Droning on about our rights might just keep me grounded

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

It’s constitutional, except when we say it’s not. Or, I guess that could read, it’s unconstitutional, except when we say it is. Either way, whoever is on the side opposite the word containing constitution, is wrong.

This leads me to the only explanation I can come up with for the news I read that Mesa County has its own drone. It has to be to keep an eye on me. Because, after all, what possible explanation can the county give for having one, besides Janet Rowland lives here and we have Democrat administrations in Denver and Washington?

Now, I know many of you will say this is old news. To be frank, I don’t care. Obviously, the story of how more than 62 different entities in this country are now flying drones of one form or another is in the news cycle again. It should be of concern to all Americans, particularly since the use of drones will only continue to grow. What’s more, the use of our own local drone should be on the radar of every Mesa County citizen.

I realize the sheriff’s office says that the drone is for special circumstances and search and rescue, and that’s fine by me. After all, if someone whose life is in danger because they are lost and need to be found or if someone is out there putting our lives in danger needs to be found, let’s go get them. I trust, for the most part, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. More important, if I don’t like what our sheriff is doing with his spy toy, I can drive over to Rice Street and scream and protest accordingly. Or I can scream and protest to the point where I get my own drone. And that’s how it should be, local government control over these kinds of scenarios.

Ahhhh, but the airspace we have really isn’t under local government control when it comes to parting the clouds, now is it? You see, there are some “dragonflies” in the ointment. First off, all the drones currently flying are not under the supervision of your local sheriff, government or an entity within the airspace of your voice or vote. Some are owned by universities; the Army; Air Force; Marine Corps; DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency); the departments of Agriculture, Energy and Homeland Security; and NOAA. And when you consider these entities (and let’s be honest, the county we live in) all have one thing in common — they get a boatload of money from the federal government. Put that together with the fact all this droning on falls under the quality agency that is the FAA, and I see a recipe for a greater loss of our God-given constitutional rights.

The Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” And as we have all seen, our federal government can be awfully peculiar when it comes to probable cause and in doing things it considers in the best interest of our protection. It also has an odd idea of transparency when it comes to the public’s right to know just what in the heck it’s doing. So the question comes to mind: Just what will the local folks, universities and other state and local entities do when the federal government says, “It’s time to follow Craig and Janet when they go to coffee and discuss traitorous ideas like dogs and cats living together and having kids inside of marriage or we close the spigot.”

After all, the drones we’re talking about carry surveillance equipment that includes video cameras, infrared thermal imagers, radar and wireless network eavesdropping technology. Now if the drones were in the hands of federal agencies like the Secret Service, SEC and TSA, things would be easier to monitor by watching the four P’s: pornography, prostitution, perversion and pedophilia. But the scope for abuse looms much larger in my opinion.

That’s because Congress is looking to finalize legislation for the FAA by 2015. And as we all know, the legislation will cover any possible constitutional scenario that could possibly ever occur as it relates to drones and protecting the rights of the citizens. I’m kidding. They’ll screw this up horribly and have hidden ways to use a drone against anyone the government or government hack decides is an enemy.

I don’t know about you, but I’d even trust Barney Fife before Barney Frank or anyone in Washington when it comes to treating me according to my constitutional rights.

And that’s where we all lose, because the feds have the ultimate control here. They control the dollars and they control the drones. The first we have none of, but somehow the ones we do have seem to get sent to cronies who do as the federal government pleases. The second we’re gonna have tons of once our wars wind down, and I don’t trust the X Box back seat drivers with doing the right thing.

So it’s up to us to make sure Sheriff Hilkey does the right thing. Because I have a feeling Senator Huckster won’t.