Privacy group petitioning government on drone capability to identify armed individuals, intercept cell phones
March 6, 2013
Senator Rand Paul lashed out at the Obama administration last night following suggestions by Attorney General Eric Holder that the president is within his rights to assassinate Americans on American soil using drone strikes, without oversight.
“The thing about the drone strike program is, we’re not talking about someone’s actively attacking America, we’re not talking about planes flying into the World Trade Center.” Paul said in a Fox News interview.
“What we’re talking about is you’re eating dinner in your house. you’re eating at a cafe or you’re walking down the road. That’s when these drone strikes can occur.” Paul added, calling the development “particularly disturbing”.
“If you’re an American and you’re accused of a crime, one of the basic principles, one of the protections we’ve always had is, you get a trial… You don’t get convicted without a trial.” the Senator added.
“Listen to what his [Obama’s] response is.” Paul urged. “His response is, we haven’t killed any Americans yet. We don’t intend to, but we might. And that’s pretty disturbing.”
Paul was speaking in reaction to Eric Holder’s response to his own letter asking if Americans could be targeted with drones.
Holder wrote that it was “possible,” for President Obama to “authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States,” citing the 9/11 terror attacks as an example.
In a further statement today, Holder told Congress that the federal government has “no intention” of using drones to strike at targets within the U.S., saying it’s easier to capture people here so that tool is not as important.
“The use of drones is from my perspective something that is entirely, entirely hypothetical,” he said.
Senator Paul has called for a pledge from the White House that drone strikes will not be used in America regardless of the circumstances.
“We’re talking about someone eating at a cafe in Boston, or New York, and a Hellfire missile comes raining in on them,” Paul said during a previous appearance on Fox News. “There should be an easy answer from the administration on this. They should say, ‘Absolutely no, we will not kill Americans in America without an accusation, a trial and a jury.’”
“The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans,” Paul wrote in a further statement on his website.
Meanwhile, where domestic drone use for surveillance is concerned, advocacy group the Electronic Privacy and Information Center (EPIC) issued a statement on its website announcing that it is officially petitioning U.S. Customs and Border Protection over revelations that unmanned Predator drones under the agency’s operation can listen in on electronic communications.
EPIC noted that documents it recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the agency’s drones will be equipped with technology for signals interception and human identification.
The 2010 DHS “performance specification” document EPIC has uncovered states that “communication relay and interception” are preferable operations to use drones for, rather than relying on “sensors mounted in airships, aerostats, towers, and manned aircraft”. The document states that the capability has not yet been tested in the field.
According to the document, the drones are to have a “signals interception receiver,” that would be capable of intercepting cell phone and radio communications transmissions.
The Homeland Security design requirements also specify that the Predator B drones “shall be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not”.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.