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Ear to the Ground

Border Drones a Wasteful Giveaway, Study Says

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Posted on Apr 25, 2013
Beth and Christian (CC BY 2.0)

As Congress considers whether to increase funding for border drones, a report released Wednesday found the technology to be “an inefficient, costly and absurd approach to border security and homeland security.”

The Center for International Policy assessed the drone fleet belonging to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes seven Predators and three Guardians. A $443.1 million contract suggests the agency will acquire 14 more drones in the next three years.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Matt Sledge at The Huffington Post:

Despite the hundreds of millions spent by the agency for domestic drones, by Customs and Border Protection calculations, the weapons have played a supporting role in only 0.003 percent of drug seizures and 0.001 percent of illegal border crossing detentions.

Given those low numbers, [report author Tom] Barry said, Customs and Border Protection has now switched to a new justification for its drone fleet: law enforcement and national security. The agency is promising to work with the Department of Defense or local law enforcement agencies. That, Barry argued, should be cause for concern.

“I think we should be afraid, in terms of this breaking down of the distinction between domestic law enforcement and national security and foreign affairs,” Barry said. “That line has been criss-crossed many times with DHS.”

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