Uh, that’s California below — not North Waziristan
The US uses drones for surveillance in some limited law-enforcement situations, the head of FBI has said, prompting additional debate about the Obama administration’s use of domestic surveillance.
Robert Mueller’s acknowledgement came in response to questions on Wednesday from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who said they wanted to know more about the federal government’s increasing use of unmanned aircraft.
“Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on US soil?” Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa asked during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“Yes,” Mueller said, adding that the use was in “a very, very minimal way and very seldom”.
Mueller did not go into detail, but the FBI later released a statement that said unmanned aircraft were used only to watch stationary subjects and to avoid serious risks to law-enforcement agents…
The Federal Aviation Administration approves each use, the statement said.
Golly, what a surprise. Did they ever consider refusing?
At the hearing, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said she was concerned about the privacy implications of drone surveillance.
“The greatest threat to the privacy of Americans is the drone and the use of the drone, and the very few regulations that are on it today,” she said…
This is the same hack who said, “I think it’s an act of treason” – speaking of Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing on NSA snooping.
The Justice Department had disclosed that two domestic law-enforcement agencies use unmanned aircraft systems, according to a department statement sent to the Judiciary Committee and released on Wednesday by Grassley’s office.
The two are the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives…
Mueller, who is due to retire when his term expires in September, agreed that there should be public discourse over the future of the unmanned vehicles, saying “it’s worthy of debate and perhaps legislation down the road”.
Mueller did not say…whether warrants were being obtained for the use of the drones.
Requiring warrants fits into the same category as FAA approval. Rubber stamps don’t ask questions or consider constitutionality.
The fact remains that the same sort of Big Brother methods denied as an unthinkable violation of sacred trust have been happening all along. Flying spy missions over these United States ain’t the same as reinforcing the Border Patrol or US Customs. Though that will be a significant portion of the rationale. No doubt.