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Published On: Thu, Jun 20th, 2013

FBI Director Robert Mueller says agency uses drones for domestic surveillance, Sen. Rand Paul sends letter to FBI chief seeking explanations

The head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that the agency he leads uses drones to conduct surveillance on U.S. soil.

Robert Mueller acknowledged the FBI used drones for domestic surveillance in “certain difficult cases”.

FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee  Image/Video Screen Shot

FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee
Image/Video Screen Shot

Although Mueller could not specify how often they have been used, he does say the unmanned surveillance vehicles are used in investigations in a “very, very minimal way, very seldom”.

Mueller, the FBI director since 2001 who is set to retire this year, according to NBC News, told Senators that he and the agency are working to establish better guidelines for the use of drones.

“We are in the early stages of doing that, and I will tell you that our footprint is very small, we have very few, and have limited use. And we’re exploring not only the use, but the necessary guidelines for that use,” Mueller told senators at a hearing this morning when asked about the use of drones.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) asked about the constitutionality of the domestic drone use, “Unmanned aerial systems have the potential to more efficiently and effectively perform law enforcement duties, but the American people expect the FBI and other government agencies to first and foremost protect their constitutional rights.”

“I am concerned the FBI is deploying drone technology while only being in the ‘initial stages’ of developing guidelines to protect Americans’ privacy rights. I look forward to learning more about this program and will do everything in my power to hold the FBI accountable and ensure its actions respect the US constitution.”

Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul went a step further today. Paul issued a letter to Director Mueller requesting that Mueller address a list of concerns in a set of questions regarding the FBI’s use of surveillance drones without operational guidelines.

“During your appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 19, 2013, you confirmed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) uses drones for the surveillance of American citizens. You also confirmed that the FBI is currently utilizing these surveillance tactics in the absence of any operational guidelines. I am disturbed by the revelation that the FBI has unilaterally decided to begin using drone surveillance technology without a governance policy, and thus without the requisite assurances that the constitutional rights of Americans are being protected.”

Some of the questions Dr. Paul is asking include:

How long has the FBI been using drones without stated privacy protections or operational guidelines?

What measures do you intend to adopt to protect Fourth Amendment and privacy rights?

In what circumstances would the FBI elect to use drone surveillance? Does this surveillance require a warrant?

And more than a half-dozen more.

He closes with, “In the future, I hope that your agency intends to be more forthcoming with information on its use of drone surveillance. I look forward to your comprehensive reply by July 1, 2013.”

 

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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Have Your Say
  1. Rand Paul not satisfied with FBI drone policy response, sends another letter - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] a follow up to June 20 and July 9 stories, after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) sent to letters to FBI Director Robert Mueller […]

  2. Rand Paul sends second letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller after first letter goes unanswered - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] two and a half weeks ago, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) sent a letter to Robert Mueller, the Director of the FBI, after he said  to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the agency he […]

  3. CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON says:

    RECENTLY, I READ AN ONLINE ARTICLE IN WHICH THE AUTHOR CALLED Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) A “Whackjob” BECAUSE HE ONLY HAS A SMALL BAND OF SUPPORTERS, WHILE MOST DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS “SHUN” HIM.

    BUT, EVERY TIME I READ A POLITICAL ARTICLE, Senator Paul SEEMS TO BE THE ONLY ONE DOING SOMETHING; WHERE ARE THE OTHER POLITICIANS?

    Senator Paul’s letter TO Director Robert Mueller SEEMS REASONABLE – SINCE POLITICIANS ARE “SUPPOSED” TO REPRESENT THE CITIZENRY, IT IS LOGICAL TO WANT TO KNOW WHY DRONES ARE BEING USED UNILATERALLY WITHOUT Constitutionally-safe guidelines. ALL ELECTED OFFICIALS SHOULD HAVE SIGNED Senator Paul’s letter.

    CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

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