Drones On The Horizon

MORE EVIDENCE OF A POLICE STATE?

by 82ndSgt, ©2011, blogging at The Right Planet

(Dec. 19, 2011) — The latest tools to strengthen the police state that is America are drones. The tools were first used along the border in 2005 to stem the tide of illegal immigration -a measure I short-sightedly approved of. As someone who has made a living in the construction field, and seen the devastation that illegal immigration wreaks upon citizens trying to eek out a living in this industry, I approved of  just about anything that would help slow the flood and give Americans a fighting chance in their own country. What has become clear is that, for the last year or so, drones that were put into service specifically to control border movement, have now been put to use policing all of America, signaling yet another intrusion of “big brother” into our lives.

In a precedent-setting event, local law enforcement in North Dakota nabbed three suspected armed men with the help of a Predator B unmanned drone. It was only after the drone confirmed that the men were unarmed that police moved in to make the arrest. The Brossart family are owners of a 3,000-acre ranch who were reported to police for stray cows that had entered a neighboring property. When the Sheriff arrived with a search warrant he said he was forced off the property at gunpoint. Apparently, the Sheriff feared that this could turn into another Ruby Ridge incident;

The six adult Brossarts allegedly belonged to the Sovereign Citizen Movement, an antigovernment group that the FBI considers extremist and violent. The family had repeated run-ins with local police, including the arrest of two family members earlier that day arising from their clash with a deputy over the cattle.

This event also comes shortly after the recent exposure of a secret drone base in Nevada, housed on the same land reserve as Area 51 of all places. This discovery merely shows that the drone program is full-speed ahead inside the United States, as similar “secret” programs have been uncovered overseas in places like Ethiopia and The Seychelles.

Before you welcome this news and say that this is a great way for law enforcement to keep America safe, consider the following points. First, as Dennis Kucinich writes in his August 17th article entitled, “Drones, direct hit upon rule of law”;

Think of the use of drone air strikes as summary executions, extra-judicial killings justified by faceless bureaucrats using who-knows-what intelligence, with no oversight whatsoever and you get the idea that we have slipped into a spooky new world where joystick gods manipulating robots deal death from the skies and then go home and hug their children

While the Administration claims to have killed 600 militants in Pakistan alone, with no concurrent civilian losses, since May of 2010, an exhaustive study of each individual drone strike by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism shows some far more realistic and disturbing numbers. Says the study:

The Bureau’s data reveals many more CIA attacks on alleged militant targets than previously reported, At least 305 U.S. drone strikes are now known to have taken place since 2004, 257 of those conducted by this administration. The intended targets -militants in tribal areas- appear to make up the majority of those killed. There are almost 150 named militants among the dead since 2004, though hundreds are unknown, low ranking fighters. But as many as 175 children have also been reported killed among the at least 392 civilians. More than 1,150 people are also revealed to have been injured.

You may be thinking that drones used in the U.S will not be armed, that federal and state governments could not be so reckless. But ask yourself why financially strapped governments, both state and federal, would spend $4.5 to 10 million for even the cheapest drones just to conduct loitering surveillance operations when a Cessna retrofitted with special fuel tanks could do the same thing for one fiftieth of the price.

Anwar Al-Awlaki, 2008

Consider the Al-Awlaki strike. While I have no doubt that this man deserved his fate, this was nonetheless just as Rep Kucinich says, a summary execution of an American citizen who had never physically attacked his country. All that was required to justify this action was the use of the “terrorist” label. The infamous Department of Homeland Security report effectively labels more than half the country as “potential terrorists” when it points to “right-wingers and disgruntled veterans”. The 2009 report states:

The agency warns that an extended economic downturn with real estate foreclosures, unemployment and an inability to obtain credit could foster an environment for extremists to recruit new members who may not have been supportive of these causes in the past.

Since the only groups that have used the economic downturn as an excuses to commit acts of violence and civil disorder have been left-wing groups, we can assume that DHS is either totally incompetent, deliberately targeting political opponents, or both. The Department of Defense’s own anti-terrorism training manual actually defines lawful protest as “low-level terrorism”. On June 10, 2009 the ACLU sent a very pointed letter to the DoD concerning this definition. It states:

“For the DoD to instruct its employees that lawful protest activities should be treated as “low-level terrorism” is deeply disturbing in and of itself. It is even an even more egregious insult to constitutional values however, when viewed in the context of a long-term pattern of domestic security initiatives that have attempted to equate lawful dissent with terrorism.”

Now, the ACLU can hardly be called right-wing, and yet they also appear to surmise a pattern, indeed a long term pattern of  domestic security initiatives that attempt to equate dissent with terrorism. It is well past time to dispense with the naivety that says “it can’t happen here”. In this country where at least one section of our society has been denied their constitutional rights for all but the last 45 years, we can no longer afford such naiveté. In a country where Americans of Japanese heritage were interned simply because of their heritage, it is not only possible, it has already happened. These people in Washington view the constitution not as a miraculous and timeless document to be revered and kept sacred, but as a stumbling block to their personal ambitions and ideological zeal.

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