Military technology has advanced in recent years to the point that many domestic law enforcement agencies and politicians are promoting the concept of using them to fight crime. In the news most recently has been the potential use of drone technology to perform surveillance as well as to take out suspected dangerous criminals during moments of “imminent threat.” Now, one who was perceived as a symbol against the use of domestic drone technology seems to have switched sides.
Rand Paul, the libertarian Senator from Kentucky and son of former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, made comments Tuesday that seem to indicate he has switched his views on domestic drone use. Here’s the video:
This apparent change in perspective follows last month’s 12 hour, 52 minute filibuster used to hold up the nomination of John Brennan for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The majority of the speech was focused on the Obama administration’s use of drone technology domestically, during which he and other Senator’s used the word “drone” 489 times. After the interview, Paul posted a press release stating that he did not flip-flop:
“My comments last night left the mistaken impression that my position on drones had changed.
“Let me be clear: it has not. Armed drones should not be used in normal crime situations. They only may only be considered in extraordinary, lethal situations where there is an ongoing, imminent threat. I described that scenario previously during my Senate filibuster.
“Additionally, surveillance drones should only be used with warrants and specific targets.
“Fighting terrorism and capturing terrorists must be done while preserving our constitutional protections. This was demonstrated last week in Boston. As we all seek to prevent future tragedies, we must continue to bear this in mind.”
Some conservative blogs are coming to his defense trying to make sense of his statements, but they do not see the real issue in all this. Technology is now and always has been a two-edged sword. Unfortunately, when the government is involved, it often shifts towards the wrong edge and cuts more rather than less. Opening the doors to the use of these types of technologies today will not end once the doors are open. It only takes a handful of successes, a few “happy endings” in the pursuit of criminals that ends up saving lives, and the people will embrace the use wholeheartedly.
Many would say that this is a good thing, but the Pandora’s Box problem comes into play because of the advancement of the technologies. Today, drones can do so much, but we’re barely scratching the surface on surveillance and pinpoint weapon use. Over time, as they become more advanced and the capabilities become more precise, we’ll see that the use of them will spread and quickly become commonplace.
There’s a need for increased security in this world, but the concepts of a police state can more easily get started when they’re able to do more. This is the seed of a technology that can do more… a lot more. It’s a door that must be shut immediately. No tests. No rules to try to contain it. The use of domestic drone technology is the beginning of more than just a police state. It’s Big Brother. 1984 is happening right in front of us, just three decades later than fictionally predicted.