Speaking at a US Senate judiciary committee hearing, FBI Director Robert Mueller conceded that while the FBI hasn’t yet developed official policies on their use, they are already using drones over US soil for surveillance purposes.
Mueller tried to shrug off the revelation as no big deal, insisting that he was “unsure” about how often they’d been used, and how long the FBI keeps surveillance photos, but that they have used them “very seldom.”
President Obama had insisted last month that the US would only use drones in areas where there is a “continuing, imminent threat.” It isn’t clear what standards, if any, apply to surveillance operations inside the US however.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R – IA) was interested in getting those details, and has pressed Attorney General Eric Holder on the matter. Holder had submitted written details of Justice Department drone use to the Senate just last week, but omitted anything about an active FBI program. Holder’s answers had only confirmed DEA and ATF use, and said any theoretical FBI use would have to follow guidelines he would write.
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