Compilation of recent Judge Napolitano videos discussing the use of domestic drones in America.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, in Texas, will soon have a robotic surveillance drone in their arsenal. According to the Daily, the Montgomery Country’s Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel, does not plan to arm the drone anytime soon, but said that adding a tear gas dispenser or a gun that shoots non-lethal bullets could be “advantageous.”
Judge Andrew Napolitano weighed in on Studio B, saying, “This is why we have a Constitution, and this is why we have federal judges and state judges to stop this from getting out of hand.”
The FAA is expected to announce plans to expand the use of domestic drones in American airspace. These would be similar to the unmanned aircraft that the U.S. has been using to target terrorists abroad. In the U.S., the surveillance systems would be used to track terrorists, drug dealers or to find missing children. But critics warn that the use of drones presents a major threat to our personal privacy.
Jonathan Hunt reports that there could be as many as 30,000 drones flying overhead within the next decade.
Judge Andrew Napolitano commented that officials don’t have the authority to spy on us from above and that “bureaucrats gave themselves the authority to capture images of us in the privacy of our backyards.”
The judge said pointedly that this is not permitted by the Constitution or federal law, and wondered why more people, including Congress, aren’t up in arms about it. He said, “The same Congress that let the president bomb Libya is going to let his Air Force spy in our backyards and like potted plants, they’ll look the other way.”
He concluded, “The Third Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment and the Ninth Amendment were written to guarantee us the right to be left alone … Suddenly the government, silently, from 30, 000 feet above is violating those amendments.”
Judge Andrew Napolitano has warned Congress not to act “like potted plants” regarding the increased use of unmanned surveillance drones without warrants over US skies by military, government, and law enforcement agencies.
Echoing the recent comments of his Fox News colleague Charles Krauthammer, Napolitano also said that “The first American patriot that shoots down one of these drones that comes too close to his children in his backyard will be an American hero.”
The federal government is rolling out new rules on the use of the unmanned drones this week, with the Federal Aviation Administration announcing procedures will “streamline” the process through which government agencies, including local law enforcement, receive licenses to operate the aircraft.
Privacy advocates have warned that the FAA has not acted to establish any privacy safeguards whatsoever, and that congress is not holding the agency to account.
A recently uncovered Air Force document also circumvents laws and clears the way for the Pentagon to use drones to monitor the activities of Americans.
The Air Force instruction, dated April 23, admits that the Air Force cannot legally conduct “nonconsensual surveillance” on Americans, but also states that should the drones”incidentally” capture data while conducting other missions, military intelligence has the right to study it to determine whether the subjects are legitimate targets of domestic surveillance.
“The same Congress that let the president bomb Libya is going to let his Air Force spy in our backyards and like potted plants, they’ll look the other way,” Judge Napolitano urged yesterday.
“The Third Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment and the Ninth Amendment were written to guarantee us the right to be left alone … Suddenly the government, silently, from 30,000 feet above is violating those amendments,” he added.
As we reported in February, over 30 prominent watchdog groups have banded together to petition the FAA on the proposed increase in the use of drones in US airspace.
The groups, including The American Civil Liberties Union, The Electronic Privacy Information Center, and The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, submitted a petition demanding that the FAA hold a rulemaking session to consider the privacy and safety threats.
Congress recently passed legislation paving the way for what the FAA predicts will be somewhere in the region of 30,000 drones in operation in US skies by 2020.
The ACLU noted that the FAA’s legislation “would push the nation willy-nilly toward an era of aerial surveillance without any steps to protect the traditional privacy that Americans have always enjoyed and expected.”
In addition to privacy concerns, the groups warned that the ability to link facial recognition technology to surveillance drones and patch the information through to active government databases would “increase the First Amendment risks for would be political dissidents.”
On Happening Now, Judge Napolitano tackles the issue of drones and their potential use in the US by both local governments and the federal government for homeland security purposes.
He put the issue in context, saying, “Here’s what the American people need to realize — that we will soon have to decide whether we want to give up privacy, give up freedom for security. Whether we want to live in a society where the government watches us all the time, and even whether that watching makes us any safer.”
He detailed the current state of drones in the US saying that 313 local police departments, including the city of New York, own drones and have filed applications for permission to fly them. The Air Force has predicted that within 10 years, there will be between 10,000 and 30,000 drones in the air at any given time.
The EPA is using drones to spy on cattle ranchers in Nebraska and Iowa in order to make sure that farmers dispose of waste properly. On Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co., Judge Andrew Napolitano said that as shocking as this news is, an opinion by the Supreme Court says that as long as the EPA is using the drones for an administrative purpose, it doesn’t need a warrant in order to do this. “If this is a legitimate area of concern for the EPA, the Supreme Court has said they can use the drones,” said Napolitano.
Judge Napolitano wrote this exclusive commentary on the topic for the Fox News Insider.
The government may lawfully use technology, just like the rest of us, to make its work more efficient. But it cannot use technology to by-pass the Constitution.
Thus, if its lawful obligation is to monitor real estate to assure itself that the occupier of the lands is not adversely affecting the natural habitat, it may use drones to view the lands. But, generally speaking, that is not the job of the EPA. It sets rules for the use of private property that assures its highest and best use, consistent with nature. It can only monitor that use when it has evidence of a specific violation of that use. Thus, it can only fly drones to look at real estate when it has reason to believe that a specific regulation, directed to the owner or occupier of that land, is being violated. It cannot engage in fishing expeditions from the sky.
The constitutional problem arises when the drone spies some event outside the jurisdiction of the EPA. And much of what the drones will see will be outside that jurisdiction and either innocent or ambiguous. Is that Sudafed for your cold or your meth habit? Is that fertilizer for your rose bushes or to build a bomb? Are you smoking in the presence of your children? How utterly un-American is it for the government–EPA or FBI–to watch us on our private property? These are questions that will come up when the feds put eyes in the skies under the guise of monitoring EPA regulations.
That’s why we have a Fourth Amendment. It guarantees privacy and assures us the right to be left alone. It also requires a warrant from a judge to invade privacy. True fidelity to the Constitution requires a warrant from a judge before any government drone can be used for any purpose. But that is not yet the current practice.