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Defense Dept. Directed To Disclose Domestic Drone Use 190

Posted by Soulskill
from the admit-to-using-them-to-do-beer-runs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to make the Pentagon disclose whether military drones are being used in U.S. airspace to spy on U.S. citizens. This follows Rand Paul's filibuster on the floor of the Senate in which he demanded answers from the Obama administration as to whether drone strikes on U.S. soil were a possibility. (Senator Paul received an amusingly brief response (PDF) to his 13-hour question.) From the article: 'A requirement buried in a lengthy appropriations bill calls on newly confirmed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to disclose to Congress what "policies and procedures" are in place "governing the use" of military drones or other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) domestically. The report is due no later than 90 days after the bill is signed into law. The vote on the bill, which was overwhelmingly supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats, comes as concerns about domestic use of drones have spiked. ...The House's language stops short of requiring Hagel to disclose whether he or his predecessor have taken the step of approving the targeting of any U.S. citizens for surveillance.'"
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Defense Dept. Directed To Disclose Domestic Drone Use

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  • And remember, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:29PM (#43117571)
    if there's nothing to disclose, it just means they're not telling us!
    • Re:And remember, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:31PM (#43117605) Homepage Journal

      There is an extraordinary amount the U.S. government doesn't tell us because they think we don't care. We oblige them by being apathetic.

      • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:43PM (#43117761)

        I'm sorry... I stopped paying attention after the first few words. What was your point again?

      • by no-body (127863)

        ...they think we don't care...

        Most definitely not - secrecy is inherent to any power structure.

        Why humans are driven to power - having to dominate/exploit other's is another topic. Is it inferiority, insensitivity - psychopathy or genetic - successfully spread DNA more? Based on those drives, humans don't think, they act unconsciously and do whatever they can get by with.

        • Sure, there's legitimately and illegitimately classified stuff too, that wasn't the point I was making.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Most definitely not - secrecy is inherent to any power structure.

          Well, no, not really.

      • and there's an extraordinary amount the U.S. government doesn't tell us because they've (the executive, the legislative, the judicial) decided that we are outside of the need to know: secret orders, secret laws, secret courts and tribunals. So the executive can decide who is and is not a terr'rist and deserves (in their not-so-humble opinion) to receive a smoking drone-bang-wake-up-and-die in secret meetings with no legislative or judicial oversight; the congress can pass certain black appropriations witho
      • I don't think that "we" are apathetic half as much as that the vast majority of the population feels powerless to make any significant change and no longer truly dares hope that we ever will. That's why the most that happens now is that once in a while, a small percentage of the population becomes angry/frustrated enough at the situation to protest physically for a while, like the protests against invading Iraq almost a decade ago.

        Once in a *long* while, part of the population starts to manage a bit more i

  • by canadiannomad (1745008) on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:30PM (#43117585) Homepage

    The PDF download response is kinda funny... But basically not worth the download...

    It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: "Does the
    President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in
    combat on American soil?" The answer to that question is no.

    I'm glad... Now if hopefully they will keep it that way...
    I won't hold my breath.

    • by characterZer0 (138196) on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:37PM (#43117689)

      "engaged in combat" is can be interpreted many ways.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:41PM (#43117741)

        "Due Process" has become something different from what most people think as well.

        Most people believe that means the suspect would be taken into custody and have a fair trial but in an unguarded moment in an interview Holder said that "due process" now only requires some consideration from someone in the executive branch.

        • Patriot act. The USA is still in a limited state of emergency.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by megamerican (1073936)

            Which essentially means they don't follow the Constitution. They'd never say that because then the illusion would crumble and people might wake up from their apathetic stupor and do something.

          • by Seumas (6865)

            And we're going to be, for the rest of our lives. Probably the lives of our children, too.

          • We have been in a 'limited state of emergency' for many years, through several Presidents, for different reasons.

            See? [wikipedia.org]

      • by Hatta (162192) on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:01PM (#43117985) Journal

        You're not kidding. It's already been ruled by the SCOTUS that mere speech [wikipedia.org] amounts to "material support for terrorism". I wouldn't be surprised if Holder argued that speech was combat as well.

      • That's not even the interesting question, which has been answered already. Does the government have the right to kill innocent civilians in times of emergency? The answer is yes.

