Share This Page

New drone questions: Another slippery slope

| Friday, March 15, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

As if the Obama administration's explanations regarding the use of drones against Americans weren't troubling enough, now there's a new wrinkle — drones that can determine whether citizens are armed and can track cellphones.

Government documents, obtained by an electronic privacy organization under a Freedom of Information request, reveal that the Department of Homeland Security's Predator B drone fleet has been customized to identify people with guns and can pick up cellphone signals.

Attempting to squash another drone controversy, the Obama administration says only 10 of the drones are intended for use and then by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to identify armed illegal aliens at the border, The Washington Times reports. The agency insists it's not deploying the cellphone signal-interception capability.

We are not reassured, and for good reason.

Initially, Attorney General Eric Holder in correspondence to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said using lethal force against American noncombatants on U.S. soil via drones is “possible” under “extraordinary circumstances.” It took Mr. Paul's filibuster for Justice to acknowledge that doing so would be unconstitutional.

Americans don't need any more White House slippery-slope “interpretations” on the use of drones, whether to spot armed civilians or to spy where there's no warrant. For the last time we checked, the Fourth and Fifth amendments remain parts of the Bill of Rights.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.