Seven U.S. states press to limit pilotless drones

US states try to restrict drone use

Sun, 10 Mar 2013 07:58:42 GMT
http://edition.presstv.ir/TextOnly/detail.aspx?id=292800

Local lawmakers in several US states have pressed for state laws limiting the use of pilotless drones by police and other agencies amid rising concerns over their potential use to invade the privacy of Americans.

Local lawmakers in more than a dozen US states, including Idaho, Arizona and Montana, are making efforts to enact laws that would outlaw the use of the so-called surveillance drones to obtain evidence on suspected criminal activity without legal warrants issued by judicial authorities, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Additionally, legal provisions in Idaho and some other states would even ban the use of drones to carryout surveillance missions on citizens and their property, including agricultural operations, by law-enforcement or other authorities without their consent.

“We’re trying to prevent high-tech window-peeping,” Idaho Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder said. The Republican lawmaker is the sponsor of a bill that will be considered by a Senate panel that ensures police have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity as well as a warrant before deploying drones.

“The US government scheme to allow the wide use of the pilotless aircraft across the United States by various governmental and private agencies was highlighted in recent weeks over growing concerns raised by federal lawmakers over the Obama administration’s secret targeted killing policy, which allows the use of assassination drones to target suspected ‘US enemies’ abroad, including American citizens.”
The issue gained broad public attention as members of the Senate Intelligence Committee considered the nomination of President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism advisor John Brennan as the next director of the CIA spy agency. Despite many questions and controversies over his key role in the targeted killing scheme, he was confirmed on Thursday by the US Senate as the next CIA director.

Brennan, a 25-year CIA veteran, is widely considered as the chief mastermind of the Obama administration’s targeted killing program, by which, terror drones secretly and remotely operated by the CIA and the US military, would perform aerial bombing mission over Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia, to kill what American officials have widely described as al-Qaeda-linked suspects.

Although most victims of the American assassination drone attacks have been innocent civilians, including women and children, the Obama administration has repeatedly insisted that its targeted killing operations overseas will continue and even intensify in Muslim nations is North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

The widening use of drones across the US further gained public spotlight earlier this week, when a commercial pilot reported spotting one while landing a passenger aircraft at New York’s JFK International Airport.

Moreover, questions on whether assassination drones could also be used to target American citizens within the United Stated delayed Brennan’s confirmation earlier this week by a so-called ‘filibuster’ effort by Republican Senator Rand Paul, during which he demanded clarification by the Obama administration on whether the US president is authorized to order the killing of Americans within the United States.

US Attorney General Eric Holder finally clarified in a letter to Senator Paul that Obama would not have the authority to order a drone to kill an American citizen on American soil who was “not engaged in combat.”

Meanwhile, pleas by US law enforcement authorities to get drones have also faced opposition in parts of California and Virginia, where lawmakers have banned drone use by authorities and public agencies for two years.

Moreover, growing public concerns over invasion of privacy recently terminated a plan by police department of the major northwestern US city of Seattle to deploy two camera-equipped drones.

MFB/NT/MFB

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