Predator drones patrol U.S. skies for stray cows… no jokeDecember 13th, 2011
Sometimes it sucks to be right. One of the exciting things about libertarians is how often our predictions come true. Whether it’s the ever-increasing price of gold, the collapse of various economic bubbles, or the rise of the police state, there’s usually a libertarian on the other side of every crisis saying, “I told you so.” Well, now it’s my turn. Two months ago I said it wouldn’t be long before Predator drones were flying over Anytown, USA. People called me paranoid. At the time it was just one unmanned surveillance blimp flying over Ogden, Utah. Or at least that’s all they were telling us.
It seems a little known provision in the 2005 bill authorizing the use of Predator drones along the U.S. border allowed other agencies to borrow the drones for, “interior law enforcement support.” So, now the same MQ-9 “hunter/killer” drones used for CIA assassinations in Yemen and Pakistan are being used to track down stray cattle in North Dakota… no joke.
They claim the Predator drones used in American skies are for “surveillance and situational awareness only” and are unarmed… at least for now. But that’s about as comforting as a sniper in balcony seating sayings his rifle is unloaded and he’s just using the scope to get a better view of the speaker.
The excuse is always the same. In this case six stray cows wondered onto the 3,000 acre property of the Brossart family. On June 23rd Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke went looking for the missing cattle and three men ordered him off their property, allegedly carrying rifles which Janke called “brandishing,” like they do. But the Brossart family are supposedly members of the Sovereign Citizens movement which the FBI considers “domestic extremists” so of course recovering $6,000 worth of beef required a military grade response. Janke called in reinforcements from Highway Patrol, a bomb squad, a SWAT team, deputy sheriffs from three other counties and of course… a Predator drone.
The drone returned from the U.S.-Canada border and circled two miles above the family farm, too high to be seen or heard. Meanwhile Janke monitored a live high-resolution feed on his office computer using a password-protected government website called Big Pipe. Once Janke could see all the suspects were unarmed using thermal imaging he signaled his small army to move in and make the arrests. The first known arrests of civilians on American soil with the assistance of a Predator drone.
Rodney Brossart, his wife Susan, his daughter Abby, and his three sons Thomas, Jacob and Alex, face a total of 11 felony charges, mostly related to weapons found in their home. Although they have all been released on bail, so they must not be too dangerous. Don’t worry… the six missing cows were recovered. Rodney was apparently under the impression the cows were unclaimed. Just a misunderstanding of open-range law.
Since June Nelson County police have used Predator drones at least two dozen times. Officials say the FBI and DEA also use Predators in domestic investigations. Michael C. Kostelnik, a retired Air Force general who heads the office that supervises the drones, said Predators are flown “in many areas around the country, not only for federal operators, but also for state and local law enforcement.” So, it was actually going on long before I even asked the question. Who’s paranoid now?
If they call on drones to recover six cows do you seriously think there isn’t a Predator drone flying over every city with an Occupy encampment? Here’s what I want to know. If police can tell if a handful of rural gun-polishers are armed using a thermal camera two miles in the air why does the TSA have to cup our junk and bombard us with radiation?