Are you government-approved in every area of your life? As radio host Mark Levin recently pointed out, we all operate within the strangling decrees of oppressive federal regulations: government-approved light bulbs, government-approved washers and dryers, government-approved refrigerators, government-approved automobiles, etc. The list goes on and on. We can’t even go to the bathroom in our own homes without having to flush a government-mandated commode — twice — which, of course, defeats the whole purpose of a “low-flow” toilet. And coming soon to the domicile of the future: smart thermostats that will monitor the temperature in your home and automatically regulate it if you are using too much energy.
Now Big Brother has decided he has the right to scrutinize your life through the use of his latest toy, the drone, the high-tech equivalent of Winston Smith’s telescreen, which monitored his every move in George Orwell’s chilling 1949 novel, “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”
Because of the increased use of drones — military and civilian — lawmakers in California, Florida, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Virginia now are in the process of banning the use of such technology in their skies.
“Our Founders had no conception of things that would fly over them at night and peer into backyards and send signals back to a home base,” state Sen. Donald McEachin, D-Va., co-sponsor of a bill that would forbid the use of drones in most instances, said.
In libertarian-minded Montana, legislators from both parties are working on proposals to restrict the use of drones.
“I do not think our citizens would want cameras to fly overhead and collect data on our lives,” state Sen. Matthew Rosendale, R-Mont., recently told a legislative committee.
“It’s important for us to prevent Missouri from sliding into a police-type state,” state Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Mo., said.
Groups as diverse as the Tea Party and the American Civil Liberties Union are supportive of these actions by state governments. However, according to the ACLU, states will not be able to stop federal agencies from using drones.
“The use of drones across the country has become a great threat to our personal privacy,” Niki Zupanic, ACLU of Montana policy director, said. “The door is wide open for intrusions into our personal private space.”
In the age of President Obama’s second term, such concerns might take a back seat to a much more sinister agenda. Recently, a confidential U.S. Justice Department document has come to light. It advises the Obama administration that the use of drones in foreign countries to kill Americans suspected of having ties to terrorists is perfectly legal.
“The U.S citizenship of a leader of al-Qaida or its associated forces does not give that person constitutional immunity from attack,” the report reads. “The Due Process Clause (of the U.S. Constitution) does not prohibit a lethal operation of the sort contemplated here.”
If those words do not send shivers up your backside, then you yourself are a drone. The criteria for using such a strike to kill an American citizen is said to be as follows: the person must be a suspected al-Qaida leader; an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government must have determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; capture of the individual must be infeasible; and finally, the operation must be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable principles governing the laws of war.
Conspicuously absent from the justice department report is any discussion of whether drone strikes on U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism may be conducted on American soil. And therein lies the problem. Remember when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said her department considered pro-life demonstrators and Tea Party activists to be dangerous potential terrorists? Even disgruntled returning war vets were on her paranoid list.
The last time I checked, she was considered a “high-level official of the U.S. government.”
It is a short jump from attacking “suspected enemies” abroad to attacking them here. From there, it is another abbreviated leap from attacking Americans suspected of al-Qaida ties to Americans considered terrorists of another stripe.
Elections have consequences. Here come the drones.
Doug Patton is a Cagle Cartoons syndicated columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org