Well, if there was ever a family that looked like creepy right-wing North Dakota survivalists who had to be surveilled by Air Force drones because they refused to let cops onto their land after stealing a neighbor's cows, it's the Brussarts of Nelson County (as you can see above). And wouldn't you know! That's exactly what they are, allegedly!
Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke, the Los Angeles Times reports, visited the Brossarts in June to investigate the disappearance of six cows. Janke had a warrant, but the Brossarts are "sovereign citizens"—weird right-wingers with a set of very complicated and almost completely incoherent views on taxation and sovereignty—and don't much truck with such things, and (according to Janke) chased him off their property with a rifle.
So, obviously, because it's 2011, and what's the point of being a policeman if you can't use military technology to violate the civil rights of creepy survivalists, he called in a predator drone:
As the unmanned aircraft circled 2 miles overhead the next morning, sophisticated sensors under the nose helped pinpoint the three suspects and showed they were unarmed. Police rushed in and made the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare.
But that was just the start. Local police say they have used two unarmed Predators based at Grand Forks Air Force Base to fly at least two dozen surveillance flights since June. The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration have used Predators for other domestic investigations, officials said.
How comforting to know that my... cows? are being protected by the same tools being used to kill dozens of Afghan and Pakistani civilians, by mistake, and several al Qaeda operatives, on purpose. At least there's an extensive judicial review process before local law enforcement is cleared to use drones! Oh, there's not? Well. At least it sounds really bad-ass?
For four hours, the Predator circled 10,000 feet above the farm. Parked on a nearby road, Janke and the other officers watched live drone video and thermal images of Alex, Thomas and Jacob Brossart - and their mother, Susan - on a hand-held device with a 4-inch screen.
The glowing green images showed people carrying what appeared to be long rifles moving behind farm equipment and other barriers. The sheriff feared they were preparing an ambush, and he decided to withdraw until daybreak. The Predator flew back to its hangar.