        On 9/11, two National Guard jets were ordered to bring down United 93, which had been hijacked. Thirty three innocent American citizens were on board the airplane along with four hijackers. Due to a passenger revolt that brought the plane down, the National Guard did have to. But no official has ever challenged the validity of the o

        • by anagama (611277)

          What is an emergency?
          What is combat?

          As examples of this administration's loose practices with the dictionary, consider the following:

          This administration defines militant to be any boy or man killed by a drone, irrespective of the dead's actual beliefs.
          http://www.salon.com/2012/05/29/militants_media_propaganda/ [salon.com]

          This administration claimed that the Libyan war was not a war to avoid getting Congressional approval.
          http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/us/politics/16powers.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [nytimes.com]

          So exactly how i

          • by anagama (611277)

            Lame self response, but the line:
            "imminent" (*) does get

            Should read
            "imminent" (*) does NOT get

        • On 9/11, two National Guard jets were ordered to bring down United 93, which had been hijacked

          Semantics, but 'intercept' does not necessarily mean bring it down. It can also mean, 'just find it'.
          In any case, they could not have shot it down, as they did not have the necessary weapons on board, and couldn't wait for them to be loaded. They did, however, make the joint decision to ram it if necessary. [nbcnews.com]
        • by Uberbah (647458)

          On 9/11, two National Guard jets were ordered to bring down United 93, which had been hijacked. Thirty three innocent American citizens were on board the airplane along with four hijackers. Due to a passenger revolt that brought the plane down, the National Guard did have to. But no official has ever challenged the validity of the order to bring down a plane full of innocent Americans.

          Fixing that analogy as it applies to our current drone wars: did Bush have the authority to bomb flight schools in Florida b

          • Fixing that analogy as it applies to our current drone wars: did Bush have the authority to bomb flight schools in Florida because he suspected that bad people might be attending them?

            Even before considering the arguments about "inherent executive power", he would seem to have explicit statutory authority under the Insurrection Act, though that seems to require first giving a proclamation to disperse directing the supposed insurgents to "retire peacefully to their abodes" within a limited (but not, in the t

      • by slashkitty (21637)
        I don't see where Rand Paul asked that question "Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" His question was "Will you kill Americans on American soil?" So, to me it says a lot that Holder added the condition of "not engaged in combat" .. Rand referred to those "engaged in lethal force" not the more general "combat"
        • by dave562 (969951)

          I find it even more odd that the inquiry was limited to "weaponized drones". So the AG believes that the President cannot use a drone to kill American citizens, but that leaves open everything else from his fists up through nuclear weapons.

      • Well, now you know what the reasoning is behind the first rule of Fight Club.

        It's so you don't get taken out by a drone.

    • Unitl 9/11 it was unthinkable that the US military could engage in any activities on American soil. So I am not "glad" at the clarification. We need to go back to the pre-9/11 mentality.
      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Unitl 9/11 it was unthinkable that the US military could engage in any activities on American soil.

        That's news to all those people at West Point, Fort Hood, etc.

        • Unitl 9/11 it was unthinkable that the US military could engage in any activities on American soil.

          That's news to all those people at West Point, Fort Hood, etc.

          It would also be news to Esquiel Hernandez, [wikipedia.org] if he were still alive.

      • Unitl 9/11 it was unthinkable that the US military could engage in any activities on American soil.

        The War of 1812, the Civil War, the 1910-1919 Border War, and the Second World War, among other examples, stand against this being "unthinkable" in practice.

        As does the Insurrection Act and a number of other laws stand against it being "unthinkable" in theory.

  • Seem that there is absolutely no problem on using drones in the rest of the world. US should have more right to use it in their soil than doing it anywhere else.
    • Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:36PM (#43117669)
      In fact, the US government has historically been more limited in what it does domestically than abroad. Voice of America, for example, is a propaganda broadcast that cannot be broadcast within the United States but which was famously broadcast along the USSR's borders.
      • Voice of America, for example, is a propaganda broadcast that cannot be broadcast within the United States

        Well, sure, it can't be broadcast in the United States, but, well "broadcast" isn't the only way its delivered [voanews.com].

