Domestic Drones Coming to a Neighborhood Near You
Coming to a Neighborhood Near You
by Charles V. Peña
March 31, 2012
I assume most, if not all, readers of Antiwar.com are familiar with drones, aka unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs. I’ve written previously about drones in two Antiwar.com columns: “Memo to Rep. Ron Paul” and “Commuting to War.” Armed drones have become the weapon of choice for the Obama administration to go after would-be terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Perhaps the most “famous” U.S. drone strike was the one in September 2011 in Yemen that killed U.S.-born radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was linked to underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Clearly, the Obama administration is enamored of using drones to kill suspected terrorists. But since civilians have also been killed by drone strikes (one of the deadliest was in March 2011 when 40 were killed, many believed to be attending a tribal meeting), not surprisingly, the Pakistanis aren’t so much.
Would-be terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, however, aren’t the only people who need to worry about drones. Our neighbors south of the border (the ones trying to sneak into the country in the dead of night) also now have to worry about drones. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) operates unarmed Predator drones along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to the Department of Homeland Security, drone operations have resulted in the apprehension of 4,876 undocumented immigrants and 238 drug smugglers since the program began in 2005 (by comparison, over 300,000 illegal immigrants were caught at the southwestern border in 2011). Ultimately, CBP plans to have as many as 24 drones deployed by 2016 so that the agency can deploy a drone anywhere over the United States within three hours.