FBI Drones in Domestic Surveillance

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FBI Director Robert Mueller made headlines by admitting that the federal government has used drones to surveil residents of the United States.

Mueller acknowledged that pilotless aircraft with surveillance capabilities were used in a “very minimal way” and only on “particularized cases” with “particularized needs.”

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s claims about federal telephone surveillance, the capacity of the federal government to keep tabs on citizens is touchy.

Be that as it may, confirmed reports of drone usage on home turf are rare, the most high-profile instance being against Jimmy Lee Dykes, who shot a 66-year-old bus driver to death and took a kindergartner hostage. Drones were used in part to end the Dykes stand-off.

Still, the potential of domestic droneage is disconcerting. Lawmakers as politically diverse as Rand Paul (R-KY) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have expressed dismay at the use of drones, each indicating unease with the potential use of unmanned aircraft to keep tabs on American citizens.

Even so, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claims that any domestic drone usage will remain within a “security perspective without invading American’s rights.” Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) issued a statement agreeing with the idea that drones can be the most effective way to monitor domestic legal issues, claiming that “unmanned aerial systems have the potential to more efficiently and effectively perform law enforcement duties.”

And yet some citizens wonder: When will "law enforcement duties" enforced by drones extend to rolling stops? Scary times, indeed . . .

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