The Campaign Spot

Why Are Tools of War Being Deployed in American Skies?

Over in the Corner, Charles Krauthammer expands upon his previous objections to the use of surveillance drones on U.S. soil.

A thought on drones: While they’ve been around for a lot longer than the War on Terror, and while few are suggesting Hellfire-missile-toting drones should patrol America’s skies, there’s a particular reason this technological development seems so ominous and unnerving.

The development and deployment of Predator and Sentinel drones accelerated greatly after 9/11. Americans understood why our military needed drones; it reduced risk to pilots, the targets were far away and deep in hostile territory, and the initial target was the man, and the group, that had killed thousands of Americans. Pretty extraordinary circumstances.

So now that drones have proven a useful tool in that noble fight . . . they end up appearing in American skies? Watching U.S. citizens?

What threat from the American citizenry could possibly be so menacing that it would require our most advanced military technology to be used against us? These things were developed to deal with some of the most dangerous folks alive in a war zone, who either never qualified for or effectively renounced any Fourth Amendment rights.

I suppose Americans might accept their use over regions of our borders that are particularly violent or dangerous. Assistance to a SWAT team headed into a dangerous situation seems like an acceptable use. But once law enforcement, federal agencies, and dozens of other organizations are given the ability to conduct aerial surveillance . . . how long will they resist the temptation?


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