Homeland Security is in the process of implementing drones for use in domestic surveillance. This alone is not a violation of Americans’ constitutional rights, however the Predator B drones which will be used will violate fourth amendment rights which protect against unreasonable search and seizure. This is because the drones will be fitted with technology capable of intercepting and reading cell phone signals. According to the Breitbart article, the drones will also likely know if a person is armed or not.
Homeland Security design requirements specify that its Predator B drones “shall be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not” and must be equipped with “interception” systems capable of reading cell phone signals.
There is no mention of warrants being required to read the cell signals, and collecting personal information without a warrant is a violation of our due process rights. It is unclear exactly how the drone would identify whether or not a person has a gun, which also raises concerns over unreasonable searches. Americans are guaranteed the right to be secure in their persons against unreasonable search and seizure by the fourth amendment in the Bill of Rights.
Another concerning thing about the implementation of domestic drones, is that they are not expected to remain limited to surveillance. Attorney General Eric Holder responded to a letter from Senator Rand Paul, saying that he could imagine a scenario where it is legal and ethical to use a drone to apply deadly force against an American on American soil.
“It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States,” Holder replied in a letter yesterday to Paul’s question about whether Obama “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”
An authorization by the President to kill an American with a drone, on American soil, clearly violates our fifth amendment protection against being “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law”. The President is not judge and jury, and does not have the right to single out an American citizen for murder, without going through the criminal process laid out in the constitution.
This is not the same as a police officer killing an assailant during a chase right after a crime has occurred. Even in these cases, the officer has to seriously believe his life is in danger to use deadly force. What we are talking about, is the execution of an American citizen instead of arresting and trying him for crimes committed. So the question really becomes why would the President want, or need, the power to execute American citizens on U.S. soil?
Couple this with the NDAA authorization to detain Americans on U.S. soil indefinitely without charge, and a scary picture is painted of what the U.S. is becoming.