These fears aren't groundless. President Bush approved the use of armed drones against suspected terrorists overseas, and President Obama vastly increased their use. Drones have killed thousands of people in places such as Pakistan and Yemen, countries against which we have not declared war.
Drones keep getting more sophisticated. The Air Force is now developing what it calls MAVs, Micro Air Vehicles, tiny drones that can quietly search for an individual terrorist and then kill him with explosives or even incapacitate him with chemicals.
So far, America has killed with drones only outside America. Sen. Rand Paul (R, Kentucky) famously filibustered Obama's nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA, demanding that Americans first receive clarification on the government's policy regarding use of lethal drones within the U.S. Finally, the attorney general responded, "Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer to that question is no."
Good for Sen. Paul. Technology itself is not evil, but what government does with it should be determined by clear rules.
The next controversy will center on the increasing use of "civilian" drones. Researching a documentary, "Policing America," I was surprised to learn that I could buy a "personal" drone for only $500. For another $700, my TV staff added a camera to it. These are terrific devices. Vacationers use them to videotape family trips, farmers to check crops, police to search for missing people.
Soon, most everyone might have one. In the six months since I began researching "Policing America," drone prices have dropped sharply. Recently we bought one -- admittedly, a flimsy one -- for just $50. That includes a camera.
Our too-big government will try to quash this innovation. This week the Wall Street Journal reported that government standards "are at least four years away" and quoted a bureaucrat who said, "The incremental approach is essential."
So the FAA sends "cease and desist" orders to restaurants that use drones to deliver food to remote areas, realtors who show off houses, movie makers and journalists who use drones to get aerial footage of disasters, protests, celebrity weddings, etc.