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Send in the Drones: The Predator State Goes Domestic

December 19, 2011
William Norman Grigg
12/19/2011

“Eventually, we’ll have to put an end to this, one way or another.”

Sheriff Kelly Janke of North Dakota’s Nelson County uttered that ominous sentence in mid-September, during what the local media giddily described as a stand-off with local farmer Rodney Brossart and his family. By that time, Sheriff Janke, with the help of the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Air Force, had already run the table where “non-lethal” means of compelling the family to surrender were concerned. This included everything from the Taser used during Brossart’s June 23 arrest to the precedent-setting use of a Predator-B drone to conduct surveillance of the home several days later to facilitate the arrest of the farmer’s three sons.

The most recent conflict between Janke’s department and Brossart began when a half-dozen stray cattle wandered onto the family’s farm, which is located near the tiny village of Lakota (roughly 100 miles northwest of Fargo). Brossart, who reportedly believed that the cattle were unclaimed and thus belonged to him under a disputed interpretation of open-range law, refused to turn them over to the Sheriff.

A team of deputies tasered the 55-year-old farmer and took him into custody. His daughter Abby, frantic for the safety of her father, tried to intervene; for “striking” the sanctified personage of a deputy, she was arrested and charged with assault. When Brossart’s wife Susan refused to help the deputies locate what they described as “illegal” firearms, she, too, was arrested and charged with lying to law enforcement officers (who are trained to lie and can do so without legal consequence).

When deputies returned the following day, they were reportedly confronted by Brossart’s three sons – Jacob, Alex, and Thomas — who were allegedly carrying the rifles the police had tried to confiscate the previous day.

This led Sheriff Janke to escalate the confrontation to a full-spectrum military response – including, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, elements “from the state Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances, and deputy sheriffs from three other counties. He also called in a Predator B drone.” That unmanned aerial vehicle, identical to those used in CIA-directed missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere, was supplied by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP), an affiliate of the Department of Homeland Security.

And now… the rest of the story. …..

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