The Department of Homeland Security recently advanced a plan to deploy “public safety” drones in the skies over America, an action Congress authorized last year and called for the deployment of 30,000 drone surveillance vehicles by 2020.
While DHS head Janet Napolitano says the primary mission for domestic drones is for situational awareness in “large public safety [matters] or disasters”, President Obama may have a different idea for how best to implement this next generation of frightening surveillance technology.
Well known for his obsession with remote drone attacks, reportedly going so far as to personally sit in on unmanned aerial vehicle missions, the President was recently asked about concerns from American citizens about the possibility of extra-judicial military drone strikes within the borders of the United States.
Obama has not only failed to deny that he has such plans, but makes it clear that his administration is working closely with Congress to develop a legal framework that will allow the Chief Executive and his subordinates the leeway to initiate strikes right here at home.
First of all… there’s never been a drone used on an American citizen, on American soil.
We respect and have a whole bunch of safeguards in terms of how we conduct counter-terrorism operations outside of the United States. The rules outside of the United States are going to be different than the rules inside of the United States.
I am the head of the Executive branch and what we’ve done so far is to try to work with Congress on oversight issues.
Part of what I’m going to have to work with Congress on is to make sure that whatever it is we’re providing Congress, that we have mechanisms to also make sure that the public understands what’s going on, what the constraints are, what the legal parameters are.
That’s something that I take very seriously.
I am not somebody who believes that the President has the authority to do whatever he wants or whatever she wants, whenever they want, just under the guise of counter-terrorism.
There have to be checks and balances on it.
One can only conclude that military and law enforcement drone strikes will soon be business as usual, and likely the preferred method for dealing with, as the Patriot Act outlines, those who “intimidate or coerce the civilian population” or attempt to “influence government policy” – pretty much anyone who disagrees with what the government is doing.
As Chris Carrington rightly points out about pre-emptive government prosecution, under the National Defense Authorization Act “individuals who have committed no crime can be arrested and incarcerated at the will of the government without proven cause.” Will this new legal framework now expand on Patriot Act and NDAA to allow for a militarized government response to potential threats?
For those who would call for such extreme action as firing a military grade remote Hellfire missile at a domestic target, as the media recently suggested we should do during the hunt for Chris Dorner, consider that Global Research recently reported that over 40% of drone casualties are innocents – often children.
But such collateral damage would never happen in America, right? The NYPD, for example, would never randomly open fire in the middle of a busy street and shoot civilians. Likewise, the LAPD would never overreact and send a barrage of bullets at two innocent newspaper carriers who happen to be in a vehicle matching the description of what a suspect may be driving.
With drones, such incidents would be reduced or all but eliminated right? This legal framework being developed by President Obama’s administration with the help of Congress would ensure that no innocents will be killed, right? Law enforcement and military would never target criminals or terrorists if it would endanger innocent Americans who might be in their direct vicinity, right?
And never would they be used to target American citizens unless actionable intelligence of an impending threat was real and confirmed by, as President Obama notes, a “whole bunch of safeguards.”
To paraphrase President Obama, Diane Feinstein and the many Congressional representatives who support a safer America, it’s time we start disarming those who have access to these weapons of mass destruction. These military style assault weapons have no use in hunting or sporting, and have no business being on the streets of America.