Weaponized Drones on American Soil?
Monday, July 8, 2013
People were shocked in 2007 when Texas news KPRC revealed that local police were conducting drone tests on American soil. Some cried “conspiracy theory” even as further revelations quickly showed that a full program had been established with Customs and Border Protection as far back as 2004. Drone flights took advantage of the 100-mile-wide “Constitution-free Zone” around the perimeter of the United States within which drones were permitted to operate for border security — two-thirds of the U.S. population happens to reside within this area.
The targeted killing of American citizens abroad jarred people enough to consider the “mission creep” taking place, finally wondering when strikes might land on American soil. Rand Paul pushed this “debate” into the mainstream with his much-publicized filibuster, though he later backed down by hedging his words within the definition of “imminent threat.” Paul’s comments drew severe criticism even from libertarians, prompting him to explain further. It’s an important distinction to make clear, and is the same one left unresolved by the amendment to ban drone strikes on U.S. citizens in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.
So while it seems like a fierce debate is taking place, and plans to subvert the Constitution are being thwarted, every new stone overturned continues to reveal more. Rather than true debate, there has been a scramble for the public to catch up to what already has been done, much in the same way as the NSA spying story. So, what will the future bring?
For those who have been following this steady progression of drone use, as well as the continued development in high-tech “non-lethal” weapons, one might already have wondered when the two would officially merge over America. It appears that Homeland Security has also been considering this aspect behind closed doors for quite some time.
Congress already has given the FAA permission to establish safe flying rules for drones in civilian airspace throughout the U.S. by 2015.