The Latest on Drones

If you’ve followed me for very long, you’ll know the Bill of Rights is dear to my heart.  You’ll also know that I’ve been focusing on this drone thing for a while now.  Some people thought I was crazy and paranoid, but more and more people are coming out about it.

I really enjoy reading Judge Napolitano’s writing.  The man is a brilliant Constitutionalist.  I found an opinion piece he wrote today on Fox News that summed up how I feel about the drones issue pretty concisely.  Click here to read his op-ed.  He stated that if this were done in Thomas Jefferson’s time, there would’ve been muskets trained on it to bring it down.

Charles Krauthammer has spoken about the lack of constitutionality of the domestic use of drones, too.  He went so far to say that the first person arrested for shooting one down will become a folk hero.

I have to say I agree with both men.  I wouldn’t blame anyone for shooting one down and I’d have nothing but respect for someone who does.  While I’m not suggesting violence against our government, I still wouldn’t blame someone for downing a drone that is violating the people’s rights to privacy.

Below is the op-ed posted by Judge Napolitano on FoxNews.com

Where is the outrage?

By  /Published June 07, 2012 /FoxNews.com

For the past few weeks, I have been writing in this column about the government’s use of drones and challenging their constitutionality on Fox News Channel where I work. I once asked on air what Thomas Jefferson would have done if — had drones existed at the time — King George III had sent drones to peer inside the bedroom windows of Monticello. I suspect that Jefferson and his household would have trained their muskets on the drones and taken them down. I offer this historical anachronism as a hypothetical only, not as one who is urging the use of violence against the government.

Nevertheless, what Jeffersonians are among us today? When drones take pictures of us on our private property and in our homes, and the government uses the photos as it wishes, what will we do about it? Jefferson understood that when the government assaults our privacy and dignity, it is the moral equivalent of violence against us. The folks who hear about this, who either laugh or groan, cannot find it humorous or boring that their every move will be monitored and photographed by the government.

Don’t believe me that this is coming? The photos that the drones will take may be retained and used or even distributed to others in the government so long as the “recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function” in requiring them. And for the first time since the Civil War, the federal government will deploy military personnel inside the United States and publicly acknowledge that it is deploying them “to collect information about U.S. persons.”

 

Did you consent to the American military spying on Americans in America? I don’t know a single person who has, but I know only a few who are complaining.

 It gets worse. If the military personnel see something of interest from a drone, they may apply to a military judge or “military commander” for permission to conduct a physical search of the private property that intrigues them. And, any “incidentally acquired information” can be retained or turned over to local law enforcement. What’s next? Prosecutions before military tribunals in the U.S.?

The quoted phrases above are extracted from a now-public 30-page memorandum issued by President Obama’s Secretary of the Air Force on April 23, 2012. The purpose of the memorandum is stated as “balancing … obtaining intelligence information … and protecting individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution…” Note the primacy of intelligence gathering over freedom protection, and note the peculiar use of the word “balancing.”

When liberty and safety clash, do we really expect the government to balance those values? Of course not. The government cannot be trusted to restrain itself in the face of individual choices to pursue happiness. That’s why we have a Constitution and a life-tenured judiciary: to protect the minority from the liberty-stealing impulses of the majority. And that’s why the Air Force memo has its priorities reversed — intelligence gathering first, protecting freedom second — and the mechanism of reconciling the two — balancing them — constitutionally incorrect.

Everyone who works for the government swears to uphold the Constitution. It was written to define and restrain the government. According to the Declaration of Independence, the government’s powers come from the consent of the governed. The government in America was not created by a powerful king reluctantly granting liberty to his subjects. It was created by free people willingly granting limited power to their government — and retaining that which they did not delegate.

The Declaration also defines our liberties as coming from our Creator, as integral to our humanity and as inseparable from us, unless we give them up by violating someone else’s liberties. Hence the Jeffersonian and constitutional beef with the word “balancing” when it comes to government power versus individual liberty.

The Judeo-Christian and constitutionally mandated relationship between government power and individual liberty is not balance. It is bias — a bias in favor of liberty. All presumptions should favor the natural rights of individuals, not the delegated and seized powers of the government. Individual liberty, not government power, is the default position because persons are immortal and created in God’s image, and governments are temporary and based on force.

