The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no
Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
persons or things to be seized. - Amendment IV of the US Constitution
Great sentiment notwithstanding the obvious caveat: “Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds “ (Barlow).
Recent reports detailed the use of an unmanned Air Force drone by civilian police. The drone was deployed to track and apprehend suspected criminals. The stunned reaction from some is proof that many Americans are unaware of the fact that US Courts have long permitted warrantless aerial surveillance to be conducted by law enforcement agencies. The Court’s reasoning has been “what a person does in the open, even behind a backyard fence, can be seen from a passing airplane and is not protected by privacy laws.”
The LA Times (Washington Bureau) report quoted Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), who sat on the House homeland security intelligence subcommittee at the time and served as its chairwoman from 2007 until early this year, as saying: “ no one ever discussed using Predators to help local police serve warrants or do other basic work…. using Predators for routine law enforcement without public debate or clear legal authority is a mistake….[t]here is no question that this could become something that people will regret.”
And, regret we shall. But the use of drones is nothing new… Recently, Texas authorities secretly deployed drones inviting dignitaries to watch the secret tests. In 2008, Military drones washed up in the Gulf of Mexico on the Alabama coast.
But, let’s not forget that recently, the US was forced to admit that Tehran captured a largely intact, top secret U.S. drone. Some might argue the military use of drones is palatable, at least under the guise of intelligent “diplomacy.” Yet, I argue the obvious: the underlying reason for the use of unmanned/unarmed military drones at the behest of civilian law enforcement agencies is because the war-mongering profiteers will stop at nothing to keep the blood profit money flowing when faced with the possiblity of an end to “war” -even at the expense of our privacy.
Big Brother can’t seem to get enough. And, now the drones are coming for us “in ways that push current law to the breaking point.” Surveillance cameras already perch high above busy intersections, in parks, and in many public lobbies. GPS technology in smart phones pinpoints and tracks our every move. And now… when we least expect it, a drone is deployed to hover above us… waiting, watching, and perhaps, even intruding upon and recording the most innocent of acts.