The United States military deploys drones — unmanned remote-controlled surveillance planes — over battlefields abroad.
But a month ago, our Sage did a post on the federal government’s admission (answering a Freedom of Information Act request) that there are 63 active drone sites in 20 states scattered across the United States. The feral gubmint says “not to worry!” — these domestic drones are just for border patrol and to combat terrorism.
At the time, Dick — a cocky member of a military-strategic e-mail list I’m on, who’s retired from the DoD — pooh-poohed the news with the dismissive assertion that the drones aren’t armed.
Well, the appropriately named “Dick” is wrong!
The Washington, D.C., CBS affiliate CBS-DC reports, May 23, 2012, that the feral gubmint is now considering arming those domestic drones, raising not just concerns about privacy but also over the potential use of lethal force against citizens by the unmanned aircraft.
Drones have been used overseas to target and kill high-level terror leaders and are also being used along the U.S.-Mexico border in the battle against illegal immigration. But now, these drones are starting to be used domestically at an increasing rate.
The Federal Aviation Administration has allowed several police departments to use drones across the U.S. They are controlled from a remote location and use infrared sensors and high-resolution cameras.
Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Texas told The Daily that his department is considering using rubber bullets and tear gas on its drone: “Those are things that law enforcement utilizes day in and day out and in certain situations it might be advantageous to have this type of system on the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle).”
The use of potential force from drones has raised the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union. Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the ACLU, told CBSDC:
“It’s simply not appropriate to use any of force, lethal or non-lethal, on a drone.” Crump maintains that one of the biggest problems with the use of drones is the remote location where they are operated from. “When the officer is on the scene, they have full access to info about what has transpired there. But an officer at a remote location far away does not have the same level of access. The prospect of people out in public being Tased or targeted by force by flying drones where no officers is physically present on the scene, raises the prospect of unconstitutional force being used on individuals.”
“We don’t need a situation where Americans feel there is in an invisible eye in the sky,” Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at ACLU, told CBSDC.
Joshua Foust, fellow at the American Security Project, also argues against the arming of domestic drones: “I think from a legal perspective, there is nothing problematic about floating a drone over a city. In terms of getting armed drones, I would be very nervous about that happening right now.”
But Chief Deputy McDaniel says that his Montgomery County community in Texas should not be worried about the department using a drone: “We’ve never gone into surveillance for sake of surveillance unless there is criminal activity afoot. Just to see what you’re doing in your backyard pool — we don’t care.”
When government says, “Trust me. We’re only here to hep you!” — Watch your back…and your butt!!!