Watch a Congressional Candidate Shoot Down a ‘Government Drone’

House contender Matt Rosendale of Montana wants Big Brother out of his airspace.

Montana state Sen. Matt Rosendale "shoots down" a government drone in a campaign ad for his bid for the U.S. House.
National Journal
Alex Brown
April 16, 2014, 10:17 a.m.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4890) }}

As a “gov­ern­ment drone” hov­ers over Matt Rosend­ale, the Re­pub­lic­an House can­did­ate from Montana tells the cam­era what he thinks of gov­ern­ment over­reach, reg­u­la­tion, and “spy­ing on our cit­izens.”

Then, stand­ing in front of an ATV, Rosend­ale coolly puts a rifle to his shoulder, looks up through the sight and “downs” the drone with a single shot.

“The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is too big and too power­ful,” Rosend­ale says. “I’m ready to stand tall for free­dom and get Wash­ing­ton out of our lives,” he says.

Rosend­ale is try­ing to stand out in a five-way primary for Montana’s at-large seat in the House.

Sport­ing a barn jack­et and a flat­top buzz cut, the state sen­at­or lowers the rifle and pledges to get the feds off his con­stitu­ents’ backs — or at least not hov­er­ing over their heads.

Montana is among the states that pro­hib­it law en­force­ment from us­ing drones without a war­rant. On the fed­er­al level, U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion runs sur­veil­lance op­er­a­tions with its nine-drone fleet.

Cus­toms also loaned its drones to oth­er agen­cies for sur­veil­lance mis­sions 700 times over a three-year peri­od, in­clud­ing to state and loc­al de­part­ments. The Elec­tron­ic Fron­ti­er Found­a­tion and oth­er ad­vocacy groups have ex­pressed con­cern that these mis­sions have strayed from the gov­ern­ment’s bor­der-se­cur­ity dir­ect­ive.

Though it’s un­likely the gov­ern­ment has sent drones buzz­ing over Rosend­ale’s prop­erty, which is in a small town not par­tic­u­larly close to the Ca­na­dian bor­der, he’s tap­ping in­to the sen­ti­ment that helped fuel Sen. Rand Paul’s drone fili­buster last year.

Paul en­vi­sioned a scen­ario in which the gov­ern­ment could use a drone to take out an Amer­ic­an “in a cafe in San Fran­cisco” so long as the tar­get was sus­pec­ted of be­ing a ter­ror­ist. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­spon­ded that Amer­ic­ans not en­gaged in com­bat would not be the tar­get of drone strikes on U.S. soil.

Still, some — and not just Re­pub­lic­ans — are con­cerned that the gov­ern­ment’s grow­ing use of drones could lead to pri­vacy over­reaches if not kept in check. Sen. Di­anne Fein­stein, D-Cal­if., said earli­er this year a drone spied in­to her house and called for guidelines for law-en­force­ment use of the tech­no­logy. The ACLU and Elec­tron­ic Fron­ti­er Found­a­tion are among groups who hope to set strict bound­ar­ies for drone use by the gov­ern­ment.

Shoot­ing down a drone, however, is il­leg­al, ac­cord­ing to the Fed­er­al Avi­ation Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Here’s how the agency re­spon­ded when a small town in Col­or­ado made it leg­al to hunt drones: “A [drone] hit by gun­fire could crash, caus­ing dam­age to per­sons or prop­erty on the ground, or it could col­lide with oth­er ob­jects in the air. Shoot­ing at an un­manned air­craft could res­ult in crim­in­al or civil li­ab­il­ity, just as would fir­ing at a manned air­plane.”

Rosend­ale isn’t the first can­did­ate to send a bul­let at a chosen specter of big gov­ern­ment. Obama­care and cap-and-trade have pre­vi­ously found them­selves in can­did­ates’ crosshairs.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4885) }}

What We're Following See More »
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
1 days ago

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Maher Weighs in on Bernie, Trump and Palin
1 days ago

“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.