(NaturalNews) As regular readers of Natural News are well aware, we track the state of freedom in America - food freedom, the freedom to buy and sell our goods, the right to live free of government interference and, most importantly, the right to be left alone.
Nowhere in the world is privacy as under assault as it is in America, the one country with a written governing document - the U.S. Constitution - that specifically prohibits our government from denying us our right to privacy. If we had leaders of integrity this wouldn't be an issue, but the government in Washington is behaving precisely the way our leaders have fashioned it, so serial violations of our rights is the norm these days rather than the exception.
'Look - up in the sky! Smile! You're on camera...'
Take the issue of drone usage to spy on us. The use of drones by government has exploded in recent years, and for reasons that have nothing to do with "security" or "law enforcement" or under the guise of "protecting us." No, these drones are being used by both state and federal governments to spy on Americans, as if tracking our snail mail and all electronic communications isn't enough.
Per the Electronic Freedom Frontier, an advocacy group that tracks abuses of privacy in the Digital Age:
Recently released daily flight logs from Customs & Border Protection (CPB) show the agency has sharply increased the number of missions its 10 Predator drones have flown on behalf of state, local and non-CPB federal agencies. Yet, despite this increase - eight-fold between 2010 and 2012 - CBP has failed to explain how it's protecting our privacy from unwarranted drone surveillance.
Now granted, the Border Patrol has a tough job patrolling the nearly 2,000-mile long U.S. border with Mexico, which is where the bulk of illegal aliens and drugs enter our country. But the 10 Predators the agency acquired over the past few years are no longer being used solely for border enforcement.
"As far as I know, CBP's drone program was intended and authorized by Congress for the purpose of patrolling the nation's borders," writes Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst for the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. "It was not intended to be a general law enforcement drone "lending library," in which Predator drones (which are quite unlike the small UAVs that police departments around the country are beginning to acquire and deploy) are used for all manner of purposes across the country."
Bad and getting worse
According to documents obtained by EFF, the CBP's drones have been utilized to conduct surveillance for a range of federal agencies including the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Marshal Service and the Coast Guard. In addition, the Predators have been used to support surveillance operations for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the North Dakota Army National Guard, and the Texas Department of Public Safety, EFF said, adding:
CBP also flew its drones for non-law enforcement agencies and missions. The logs show that CBP conducted extensive "electro-optical, thermal infrared imagery and Synthetic Aperture Radar" surveillance of levees along the Mississippi River and river valleys across several states, along with surveillance of the massive Deep Water Horizon oil spill and other natural resources for the US Geological Survey, FEMA, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, the Department of Natural Resources, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Look, even innocuous-sounding missions should raise red flags. Americans cannot go anywhere anymore to simply function in society - to buy groceries, go to the movies or visit friends, for instance - without being under some kind of surveillance every step of the way.
Cities, states and now the federal government are telling us they are watching us 24/7/365 to simply try to keep us safe, but the Constitution does not permit such broad, continuous surveillance. It is a blatant violation of our right to privacy, which is not allowable. There is no "except in cases of ensuring public safety" provision in the Fourth Amendment.
That said, expect the violations to get worse - that is, unless the whole of Washington and elected leaders in cities and states around the country suddenly grow a conscience, and you know what the chances are of that happening.