The Banality of the Drone Use in the Police State
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Seriously, when are you going to stop caring about how great Spotify is or how happy it makes you that Jon Stewart “gets you,” or how Occupy needs a clear message and agenda, or if Steve Jobs was a genius or just a ruthless corporate goon, and care about the fact that this country is militarizing every “control” force they can?
The natural order, which would have peace amongst men, requires that the decision and power to declare war should belong to princes. (Saint Augustine)
Greenwald, as usual, is the only one making any real noise.
The LA Times quotes a retired U.S. General acknowledging that Predators are used “in many areas around the country, not only for federal operators, but also for state and local law enforcement.” Customs officials who own the drones claim there is legal authorization for this usage because they indicated in their budget requests to Congress to purchase the Predators that one purpose was “interior law enforcement support.” But Jane Harman — the former Blue Dog member of Congress who was the Chair of the Homeland Security Sub-Committee at the time the Predator purchases were approved — insists that “no one ever discussed using Predators to help local police serve warrants or do other basic work.” But even if you believe Customs officials, think about what they’re saying: the importation of drones to U.S. soil for law enforcement purposes was authorized not by a new law or regulatory scheme, nor pursuant to Congressional hearings or debates, but all because they inserted the phrase “interior law enforcement support” into their budget request — such a trivial mention that even the Chair of the Homeland Security sub-committee says she didn’t even realize this was being approved….
There is always a large segment of the population that reflexively supports the use of greater government and police power — it’s usually the same segment that has little objection to Endless War — and it’s grounded in a mix of standard authoritarianism (I side with authority over those they accused of being Bad and want authorities increasingly empowered to stop the Bad people) along with naiveté (I don’t really worry that new weapons and powers will be abused by those in power, especially when — like now — those in power are Good). This mindset manifests in the domestic drone context specifically by dismissing their use as nothing more than the functional equivalent of police helicopters. This is a view grounded in pure ignorance.
Lucky for them, they are all long dead, so they can’t read some opinion piece or hear a congressman or a senator today clamor for the very same police state measures they barely escaped from. Watching the government of the country they grew to love curtailing liberties, spying on its citizens, militarizing its police forces, imprisoning both foreigners and Americans indefinitely without having to prove their guilt, and coming to admire the mindset of authoritarian regimes it used to despise, would have been both terrifying and depressing.
Here’s a troika post that now contains multiple news items and responses to drones: Of Thee I Sing!