Hence my outrage at the coming use of drones — some as small as golf balls — to watch us, to listen to us and to record us. Did you consent to the government having that power? Did you consent to the American military spying on Americans in America? I don’t know a single person who has, but I know only a few who are complaining.

If we remain silent when our popularly elected government violates the laws it has sworn to uphold and steals the freedoms we elected it to protect, we will have only ourselves to blame when Big Brother is everywhere. Somehow, I doubt my father’s generation fought the Nazis in World War II only to permit a totalitarian government to flourish here.

Is President Obama prepared to defend this? Is Gov. Romney prepared to challenge it? Are you prepared for its consequences?

COPYRIGHT 2012 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written six books on the U.S. Constitution. His latest is “ It is Dangerous To Be Right When the Government Is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom.”

In his May 17th op-ed piece, the Judge wrote:

Is there a drone in your backyard?

By /Published May 17, 2012/FoxNews.com

Earlier this week, the federal government announced that the Air Force might be dispatching drones to a backyard near you. The stated purpose of these spies in the sky is to assist local police to find missing persons or kidnap victims, or to chase bad guys. 

If the drone operator sees you doing anything of interest (Is your fertilizer for the roses or to fuel a bomb? Is that Sudafed for your cold or your meth habit? Are you smoking in front of your kids?), the feds say they may take a picture of you and keep it. The feds predict that they will dispatch or authorize about 30,000 of these unmanned aerial vehicles across America in the next 10 years. Meanwhile, more than 300 local and state police departments are awaiting federal permission to use the drones they already have purchased — usually with federal stimulus funds.The government is out of control. 

If the police use a drone without a warrant to see who or what is in your backyard or your bedroom, or if while looking for a missing child the drone takes a picture of you in your backyard or bedroom and the government keeps the picture, its use is unnatural and unconstitutional.

I say “unnatural” because we all have a natural right to privacy; it is a fundamental right that is inherent in our humanity. All of us have times of the day and moments in our behavior when we expect that no one — least of all the government — will be watching. When the government watches us during those times, it violates our natural right to privacy. It also violates our constitutional right to privacy. The Supreme Court has held consistently that numerous clauses in the Bill of Rights keep the government at bay without a warrant. 

Even when we don’t have an expectation of privacy, we do have a right to be left alone. But merely watching us in public isn’t enough for the police, as many street corner cameras are equipped with listening devices and tiny megaphones. We can expect that these devices will soon bark commands: “Put down that BlackBerry.” “Look to your right before crossing.” “Don’t kiss her; a car is coming.” Actually, Big Brother is coming, and he’s not smiling.

Big Brother is watching from the skies, as well as the streets. This started when the Department of Defense decided to offer help to police — and they are prepared to accept. Never mind that the military may not lawfully operate within our borders, except in the case of rebellion, and then only when publicly authorized by the president. Never mind that the military may not lawfully be used for law enforcement, except in the case of disaster, and then only when publicly authorized by the president. And never mind that this use of drones by the Air Force was not the result of legislation debated and enacted by Congress, but was done under the authority of the president alone. 

Add to all this the use of drones to kill people. President Obama has argued that he can use drones to kill Americans overseas, whose deaths he believes will keep us all safer, without any constitutional due process whatsoever. His attorney general has argued that the president’s careful consideration of each target and the narrow use of deadly drones are an adequate substitute for due process. Of course, no court has ever ruled that way. The president’s national security adviser has argued that the use of drones is humane since they are “surgical” and only kill their targets. Of course, that’s not true, but it misses the point. Without a declaration of war, the president can’t lawfully kill anyone, no matter how humane his killing. 

How long will it be before the Air Force and the police adopt the unconstitutional arguments of the president’s wrongheaded advisers and use the drones not only to spy but also to kill Americans in America? 

The whole reason we have a Bill of Rights is to assure that tyranny does not happen here, to guarantee that the government, to which we have supposedly consented, will leave us alone. Do you think the government accepts that? Would you feel safe with a drone in your backyard? Would you feel like you were in America? 

To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit http://www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2012 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM.

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written six books on the U.S. Constitution. His latest is “ It is Dangerous To Be Right When the Government Is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom.”

Now tell me the Judge isn’t a genius. 

Make sure you look at the other drone-related articles I have:

 Drones! EPA Defends Them!

More on the Drone Issue

More on Drones

Read the articles and feel free to comment of contact me.

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