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New drone questions: Another slippery slope

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By The Tribune-Review

Published: 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.



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