A conversation I had only six months ago. A man I’ll call John Doe was visiting Greenville and spoke to me after Mass…
DL: Nice to see you here. What brings you to Greenville?
JD: I’m an aeronautics engineer. I’m here on business.
DL: Interesting. What sort of airplanes?
JD: Remote controlled
DL: You mean like model airplanes?
JD: (laughs) No, military use.
DL: What like drones?
JD: That’s right. I work in a development facility in the Southwest.
DL: The technology is pretty amazing. I understand a soldier in a room in Arizona or somewhere can fly a drone in Africa or Afghanistan to hit his targets–all with satellites and so forth.
JD: That’s right.
DL: Tell me, what’s stopping law enforcement officials from using drones here? Wouldn’t it be pretty effective, let’s say, to patrol the highways and trap speeding motorists?
JD: That would be a suitable application. It could be very effective.
DL: Are they already using them?
JD: (smiles) Let’s say it’s a topic of discussion.
DL: Not armed drones or anything?
JD: No. Not armed drones. Surveillance drones. They could be used very effectively to patrol our borders.
DL: Like to keep out Mexican drug dealers and illegal immigrants and so forth?
JD: Sure. Also, the authorities know that public opinion on drone use for such projects would probably be favorable.
DL: Aren’t there laws against this sort of thing?
JD: The technology is so advanced present civil liberty laws don’t say much about it.
DL: I’m always a sucker for conspiracy theories. What if they start out using unarmed surveillance drones to watch the really bad guys, but then they start using them on ordinary Americans who they consider to be bad guys?
JD: It could happen. But the drones aren’t evil anymore than a gun is evil. It’s just a weapon or a tool. People are evil, and if the drone are used for the wrong reasons against the wrong people, then they could be used in a bad way.
DL: Good point. So are they using the drones now on American soil?
JD: (laughs) If I told you that I’d have to kill you.
DL: That’s what they always say…