U.S. Customs and Border Protection is now lending Predator drones to a wide range of federal, state, and local agencies for domestic surveillance and possible “non-lethal” strikes, according to federal documents released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The FBI, the U.S. Marshals and even the Texas Department of Public Safety have used CBP Predator drones in U.S. airspace. In 2010, CBP reported that future drone payloads could include “non-lethal weapons designed to immobilize targets of interest.”
The new documents expose the wide extent of domestic drone use. The EFF released the documents after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
CBP drone use by other agencies has increased over eight times from 2010 to 2012.
By 2016, CBP wants airborne drones in domestic airspace 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure a “layered security strategy.”
Predator drone mission data can be fused into an information sharing center for federal, state, and local agencies across the country.
This drone data center would operate like current Homeland Security fusion centers which have violated Americans’ civil liberties and privacy according to a two-year Senate investigation.
The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator drone, perhaps the most well-known unmanned aerial vehicle, is extensively used overseas by the U.S. Air Force and the CIA for armed drone strikes.
According to Policymic, in a four-year period drone strikes killed at least 800 innocent people in addition to 22 “suspected terrorists,” a civilian kill ratio of at least 36 to 1. Pakistani sources have claimed an even higher civilian kill ratio of 50 to 1.
Bryant saw drone strikes kill people through a computer screen half-way across the world.
This method of killing is no doubt dehumanizing. Men, women, and children are reduced to pixelated targets for drone operators who grew up in arcades.
Near the end of his career, Bryant received a past mission “score card” showing over 1,600 deaths.
Bryant said he can still see the blood and gore when he closes his eyes. Doctors have diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Only time will tell when Predator drones will be used to kill Americans on U.S. soil, unless they have done so already.