VA Governor cites warzone drone success, says domestic use would be 'great'June 1, 2012
End the Lie.
Recently the domestic use of drones has taken a major step forward with the passage of a bill which accelerates their integration into American airspace and some are embracing this troublesome reality with open arms.
One such individual who has embraced the disturbing use of drones in the United States is Bob McDonnell, the Governor of Virginia, who is also a retired Lieutenant Colonel with the U.S. Army.
McDonnell claimed that police drones flying over Virginia would not only be “great” but also “the right thing to do.”
He claims that this is true because they have been so effective in use over battlefields across the world. One must wonder if he means their brutal efficiency in murdering many people at once as they have done in the undeclared war in Pakistan or their nearly unbelievable surveillance capabilities.
McDonnell further stated that he is open to any technology which makes law enforcement activities more productive, which makes me wonder if he would also support the use of chips allowing mobile devices to see through walls in the hands of police, so long as it is in the name of increasing productivity.
Unsurprisingly the police chiefs of Fairfax County, Virginia (one of the state’s most affluent regions) and the District of Columbia have already endorsed the use of drones in the name of making better use of police resources.
McDonnell cited the reasons the military and intelligence community use the drones in warzones as reasons we should use them in our own country – which has officially become a battlefield thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) – such as safety and reduced manpower.
However, this claim of reduced manpower is not quite accurate, since the military is already years behind in analyzing the data captured by drones and as the Los Angeles Times reported last year, “It takes more people to operate unmanned aircraft than it does to fly traditional warplanes that have a pilot and crew.”
Where the “reduced manpower” myth comes from is beyond me, but there is absolutely no indication that the claim has any basis in reality whatsoever.
“It’s great,” McDonnell stated while appearing on local Virginia news outlet WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program.
“If you’re keeping police officers safe, making it more productive and saving money … it’s absolutely the right thing to do,” McDonnell added.
However, once again, his claim of “saving money” makes very little sense whatsoever. This may be true over a period of several years, or perhaps even a decade or more, but since almost all counties are struggling to get by as is, I seriously doubt that this massive start up cost is something worth absorbing.
That is, unless, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chooses to give out some of their massive grants to subsidize the move towards drones or if they begin being given away under the Pentagon’s 1033 program.
Seeing as the Department of Defense is now distributing military robots and heavily armored vehicles under the program, that wouldn’t be all too surprising.
While a proposal to purchase drones has not even made it to McDonnell’s desk yet, he clearly is itching to get them out into the air above Virginia.
“Drones will certainly have a purpose and a reason to be in this region in the next, coming years,” Fairfax County Police Chief David Rohrer said. “Just as a standpoint as an alternative for spotting traffic and sending information back to our VDOT Smart Traffic centers, and being able to observe backups.”
Seems to be a little expensive to just serve for spotting traffic and observing backups but maybe I’m the only one who thinks our governments at the local, state and federal level are engaging in completely out-of-control spending.
McDonnell did briefly address the overwhelming privacy and civil liberties concerns, although all he said was that it will prove important to ensure that the state looks after the civil liberties of Virginians.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a list back in April of the entities authorized to use drones including Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia Commonwealth University and the United States Marine Corps, although it is noted that they have not yet said where they are actually flying the drones and it is jut their headquarters which is in Quantico, Virginia.
With the massive concerns about the use of drones’ impact on civil liberties, the false claims made by McDonnell about reduced manpower and the dubious nature of the cost-effectiveness, I personally do not see it as reasonable for him to support it as he is.
However, with such massive support amongst federal legislators, I do not think that it would be smart to expect McDonnell to put his citizens and their rights before his beliefs in the efficacy of drones.
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