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Drones of a Different Color

There are drones and then there are drones. Some drones are meant to retaliate against the Pakistani Taliban killing fourteen militants in Waziristan.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned of "very severe consequences" if an attack against the United States were traced back to Pakistan.

And then there are the Predators that Texas Governor Perry along with the support of Senators Hutchison and Cornyn, and Congressman Cuellar will start patrolling the Texas-Mexican border within weeks.

If approved, the unmanned aircraft in Texas would add to the federal government's existing border effort, which includes a handful of other unmanned aircraft, 20,000 Border Patrol agents, about 650 miles of border fence and 41 mobile surveillance systems, according to Customs and Border Protection.

There is a big difference between using drones to fight the Taliban in Pakistan and using drones to patrol the border area and force multiply the Border Patrol's ability to monitor the border crossing of 1000's of illegal immigrants or drug smugglers. The point is that there are resources available to the US that need to be deployed in our undeclared 3rd War on the US-Mexican border.


Even if it were armed, would an unmanned air system violate the Posse Comitatus Act? In case of "violence spillover," I think ambiguity about whether Predators overhead were armed or not might make things more interesting.

Peyton, here again, not being a lawyer, I can only comment. I believe that Posse Comitatus (the Act) relates to federal military used domestically but not to the use of the National Guard "when it is operating in its state status pursuant to Title 32 of the U.S. Code, is not subject to the prohibitions on civilian law enforcement. (Federal military forces operate pursuant to Title 10 of the U.S. Code.) In fact, one of the express missions of the Guard is to preserve the laws of the state during times of emergency when regular law enforcement assets prove inadequate. It is only when federalized pursuant to an exercise of presidential authority that the Guard becomes subject to the limitations of the Posse Comitatus Act."

I've referred in the past to this article by Major Craig T. Trebilcock - "The Myth of Posse Comitatus" that appeared in the Journal of Homeland Security in October 2000.

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