The Use and Abuse of Drones

Well, apparently the bureaucrats at the EPA decided they wanted to usurp the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution. They're using drones to spy on farmers, not because they think they're terrorists, but because they want to assert their power over everyday Americans.

PJTV covers the story in "The Green Police: EPA Using Drones to Spy on Farmers."

I guess they still have the mentality to crucify people.


I always thought that that maxim of Ben Franklin's fell flat after he brought over a Prussian mercenary to drill the Continential Army:

But Steuben I'm tired...

Don't Ztuben me, Zu mizierbol creature. Zu vil call me Zir viff I haf to veat it out of youse. Vi have vays of making you vollow orders, zoldier!

and vy ze vay, zat is VON Steuben, not "Steuban".
I wonder how this story got started. Was it, as some would have us believe, simply the running amok of conservative paranoia about Big Government morphing into Big Brother? Or, was it based on a shred of truth, perhaps on a serious proposal to replaced airplanes with drones?

It's well known that flying an airplane over a huge marijuana field is very risky; the field's owners will shoot at your aircraft. So I think I might actually prefer that drones be used, to protect the pilot and spotters.

And Jason is right, of course: whether the pilot and spotters are aloft or are doing their job remotely, the farmer is still being surveilled. So the question boils down to how much of our liberty we're willing to trade for our security (from drug dealers, or from other threats). Ben Franklin had his opinion; those who want video cameras everywhere can have their opinions.

But I'm more interested in the meta-story: conservative news organizations promulgate a story, the story is discovered to be apparently false, and at least one of the organizations (Fox News) apologizes. The truth comes out, and we should all be glad.

Except that Rachel Maddow and other apostles of MSNBC are rather, uh, *selective* about their zeal for truth. They run to ground a story like this one, but these energetic investigative journalists ignore other stories with rather larger national implications. For example:

I recall that Saul Alinsky recommended the tactic of holding one's opponent to their principles, and when they inevitably failed to be able to live by those principles in the long term, why, then you use it against them, publicly. You need not, said Alinsky, be so wedded to your own principles. So when MSNBC or any of the other media outlets who all lean Left find a way to pounce on Fox for not reporting the truth at all times, I'm not too impressed. Truth as a virtue only for *them* is not a virtue; it's merely a political tool.

I could say more, but I've probably droned on long enough.
Touche', BenW and Jason Taylor! I quite agree. If your land and/or property is visible from public space - whether from looking over a fence on the ground or looking over the property from an in air position, it's not an unreasonable search and seizure. The Wright Brothers flew over people's yards and so forth. . . it's not a new thing.

The concern about using drones is indeed confusing technology with ethics. It is ethical to take reasonable steps within the law and the Constitution to provide for public safety and the reduction of criminal activity. Imagine a world without the knowledge of how to identify people through fingerprints. . . the world was like that most of the time until modern times. Technology needs to be made as available to law enforcement as possible for the benefit of conducting a civil government in our society in a Romans 13 kind of way. The criminals ought not to have the upper hand in technology use, and thus the advantage over law abiding people.
It's not different.

And the worry about drones is confusing technology with ethics.
Interesting. There are now reports that this is incorrect, that the EPA has only been using *manned* aircraft to conduct their surveys.

I'm also pretty skeptical of the arguments in the video. Aerial photography constitutes "search and seizure"? ..I don't think that's correct, any more than photography from a public street constitutes "search and seizure". If your land/property. is visible from public (air)space, then it's not a search.

See this old article about the Supreme Court's decision on manned aerial surveillance:

As for ethical concerns.. how is this different than a police car patrolling through a troublesome neighborhood, looking for signs of trouble? Or different from a CIA computer program that searches the internet for potentially treasonous blog/forum posts? Or, as Kevin V said, an ATF plane that looks for marijuana?
Don't overuse that reference; it will lose it's bite.
Martin Niemoeller updated
The famous quotation attributed to Niemoeller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.

I'll add a local example, tagging onto Kevin's beginning: Then they used high flying drones to look for crime in people's yards. And I did not speak out, because I wasn't a criminal.
First they used helicopters to look for marijuana in people's backyards. And I did not speak out, because I didn't grow marijuana.

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