A somewhat strange story emerged yesterday involving an extremist antigovernment group, a North Dakota sheriff's office, and six missing cows, but there's a much larger story behind this brief legal tangle between local law enforcement and the Brossart family of Nelson Country. When Alex, Thomas and Jacob Brossart were arrested on their farm back in June after allegedly chasing the local Sheriff off their property with rifles, they became the first known U.S. citizens to be arrested on American soil with the help of a Predator drone, Stars and Stripes reports.
They will not, however, be the last. Most U.S. citizens are aware that US. Customs and Border Protection owns and operates a handful of aerial drones along the nation's northern and southern borders (eight Predators to be exact), but when Congress authorized the use of drones along the borders in 2005 it was thought that they would be used strictly to curb illegal immigration and to detect smuggling routes.
But a provision allowing for "interior law enforcement support" is being given fairly liberal interpretation by both the Customs and Border Protection crews that operate the drones and local law enforcement that sometimes wants to borrow CBP's aerial assets. Local police in North Dakota say they've called upon the two Predators operating out of Grand Forks Air Force Base at least two dozen times since June.
These drones are unarmed Predator B drones (known as MQ-9 Reapers elsewhere in the operational lingo), the same "hunter/killer" model employed across the globe in the War on Terror (but without the Hellfire missiles). They are being used for surveillance and situational awareness only, law enforcement officials say. But the fact that they're being used at all--and especially without anyone higher up the chain of command acknowledging that local police have access to and are using Predator drones routinely--stirs up all kinds of privacy issues. As Stripes notes, it also skirts the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the U.S. military from taking on a police role within the United States.
In the case of the Brossart boys, apparently the sheriff showed up on their place with search warrant in hand seeking access to the family's land to search for six missing cows thought to be on the premises. The Brossarts--who reportedly are not huge fans of the federal government in general and belong to an antigovernment group that the FBI considers extremist--brandished rifles and allegedly ordered the sheriff off the property. The sheriff complied, but then asked for support from the nearby drone unit, which happened to have a Predator in the air returning from a routine recon of the U.S.-Canada border.
Local law used the drone to keep an eye on the Brossart place overnight and the next day were able to determine via the drone footage that the three Brossarts in question were out on the property and unarmed (there's a more thorough account of this if you click through to the Stripes piece). All said, the local police were able to sweep in and arrest the Brossarts without firing a shot or ending up in some kind of armed standoff.
To local law enforcement, it's a good story about technology working to avoid violent confrontations and assist cops in their day-to-day serving and protecting. But it's also troubling. From a privacy standpoint, the use of military surveillance drones over American cities is fraught with issues. Then there's the fact that--up until now--very few people seem to have any idea this is going on. The government peering into your backyard, Big Brother is watching, etc. etc.--it's the kind of thing that's going to have to be talked about as technologies like drone aircraft become more ubiquitous, both abroad and at home.
Oh, and the six cows were located by police. No word on whether the Predators were scrambled for that part of the operation.
"[...]returning from a routine recon of the U.S.-Canada border."
lol ^^ give me some more info on that !
bored? lets go mine the stars... ^^
"There's a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people."
~Commander William Adama: Battlestar Galactica
I think drones could be a good way to help catch criminals and make us safer. That being said I think in order for them to be used I think that they should make a warrant that is needed before you can use them. I don't think the government should have the right to spy on me whenever they want without having any proof of me committing a crime. For the case told in the article, it was fairly obvious that those men were criminals, but the police still should have needed to go to court and obtain a warrant before doing surveillance.
@ bob clementime
Your crazy. This is just another example of how the government is going to try to subjugate the people. Look up the new internment camps being made by the DHS. One day your going ot realize that this country is so far gone that it can never be saved.
The people shouldn't fear their government. The government should fear the people. - V
We all knew it would come to this. Time and the psychological state of the public will ultimately determine if this is a good thing or not.
Americans need to stop the Consumerism lifestyle so the Government can't build these things.
The military is supposed to protect our borders.
As long as these drones stay on the borders, I am fine with their use.
They just better stay on the dotted line of the border and not survey USA citizens.
Science sees no further than what it can sense.
Religion sees beyond the senses.
This whole story is about how they used it to survey US citizens. Not using it on the border.
Actually they had a search warrants to look for the cows, just it was safer to do it in the sky :)
I like the idea of these drones looking for baddies, but they need to obtain search warrants to do so like the they did, they also did not want a fire fight which could have killed a kid or a child that could happen to be walking by.
But people will be narrow minded.
How is a unmanned aerial drone different that any other drone used by local law enforcement? What about other military technology in the hands of local law enforcement?
It ultimatly is any different, keep in mind that many of the law enforcement individuals are infact former military and still keep that mentality.
the beginning of skynet. watch, someones bound to hack one and use it for evil purposes. i sense a scary future governed by machines in the near future.
The people of the world only divide into two kinds, One sort with brains who hold no religion, The other with religion and no brain.
