Immigration

Weaponized Drones Coming to America?

Local law enforcement agencies have been considering arming drones with the same weapons used in riot control—rubber bullets, tear gas, bean bag rounds.

I'm afraid only traitors wouldn't want armed unmanned dronesflying around over their heads

According to a 2010 Department of Homeland Security report obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) suggested arming its fleet of drones with "non-lethal weapons designed to immobilize TOIs," or targets of interest, along the nation's borders. Currently, none of the agency's 10 domestic drones is weaponized; the recently passed Senate immigration bill, which would require a minimum of four additional drones, stipulates that those be unarmed as well.

The report doesn't exactly rise to the level of proposing drone strikes against Arab Americans "sitting in a cafeteria in Dearborn, Michigan," as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) postulated during his 13-hour drone filibuster in March. But it's sure to fuel the concerns not only of border residents and immigration reform groups but of privacy watchdogs and anti-government protesters paranoid about domestic surveillance.

Jennifer Lynch, an EFF attorney, told the Atlantic Wire, "This is the first I've seen any mention of any plans [from a federal agency] to weaponize any drones that fly domestically." However, local law enforcement agencies have been considering arming drones with the same weapons used in riot control—rubber bullets, tear gas, bean bag rounds. The CBP report didn't specify the weapons it has in mind.


Ok, I know everyone's going to roll their eyes and tell me that this is no big deal because we already arm police and the border patrol and this is just another weapon not something intrinsically bad. 

Fine, fine. But I just have one question: why do we need this then? If this is just another weapon in the arsenal, I'd really like to know why these people want to use them. Is there a reason why the usual rubber bullets, electric shock, bean bag rounds etc aren't efficient enough? Will we really be better off if they can deploy them from unmanned drones flying overhead? 

I'd like to know. Because the way it looks to me, they just want some new expensive toys and they want to try them out on people. And I don't see why they should be allowed to do that without a very, very good reason. After all, we're denying people food stamps and meals on wheels right now. (Also too: police state.Not that anyone cares about that.)

Digby is the proprietor of Hullabaloo.
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