This post is based on an odd story about a very large and expensive-to-operate, military drone being used to monitor a situation in North Dakota which involved a dispute between two farm families about the ownership of six cows. A Predator aerial drone (yes, the same kind of drone that is used by the US military to target enemies and terrorists abroad with missiles) was used last year to monitor a potential confrontational situation involving two farm families who had an ownership dispute about several cows.
At first glance, this seems like a massive case of budgetary overkill…rather like using a shotgun to swat a housefly. The story goes on to report that various police agencies around the nation are already calling in federal aerial drones on what appears to be an ad-hoc basis. The Texas Rangers are specifically cited as calling on them, and one can see that with border security issues, that agency would no doubt find them very useful in any border security issue involving illegal immigration, drug-smuggling, etc. However, there are many sticky issues involved with using aerial federal drones (or any police agency’s drones) to monitor/spy on American citizens. The first link’s story cited privacy advocates and even a conservative Republican senator and liberal Democrat Congressman as expressing their concerns about the loss of liberty by American citizens if drones are used to spy on Americans. I share that concern, but would like to point out two things.
The first thing is that the 4th Amendment to the Constitution certainly should require any law enforcement agency to obtain a search warrant under most circumstances. Generally, if there is probable cause, a judge will grant a warrant and the Constitution is satisfied. However, the second thing is that our founding fathers couldn’t possibly have foreseen the technology or threats extant in our modern world. If drones are needed to capture criminals who are being chased in “hot pursuit” by the police, then no warrant would seem to be needed. Also, if terrorists are building or deploying a bomb somewhere in America or involved in some other kind of terrorist plot, I’m all for the law enforcement agencies using the drones ASAP to catch/stop the bad guys. The Courts are going to have to find some way to balance this new technology and the current threat environment with the 4th Amendment. Don’t ask me for the solution to this thorny issue—that’s way above my pay grade. There is more you should know about this issue.
There are several safety and technical issues, such as merging unmanned drones into the already sometimes-crowded airspace in the USA and especially around major population centers. The FAA is having to wrestle with this issue, and I can appreciate their concerns. In a former job, I was periodically inside the FAA’s enclosed control rooms and could follow the controllers’ actions in monitoring all the airplanes under the control in each agent’s designated airspace, how airplanes are passed along to different regional controllers, watching transponder information change, etc. It is a very sophisticated form of aerial choreography that they supervise, and the controllers certainly won my respect for their skills. What if a drone is flying right at the border where an aerial object has to be passed back and forth between two controllers during the drone’s mission. There is also the safety issue or making sure each aerial drone has a transponder so the controller’s even know where they are. Pilots can generally obtain a visual confirmation of other airplanes near their own airspace, but only in clear weather. However, even in the best of visual conditions, a small drone might be impossible for a flight crew to see even if they are advised it is close to them. In bad weather, the pilots need excellent radar and the controllers need transponders on every aerial object to avoid collisions. How do you deploy drones in a metro area if, for example, terrorists are being monitored in an area under or adjacent to an active runway? A small drone might look like a mere bird on some radars, if it is visible at all. While the first link cites the eagerness of drone industry groups (and the Congressmen who serve them) to get the drones deployed, they may want to “cool their jets” and let the technical people make sure the accident dangers get fully resolved before they are widely deployed. What their industry does not need is one major accident where a drone collides with a commercial plane and causes an accident with high casualties (especially if a Congressman a senator or high government officials are among the deceased). That would likely get all drones grounded for a very long time, and that would be really bad for their business. The lawyers will also, no doubt, be involved filing federal cases to see how the 4th Amendment limits aerial drone’s “searches” of American citizens.
As I’ve noted before, Revelation 13:11-18 foretells that a global government will, for a rather short time at the end of this age (42 months to be exact, Revelation 13:5) be able to monitor and control global financial/monetary activity by individuals. This global power will surely be able to monitor people in many other ways as well (i.e. aerial drones, satellite spying, remote monitoring via sophisticated listening devices, etc.) Given that aerial spy drones are apparently coming in large numbers in the future, you may have to get used to waving “hello” when you look skyward in the Brave New World ahead of us.
Oh, yes. There are more details about that use of a large military spy drone which monitored the dispute between two North Dakota farm families about six cows. The second link, from the British media, reports far more details on this situation than did the American link cited. One of the farm families had “anti-government” attitudes, and there was an armed stand-off between them and law enforcement personnel. The Predator drone called in was literally a drone operated out of Grand Forks’ military AFB. Was it “unarmed” as the story states? That could certainly be true. On the other hand, the Predator is designed to carry and fire weaponry and what good would it do if it was tasked to fly over terrorists infiltrating across a remote part of the Canadian border with a possible WMD in their possession?
The second link emphasizes the points I made in a previous post strongly advising readers to avoid the “sovereign citizen” movement. I don’t know if the cited North Dakota family claimed that label on themselves, but their reputation and actions fit the profile. I urge you to read that post if you have not done so. It cites biblical teachings that Christians are to be good citizens, and the specifics of the biblical teachings on the subject clearly would advise all believers to avoid being part of any extremist group or philosophy on the right or left side of the political spectrum. Believers should pay taxes, obey laws and be good citizens. However, Americans have every right to assert and claim their Constitutional rights even as Paul asserted and claimed his Roman citizenship rights on more than one occasion in the book of Acts. If you have not read it, I also urge readers to review the biblical advice given to all of us in my article, Christian Rights and Citizenship Responsibilities. Doing so and applying the cited scriptures could save you a lot of trouble in the future.
The latter days is prophesied to be a perilous time (Matthew 24:3-12, II Timothy 3:1-5, etc.) It already is. The future will include greater traumas and dangers before Jesus Christ returns and puts a stop suddenly to the wars, corruptions, and dangers on the earth (Revelation 19:11-20:4). There will be far greater dangers than our Founding Fathers could have ever imagined in their wildest dreams. Constitutional rights and issues for Americans (whether Christian, Jewish, Moslem, atheist or whatever) will surely come under a great deal of debate and legal examination and redefinition in the future.