Editor’s Note – “Yes Virginia”, that is a drone over our house at Christmas! From the “you have got to be kidding” category – yes, another government intrusion proven to be true – drones over you, inside the USA!
FBI Chief: Surveillance Drones Used in U.S.
By Devlin Barrett – WSJ Washington Wire
The head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation acknowledged Wednesday that his agency uses drones to conduct surveillance in the United States, but said it does so rarely.
Asked about drones at a Senate hearing, FBI director Robert Mueller said the agency uses them “in a very, very minimal way, very seldom.”
Federal agencies have been using drones for years to monitor the northern and southern borders of the U.S., and those drones have occasionally been deployed to help domestic law-enforcement agencies like the FBI.
The use of such drones is politically charged and civil-rights advocates say there are no clear privacy rules governing their use.
FBI hostage negotiators used surveillance drones during a standoff earlier this year with an Alabama man who had taken a boy hostage inside a makeshift underground bunker.
Asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) about what privacy protections are used in deploying drones and storing the images they collect, Mr. Mueller said their use was narrowly focused on specific incidents.
“It’s very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident when you need the capability,’’ said Mr. Mueller, who said he wasn’t sure what becomes of the images recorded by such drones. “It is very narrowly focused on particularized cases and particularized needs.’’
He added: “There are a number of issues related to drones that are going to have to be debated.” One area that needs to be explored, he said, was how long-established guidelines on helicopter surveillance should be adopted or altered to cover unmanned drone surveillance. “It’s worthy of debate and perhaps legislation down the road,’’ said Mr. Mueller.
Mr. Mueller spent Wednesday morning testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee for what is likely to be his last time as FBI director. His term expires in September, and President Barack Obama is expected to nominate former Bush administration official James Comey to succeed him.