The Drones Are Watching and Waiting

The topic of drones came up on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Advertising guru and pro-drone Donny Deutsch pushed back against a skeptical Joe Scarborough saying, “What’s the big deal? There was no due process at Waco.” It’s just a difference in technology, he said. “It’s a more advanced way of dealing with problems,” Deutsch contended with a straight face.

I guess Donny figures that the government will never consider him to be a problem.

Scarborough fumbled around in response, saying something to the effect that the then attorney general (Janet Reno) thought children were in imminent danger.

Scarborough, however, rightly wondered, “I’m not sure how you save the children by burning the place down.”

Many Americans didn’t care about civil rights when Janet Reno’s ATF agents stormed the Branch Davidian compound, and they don’t seem to care now.

Many Americans seem to be either blissfully ignorant, or foursquare behind this Game of Drones. All this droning on about drones came to light because of a memo of approved drone targets leaked to The New York Times and the confirmation hearings for the CIA chief position. Obama’s selection is the droneinnator himself, John Brennan.

A year ago, a poll showed that 83% of Americans are all for using unmanned drones against suspected terrorists overseas, and nearly six in 10 strongly support the practice.

Maybe that doesn’t get your blood pressure up, but in the same poll, people were asked if they supported using drones to target American citizens who are suspected terrorists. Two-thirds said they supported using drones on Americans too!

That kind of result makes me think the rest of us should sleep in shifts.

What’s scary is that Mr. Deutsch describes himself as a liberal. And since he has his own company and works in advertising, he must have at least some sympathy for capitalism. Yet he’s all for trusting the government to blow up supposed enemies and ask questions later.

So what kind of mixed-up ideological mess is Deutsch? The same as many young people, according to The New York Times. In a Page 1 piece titled “A Growing Trend: Young, Liberal and Open to Big Government,” Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes that even in states like Montana, young people are steering the electorate toward Democratic candidates.

Instead of going to college, reading Atlas Shrugged, graduating, finding a job and embracing individualism, young people are graduating under a pile of debt they can’t see out of, moving back in with their parents and looking for help from Uncle Sam.

“At the same time, this is not a generation of socialists,” Matt Singer of left-leaning Forward Montana told the Times. “They are highly entrepreneurial and know that some of what it takes to create an environment where they can do their own exciting, creative things is having basic systems that work.”

A study by the Pew Research Center says under-30 voters are the only group that says government should do more to remedy problems.

“My analysis has been for a while that it’s going to come down to not whether the government should address certain problems, but how,” Ruy Teixeira of the Center for American Progress told the Times.

So young people think too little regulation caused the financial crisis and is the reason they can’t get jobs. Government is not the enemy, as Reagan once said, but is, instead, what built individual businesses and success stories, as Obama pointed out. Oh, and it keeps us safe by blowing up bad guys, whether they have U.S. driver’s licenses or operate overseas.

Yes, it’s all just simple problem-solving, as Mr. Deutsch puts it.

One of the problems law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security have is keeping an eye on all of us. The United States is a big country. There are lots of people breaking the law each and every day. People growing pot. People making moonshine. People buying too much Sudafed. In fact, there are so many laws that we all break a few without even realizing it. The days of criminal intent are long gone. Ignorance is no defense.

But the manpower required to police us all is expensive. In many places, union contracts call for cops to retire in their 50s at 100% of their highest salary. Law enforcement needs a cheaper way to keep an eye on us lawbreakers.

There is a pent-up demand from law enforcement for drones. For the moment, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has blocked the use of unmanned aircraft for surveillance purposes, due to concern about clogging the skies with flying robots that crash more often than piloted aircraft.

The folks at the FAA are being pressured to lighten up and permit the use of drones by government agencies. The result of that pressure is HR 658, which authorizes appropriations for the FAA through fiscal 2014, and buried in it are the provisions to begin a “drone-apalooza” with 30,000 unmanned aircraft.

According to Jay Stanley of the ACLU, “This bill would push the nation willy-nilly toward an era of aerial surveillance, without any steps to protect the traditional privacy that Americans have always enjoyed and expected.”

Among other things, HR 658 will require the FAA to streamline its process within 90 days for government agencies to operate drones. The bill requires the FAA to allow government public safety agencies to operate drones weighing 4.4 pounds or less, as long as certain other conditions are met. The agency will be required to establish a pilot program within six months to create half a dozen test zones for integrating drones “into the national airspace system.”

Maybe this doesn’t scare you. Perhaps you drive the speed limit, pay your taxes and
go to church on Sunday. Remember, the government decides who is guilty and who is innocent. When the Constitution was written, there were three federal crimes. Now there are thousands. Logic doesn’t matter. Criminal intent doesn’t matter. The idea that the punishment must fit the crime went bye-bye with Nixon’s war on drugs.

As outrageous as this is, there is little public outcry. Opinion-makers like Donny Deutsch say it’s all good, as long as it keeps us safe. Normally, the younger generation would be questioning authority and storming the barricades. Instead, they’re worried about their financial security.

That leaves only a few of us to protest this outrage. The Laissez Faire Club has created a petition to stop HR 658 and derail the nomination of John Brennan as head of the CIA. We are looking for 150,000 signatures to make the pro-freedom, pro-privacy message heard.

Make your voice heard by signing here. And remember, if we’re going to hit our 150,000 target, we’ll need your help passing this along to your friends too.

What little privacy we have left is in danger.

Douglas French

Original article posted on Laissez-Faire Today

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