Senator Introduces Bill To Protect Citizens From Drone Surveillance_Featured_, Politics Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
By Bob Adelmann
(The New American) When Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced his bill in June, he was responding to growing concerns over privacy by American citizens. The purpose of his bill is elegantly simple: “To protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles commonly called drones.” Paul’s bill is very specific:
[A] person or entity acting under the authority [of], or funded in whole or in part by, the Government of the United States shall not use a drone to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or regulation except to the extent authorized in a warrant that satisfies the requirements of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Paul explained that “Americans going about their everyday lives should not be treated like criminals or terrorists and have their rights infringed upon by military tactics.”
One of those claiming to have had his rights infringed upon is Rodney Brossart of Lakota, North Dakota, who is “the first American citizen to be arrested with the help of a Predator surveillance drone,” according to USNews. Brossart’s troubles began in 2010 when six cows wandered onto his 3,000-acre farm in Lakota, a town of 3,100 people about 60 miles west of Grand Forks. Under a disputed open-range law he believed the cattle were unclaimed and therefore belonged to him.
When Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke showed up over the matter, Brossart was uncooperative, and Janke escalated the confrontation by bringing in members of the Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances, and deputies from three other counties. He also called in a Predator B drone.
From two miles up the drone spotted Brossart and his sons with such clarity that Janke knew they were unarmed, and swooped in to arrest them. Brossart was charged with terrorizing a sheriff, theft, and criminal mischief, among other things. Brossart went to court, claiming that his rights under the Fourth Amendment — protection against unwarranted searches and seizures — had been violated.
The attorney for the state claimed no foul, as the drone was used only to locate Brossart and his sons. Wrote state prosecutor Douglas Manbeck:
The use of unmanned surveillance aircraft is a non-issue in this case because they were not used in any investigative manner to determine if a crime had been committed.
There is, furthermore, no existing case law that bars their use in investigating crimes.
In other words, the drone wasn’t investigating, and even if it were, there are no laws against it. Which is why Paul’s bill is so relevant. Unwarranted “non-investigations” like these are making people nervous.