for less than an hour at a time and are much smaller than the Predator drones the military flies overseas and Department of Homeland Security flies at home.

But while Seattle’s potential drones may not have been able to stay in the air for long, similar drones have already been developed and advertised by drone manufacturers with the capability to stay in the air for hours or days at a time. In fact, Lockheed Martin has been bragging about a drone that weights 13.2 pounds (well within the FAA’s weight limits) that can be recharged by a laser on the ground and stay in the air indefinitely.

Since the Seattle protests have heated up, similar complaints have been heard at local city counsels and state legislatures across the country. At least thirteen states are now considering legislation to restrict drone use to protect privacy, and there are also members of Congress on both sides of the aisle pushing the same thing.

Here in the Bay Area, we’ve experienced a similar situation. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office tried to sneak through drone funding without a public hearing and told the county board of supervisors it only wanted to use the drone for emergency purposes. Yet in internal documents obtained by EFF and MuckRock as part of our 2012 drone census, the Sheriff’s Office said it wanted to use the drone for “suspicious persons” and “large crowd control disturbances.”

When EFF and ACLU held a press conference pointing out this discrepancy, the county backtracked and is now attempting to write privacy guidelines that could potentially be turned into binding law. We will keep you updated on further developments.

But regardless, it’s important that privacy advocates take the lesson from Seattle and apply it all over the country. This is an important privacy victory, and like we said back in May, local governments will listen to our concerns, so let’s make our voice heard.

February 9, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Comments Off on In a Major Privacy Victory, Seattle Mayor Orders Police to Dismantle Its Drone Program After Protests

US: House to Vote on FISA Amendments Act Wednesday

By Michelle Richardson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office – September 10, 2012

It’s back. On Wednesday the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a five-year reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), the 2008 law that legalized the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program and more. It permits the government to get year-long orders from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international communications—including phone calls, emails, and internet records—for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence.  The orders need not specify who is going to be spied on or even allege that the targets did anything wrong.  The only guarantees that the FAA gives are that no specific American will be targeted for wiretapping and that some (classified) rules about the use of intercepted information will be followed.

After four years, you’d hope that some basic information or parameters of such a massive spying program would be divulged to the public, or at least your rank-and-file member of Congress, but they haven’t.  Only a small handful of members have either personally attended classified briefings or have staff with high enough clearances to attend for them.  Sen. Ron Wyden—who has been on the Senate Intelligence Committee for years—has even been stonewalled by the Obama administration for a year and a half in his attempts to learn basic information about the program, such as the number of Americans who have had their communications intercepted under the FAA.

Yet the House ambles on, ready to rubber stamp another five years of expansive surveillance that can pick up American communications without meaningful judicial oversight and without probable cause or any finding of wrongdoing.  Instead of blind faith in the executive branch, every member of the House should demand that the administration publicly disclose the following before proceeding with reauthorization:

•    Copies of FISA court opinions interpreting our Fourth Amendment rights under the FAA, with redactions to protect sensitive information (the Department of Justice can write summaries of law if necessary);
•    A rough estimate of how many Americans are surveilled under the FAA every year;
•    A description of the rules that govern how American information picked up by FAA surveillance is protected.

Can you believe that 435 members of Congress who have sworn to uphold the Constitution are about to vote on a sweeping intelligence gathering law without this basic information?

Act now to let them know that it’s time for Congress to fix FISA.

September 11, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Comments Off on US: House to Vote on FISA Amendments Act Wednesday

Drone surveillance: now in the US

The FAA has been adopting new rules to expand the use of small drones domestically, and by 2012 UAVs are expected to dominate the country’s airspace. Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation brings his take on whether Americans should worry about what law enforcement is doing.

July 24, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Comments Off on Drone surveillance: now in the US

Drones: The Nightmare Scenario

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project | May 2, 2012

In our drones report, we discuss the coming onslaught of domestic drones and the weak state of the privacy laws that should protect us, and we outline our recommendations for protections that Congress and local governments should put in place.

But if nothing is done, how might things go? Let’s take a look at how police drone use could unfold:

