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Beltway Confidential

Abbott would consider state-owned drones for border security

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Beltway Confidential,Mark Tapscott

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told a gathering of reporters in Washington, D.C. today that he would consider using state-owned drones in securing his state's border with Mexico.

Asked if Texas should buy its own drones for use in border security, Abbott said "I would, it would be something to think about because with the drone you can actually see what is happening on the ground and it could help establish whether those objective criteria were being met."

Abbott acknowledged the potential for invasion of privacy problems with drones but said he believed those worries could be satisfied.

Earlier in the discussion, Abbott listed having objective criteria for determining whether a border area is sufficiently safe and secure for residents as a pre-requisite for resolution of immigration issues currently being debated in Congress.

Drones have become very much in the public consciousness in recent years as a result of their effective use by the U.S. military in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups.

The drones are pilotless, silent and deadly when armed with Hellfire missiles. The discussion with Abbott did not address whether state-owned drones would be armed or unarmed.

Civil liberties advocates and conservatives have become concerned in recent weeks, however, with the federal government's apparent use of drones over the continental United States, fearing invasion of privacy and illegal search violations of the Constitution.

Legislation banning the official use of drones is currently pending in more than a dozen states, including Illinois, Washington, Virginia, Montana, California, Oregon, Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, North Dakota, Florida, Maine, and Oklahoma.

Abbott has been mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Texas Gov. Rick Perry in 2014. Abbott has been a leader among state attorneys general in challenging Obamacare and several Environmental Protection Agency regulations in federal court.

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.

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Mark Tapscott

Executive Editor
The Washington Examiner