Article by John Whitehead.
The U.S. government has a history of commandeering military technology for use against Americans. We saw this happen with tear gas, tasers and sound cannons, all of which were first used on the battlefield before being deployed against civilians at home. Now the drones – pilotless, remote controlled aircraft that have been used extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan (at least 600 civilians have been killed in drone attacks in Pakistan since the United States started targeting insurgents in that country) and were most recently approved by President Obama for use in Libya – are coming home to roost (and fly) in domestic airspace.
As USA Today reports:
Police agencies around the USA soon could have a new tool in their crime-fighting arsenal: unmanned aircraft inspired by the success of such drones on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Local governments have been pressing the Federal Aviation Administration for wider use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs – a demand driven largely by returning veterans who observed the crafts’ effectiveness in war, according to experts at New Mexico State University and Auburn University. Police could use the smaller planes to find lost children, hunt illegal marijuana crops and ease traffic jams in evacuations of cities before hurricanes or other natural disasters.
Attached as an amendment to the “Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Act” (S.223), the legislation allowing drones to fly in general American airspace has already cleared Congress, thanks to support from military contractors and a lack of opposition from those who should know better – including an American populace preoccupied with rising gas prices, a dismal economy and endless wars abroad. The only thing lacking is Obama’s final stamp of approval, which is expected at any moment.