The American media heavily criticized the Bush Administration for eroding citizen’s rights and using “gunboat diplomacy” for settling problems in domestic terrorism or issues internationally. As rights continue to shrink under Obama regarding religious liberty, the right to bear arms, and general privacy, now an effort for citizens to be under surveillance by aerial drones will erode rights of the citizens even further.http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2013/February/FAA-to-Create-Six-US-Drone-Test-Sites-/
The Federal Aviation Administration (FFA) is requesting states to submit proposals that will be used in the testing of around six drone sites around the country.
In an interview given to the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN), Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was more concerned with how the drone program can safely interface with their current system.
“Our focus is on maintaining and improving the safety and efficiency of the world’s largest aviation system. This research will give us the safe introduction of the advanced technology into our skies”, noted Secretary LaHood while speaking to CBN.
The Justice Department has a policy that American citizens tied to Al-Qaeda can be killed if “an informed high level official” believes the target poses an “imminent threat”. The document also says the government is not required to have clear evidence. Although the Justice Department was criticized for the policy, no changes have been made which would allow an American citizen to be killed domestically without process or a trial.
Charlottesville, Virginia became the first city in the country to ban drone use. Meanwhile, eleven other states are considering restricting the use of drones. This means the use of drones is already a matter of policy in “emergency situations”.
President Obama signed an executive order in 2012 giving him control of all American resources including people in an event of a deemed emergency. The sweeping control over all resources hardly received a mention regarding its constitutionality.
Law enforcement officials are pushing for the use of drones which would be a valuable resource in fighting crime. Tracking suspects or using the drones for surveillance to deter crime has already proved to be a great tool for law enforcement officers. However, the possibility for abuse is equally as great as citizens are becoming uncomfortable with the idea that drones in the sky can spy on law abiding citizens.
How much are citizens willing to allow their privacy to be compromised in a trade off for a safer neighborhood? The reactions are mixed depending on who you talk to.
The mayor of Seattle said no to the police regarding using drones in law enforcement. Residence of many cities are pushing back against drone use and have been vocal against the policy of using drones as surveillance due to privacy issues.
Appomattox County Sheriff Barry Letterman said if his department had the drone program in 2010, their department could have prevented mass shooter Christopher Speight from gunning down and killing eight people.
Letterman said, “Definitely after the helicopter was shot down, we could have sent that up and possibly pinpointed where the individual was we were looking for, versus sending another helicopter up and taking the chance of somebody else being shoot down.”
Even with results though, many residents say that the camera carrying police drones are unwelcomed.
“No, I don’t like that at all”, Appomattox resident James Almond said. “It feels like they are invading your privacy”.
The pluses of using drones outweigh the minuses, it comes down to a matter of how personal privacy loses in freedom are worth providing an environment of safety.