20111212

12DEC11 UAVs and local Sheriffs...

Since this is eating my afternoon, I figure its a worthy blog posting.  Heck, its been too long since I took the time to blog...

I just finished reading an article about the Air Force using an RQ-9B in support of a North Dakota Sheriffs Department...  And found it disturbing.  Well, not the use of a UAV so much (as its just like police helicopters which I'm not against either), but because WHAT THE HELL IS AN ACTIVE DUTY AIR FORCE UAV DOING IN SUPPORT OF POLICING THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES ON PRIVATE PROPERTY?

So I wrote my Alaska Senators and Representative in the Swamp:

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Dear (Insert Senator and Reps name here),


I am deeply disturbed by a 10DEC11 LA Times article about the use of an RQ-9B Predator UAV (or RPV as the Air Force now calls them, but since I'm of the 'older' crowd and got out in '07 I still refer to them as UAV...) in the state of North Dakota. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-drone-arrest-20111211,0,324348.story

I'm not at all shocked about the vehicle used. An RQ-9 is an incredible tool, and is a worthy successor to the manned helicopters that do the same mission in many places, its sensors are more acute than the old FLIR systems on many police department helicopters. It makes perfect sense to use them in this capacity. Since RQ-9s can be equipped with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, they should however be utilized rather sparingly as this causes no end of speculation about what who is controlling them desires in the United States.

What disturbs me most however has nothing to do with the airframe involved, but who is controlling the airframe and the mission. I don't have a completely accurate picture of who called for what when or who was in charge of the mission, but I do understand Title 10 and Title 32 rather well; and I do understand that the US Military (in this case Active Duty Air Force) have no authority to police within the United States under Title 10 and the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. There are exceptions for EXTREME circumstances, and on Federal land. However, it seems that none of the conditions were properly met.

There is a very simple solution to this matter, to prevent further breaches of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 and potential violations of Title 10, Title 32, and Title 18. First off, it starts with the State (North Dakota in this case) having RQ-9s under its Air National Guard. This way, under Title 32 orders from the Governor, they can use the RQ-9 in their state when needed. Second, encourage North Dakota to equip its Army National Guard with the RQ-7 Shadow UAV, again under Title 32 orders it would be very simple for the Army National Guard to act under the Governors orders. Third, perhaps the state of North Dakota should seek to hire UAV contractors like ISR Group or Insitu if they desire UAV support for these incidents instead of immediately asking DHS or the Federal government for such assistance.

Its apparent to me that these solutions must be implemented at a state level, but weren't. So the US Air Force was called in... This is a very slippery slope to move down, and its up to you our Federal policy makers to prevent this from happening and establishing a precedent that could indeed endanger Civil Liberties. When they called the Air Force for a UAV, the answer should have been a distinct “NO, we aren't authorized to do that.” Instead, since the UAVs have supported the FBI during drug raids (which on Federal land such as National Parks and BLM land ISN'T an issue...), and along the border (which again, being a Homeland Security mission and a Constitutional mandate to protect that International Border isn't an issue), the complacency resulted in the US Air Force giving support to LOCAL police, thereby policing, within the United States. I'm sorry, but that sticks out to me as a blatant violation of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, as well as a violation of several other US Codes. Perhaps I could be wrong, but since I just knocked out the FEMA EMI IS 800 b. course that stated quite clearly that US military is LIMITED as to what they can perform (but Title 32 forces are not) within the United States...
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Should be interesting to see what kind of response I get back...  One thing I can say for my Alaska delegation, every single one of them is pretty good about getting back with constituents even if they disagree with my ranting!

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