|Sometimes the truth is at least as|
strange as fiction: at least when the
truth involves government
bureaucrats with unlimited budgets.
Here's the wikipedia entry introduction on "Black Helicopters" [with emphasis added]:
Black helicopters is a term which became popular in the United States militia movement and its associated political circles in the 1990s as a symbol and warning sign of an alleged conspiratorial military takeover of the United States, though it has also been associated with men in black and similar conspiracies. Rumors circulated that, for instance, the United Nations patrolled the US with unmarked black helicopters, or that federal agents used black helicopters to enforce wildlife laws.
Media attention to black helicopters increased in February 1995, when first-term Republican northern Idaho Representative Helen Chenoweth charged that armed federal agents were landing black helicopters on Idaho ranchers' property to enforce the Endangered Species Act. "I have never seen them," Chenoweth said in an interview in The New York Times. "But enough people in my district have become concerned that I can't just ignore it. We do have some proof." Chenoweth made the charges at a press conferencewithout ever consulting with the Department of the Interior.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which enforces the act, claims not to own any helicopters.
Fast forward to . . . yesterday.
In which we discover that, ok, it isn't the Fish and Wildlife Service, but the Environmental Protection Agency using helicopters to monitor ranchers in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri:
A bipartisan group of Capitol Hill lawmakers is pressing EPA Director Lisa Jackson to answer questions about privacy issues and other concerns after the agency used aerial surveillance to monitor livestock operations over their home state of Nebraska.
“Farmers and ranchers in Nebraska pride themselves in the stewardship of our state’s natural resources. As you might imagine, this practice has resulted in privacy concerns among our constituents and raises several questions,” says the letter signed by Republican Reps. Adrian Smith, Jeff Fortenberry and Lee Terry, as well as Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and GOP Sen. Mike Johanns.
Smith, co-chairman of the Modern Agriculture Caucus and the Congressional Rural Caucus, said Tuesday the operations in many cases are near homes so “landowners deserve legitimate justification given the sensitivity of the information gathered by the flyovers.”
The letter asks nearly two-dozen questions including why the inspections are being conducted, how many flights have occurred and whether they have resulted in any enforcement activities.
“Nebraskans are rightfully skeptical of an agency which continues to unilaterally insert itself into the affairs of rural America,” Smith added.
The Environmental Protection Agency uses aerial surveillance across a swath of the Midwest known as Section 7 – which includes Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri -- and has defended the practice as cost-efficient.
Thus far the EPA has declined to respond to this inquiry.
It is important to note that The John Marshall Journal of Computer & Information Law has noted for over fifteen years the drift in 4th Amendment court decisions favoring law enforcement and government regulators conducting aerial surveillance over private property owners: