U.S. Police State Takes To The Skies
If this doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will:
In November 2010, a police lieutenant from Parma, Ohio, asked Vanguard Defense Industries if the Texas-based drone manufacturer could mount a “grenade launcher and/or 12-gauge shotgun” on its ShadowHawk drone for U.S. law enforcement agencies. The answer was yes. (Jefferson Morley – Salon)
You’ve probably heard some rumblings about the use of unmanned drones for domestic surveillance. It’s an issue of privacy rights, not to mention a creeping police state. Or, at least, it should have been an issue of civil liberties. Congress gave that notion pretty short shrift as they carelessly mandated the FAA open US skies to unmanned drones. (You know…’cause of terrorists and whatnot.) Just so you don’t worry too much about this egregious expansion of domestic police power, you should know that Congress’ mandate extends to commercial craft, as well. So there’s that.
Now comes the news that these drones won’t simply be spying on you, they’ll also be weaponized!
VDI [Vanguard Defense Industries] touts its ability to weaponize drones for local police departments. “If you think weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are still too new to combat zones for law enforcement to consider them for domestic use, think again,” said the editors of Special Weapons for Military and Police in February:
The Kevlar fuel tank mounted beneath the ShadowHawk allows it to stay in the air long enough to provide complete surveillance of an area and engage suspects with buckshot, tear gas, grenades and less-lethal capabilities. (Salon - emphasis mine)
No word yet on whether the ShadowHawk model recently sold to the Montgomery County Texas Sheriff’s Office has this particular feature. But I do find myself wondering about how many teachers’ salaries, how much healthcare for the poor or other useful services could have been provided to the people of Montgomery County for the $275,000 price tag of that drone. (But just think what they have to look forward to instead!)