- Abu-al-Ala al-Marri
Quite honestly, this is not really a case of the military acting as police. This is simply the police asking to use a peice of military hardware to better do their job. As long as it's the police who are calling the shots on how the drone was used, I see no problem with this at all.
Who was flying the drone? Police or Military?? I don't think the military would allow the police to fly one...they've never trained for that.
So, in fact...I would probably say that an Air Force Pilot at the Air Force Base was probably in control of the drone. Do you think the military would have allowed a police officer to come on base and view the video footage?? Would the video footage of the drone be sent through a direct link to the police station? Did the Air Force pilot flying the drone know what the mission was all about??? Had the pilot been brief on what that pilot was viewing? Was the pilot told just to watch the property and report if the suspects where armed? Where does the Air Force come into the picture of doing a civilian police officer's job??? Does the Air Force have legal jurisdiction for civilian matters??? Just because somebody voices their displeasure with the US government...does that mean that dissenter should be prosecuted?? Does the use of Aerial drones justify the use over 6 COWS - granted the officer had a search warrant - I'll give you that one, but 6 COWS??? Use a $Million$ Dollar piece of advance aviation capabilities over 6 Cows???
I agree that it would be a waste to use the craft for 6 cows, though a single cow can cost up to 2000 dollars, so 12,000 dollars in stolen goods is a fairly large sum. But I think the reason the plane was used in this case was because North Dakota is on the border, so the area of surveillance was not far out of its normal path, therefore not extending much new cost. Not positive but that's what I would assume.
Also, I do not understand the sense that people have that the government is evil. It was created by us to protect ourselves and I know several good people who work for the government. They are definitely not part of any conspiracy to take wage war on everyone else in the country.
@jlight27 "Who was flying the drone?"
I goggled it and found one article that said US Air Force was in control of the unit. which now that you bring that does indeed seem to teeter on the Posse Comitatus Act.
Plenty of police and local spec ops like swat use mil-spec weapons and equipment. But this was directly controlled by the military... very grey waters IMO.
I am okay with this, just as long as if this continues in the future they train non-military personal to operate the vehicles which would not be that hard physically, but logistically (meaning sharing racecourses such as funding and number of drones and airtime by different municipalities would become the largest problem)
Inka rob brings us some good points. Does anyone know the range these planes can be operated from? If it is a reasonably long distance, there could be much fewer guys who would need to be trained in their operation. An operator that is part of the police could be called upon to do operations across a wide range, reducing training costs.
The use of these planes is fine with me so long as warrants are obtained, and they are operated by the police and not the military.
The aircraft that you are speaking of is owned/operated/flown by Customs Border Protection and is a contingent of the Department of Homeland Security. IE, they are a federal law enforcement entity and in no way related to the military.
It is a possible skynet-able intrusion about humans. The drone infact is rounding up humans in a remote location and keeping them captive with a machine gun.
It is the same as cowboy on a horse would do with cattle.
Perhaps the robotic computer wars are beginning, bra-ha haaa, ringing of robotic hands and glowing eyes, bra-haahahaha
Science sees no further than what it can sense.
Religion sees beyond the senses.
Wait till those drones start firing on citizens. It will happen. And what are you do-gooders going to say then?? They deserved it? No they deserve a trial, like all criminals. The shoot first ask questions later is great when it’s directed at others. I doubt you can bear your own meds.
is this the beginning of the end? should we go back and blame James Cameron for instilling it in people's heads that it's just science fiction? will he go down in history as the person who created the climate for our doom? how long before you think these are armed and we hear about the first US citizens killed on US soil by a drone? it will just be the bad guys, cool beans; who decides who the bad guys are? or what decides? cheers
@Justaguy the article I read said THIS drone was operated by the USAF
I don't see a problem to use it to spy, assuming they fulfill whatever legal requirement necessary for aerial surveillance
I really don't understand the big deal here. What is the difference between cops getting a warrant and going into your property on foot? This way there is just less violence.
Just like James Blase said, the police had a warrant. Had they went ahead and had a shootout, they would probably have been sued and out of a job for injuring, or killing someone, and/or could have been killed themselves. I believe that was appropriate use of the technology.
Dear cybegor; Please send internment camp information. This should be good!
Brings to mind the Twilight Zone episode "To See The Invisible Man", coming true.
Predator drones are fine. They're no different than using helicopters.
Now Reaper drones, that's when you should start to worry.
The article states that these r reaper dones but the b model which meand no munitions.
@ cybegore I to would like to see the info on these internment camps. I have seen some outrageous claims on the net about FEMA death camps in Indiana that r totaly rediculas and untrue I know for a fact because I work around one on post and the other my father lives next to. nothing wrong with keeping an eye on your freedoms but some go overboard with their conspiracy theories.
The out come was a peacefull ending and if the yahoo would have at least helped the officers in some way they wouldnt have been arrested nor would have it gone as far as it did!
OK what if another company makes unarmed drones and advertises them in the open as for police use. Then the local police force buys one and uses it. Will that be legal? ilegal? a threat to freedoms?
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