Attorney may challenge use of Predator drone during NoDak arrest

Categories: Law
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NoDak law enforcement used an unarmed drone to make an arrest last summer.
Last summer, American law enforcement used an unmanned drone to apprehend a group of alleged bad guys.

This didn't happen in Afghanistan or Iraq -- it happened in North Dakota and represents the first time U.S. law enforcement has used a drone to make an arrest.

Now, Fargo-based Bruce Quick, the attorney representing the arrestees, says he is contemplating challenging the legality of using unmanned drones for domestic law enforcement purposes.

Lakota, North Dakota resident Rodney Brossart and four of his family members were arrested after six head of cattle wandered from a neighbor's place onto his property. Brossart refused to give the cattle back to his neighbor, who then called police. But when the sheriff arrived at the Brossarts' residence to inquire about the cattle, three men brandishing rifles allegedly chased him off.

Fearful of an armed standoff, Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke ended up calling in a Predator B drone from the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The drone flew over the Brossart property, revealing that Rodney and his children were unarmed. Police then rushed onto the property and arrested Brossart, his wife, and three of their sons in connection with the alleged cattle theft and the police-resisting rifle brandishing.

While breaking the story last December, the Los Angeles Times characterized the incident as "the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare." According to that same report, North Dakota police say they have used unarmed Predators based in Grand Forks for two dozen surveillance flights between June 2011 and last December.

Until now, there has been next to no political or legal debate about whether it's actually a good idea to use drones for domestic law enforcement purposes. Air Force officials justify their actions by citing congressional budget requests that include "interior law enforcement support" as part of their mission.

In response to the L.A. Times report, Salon's Glenn Greenwald argued that the use of drones to arrest U.S. citizens at home is an ominous development enabling "a Surveillance State unlike anything we've ever seen." He wrote:
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Greenwald: Domestic drones are a "growing menace."
No matter one's views, the escalating addition of drones -- weaponized or even just surveillance -- to the vast arsenal of domestic weapons that already exist is a serious, consequential development. The fact that it has happened with almost no debate and no real legal authorization is itself highly significant. One thing is for certain: this is a development that is going to continue and increase rapidly. It needs far more attention than it has thus far received.
Now, thanks to Quick, the attorney representing the Brossarts, a court may finally have the opportunity to weigh in on the legality of domestic drone use. Quick told the Grand Forks Herald he's considering filing a motion challenging the use of a drone during the arrest.

"It's bizarre to me they would be using military drones for that purpose," Quick said. "I don't think those things are intended to be used for that."
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16 comments
Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Every fool and coward who voted for or supported the Patriot Act deserves this predictable abuse of government power.

Reap what ye sow, America !

zengzow
zengzow

Bummer, they should have shot it out of the sky!Total-Privacy dot US

Mn Worker
Mn Worker

Air Force officials justify their actions by citing congressional budget requests that include "interior law enforcement support" as part of their mission. Since when? Who voted for this? We need names of the politicians and military officers violating our constition. Strip them of all of their property, pensions and throw them into Jail. Gitmo is fine for Treason.

It is time to stand up. The military is now doing police activities and is against the constitution. Every politican who allowed this needs to go. Every Military officer in the chain of command needs to go! Every drone pilot (AF) needs to go. This is unacceptable and an act of WAR on the civilians of the USA. First the TSA and now this. When are you people going to wake up.

Luke Seefeldt
Luke Seefeldt

This is why I left Grand Forks North Dakota.

Research
Research

I can't see the problem here.  The guy chased off a Sheriff with rifles.  The use of a drone seems very practical.  And to MN Worker, there are many technologies that start in military and move to a law enforcement, or household tool.  The internet in which you used to make that messed up statement was first used for military use.  I think your comment is Obama's fault.  If Bush was in office you'd say go get those bad guys.  Good luck buddy.

Mn Worker
Mn Worker

The Grand Forks Air Force was called in with the drone. This was not the local sheriff's deputy pilot using a drone. It was the US Air Force. Wake up people. Obama wants to be a dictator. Obama has trampled on our constitution! You idiots are so blind.Obama allowed it to happen because it wants to use the military against the civilians.

If Bush was in office I'd say WTF, wake up America. We have the MILITARY doing police work. When did that become legal.

Truthteller
Truthteller

Actions have consequences.  We all want the freedom to carry guns and lower taxes so law enforcement needs to have cost effective tools.  This time it was cattle rustling,  could have just as easily been drug lords bringing in heroine or some fringe group bringing in WMDs.   North minneapolis has bullet holes in just about every window. Might be time to use a drone or two to catch those clowns too.

Frank
Frank

And yet police departments all across the country use military surplus helicopters for law enforcements missions--at a far greater cost.  Courts have ruled that airborne surveillance support from military assets is perfectly legal--what's the basis for saying that airborne surveillance at incredible cost is ok, but its not okay if you use a much cheaper drone? 

Richard_Pietrasz
Richard_Pietrasz

Actually, Predators are very expensive to operate.  We are not talking about something a competent hobbyist could do for $10K plus several man-hours/fight hour.

Mn Worker
Mn Worker

The Grand Forks Air Force was called in with the drone. This was not the local sheriff's deputy pilot using a drone. It was the US Air Force. Wake up people. Obama wants to be a dictator. Obama has trampled on our constitution! You idiots are so blind.Obama allowed it to happen because it wants to use the military against the civilians.

Mn Worker
Mn Worker

So Obama is using the military against the people! Just frggging incredible! Wake up people. How would you feel if this was Bush doing this? Scary times.

EdBradly7
EdBradly7

 President Obama also used a Predator drone on Wednesday of this week to assassinate rightwing blogger Andrew Breitbart. CenComm (Central Comman) had the drone fire a miniature lethal dart made of Ricin (a poison found naturally in castor beans) that dissolves in the body and can't be detected. Those Predators are everywhere and you can't hear them or see them. Are police becoming more militarized, I don't think so. Just because my local police department (Edina) has had a BearCat (Armored Assault Vehicle) for the last three years does not mean the police are becoming more and more militarized.     

Santa Monica Attorney
Santa Monica Attorney

I do not know about this thing. This really sounds scary. Should I expect something worse on Obama's presidency than what happened on 9/11 bombing? Wake up cops!

Zanbgam
Zanbgam

What do you mean 'Obama'? Obama didn't do a damn thing, moron.

Mn Worker
Mn Worker

The Grand Forks Air Force was called in with the drone. This was not the local sheriff's deputy pilot using a drone. It was the US Air Force. Wake up people. Obama wants to be a dictator. Obama has trampled on our constitution! You idiots are so blind.Obama allowed it to happen because it wants to use the military against the civilians.

Hey EdBradly7: if you can read this it wasn't the local civilian police it was the US Airforce. Read the ariticle and get your head out of your a$$

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