Despite national uproar and numerous boycotts over Arizona’s new immigration law, Governor Janice Brewer isn’t backing down—she’s stepping up her fight to crack down on illegal immigration by writing a letter to President Obama requesting drones and additional helicopters to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.
If Brewer gets her way, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) won’t only be patrolling over Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries, they’ll also be flying regularly over U.S. soil. Brewer wants the National Guard to reallocate UAVs and additional OH-58 helicopters to border states for surveillance.
“I would also ask you, as overseas operations in Iraq and Afghanistan permit, to consider the wider deployment of UAVs along our nation’s southern border. I am aware of how effective these assets have become in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, and it seems UAV operations would be ideal for border security and counter-drug missions,”
Brewer writes in her letter to the White House.
UAVs are remotely flown aircraft. The U.S. military has several models, most famously, the Predator, but there are also the Hunter, Reaper and Global Hawk.
Drones are not only used for reconnaissance, but also for direct attack in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places where they’re often blamed for civilian deaths. A few days after President Obama took office, January 23, 2009, missiles struck the Pakistani village of Zharki in North Waziristan along with targets in South Waziristan, according to NPR. At least 18 people were said to be killed in the attacks, which reportedly killed not only Taliban insurgents, but also civilians and/or family members of insurgents. Many believe the attacks were carried out by drones flying high above western Pakistan, NPR reports. Drones were used for direct attack more than 200 times in the past year, according to The New York Times, which is reporting that drone use is greater than ever before, having increased significantly as the war in Afghanistan has escalated.
In contrast to infantrymen sweating in blazing desert heat under fire close to the enemy, drones can be flown remotely, much like a video game, by Air Force personnel sitting in air-conditioned offices in the continental United States, thousands of miles away from their targets.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)—which has called Arizona’s new immigration law “racial profiling”—recently filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Obama administration, questioning the use of drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries.
“Currently, reports of the number of civilian casualties vary widely, from the dozens to the hundreds. There is also growing concern that drones could be used to target individuals who are criminal suspects who should be arrested and tried in civilian courts rather than legitimate military targets, and could thereby amount to unlawful extrajudicial killings. Serious issues have also been raised about the wisdom of using drones on policy and moral grounds. The ACLU believes that the use and proliferation of this tactic must be the subject of public scrutiny and debate,”
the ACLU says on its Web site.