The battlefield for drones has been Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and Somalia. But, now they are coming to America.

In today’s world, drones are used for various purposes and not just to deploy them for purposes of surveillance on the battlefield. Companies like Drone My Business are even offering their services to anyone who wants to get great shots of wedding or business to showcase it to the world. Drones are known as unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which are apart of an unmanned aerial system (UAS), which according to the DoD is a, “system whose components include the necessary equipment, network, and personnel to control an unmanned aircraft.” Whereas UAV is, “A powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely, can be expendable or recoverable, and can carry a lethal or non-lethal payload. Ballistic or semi-ballistic vehicles, cruise missiles, and artillery projectiles are not considered unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Currently, federal and local agencies are either using, or they are requesting to start using drones in the US. In the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, this act is to address the domestic use of drones in US airspace. By, 2015, UAS should be fully implemented.

However there is no mention of upholding the Fourth Amendment. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” We no longer have the right to be secure in our own homes or have our effects unreasonably searched. In a leaked document it has been determined that not only can the federal government or local governments use drones as a way of surveillance, but so can the US military.

Drones are remotely flown by a user, or flown “autonomously” like out of a Terminator movie. Surveillance capabilities of drones include photography, thermal imaging, audio recording and storage for collected recordable media. The drone also has the ability to transmit data to collections base through a radio signal.

In a US leaked document, “Airforce Instruction 14-104”, on domestic surveillance is permitted on US citizens. It defines domestic surveillance as, “any imagery collected by satellite (national or commercial) and airborne platforms that cover the land areas of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and the territories and possessions of the US, to a 12 nautical mile seaward limit of these land areas.” In the leaked document, legal uses include: natural disasters, force protection, counter-terrorism, security vulnerabilities, environmental studies, navigation, and exercises.

In the 14-104 document, it acknowledges that drones may be used to spy on US citizens: “This instruction applies to all Air Force active duty, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard (when performing a federal function) intelligence units, staff organizations, and non-intelligence organizations that perform intelligence-related activities (e.g., Eagle Vision units) that could collect, analyze, process, retain, or disseminate information on US persons and it also applies to those who exercise command over these units and organizations.”

Common belief is that the different departments of defense can only collect on foreign nations, however Executive Order 12333 it states that the DoD can, “Conduct counterintelligence activities in support of Department of Defense components … within the United States in coordination with the FBI pursuant to procedures agreed upon by the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General.” It is further defined in DoD Regulation 5240.1-R, C. “Types of information that may be collected about United States persons. 1. Information obtained with consent. 2. Publicly available information. 3. Foreign Intelligence.” Publically available information may include facebook and twitter, memberships in what maybe considered anti-government groups.

In addition Instruction 14-104 says, “Agencies within the Intelligence Community are authorized to collect, retain or disseminate information concerning United States persons only in accordance with procedures established by the head of the agency concerned and approved by the Attorney General.” Drone surveillance on US citizens can be collected, retained and disseminated even if not directed at any specific individual under investigation. “Information acquired by overhead reconnaissance not directed at specific United States persons: Incidentally obtained information that may indicate involvement in activities that may violate federal, state, local or foreign laws, and information necessary for administrative purposes.” This information indirectly collected on any US citizen maybe retained for 90 days to determine if the surveillance is able to be collected. After which it is to be removed or transferred to an approved agency since the instruction states, “even though information may not be collectible, it may be retained for the length of time necessary to transfer it to another DoD entity or government agency to whose function it pertains.” This information may be sent to Homeland Security, the FBI, or local law enforcement. This places every American under investigation till an agency determines that any information collected is enough to prosecute and collected by any federal agency that may or may not have jurisdiction.

The document also continues that the Airforce may collect on you on your private property just as long as it not a targeted at any individual and it doesn’t identifying characteristics of any US person during navigational or training purposes. “Air Force units with weapon system video and tactical ISR (Imagery, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) capabilities may collect imagery during formal and continuation training missions as long as the collected imagery is not for the purpose of obtaining information about specific US persons or private property. Collected imagery may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent. Imagery may not be collected for the purpose of gathering any specific information about a US person or private entity, without consent, nor may stored imagery be retrievable by reference to US person identifiers.” It just concludes that if you and your home are in the way of an exercise or navigational training mission, it is deemed perfectly legal to spy on you, even just accidentally. If the intelligence is not pertinent to the Airforce, then it is to be transferred to a federal agency like the FBI or DHS (ICE, Border Patrol or US Coast Guard).

Also the instruction allows for force protection intelligence gathering. This may include non-force protection related activities. “If during the course of routine, non-force protection related, intelligence activities and authorized missions, Air Force intelligence components receive information identifying US persons as an alleged threat to DoD or civilian individuals, entities or structures, such threats should be reported IAW paragraph 12 of this instruction.”

Section 12 states: “If, during the course of routine activities and authorized missions, Air Force intelligence components receive information (including information identifying US persons) regarding potential threats to life or property, (whether DoD personnel, installations or activities, or civilian lives or property) that information must be passed to appropriate authorities.” This section contradicts the above paragraph that accidental collection of US persons must not have indentifying references to US person. This instruction says, that the information must be passed on, that those collecting intelligence on US citizens are duty bound to report all information to the FBI, DHS (ICE, Border Patrol, or the US coast guard).

I think another important point of this leaked document also includes imagery from satellites. We must also recognize that it is not just a drone that maybe used to see what we are doing in our backyard; it is also the use of satellites that may collect imagery on us.

The first use of drones on a US citizen was on Rodney Bossart. Rodney Bossart, a resident of North Dakota, has been arrested after a stand off with police officers over what the authorities considered theft of cows. Rodney believed that the cows were unclaimed and he was within his rights to keep them as his own property. He refused to give the cows to the police and chased the officers off with a gun. SWAT was called in but they were unable to accurately find him on his property and they considered him violent. A warrant was issued for Rodney, but a drone was not in the warrant. The drone was used to locate him so SWAT could apprehend him. He tried to challenge the warrantless spying by local and federal law enforcement but was unsuccessful since the drone was not used to determine if a crime had been committed. He now faces multiple criminal charges in a case that could have been a civil dispute.

EPIC and the ACLU have been petitioning congress to enforce protections of citizens’ privacy. But, the DHS and lobbyists are trying to accelerate the FAA’s implementation of drones in US airspace. Drone producers are also trying to solve the high rate crashes and collisions.

The terrorists are indeed afraid of us for our liberties. We just call them the Federal Government. They manipulate the Constitution to expand their power instead of being limited by it. They use the Constitution to define what our God given rights are, and they get the Supreme Court to tell us what they want it to say. Any hero in my eye is the one that defends the Constitution from all enemies foreign and DOMESTIC.

Solzhenitsyn wrote, “Universal innocence also gave rise to universal failure to act.” We are being told if you have nothing to hide, then what is the problem? We have a president that acknowledges that in the NDAA American citizens can be arrested, but reassures that he won’t do that. We are being led into this false sense of security at the cost of our liberties. The more they chip away, the more they believe we will not act. We must not believe in this universal innocence. The government is determined to not only use federal agencies to spy on US citizens, but also the Airforce and other collaborators in the Intelligence community. We are already guilty in the government’s eye. We must act. We must speak out against these unconstitutional acts. We must educate the military that spying on US citizens is unlawful (even if accidental). We must demand from Congress to limit their power to what is in the Constitution. They are both duty bound to this by their oath. We must have conversations with our family and friends to encourage them to be informed. We need to continue on the path of nullification.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Get your state to introduce the Privacy Protection Act to nullify the drones

Kelli Sladick