Last Thursday during a Washington State House Committee hearing over new drone legislation, shocking comments were made from a drone lobbyist in attendance.
H.B. 1771, a bill to put limits on how, when, where and why drones can be used within Washington state, passed its House Committee hearing yesterday 9-1, with many showing up to voice their support. The few in opposition also gave their comments and concerns on what they felt were too many rules and regulations for government drone use.
"You’re adding reporting requirements that you’re not adding on helicopters. You’re having to get permission that you’re not having to do with any other systems out there," said Paul Applewhite, board of directors member for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International that represents 80 companies within the Pacific Northwest.
The shocking moment came soon after when Applewhite commented in regards to a question from Rep. Sherry Appleton (D) regarding the backlash to drones.
"My opinion is that the way that we're currently using drones in warfare, we're moving away from indiscriminate killing to discriminate killing," said Applewhite, followed by gasps from the audience.
Appleton's comments could ring true in light of the reports of over 178 children dead overseas due to drone strikes. It was also recently reported that over 40% of drone casualties are innocents.
"I was stunned along with the rest of the people in the hearing when I heard the stunning admission from Mr. Applewhite that we had at one time practiced indiscriminate killing in this country. This is absolutely the reason why we cannot trust a government that condones at any time indiscriminate killing of any person, especially without due process," said State Senate hopeful, Travis Couture, who was in attendance.
In February of last year, President Obama signed a bill that will allow as many as 30,000 drones to be flown by anyone from police to the Department of Homeland Security, within the United States. Soon after, an Air Force intelligence brief was uncovered which states that if drones "accidentally" capture surveillance footage of Americans, the data can be stored and analyzed by the Pentagon for up to 90 days.
In light of the recently leaked Department of Justice white paper that outlines the supposed legality of drone strikes on U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism, the outcry over the U.S. drone policy has taken center stage.
Three American citizens have already been assassinated overseas by drones, including the 16-year-old Denver, Colo. native, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was not suspected of any terrorist activities. In fact, the Obama Administration has been repeatedly asked whether they believe they can assassinate U.S. citizens with drones on U.S. soil without charges, which they have refused to answer.
Applewhite also did mention his concern saying, "I'm also worried about one of these parked over the top of my house and being used for surveillance by an overzealous government, I think that is a great issue."
Washington state also made drone news recently after residents spoke out against, and ended, the Seattle Police Department's drone program.
The Virginia General Assembly also recently approved a moratorium on drone aircraft in the state, sending the legislation to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s desk. The Senate passed a similar bill 40-0, which advocates a ban on the use of drones except in cases such as missing person searches, for the next two years.
Here is the video clip:
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Mikael Thalen is a political activist and a self proclaimed history buff and current events junkie. He prides himself on being non partisan and standing up for fiscal responsibility and personal liberty in government.
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