Privacy: News the EPA is conducting surveillance on farmers goes against our grain. Freedom means freedom of movement and the presumption of innocence. How can we have it if every move is monitored by government?
Nebraska’s congressional delegation sent a justifiably angry letter to Administrator Lisa Jackson last week complaining that her Environmental Protection Agency had exceeded its legislative and constitutional authority by conducting drone surveillance flights over Nebraska and Iowa farms looking for violations of the Clean Water Act.
“They are just way on the outer limits of any authority they’ve been granted,” said Nebraska GOP Sen. Mike Johanns, an opinion the bureaucrats rejected Friday in responding to the letter. The EPA argues that the courts, including the Supreme Court, have already authorized aerial surveillance, such as taking aerial photographs of a chemical manufacturing facility.
“Farmers and ranchers in Nebraska pride themselves in the stewardship of our state’s natural resources,” says the letter signed by Republican Reps. Adrian Smith, Jeff Fortenberry and Lee Terry, as well as Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and Johanns.
“As you might imagine, this practice has resulted in privacy concerns among our constituents and raises several questions.”
Smith, co-chairman of the Modern Agriculture Caucus and the Congressional Rural Caucus, said Tuesday the operations in many cases are near homes so “landowners deserve legitimate justification given the sensitivity of the information gathered by the flyovers.”
America is awash in surveillance cameras, from red-light cameras at intersections to cameras in and outside businesses. For the most part, we tolerate their intrusiveness if the pictures are triggered by actual lawbreakers or are in a public place for legitimate security purposes where the expectation of privacy does not exist.
But a drone flying over farmer Jones’ farmhouse seems a stretch that sets a dangerous precedent.
A federal policy promotes the use of drones by local law enforcement, and drone manufacturers are now pushing their products to the nation’s 18,000 police jurisdictions. This raises the question of whether drones will be allowed to capture information normally requiring a search warrant authorized by a judge?
Syndicated columnist and IBD contributor Charles Krauthammer calls drones instruments of war suited for war. They should not be used domestically, he says.
He notes that you can hear a police helicopter but not a drone over your house, and argues that “the first guy who uses a Second Amendment weapon to bring a drone down that’s been hovering over his house is going to be a folk hero in this country.”
This is not the crazy urban legend of black helicopters roaming about. “We’ve seen in some records that were released by the Air Force just recently, that under their rules, they are allowed to fly drones in public areas and record information on domestic situations,” says Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Association, who is looking into various government surveillance techniques.
Under current guidelines, information gathered deliberately or accidentally by military drones over the U.S. can be kept by the military up to three months before being purged.
They can also be turned over to “another Department of Defense or government agency to whose function it pertains.” Presumably that includes Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice.
“Our Founding Fathers had no idea that there would be remote-control drones with television monitors that can feed back live data instantaneously — but if they had, they would have made darn sure that these things were subject to the Fourth Amendment (protecting individual privacy),” Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, told Fox News.
It’s been said that those who sacrifice liberty for the sake of security will likely wind up with neither.
We agree with Mr. Krauthammer on drones surveilling American citizens: “Stop it here. Stop it now.”
For more click here.
- EPA Using Spy Drones to Fly Over Midwestern Farms (blacklistednews.com)
- Civil rights advocates trying to ‘shoot down’ drones (wnd.com)
- Judge Napolitano’s Blog: Is There a Drone in Your Backyard? (foxnewsinsider.com)
- Wanted: A Competent Commander-In-Chief (lettingfreedomring.com)
- Obama Bogged Down by Scandals (lettingfreedomring.com
- War on Terror Declared Over; Environmental Justice War Now Begins (lettingfreedomring.com
- “If I Wanted America to Fail”…..I would continue on the path we are on! (lettingfreedomring.com