      • re: In fact, the US government has historically been more limited in what it does domestically than abroad.
        .
        Funny.... There was a Mission Impossible (the 1960's - 1970's tv series version) episode on a few nights ago, where the opening reel-to-reel tape mission disclosure said something like
        Blah-blah-blahbitty-blah has hidden on an island with which we have no extradition treaty. Since we are not allowed to kidnap persons on foreign soil, your mission will be to trick them into returning to the United
    • by sycodon (149926)

      Actually, the Dems get their panties in a wad over Drone use overseas, but don't give a fuck about drone use here. at least according to their votes.

      • Drone use overseas involves killing people in sovereign countries we are not at war with. The drone use in America involves supporting fire departments and looking for illegals crossing the border.

        The problem is not the use of drones. The problem is what the drones are doing.

        In fact, there is nothing a drone can do that a plane with a pilot in it can't do.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:33PM (#43117625) Homepage

    In 2007, it was the Democrats screaming for full disclosure about Bush's violations of civil liberties, while Republicans in Congress were doing everything they could to protect their dear leader. In 2013, the roles are reversed, but the play is basically the same.

    Why is it that so few politicians are willing to say "All violations of civil liberties are wrong, regardless of who's party is currently in control of the presidency?"

    • by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:37PM (#43117697)

      Because such violations benefit the party currently in control. And politicians are not renowned for thinking ahead enough to realize that the other side will be in control one day, nor are they renowned for putting their principles before their party.

      • by dywolf (2673597)

        this is why the parties are particularly messed up, more now that ever. they used to (srota) stand for something. but increasingly it becomes more and more about simply being the one in power and calling the shots, rather than about any particular ideal. its great the Rove wants to change the direction of the party. except he's not doing it because he believe in those things, but because those things are what he deems necessary to win and be in power.

        few any longer have the gumption to stand up and say "thi

        • by dywolf (2673597)

          this is why the parties are particularly messed up, more now that ever. they used to (srota) stand for something. but increasingly it becomes more and more about simply being the one in power and calling the shots, rather than about any particular ideal. its great the Rove wants to change the direction of the party. except he's not doing it because he believe in those things, but because those things are what he deems necessary to win and be in power.

          few any longer have the gumption to stand up and say "thi

    • by CannonballHead (842625) on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:39PM (#43117721)

      THIS. Obama even ran partially on that whole transparency thing... but now transparency is, I assume, some sort of national threat because we wouldn't want rogue nations to know what we're ... doing ... with drones ... on American soil ... errrrr.... maybe if we *aren't* doing it, then terrorists will feel safer.

      It's like watching a football game. Root for your team. Smear the opposing team. Doesn't matter what you do, as long as you win. When the refs make calls that you don't like, blame the ref, not your actions (assuming the call was fair).

      • NPR talked about a disturbing study the other day where they swapped party positions on a topic, and 75% of the people supported that opposite position because it was (mistakenly) of their party.

        I suppose it's good news that at least 25% of the population considers issues themselves rather than droolingly following the memes of their power-seeking masters.

        Hoi polloi getting power kicks-by-proxy, I guess.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What Americans fail to see is that there is very little distinction between the two Parties when it comes to action.

      The talk is slightly different, but the actions are the same. I wish to god one day a third party rises to break up this political monoculture, for the sake of America, for the sake of the world.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:41PM (#43117743)

      You've been misled by the politicized summary.

      The reason Democrats voted against this bill (which is a gigantic bill that has nothing to do with drones for the most part) is not, as the anonymous submitter would like you to believe, because it would have required the DOD to disclose the policies regarding the use of drones. It is because it was a Republican-produced appropriations bill that reflects Republican fiscal priorities that Democrats hate. The tiny rider in the bill probably had nothing to do with it.

    • by RKThoadan (89437)

      Keep in mind that this is a small part of a large appropriations bill. I'd have to dig into the details but I believe the main point of the bill is to protect the Dept of Defense from the damage of the recent sequester.

      That's not to deny that the Dems are suddenly less into transparency lately. I was very disappointed that only one of them supported Senator Paul's filibuster.

    • Why is it that so few politicians are willing to say "All violations of civil liberties are wrong, regardless of who's party is currently in control of the presidency?"

      Because nearly all of us vote against the ones who say that. Remember the presidential race last year? Gary Johnson lost. And second place was Mitt Romney, because Ron Paul lost.

