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March 9, 2013

Deploying Drones in the Homeland …and the Biggest Fear’s the Budget?

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Domestic drone deployment? Border hysteria? How about, gimme back my joystick!

You’d think this photo story would be plenty unnerving. It provides a rare view of that which many have been afraid of: Predators deployed domestically – if along the US-Mexico border. The imagery is sublimated, though, to news that the mission is under attack itself — by budget cutbacks brought on by sequestration. So voilà, witness the perfect post-9/11 splitting device, the machinations of big brother overshadowed by the loss of skilled jobs.

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Tailoring the story toward economics, the edit banks hard around the militarization taking dead aim at budget strife. Engaging in melodrama, we actually see one of the “air interdiction agents” clutching his head while reading the notice that team members will have to take one furlough day off every two weeks.

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The elegance of the labor drama also helps offset image after image of those sleek bodies, almost enough to fill two year’s worth of Predator calendars. (Cute little bugger. If you pet his nose, he’ll try and reach out and touch you.)

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Given so many many drone (and hand wringing) shots, in fact, you almost overlook the fact that there’s only one surveillance photo in the whole batch, albeit the last one. It’s a look at a suspicious group of cows.

In light of the extensive NYT investigative piece today about the drone killing of three Americans in Yemen (only, Alwaki, a high value target) and the ensuing dust storm over the government’s extra-judicial drone killings of Americans, let’s at least hope our boys, when they’re not on their imposed day off, know how to identify a Mexican from an American cow.

Full edit at Zimbio.

(photos: John Moore/Getty Images. caption 1: Air Interdiction Agent Jack Thurston from U.S. Office of Air and Marine (OAM), pilots an unmanned Predator aircraft from a flight operations center near the Mexican border on March 7, 2013 at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The OAM flies the unmanned – and unarmed – MQ-9 Predator B aircraft an average of 12 hours per day at around 19,000 feet over southern Arizona. The drones, piloted from the ground, search for drug smugglers and immigrants crossing illegally from Mexico into the United States. Due to federal sequestration cuts, Customs and Border Protection is expected to lose $500 million from its budget, and OAM staff at Ft. Huachuca are now taking unpaid furlough days once every two weeks as part of the cuts. caption 2: Air Interdiction Agent Will Brazelton from U.S. Office of Air and Marine (OAM), reads over sequestration furlough documents before starting his shift piloting Predator drone surveillance flights near the Mexican border on March 7, 2013 from Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona.)

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