Glenn Greenwald On Liberty And Justice

Nov 9, 2012

Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he has written for Salon and is the author of three books, "How Would a Patriot Act?" a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power; "A Tragic Legacy," which examines the Bush legacy; and "With Liberty and Justice For Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful."

Greenwald On Seattle's Police Drone Proposal

Greenwald is concerned about a Seattle Police proposal to start using unmanned drones in the city. “It enables a ubiquitous surveillance state that currently does not exist.”

Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb compares the drones to “fancy, remote-controlled helicopters” that would only be used in special instances, such as peering into a barricaded building when there may be hostages. The police also say the drones they’d use can only stay in the air for 10 minutes due to limited battery life. 

But Greenwald is not reassured. “I’m sure that in the first instance, that is the case – to make people comfortable,” he said. “If you believe the Seattle Police can be trusted to have hovering drones surveilling whomever they want, why have them up for only 30 minutes?  Why not have them up continuously? And that’s clearly the direction [this] is headed.”

Greenwald is also skeptical that the drone program would be transparent, even if Seattle Police say all of the pictures and videotapes recorded by the drones would be made available to the public. “Looking at the history of federal, state and local police in the United States, do you believe this power won’t be abused?”