Philly Politician Wants Drone Rules
With the Cabinet nominations of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense and John Brennan for the CIA director has come a heightened talk of drone warfare and the fear that governments could soon be using the technology here, on us. But state Rep. Angel Cruz (D-Philadelphia) isn’t taking any chances. He’s reintroducing legislation that would put harsh restrictions on the use of drones by law enforcement. He writes in his memo:
The purpose of my legislation is to protect Pennsylvanians from invasions of privacy by law enforcement officials. Under authorization given by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), unmanned aircraft, or what are more commonly referred to as “drones,” are currently being used by hundreds of police and other government agencies throughout the United States.
Furthermore, the FAA is being sued because of its refusal to disclose which agencies have been granted authorization to use these drones and what their purposes are. My legislation ensures that drones cannot be used in Pennsylvania without reasonable cause given for their use and proper approval given from the court system.
Cruz was into such legislation last session, too. It was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, then, well, nothing happened. Such legislation is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, whose Domestic Drones page you can read here. The whole issue isn’t being taken lightly, considering the Department of Homeland Security recently noted it wants to more than double its Predator Drone fleet. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the FAA has issued 1,428 permits to domestic drone operators since 2007. They estimate 10,000 drones could be in the skies by 2020. Federal legislation similar to that offered by Cruz has been introduced, as well.
Regarding those CIA hearings, U.S. Senator Rand Paul actually said he wants to put a hold on Brennan’s nomination because of drones — and some right-wing blogs believe Brennan’s a secret Muslim, too, just like Obama! True story! Anyway, we spoke with Black Hawk Down and The Finish author Mark Bowden about U.S. drone policy a few weeks back, which you can read here.
This post has been updated to include information from the Los Angeles Times.