      These losses were by wide margins too. It's not like Gary Johnson got 48% of the vote. We The People are very united and consistent on this: fuck liberty. Tha

    • During GWB's instigation of all of this (DHS, TSA, drone strike program, etc), many Republican civilians decided not to bear an "R" anymore, hopping to Independent or Libertarian, as none of the Republican politicians or party platform seemed to address the ridiculous unconstitutionality of it all. For most of the polls in recent years, it's interesting to see that the Independent slice of the population have been generally conservative.

      I can see this having a similar effect on the Democratic party, with O

  • by jettoblack (683831) on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:45PM (#43117795)

    "'Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?' The answer to that question is no."

    So what does "not engaged in combat" mean, and who gets to decide? Would you be surprised if a future executive order defines political opponents or whistle blowers as "engaged in combat"?

    • by PhxBlue (562201)

      So what does "not engaged in combat" mean, and who gets to decide?

      Well, the traditional definition is pretty black-and-white: If you're firing weapons at members of the U.S. armed forces, you're engaged in combat.

      More troubling are the possible non-traditional definitions: E.g., if someone's coordinating a DDoS attack against a Pentagon server, does that fall under being engaged in combat? What if you're jamming GPS signals around your house?

    • by Zumbs (1241138)
      Your honor, I swear that his brown bag looked like a gun in the dark ...
    • by JeanCroix (99825)

      His whole trite reply is full of weasel clauses.

      'Does anyone other than the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American engaged in combat as we define it while on American soil, or for any reason whatsoever when not on American soil?' The answer to that question is HAHA you don't get an answer to that question.

      • by mbone (558574)

        You do realize that authority, in the executive branch, devolves from the President? If the President doesn't have it, neither does anyone underneath him.

        • by JeanCroix (99825)
          I do, but given recent history, I find that fact offers me less comfort now than ever before. The then-presidents didn't need to directly authorize Kent State, Waco, or Ruby Ridge, did they..?
    • by Shotgun (30919)

      And how is ANYTHING in this conversation at all amusing? We're talking about the politically powerful being able to kill innocent people. The submitter's sense of humor is nauseating.

    • Would you be surprised if a future executive order defines political opponents or whistle blowers as "engaged in combat"?

      yes. I would be surprised if Obama (or some future president) declared John Boehner (or some future political opponent) as engaged in combat with the USA because he is a political opponent.

  • What a joke (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ahabswhale (1189519) on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:06PM (#43118045)

    This whole thing is a charade. Why is the question restricted to drones? The government has had a million ways to spy on citizens or kill them within US borders long before drones came along. It's not like drones make it more possible.

    I will give Rand a +1 for actually trying to do a real filibuster instead of that new modern bullshit but he gets -5 for really just trying to make some political points with the tea party.

  • Long answer: If the Pentagon were using drones to spy on U.S. citizens in the U.S., they'd run afoul of Posse Comitatus. Instead, they may or may not be flying drones that the Homeland Security Department, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies use to spy on U.S. citizens in the U.S. through the use of what are called fusion centers [wikipedia.org].
  • by JayInPlano (1865346) on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:11PM (#43118111)
    I remember not to long ago when the Tea Party made the US House of Representatives read aloud most of the Constitution (not the three filth's part or Prohibition). I guess you weren't paying attention or don't believe in it. Any Bigfoot sightings anyone?
  • by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:45PM (#43118567) Homepage

    s/"Use"/"Deployment"/

    There I fixed it.

  • by rs1n (1867908) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:04PM (#43118875)

    It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: "Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" The answer to that question is no.

    The key words here are: the president, weaponized, kill, American and on American soil. The answer is so direct that it actually raises many more questions:

    1. Can the president authorize to kill non-Americans? On American soil? Oversees? Using drones?
    2. While he cannot authorize the use of weaponized drones to kill Americans, can he authorize non-weaponized drones to spy on Americans?
    3. Does he have the authority to kill an American using other means (not a drone)?

    There are more questions, but you get the idea...

  • Obviously, it needed to be "Defense Dept. Directed to Disclose Domestic Drone *Deployment*".

  • Now its the republicans we have to fall back on to look out for our civil liberties.. Liberals are the new republicans.
    • by PPH (736903)

      The party in office always wants unrestricted power to pursue their agenda. The Republicans are looking for porn. The Democrats are looking for taxable events.

      The current budget standoff is the best thing that could happen to either side. Whatever they want to do, there is no money for new toys.

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