Sen. Paul Pushes Bill to Limit Domestic Drone Surveillance

Sen. Paul Pushes Bill to Limit Domestic Drone Surveillance | With 64 bases already in US, is first attempt to limit them too late?

Yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY) introduced the “Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” (PFUSA), which is aimed at limiting the government’s ability to conduct random, warrantless surveillance inside the United States with drone technology.

Speaking on CNN, Sen. Paul said the bill would require the government to obtain a warrant before using surveillance drones, except in cases of surveillance along the border or in cases of “terrorism.” Paul added that the bill only applied in the United States itself, and did not effect the ongoing US drone strikes across the world.

The exceptions are fairly broad, and essentially allow the DHS to overrule the need for a warrant whenever they think there is a “high risk” of a terrorist attack. StillĀ  the bill is the first attempt to limit drone activity inside the United States.

But a new map of military drone bases inside the United States suggest this effort might be too little, and much, much too late. With 64 military drone bases already in the US and countless other bases run by state and local police, drones have already found their way into everyday American life, even if the everyday American hasn’t looked up at the sky and noticed yet. Whether the PFUSA can do anything to put this genie back in the bottle is unclear, but if nothing else it may draw some attention to the issue.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of

  • Nathan

    It’s not good enough to just limit it. The bill should have sought to criminalize warrantless surveillance inside the United States with any means or technology whatsoever.

  • paulBass

    "For the purposes of this paragraph, exigent circumstances exist when the law enforcement party possesses reasonable suspicion that under particular circumstances, swift action to prevent imminent danger to life is necessary."

    ". Reasonable suspicion means that the officer has sufficient knowledge to believe that criminal activity is at hand. This level of knowledge is less than that of probable cause, so reasonable suspicion is usually used to justify a brief frisk in a public area or a traffic stop at roadside. "

    so in other words whenever they want.
    like the democrats to real progressives
    ran paul's lip services will do nothing but discredit libertarianism

  • Jeremiah

    There are too many loopholes in the proposed bill for it to mean much of anything. They can dispense with warrants when it comes to "patrolling" the "border" (just how far into the interior does it extend now?); dealing with any "imminent danger to life"; and, of course, combating "terrorism." Even if this thing passes—which seems unlikely—, it'll do diddly squat when it comes to stopping the police/surveillance state. Indeed, it seems no law—fundamental or otherwise—will stop this monstrosity. There were already plenty of safeguards in place (US Constitution included), but the bastards have become adept at ignoring such restrictions; and no one who matters—or votes—complains that much when they do.

    Also, when will Rand Paul take a serious interest in the US's reign of remote-controlled terror *overseas*? Those particular drones are an integral part of the expensive, immoral and blowback-laden policy of foreign meddling that provides our rulers with all their primary excuses for building a police state in the first place. Want liberty here? The first step is to stop rampaging over the globe. And Rand Paul might make a humble beginning by withdrawing his support for sanctions on Iran.

  • Donna V

    Rand Paul is buttering his bread on all sides. This is all for appearances and that's all. He's a dirty dog just like the rest of the pack. I've been a Ron Paul supporter, for many years but I have to wonder, given theses recent developments (Rand Paul's endorsement of Romney and Ron Paul's silence), if this hasn't been the goal all along: lining up the son…

    • Donna,

      I doubt that "lining up the son" has been the goal all along. Rand wasn't in the Senate four years or 24 years ago when Ron ran for president, nor did it seem particularly likely that he ever would be.

      On the other hand, you're fairly warm. The answer is: Ron and Rand Paul are politicians who will say and do whatever they have to do to be successful politicians.

      The cognitive dissonance is probably a result of Rand Paul trying to extend his fundraising base into the deeper middle of the well, while his father came up with a pretty innovative approach of catering (in rhetoric, anyway) to several small but fanatical niche groups (libertarians, "constitutional conservatives," and — less so today than 20 years ago — to the remnant of racist Dixiecratism) to raise his political seed money.