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28 August, 2015

It's a fact: Surveillance drones operate within the United States!

Selected parts:

New Documents Trace Controversial Use of Drones and other Aerial Surveillance for Domestic National Security – from Safeguarding Major Sporting Events to Law Enforcement to Tracking Wildfires.”

'FBI spy plane zeroes in on Dearborn area' was the headline in The Detroit News on August 5, 2015. The story, which broke the news that the FBI had conducted at least seven surveillance flights recently over downtown Detroit, also raised a broader issue. It illustrated the fact that along with the controversy concerning electronic surveillance activities focused on telephone and e-mail records of United States citizens there exists a corresponding source of controversy – the use of satellites and assorted aircraft (manned and unmanned) to collect imagery and conduct aerial surveillance of civilian targets within the United States.”

The most controversial uses or potential uses of overhead systems have been for law enforcement and border security. Plans to incorporate a law enforcement support component into a proposed National Applications Office (NAO) within DHS that would have replaced the Civil Applications Committee was the key factor in the opposition that ultimately led to cancellation of plans to establish the office.”

Another current subject of controversy has been the FBI’s use of drones for surveillance purposes. In 2013, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in a letter to Director Robert Mueller, posed a series of eleven questions concerning the bureau’s drone use, including: how long has the FBI been using drones without stated privacy protections; 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; and is there ever a scenario you can envision where the FBI would seek to arm its drones? That letter led to further correspondence involving Paul and the bureau’s assistant director for congressional affairs (responding on Mueller’s behalf). In addition to the bureau’s responses to Paul and other members of Congress, another recently available explication of the FBI’s views concerning the use of unmanned vehicles for surveillance is a briefing obtained by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.”

A May 2012 DHS Inspector General report noted that the purpose of the CBP unmanned aerial vehicle program was to 'provide reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting, and acquisition capabilities across all CBP areas of responsibility' but 'CBP had not adequately planned resources to support its current unmanned aircraft inventory.' It also identified assorted agencies on whose behalf the CBP had flown missions – among them the United States Secret Service, the FBI, the Department of Defense, and the Texas Rangers – as well imagery obtained for border surveillance and other applications.”

A December 2014 Inspector General report stated that although the CBP unmanned aircraft system contributed to border security 'CBP cannot prove that the program is effective because it has not developed performance measures.' A few months earlier, a GAO study was sent to key members of the Congressional homeland security committees. It noted that the CBP operated nine unmanned vehicles from four National Air Security Operations Centers (and gave the locations of those centers), and identified the different sensors (including infrared, electro-optical, and synthetic aperture radar) flown on the vehicles. It also reported favorably with regard to CBP’s civil liberties and privacy oversight practices, noting that 'CBP has an oversight framework and procedures that help ensure compliance with privacy and civil liberty laws and standards.'”

[Highlighted parts by current blog]

Full report and documents:

These materials are reproduced from with the permission of the National Security Archive.


We already see the test fields of the weapons of future˙ the drones in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. It's not accidental that the arms industries demonstrate new weapons designed to be used inside urban areas for suppression of potential riots. There will be no “outside enemy” in the future. The threat for the dominant system will come from the interior, the big urban centers.

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