It’s odd that the drone debate has only now come up given that drones have been used domestically for quite a while. They are operated by DHS to patrol the border, and in one 2011 case a drone was used to facilitate the arrest of a North Dakota farmer for neglecting to report stray cattle to authorities.
Court records state that last June, six cows wandered onto Brossart’s 3,000 acre farm, about 60 miles west of Grand Forks. Brossart allegedly refused to return the cows, which led to a long, armed standoff with the Grand Forks police department. At some point during the standoff, Homeland Security, through an agreement with local police, offered up the use of an unmanned predator drone, which “was used for surveillance,” according to the court documents.
Grand Forks SWAT team chief Bill Macki said in an interview that the drone was used to ensure Brossart and his family members, who were also charged, didn’t leave the farm and were unarmed during the arresting raid.
So yes, drones are already being used domestically. The Brossart case cannot be the only one (cooperation between DHS and local police is well known and openly discussed in border regions), but it was ignored because he’s a hick farmer, and those people don’t matter in the NY Times or on network television.
However, now that urban police departments have begun to order drones, suddenly the literati are starting to talk about them. City people might find themselves being videotaped by sneaky little drones while sparking up a joint in their apartment in a vibrant neighborhood. Maybe a tryst with an underage male prostitute, ordinarily ignored by police, might be caught on tape. It’s pretty scary stuff!
But never fear, Vanguard Defense Industries, manufacturer of the Shadow Hawk helicopter drone, assures us that the drones will be used for uquestionable scenarios, like domestic violence policing:
A ShadowHawk® can maintain aerial surveillance of an area (i.e. house, vehicle, person, etc.) at 700 feet without being heard or seen unlike full sized aircraft. Imagine the advantage provided to an entry team in the following scenarios; high risk warrant, hostage rescue, domestic violence, etc.
Quite clever of the manufacturer. I’m sure the company understands that at least 51% of all citizens will support almost any violation of civil liberties and the Constitution so long as it involves “protecting women.”
Nevermind the fact that spying on people suspected of domestic violence is possibly the most covenient of all excuses for violating privacy (all the police have to say is that “a neighbor reported an argument”) — if it is intended to prevent violence against women it’s all for the best.
The crusade against domestic violence along with the war on drugs has provided more justifications for permanently shredding constitutional rights than anything in history. Before these campaigns, only wars were used in this manner, but wars are by their nature temporary. The war on drugs and the war against domestic violence are eternal. They will never end, and they will continuously justify more intrusions into the private lives of citizens.