The Department of Homeland Security is positioning itself to assume immense domestic law-enforcement and surveillance powers. From patrolling the traffic on the Internet to consolidating local police power, DHS is accumulating all the unconstitutional authority necessary for a proper Stasi-like secret police force.
A recent story published by California Watch reported that DHS inked a new $443 million deal with über-defense contractor General Atomics to purchase 14 additional Predator drones. If (when) the new craft are delivered to DHS, there would be 24 drones in the agency’s fleet.
As we have chronicled, Predator is the preferred model of unmanned aerial vehicle of the U.S. military for prosecuting its death-by-drone program in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, and elsewhere overseas. What doesn’t receive nearly as much press is the domestic deployment of these remote control armed spy planes.
DHS is particularly fond of this brand of drone, having spent over $250 million since 2006 on building its Predator fleet. Reportedly, DHS is using the devices to patrol the porous border separating the United States from Mexico.
This new exclusive, exorbitant deal with General Atomics is curious in light of the scathing report on DHS waste issued in June by the Inspector General. As reported by Huffington Post: "The Homeland Security inspector general's office in a June audit recommended that Customs and Border Protection stop buying the drones until officials figure out a budget plan for the program and how to get the most use out of the unmanned aircraft, which are frequently grounded by inclement weather."
Specifically, the Inspector General found that the drones were often grounded by harsh weather conditions and were not flying enough to justify the cost on the vehicles’ outrageous price tags. Not to mention the mangling by DHS managers of the flight schedules proposed for the Predators. “CBP has not adequately planned to fund unmanned aircraft-related equipment. As a result of CBP’s insufficient funding approach, future UAS [unmanned aerial systems] missions may have to be curtailed,” the Inspector General’s report states.
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