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Is Christopher Dorner Really the First Drone Target on US Soil?

Outrage erupted over the weekend with news that Christopher Dorner, the alleged cop-killer who has sparked the biggest manhunt in California history, would be the first target of military drones on U.S. soil. The problem is, that’s not quite true.

The news came in the wake of the recent publication of a U.S. memo that justifies the killing of American terrorists without due process, and talking heads had speculated whether it was just a matter of time before drones were unleashed on U.S. citizens within our borders.

MSN reported that indeed that day had arrived, as Dorner will be “the first drone target on US Soil”:

chris dorner drone target us soil

Twitter erupted over the news, with hundreds of people protesting this scary new reach of the U.S. government.

But the aggregators at MSN failed to fully read their source article. The MSN article implied that Dorner would be hunted and killed by the drones, but the original article, while also somewhat misleading, described that spy drones, but not armed drones, would be used in the hunt for Dorner.

Express News quoted a senior police source saying that “thermal imaging camera the drones use may be our only hope of finding him. On the ground it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.” In other words, LAPD was hoping to us drone technology to find Christopher Dorner, who is using his military training to hide in the wilderness. But it would not use drones to kill him.

Can drones help locate Dorner?

Can drones help locate Dorner?


Dorner, a scorned ex-LAPD cop, is an alleged killer of three who wrote a 6,000-word “manifesto” in which he threatened the lives of police officers and their families. Chief Beck from the LAPD has called his actions “nothing short of domestic terrorism” — and that label fueled speculation that he could be a drone target.

MSN reported that the “drone war has come home to America” — falsely implying that armed drones will be deployed in the mountains of Southern California taking aim with their missiles at the elusive fugitive Dorner.

Furthermore, even as a target of spy drones, Dorner would not be the first on American soil. Infowars.com reported that in 2011, police used a Predator surveillance drone against a family in North Dakota who were accused of stealing six cows.

Within this case some people are arguing for a lethal use of a drone. Glenn Greenwald from the Guardian asked, “Why should the lives of law enforcement agents be risked to apprehend this suspected domestic terrorist?” Others argue that Dorner poses more of an imminent threat than many targets (such as American Anwar Awlaki) who have been killed with the use of drones. As an American terrorist on American soil, Chrisopher Dorner’s case is sparking a myriad of moral questions.

Check out this video where Cenk Uygur, Ben Mankiewiczm and Jimmy Dore discuss the use of drones in Christopher Dorner’s case and its implications.

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