Dismayed -- yes, surprised -- no, that Los Angeles could at some point in the not-too-distant future see drone use and indeed even drone strikes in and around the city. That possibility became more than just a worst case, futuristic horror when a batch of Southland firms eagerly snatched at the possibility of bidding on getting contracts to test drones over Los Angeles skies. The Southland was one of six proposed testing sites that the Pentagon wanted to use to test drones. The secret, widespread, and unchecked use of drones to kill has been controversial, contentious, and increasingly condemned by human rights groups and both Democrats and Republicans in congress.
The heat on the CIA's right to use drones any and everywhere and against anyone and everyone it deems a terrorist without any White House or congressional or even military approval has caused some rough moments and some reconsideration by President Obama. In fact, the heat on him to rein in the use of drones got so intense that he announced that he would try to shift their use back to the military where at least there is some White House and congressional oversight and required disclosure.
But even that shift in who, where and how drones can be used is meaningless if LA becomes a proving ground for drones. In other words, it's only a short step from testing drones over our skies to their use over our skies against anyone who's deemed a threat -- any kind of threat. One mayoral candidate is already on record saying that he would consider the use of drones presumably in Los Angeles. There was much clamor for use of drones to seek out and take out rogue LAPD cop Christopher Dorner.
Testing drones, then, takes LA down a slippery and dangerous and probably unconstitutional step toward unchecked power and abuse. The only difference is that it wouldn't be the finger of a CIA or military operative on the drone button but that of a local official.
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