Stop the Drones

“Your notification is the buzz of propellers on the drone as it flies overhead in the seconds before you’re killed. Is that what we really want from our government?” – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

We live an age of technology. Smartphones, tablets, and personal computers now play an integral role in everyday life. In fact, considering the level of reliance we have on digital media, it’s hard to imagine living life without it.

That said, technology doesn’t always bear palatable fruit. Recent advances in drone surveillance technology, a product of the United States’ “War on Terror,” exemplify this very fact, threatening to strip Americans of their constitutional freedoms and setting the stage for totalitarian government.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty.” This statement couldn’t ring truer than now, as we deal with the dangerous precedent our government set during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unwarranted wiretapping, tracking citizens via the internet, and now domestic drone surveillance were all ideas birthed during the “War on Terror.”

Senator Rand Paul’s recent 13-hour filibuster finally brought these issues back into the spotlight, and it’s time Americans start fighting for their rights. War or no war, the government does not have the authority to listen in on our conversations without our knowledge, nor the right to use drones to track our movements. It doesn’t matter how much “good” these policies will do; what matters is the fact that they give our government an unprecedented amount of power and the ability to track both our thoughts and our movements.

I will not stand idly by as the government takes away my rights. Millions of Americans have died to keep us free, and we spit on their sacrifice if we allow the government to take that freedom away.  Thousands of drones will be put into service over the next couple of years, ostensibly to assist domestic authorities in tracking criminals. If the drones work well, though, who’s to stop the FBI from using drones to track possible threats or suspicious individuals?

Using drones on domestic territory is a slippery slope. Initially they’ll be used to fight crime, but happens next? What happens when the government would like to “keep tabs” on a non-criminal? What better way to track someone than with a drone they neither see nor hear? The possibilities are truly frightening and harken to a 1984-esque society in which the government always knows where we are and what we’re doing. Drones are just the beginning. The government’s intentions are good now, but what will those intentions be in 20 years? We can’t possibly know what the world will be like in two decades. What we can do, however, is plan for that world and make it a better place by enacting good policies now.

The “War on Terror” brought with it a wave of laws that stripped away our freedoms and replaced them a sense of security. The feds claim that these measures “protect” us, but at what cost? As Ben Franklin said, we don’t deserve liberty if we’re willing to give it away for momentary safety. As the war in Afghanistan comes to a close, and with it the “War on Terror,” it’s time to take our liberties back.