Is the Fear of Domestic Deployment of Drones Hysterical?

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
Is the Fear of Domestic Deployment of Drones Hysterical?

As the date for en masse deployment of domestic drones draws near, significant constitutional questions on their use remain.

An NBC story on the domestic use of drones carried the following headline: “Drones over America: How unmanned fliers are already helping cops.”

The author of the “puff piece” begins by recounting the story of Rodney Brossart of North Dakota. From the first paragraph, it is easy to see which side NBC comes down on in the drone debate. From the article:

It was getting dark, and the sheriff of Nelson County, N.D., was in a standoff with a family of suspected cattle rustlers. They were armed, and the last thing anybody wanted was a shoot out.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which monitors police radio chatter, offered to help. Their Predator was flying back to its roost at the Grand Forks Air Force base and could provide aerial support. Did the sheriff want the assist?


"We were able to detect that one of the sons was sitting at the end of the driveway with a gun. We also knew that there were small children involved," Sheriff Kelly Janke told NBC News, remembering that tricky encounter in the early summer of 2011. "Someone would have gotten seriously injured if we had gone in on the farm that night." He decided to wait.

The next day, the drone gave them an edge again by helping them choose the safest moment to make a move. "We were able to surprise them … took them into custody," Janke said. They also collected six stolen cows.

Rodney Brossart, the arrested farmer, sued the state, in part because of the cop's use of a drone. But a district judge ruled that the Predator's service was not untoward.

The New American has covered this story since the beginning, and there are several problems with NBC’s retelling of the events, problems that go beyond the merit of the charges against Brossart and his family.

Click here to read the entire article.

Photo of U.S. Customs and Border Protection drone in Arizona: AP Images

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