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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/19/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Director of FBI says unmanned aircraft used very seldom

The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Robert Mueller has admitted for the first time that the FBI uses drones, unmanned aircraft, for domestic surveillance. This alarming fact came to light during an oversight hearing on Capital hill before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Department of Homeland Security has been purchasing unarmed Predator aerial drones for border surveillance since 2005.

The Department of Homeland Security has been purchasing unarmed Predator aerial drones for border surveillance since 2005.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/19/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Mueller. FBI, drone use, domestic surveillance


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on US soil?" Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Mueller this week.

"Yes," Mueller responded bluntly, adding that the FBI's operation of drones is "very seldom."

Mueller confirmed to lawmakers that the FBI owns several unmanned aerial vehicles, but has not adopted any strict policies or guidelines yet to govern the use of the controversial aircraft.

Asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) to elaborate, Mueller added, "It's very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident where you need the capability." Mueller had earlier said the same day that the agency was only now working to establish set rule for the drone program.

Mueller also touched briefly on the recently exposed NSA surveillance program that has marred the reputation of the United States intelligence community. Mueller said 22 agents have access to a vast surveillance database, including 20 analysts and two overseers.

When Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) asked Mueller if he'd consider being more open about the FBI's surveillance methods, the director decried being much more transparent that the bureau already is. Mueller insists that the FBI has and will continue to weigh the possibility of publishing more information about its spy habits, but warned that doing such would be to the advantage of America's enemies.

"There is a price to be paid for that transparency," Mueller said. "I certainly think it would be educating our adversaries as to what our capabilities are."

The Department of Homeland Security has been purchasing unarmed Predator aerial drones for border surveillance since 2005.

"The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security, used its drones just over one-third of the time they were available, owing to shortages of qualified staff, flight limitations imposed by regulators and other issues, according to a May 2012 report by Homeland Security's inspector general. The border agency has used unmanned planes for nearly a decade," according to the Wall Street Journal.

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