Recently, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told an audience of concerned citizens that the nation’s largest law enforcement agency is considering the use of drones to enhance the NYPD’s surveillance capabilities. Speaking to Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler in a public interview at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA, Kelly went on the record, saying, “We’re looking into it. Anything that helps us.“
Mayor Bloomberg and his erstwhile Police Chief have already raised concerns among civil libertarians for the many steps the NYPD takes to spy on the citizens of New York. There are over 3,000 closed circuit cameras monitoring the streets of the city plus a force of 35,000 heavily armed men and women. The attitude among the city’s leadership is often one of belligerence, highlighted by the Mayor’s stunning comment, “I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world.”
The Mayor’s often cavalier attitude about his “private army” often backfires New York City residents. In the summer of 2012, we witnessed city police officer’s at the Empire State building wound nine innocent bystanders while taking down one armed perpetrator. Instead of apologizing to the injured, the Mayor appeared at the scene of the shooting and gave a highly partisan speech for more gun control.
New York City’s police are not just spying on local residents. Surveillance units were dispatched to locations in New Jersey to spy on Muslim citizens, outraging many of the Garden State’s politicians and religious leaders. Although the surveillance may be considered questionably legal, critics claim the NYPD has enacted a policy of “We go where we want and do what we want.”
During the summer of 2012, a mysterious poster began to appear in the subways of New York City as a protest against the use of drones to spy on city residents. Created by a former Army veteran who served in the Iraq War, the posters depicted a family fleeing in terror from missiles fired by a lurking drone. The NYPD responded by dusting the posters for fingerprints in an attempt to apprehend the artist, who goes by the alias of Essam.
NYPD Spokesman Paul Browne was unconcerned about the protests and the civil liberties implications of using drones to spy on American Cities. He admits the city is considering their use:
“We’re always looking at technology. Drones aren’t that exotic anymore. Brookstone sells them. We’ve looked at them but haven’t tested or deployed any.”
Former NYPD officer Gary Weksler also seems willing to ignore the privacy issue. He believes drones will protect officers from harm:
“Not only would it be a form of intelligence gathering to protect the public, it also in many respects removes the officers, who might be attempting to identify issues, from harm’s way.”
Drones are already in use in Florida and Texas and if Ray Kelly gets his way, they will be spying on the residents of Fun City in the coming year. Americans are well on their way to being spied upon, cataloged and stored in data bases from the cradle to the grave. Programs are being considered to take a DNA sample from every newborn child, medical records, once a sacred trust between doctor and patient, will be entered in a massive federal database and the NSA has the capability to read and store every email sent by every single American. The right of privacy is being swept aside in a tidal wave of security programs that will expose every detail of our lives to the government and their various law enforcement agencies.
We are being programmed to accept constant monitoring from the RFID chips San Antonio School Administrators wants to use to track the movements of students to the disgracefully intrusive full body searches we often undergo in order to fly. The Homeland Security agency purchased over 1.4 billion rounds of high powered ammunition, the Patriot Act was once again approved by Congress, and in a move that should terrify every single American, President Obama signed the NDAA, giving him the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens without trial, legal representation or notification of their families.
Eventually the good people of our nation are going to say enough is enough and demand an end to the government’s constant intrusion into their lives. Unfortunately, by then the system of body scanners, eyes in the sky, closed circuit cameras and constant patdowns may be so pervasive, it will be almost impossible to get rid of them. Perhaps Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”