The Drone Police State?

Naomi Klein reports on the use of U.S. Air Force drones within the interior of the U.S. Citing a declassified Air Force white paper, she argues that drones will soon be used by the police to monitor entire populations–and perhaps one day soon–will become weaponized. The U.S. constitution allows for the deployment of National Guard only by state governors, a system designed to prevent the military from taking action aimed at U.S. citizens  (so too does the19th century posse comitatus act).

The 2012 controversial Air Force document details that

the air force will be overseeing the deployment of its own military surveillance drones within the borders of the US; that it may keep video and other data it collects with these drones for 90 days without a warrant – and will then, retroactively, determine if the material can be retained – which does away for good with the fourth amendment in these cases. While the drones are not supposed to specifically “conduct non-consensual surveillance on on specifically identified US persons”, according to the document, the wording allows for domestic military surveillance of non-“specifically identified” people (that is, a group of activists or protesters) and it comes with the important caveat, also seemingly wholly unconstitutional, that it may not target individuals “unless expressly approved by the secretary of Defense”.

This is a form of executive power – drones can be sent to hover over your house if the Secretary of Defense deems it so.

And what happens to all the collected data and imagery?

“Distribution of domestic imagery” can go to various other government agencies without your consent, and that imagery can, in that case, be distributed to various government agencies; it may also include your most private moments and most personal activities. The authorized “collected information may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent”.

Klein then argues that the push for domestic drone deployment is also part of a toxic relationship with corporations –

Given the Department of Homeland Security militarization of police departments, once the circle is completed with San Francisco or New York or Chicago local cops having their own drone fleet – and with Chase, HSBC and other banks having hired local police, as I reported here last week – the meshing of military, domestic law enforcement, and commercial interests is absolute. You don’t need a messy, distressing declaration of martial law.

And drone fleets owned by private corporations means that a first amendment right of assembly is now over: if Occupy is massing outside of a bank, send the drone fleet to surveil, track and harass them. If citizens rally outside the local Capitol? Same thing.

What’s next? Weaponized drones in the domestic sphere.

If US drones may first be weaponized with crowd-control features, not lethal force features, but with no risk to military or to police departments or DHS, the playing field for freedom of assembly is changed forever.

For Klein, therefore, the age of the drone is well and truly upon us, and with it, the establishment of a police state that likes of which the U.S. has never before known.

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3 Responses to The Drone Police State?

  1. Pete says:

    31 Arrested at Hancock Air Base
    Posted on April 29, 2013 by Upstate Drone Action
    For immediate release:

    For more information:

    Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council, 315-472-5478, 315-383-5738 Ellen
    Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker, 607-279-8303

    Activists Press Hancock Air Base to Obey International Law
    275 People at Protest; 31 Arrested
    April 28, 2013.

    Thirty one members of the “Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End
    the Wars” were arrested today at Hancock Air Force Base protesting what is
    the illegal use of drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries.
    Drones are flown from Hancock Field. Over 275 people marched in a solemn
    funeral procession to demand that Hancock Air National Guard Base cease
    drone strikes. People carrying banners and coffins identified countries
    where U.S. drone attacks have killed over a thousand innocent civilians.
    As they were arrested, some read the names of people who have died in the
    drone attacks.

    People who participated in the demonstration, including some who were
    arrested, came from all over the country to raise an outcry against the
    proliferation of drone strikes abroad, including countries with whom the
    US is not at war. Drone use violates the US Constitution, Article 6, and
    International Law, which the U.S. has signed on to. Demonstrators also
    object to the militarization of the police and the growing domestic use of
    drones. The protesters raised the issue that drone use globally makes
    Americans unsafe because of the blow back effect.

    Demonstrators attempted to deliver a war crimes indictment to the base. It

    We, the people, charge the US President, Barak Obama, and the full
    military chain of command, to Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, every drone
    crew, and service members at Hancock Air Base, with crimes
    against humanity, with violations of part of the Supreme Law of the Land,
    extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of
    aggression, violation national sovereignty, and killing of innocent

    The thirty one arrestees were arraigned in De Witt Town Court before
    Judges Benack, Gideon, and Jokl, who imposed bails ranging from $500 –
    $3500, totalling $34,000. Some of the defendants were released with
    appearance tickets Others are refusing to post bail and will be held in
    jail until the next court date of May 7th & 8th. Donations may be sent to
    the Syracuse Peace Council, with checks made out to Syracuse Peace
    Council,note : Upstate Drone Action Bail Fund. 2013 E. Genessee St.,
    Syracuse, NY 13210.

    Those Arrested:

    Beth Adams, Levertt, MA
    John Amidon, Albany, NY
    Cynthia Banas, Vernon, NY
    Ellen Barfield, Baltimore, MD
    Russell Brown, Buffalo, NY
    Kate De Mott Grady, Ithaca, NY
    Beatrice Dewing, New York City, NY
    Max Farhi, Ithaca, NY
    Sandra Fessler, Rochester, NY
    Daniel Finley, Ithaca, NY
    Bruce Gagnon, Brunswick, ME
    Jack Gilroy, Binghamton, NY
    Charlie Heyn, Damascus, PA
    John Honeck, Hamlin, NY
    Rae Kramer, Syracuse, NY
    Joanne Lingle, Indianapolis, IN
    Mary Loehr, Ithaca, NY
    Bonnie Mahoney, Buffalo, NY
    Harry Murray, Rochester, NY
    Valerie Niederhoffer, Buffalo, NY
    Julienne Oldfield, Syracuse, NY
    Jules Orkin, Bergenfield, NJ
    Elizabeth Pappalardo, Crystal Lake, DE
    Joan Pleune, Brooklyn, NY
    Beverly Rice
    Grace Ritter, Ithaca, NY
    Matthew Ryden
    Andrew Schoerke, Shaftsbury, VT
    Mary Snyder, Johnson City, NY
    Eve Tetaz, Washington, DC
    Patricia Wieland, Northampton, MA

  2. Pingback: Police Drones and Autonomy | Understanding Empire

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