Rand Paul throws the Fourth Amendment into the drone debate
Drone use in warfare is now a well established method and will certainly grow and expand. Some bad guys have been taken out; however, the number of innocent civilians, including children, is quite staggering as documented in an article in the Guardian UK most appropriately titled, “Drone race will ultimately lead to a sanitised factory of slaughter”.
George W. Bush used unmanned drones overseas during his time in office to the tune of 52 strikes. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama, has used drones very liberally, no pun intended, accounting for nearly 300 strikes, totally out-Bushing George Bush.
Yemen, Afghanistan, Sudan and Pakistan face the frequent, silent invaders of their sovereign airspace much too often. Pakistan has called for an end to the use of drones in their country more than once, only to be ignored.
Joe Wolverton reported in the New American yesterday that the U.S. Air Force is training more drone “pilots” than those who will be at the controls of traditional aircraft. He reports, to date, there are reportedly around 1,300 people controlling the Air Force’s arsenal of Reaper, Predator, and Global Hawk drones, and the Pentagon plans to add about 2,500 pilots and support crew by 2014.
With the “success” of drone warfare, a whole industry has blossomed where Federal, state and local governments are hand-wringing for the purchase and the use of unmanned drones over US soil.
It has even got to the point that renowned aeronautical university, Embry-Riddle, is now offering a B.S. in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Science to help fill the demand for people to operate this equipment.
The use of drones over your homes, businesses and property opens up incalculable opportunities for governments at all levels to use and abuse this unconstitutional eavesdropping.
Although politicians in Washington, and talking heads on TV frequently bring up the Constitution to attempt to advance an agenda or hurt an opponent, few really care to abide by their oaths.
Fortunately, not everyone in Washington has forgotten the Fourth Amendment. Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul sees the danger of drone surveillance over the skies of America and recently introduced a bill to protect individual’s privacy from prying eyes.
The bill, ‘‘Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012’’ is designed to, as the bill describes:
To protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles commonly called drones, and for other purposes.
Specifically, [A] person or entity acting under the authority [of], or funded in whole or in part by, the Government of the United States shall not use a drone to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or regulation except to the extent authorized in a warrant that satisfies the requirements of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
According to a Bob Adelmann piece in the New American, Paul explained that “Americans going about their everyday lives should not be treated like criminals or terrorists and have their rights infringed upon by military tactics.”
Paul told Dave Weigel of Slate.com, if the they (the government) think I’m a polluter, and they think I’m dumping something in the stream I shouldn’t be, simply get a warrant. A warrant is not hard to get. I guarantee at any moment in the day if you think someone’s dumping something in the river, you call a judge you’ll get a warrant.
Paul’s statement is spot on. I once heard FOX News Senior Judicial Analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano speak on the Fourth Amendment, and he made it quite clear, if the police needed a search warrant and could provide probable cause, a judge is available 24/7.
Paul goes on to explain in Weigel’s column:
“You have to have probable cause even if you’re the EPA. It’s not that I’m for anyone dumping anything. If you’re dumping benzene in the river, and somebody. For example, it should be pretty easy. I could be a half of a mile down from the chemical plant, if I take a water sample and there’s benzene in it, that’s probable cause that you should get a warrant and it shouldn’t be that hard. Warrants are almost never turned down. Look at FISA. But they’re at least a step that separates the police from the judicial arm, and you get somebody whose not the one carrying the gun making the decision on the warrant and that was really important to our founding fathers and I think still is important. Many conservatives who want to protect the Second Amendment don’t care that much for the Fourth Amendment. I think somebody has to care about the Fourth Amendment.”