  1. The FAA’s new rules go into effect. Acting under orders from Congress, the FAA in coming months and years will significantly loosen the regulations that have been holding back broader deployment of drones. Starting later this year, for example, the FAA must allow any “government public safety agency” to operate any small drone (under 4.4 pounds) as long as certain conditions are met.
  1. More and more police departments begin using them. The FAA’s new rules allow for the release of pent-up demand among police departments for cheap aerial surveillance. Ownership of drones quickly becomes common among departments large and small. Organizations are formed by police drone operators, who exchange tips and advice. We also begin to hear about their deployment by federal agencies, other than on the border.
  1. We start to hear stories about how they’re being used. Most departments and agencies are relatively careful at first, and we begin to hear stories about drones being put to use in specific, mostly unobjectionable police operations such as raids, chases, and searches supported by warrants.
  1. Drone use broadens. Fairly quickly, however, we begin to hear about a few departments deploying drones for broader, more general uses: drug surveillance, marches and rallies, and generalized monitoring of troubled neighborhoods.
  1. Private use is banned. A terrorist like the pilot who crashed his plane into an IRS building in Texas uses an explosives-laden drone to try to attack a public facility. In response, the government clamps down on private use of the technology. The net result is that the government can use it for surveillance but individuals cannot use it to watch the government.
  1. Drones become able to mutually coordinate. Multiple drones deployed over neighborhoods can be linked together, and communicate and coordinate with each other (see this video for an early taste of what that could look like). This allows a swarm of craft to form a single, distributed wide-area surveillance system such as that envisioned by the “Gorgon Stare” program.
  1. The analytics gets better. At the same time, drones and the computers behind them become more intelligent and capable of analyzing the video feeds they are generating. They gain the ability to automatically track multiple vehicles and bodies as they move around a city or town, with different drones handing off the tracking to each other just as a mobile phone network passes a signal from one cell to another as a user rides down the highway.
  1. Flight durations grow. Technology improvements (involving blimps, perhaps, or solar-power innovations) allow for drones to stay aloft for longer periods more cheaply, which becomes key in permitting their use for persistent surveillance.
  1. The cycle accelerates. The advancing technology incentivizes agencies to buy even more drones, which in turn spurs more technology development, and the cycle becomes self-perpetuating.
  1. Laws are further loosened. As drones get smarter and more reliable and very good at sensing and avoiding other aircraft, FAA restrictions are further loosened, permitting even autonomous flight.
  1. Pervasive tracking becomes common. Despite opposition, a few police departments begin deploying drones 24/7 over certain areas. The media covers the controversy but Congress takes no action, and eventually it becomes old news, and the practice spreads until many or most American towns and cities are subject to the practice.
  1. Technologies are combined. Drone video cameras and tracking analytics are combined or synched up with other technologies such as face recognition, gait recognition, license-plate scanners, and cell phone location data.
  1. The data is mined. With individuals’ comings and goings routinely monitored, databases are able build up records of where people live, work, and play—what friends they visit, bars they drink at, doctors they visit, what houses of worship, or political events, or sexually oriented establishments they go to—and who else is at those places at the same time. Computers comb through this data looking for “suspicious patterns,” and when the algorithms kick up an alarm, the person involved becomes the subject of much more extensive surveillance.

Ultimately, such surveillance leads to an oppressive atmosphere where people learn to think twice about everything they do, knowing that it will be recorded, charted, scrutinized by increasingly intelligent computers, and possibly used to target them.

I’m not sure how realistic this scenario is. Perhaps it is far-fetched (I hope so). But the questions to ask are: which of the above steps is unlikely to take place, and why? And if we don’t end up in the situation described, how close will we get?

May 2, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Drones: The Nightmare Scenario

US: Congress Trying to Fast-Track Domestic Drone Use, Sideline Privacy

ACLU | February 6, 2012

Congress is poised to give final passage to legislation that would give a big boost to domestic unmanned aerial surveillance — aka “drones.”

As we explained in our recent report, drone technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, and there is a lot of pent-up demand for them within the law enforcement community. But, domestic deployment of unmanned aircraft for surveillance purposes has largely been blocked so far by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is rightly concerned about the safety effects of filling our skies with flying robots (which crash significantly more often than manned aircraft).

As we also explained in our report, the FAA is under pressure to loosen the reins and permit broader deployment of drones by government agencies.

One result of that pressure is this legislation (H.R. 658 — see conference report for more details), which authorizes appropriations for the FAA through fiscal 2014. Unfortunately, nothing in the bill would address the very serious privacy issues raised by drone aircraft. This bill would push the nation willy-nilly toward an era of aerial surveillance without any steps to protect the traditional privacy that Americans have always enjoyed and expected.

Congress — and to the extent possible, the FAA — need to impose some rules (such as those we proposed in our report) to protect Americans’ privacy from the inevitable invasions that this technology will otherwise lead to. We don’t want to wonder, every time we step out our front door, whether some eye in the sky is watching our every move.

On Friday, the House gave final passage to the legislation. House approval came on a quite partisan vote, with most Republicans in favor and most Democrats opposing. The Senate is scheduled to take up the bill later today.

Here are details on what the bill would do in terms of drones:

  • Require the FAA to simplify and speed up the process by which it issues permission to government agencies to operate drones. It must do this within 90 days. The FAA has already been working on a set of proposed regulations to loosen the rules around drones, reportedly set for release in the spring of 2012.
  • Require the FAA to allow “a government public safety agency” to operate any drone weighing 4.4 pounds or less as long as certain conditions are met (within line of sight, during the day, below 400 feet in altitude, and only in safe categories of airspace).
  • Require the FAA to establish a pilot project within six months to create six test zones for integrating drones “into the national airspace system.”
  • Require the FAA to create a comprehensive plan “to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.” “Civil” drones means those operated by the private sector; currently it is all but impossible for any non-government entity, except for hobbyists, to get permission to fly drones (for-profit use of drones is banned). Industry groups and their congressional supporters see this as a potential area for growth. Congress specifies that the plan must provide for the integration of drones into the national airspace system “as soon as practicable, but not later than September 30, 2015.” The FAA has nine months to create the plan. The FAA is also required to create a “5-year roadmap for the introduction” of civil drones into the national airspace.
  • Require the FAA to publish a final rule within 18 months after the comprehensive plan is submitted, “that will allow” civil operation of small (under 55 pounds) drones in the national airspace, and a proposed rule for carrying out the comprehensive plan.

The bottom line is: domestic drones are potentially extremely powerful surveillance tools, and that power — like all government power — needs to be subject to checks and balances. We hope that Congress will carefully consider the privacy implications that this technology can lead to.

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment