Big Brother is watching us

Published 9:48 pm Thursday, January 10, 2013

With so many things to worry about in this crazy world, we now have one more.

I am very concerned about the Federal government’s approval of the use of drone aircraft in our nation’s skies. This FAA-sanctioned activity allows the military and “others” to fly drone aircraft in our local area for “training” and other uses. Just what those other uses might be has not been well defined. But there was a troubling suggestion that the police wanted to get their very own drones so they can watch us all from above, too.

As a constitutional conservative, I am very concerned about this type of intrusion into our protections, as afforded us under the Fourth Amendment. This part of the Bill of Rights protects us by limiting the government’s ability to conduct warrantless searches and seizures.

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This concept defines our expectation of privacy under law, and any change to it is of grave concern, given the propensity of our government to “bend” the law to suit its own given needs. The FAA approval of drones flying above the United States, combined with the government’s propensity to want to spy on us all is disturbing and a clear and present danger.

I understand the need for the military to train the way they fight in order to fight effectively. But there must be hard checks and balances to ensure that the use of drones domestically is not abused. Should the police or the government be allowed to spy on us at will with drones? Clearly not without cause, or a specific warrant issued by the courts and only under strict limits. Fishing for trouble must be restricted.

I usually chafe at the arguments brought by the ACLU as they postulate the protections of criminals. However, the stealthy invasion of our collective privacy by domestic drones begs the question: Can we trust our government? Most of us don’t trust them to spend our money wisely. Should we really trust them with our privacy?

Remember, this is the same government that cannot balance a budget, agree on even the most basic plans for our economy or effectively lead our country. Will “Big Brother” now have an eye-in-the-sky watching our every move? Might there eventually be drone speed traps watching over us all, issuing traffic tickets from above like they do from speed traps in Waverly on Route 460? Will there be a day when they not only watch, but do more, like they do with the terrorists overseas?

Will we surrender our most basic liberty to a police sergeant, operating an armed drone from police headquarters? It frightens me to consider that such activity is even possible in this country.

I have been an active pilot for more than 30 years and can attest that the view from above is revealing. Can you imagine how intrusive it might be if there were drones overhead every hour of the day, watching us all, all of the time? It sounds like George Orwell’s descriptions of repression in his book “1984.”

We are a society founded on the principle and expectation that our privacy is fundamental, especially to the individual. We already suffer the millions of security cameras watching us all the time. Do we really need drones flying overhead, watching our every move, too?