06.04.2012 1

Obama’s Domestic Drone Wars?

Taser Drone

A Police Taser Drone. Photo Credit: The Blaze

By Rick Manning — In the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Running Man, Schwarzenegger patrols a futuristic American city in an advanced helicopter system designed to keep the streets free of citizens after dark.

Stunningly, the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security is outsourcing Schwarzenegger’s characters job by encouraging and helping local law enforcement purchase unmanned drones to patrol the skies of places like Arlington, Texas.

I first learned of the domestic drone program while speaking with a Dallas/Fort Worth-based radio talk show host about federal legislation that would significantly increase the federal government’s capacity to censor the Internet.  When he asked about the purchase of drone aircraft to patrol the town which houses the Texas Rangers, I was somewhat skeptical but also taken aback.

However, when respected columnist Charles Krauthammer goes on a rant against the use of drones for surveillance on Americans here in America, perhaps it’s time to wake up.  Here is what Krauthammer said on Fox News Special Report,

“I’m going to go hard left on you here, I’m going ACLU,” syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said in opposition to the use of drones on the U.S. homeland. “I don’t want regulations, I don’t want restrictions, I want a ban on this. Drones are instruments of war. The Founders had a great aversion to any instruments of war, the use of the military inside even the United States. It didn’t like standing armies, it has all kinds of statutes of using the army in the country.”

The only thing Krauthammer gets wrong in that statement is that it is groups like the National Rifle Association which has stood up for Americans’ civil liberties and rights, and not just the ACLU which seems to pick and choose which rights they think are worthy of defending.

The concerns about the government’s potential preparation for war against its unsuspecting bosses, the American citizen, might seem far-fetched even with drones patrolling the skies, controlled by government video game geeks hidden far from the people, if not for the revelations by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower William Binney.

Binney, who served as technical director of the agency’s world geopolitical and military analysis reporting group, resigned in 2001 after nearly 40 years of service to his country over the government’s use of a monitoring program that he in part helped to design.

Binney’s project, Thin Thread, was created to collect and monitor communications of people all over the world, while building in protections to avoid violating the law by monitoring U.S. citizens.  Binney reports that all those domestic restrictions came to an end when the Twin Towers came tumbling down, as the NSA was turned loose to root out terrorism.

As Binney himself says, “In the end, Thin Thread turned out to be a Pandora’s Box…They started collecting — from the one commercial company that I know of that participated — provided probably in the average of about 300 million records of communications from U.S. citizen to U.S. citizen inside this country.”

Now, Binney believes the surveillance has increased under the Obama Administration, “I would suggest that they’ve assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about U.S. citizens with other U.S. citizens. The data that’s being assembled is about everybody. And from that data then they can target anyone they want [for malicious prosecution].”

The 20 trillion communications estimate includes emails and phone calls, Binney noted.  On emails, he said “I believe they have most of them… All they would have to do is put the various devices at various points along the network, at choke points or convergent points where the network converges and they could basically take down and have copies of most everything on the network.”  He does not include Internet search queries and financial transactions in the 20 trillion estimate, saying he didn’t know if that information is being gathered.

The incredible part about Binney’s revelations is that it shouldn’t be all that surprising.

Even in small towns like Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, local town councils are enticed by promised new revenue streams to put traffic surveillance cameras on their roads.

On television, crime shows like NCIS, regularly have photos taken by these handy cameras become instrumental in solving the crisis crime of the week.

Even ATM machines take our picture for security purposes and we accept this tiny intrusion under the illusion of security.

And in Arlington, Texas drones patrol the skies.

The net effect is a general acceptance that every aspect of our lives are watched, inspected and stored somewhere, so if something happens a white hat government can ride to the rescue.

Of course, this assumes a benevolent government that respects the Constitution and the rights of the governed.  An assumption that our founding fathers rejected out of hand when they insisted on the inclusion of an individual Bill of Rights be added later before the original Constitution would be adopted.  They knew through hard experience that without defined legal protections against government, freedom is illusory.

Now, with drones being deployed, NSA data centers collecting every conversation we have and cameras everywhere, it is more important than ever for freedom loving Americans to hold their elected officials accountable as they innocently and inexorably advance toward a state that would be unrecognizable to anyone born earlier than the 1980s.

In the Mel Gibson movie, “Conspiracy Theory,” Gibson plays a character plagued by paranoia, concerned about seemingly every conspiracy under the sun.  Just as that is no way to live, it is also foolish to not be aware of what is happening around you and act locally through your elected officials to shut down at least a portion of the government eye on your part America.

James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, provides the wisdom for those who would depend upon the benevolence of government for their freedom when he said, “The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”

Words to remember the next time you pass under a traffic camera.

Rick Manning is the Communications Director of Americans for Limited Government.

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