Photograph by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.
Drones: They’re not just for hunting foreigners anymore.
Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke called in the unmanned, unarmed aircraft after he was chased off of a family farm by three men with rifles, the Times explains. It circled the 3,000-acre plot, tracked down the suspects and showed they were unarmed, allowing police to converge and arrest them.
Local police said they have also used Predators for at least two dozen surveillance flights in recent months. From the LAT:
The drones belong to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which operates eight Predators on the country's northern and southwestern borders to search for illegal immigrants and smugglers. The previously unreported use of its drones to assist local, state and federal law enforcement has occurred without any public acknowledgment or debate.
Creepy? Former U.S. Rep. Jane Harman of California thinks so. “There is no question that this could become something that people will regret,” she told the Times.
Over at Salon, columnist Glenn Greenwald agrees. He wrote a lengthy post last week criticizing an NPR segment that touted drones’ potential domestic applications without much scrutiny of their implications for privacy or civil liberties. He sounded off again Monday in the wake of the Times’ report, noting that the domestic drone phenomenon is still getting “very little Congressional, media or public attention.”