In a scenario that we would expect to see on a television show such as Person of Interest, the FBI has been caught using secret planes to spy on citizens of the United States. These secret planes carry specialized equipment that can record and identify people, and may often include devices to tap into cell phone conversations.
In a report by the Inquisitr, a device called a “Dirtbox,” which is attached to the small, secret plane, works as a fake cell phone transceiver. This allows FBI agents to listen in to cell phone conversations, view text messages, disrupt service, and find the person’s location.
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Especially when the fact comes to light that there are no court orders needed for this type of FBI surveillance, secret though it is. According to CNN, although these secret plans are allowed to operate sans the approval of a judge, the missions are overseen and monitored by the Department of Justice.
I feel like I’m not seeing nearly enough WTFs on the internet about these secret FBI spy planes. Like…WTF?!?!? http://t.co/dvvG1pgFcI
— Mike Spangenberg (@MikeSpangenberg) June 3, 2015
Though the Inspector General of the Department of Justice did publish an oversight report on operations by the secret planes for the year of 2012, it was so greatly redacted it contained little to no relevant information.
Christopher Allen, spokesperson for the FBI, released a statement regarding the secret planes.
“FBI routinely uses aviation assets in support of predicated investigations targeting specific individuals. The aircraft are not equipped, designed, or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance. The FBI uses all tools and equipment, and conducts all investigations, in accordance with the Attorney General Guidelines and the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide.”
The secret FBI planes are registered to a bevy of fictitious companies so they cannot be easily traced back to the FBI. The FBI senior law enforcement official goes on to explain the need for secrecy in their aviation operations.
“Anytime you mask your activity for operational or safety reasons you use a front company. You don’t want to put people on to what you’re doing — we know we’re going to need air aviation support for cases.
The fact that FBI has aviation assets has never been a secret. We don’t publicize it for obvious reasons you don’t want to draw attention to tools you use in the investigation.”
These FBI secret planes have been spotted flying over Minneapolis, in the area of Mall of America, and last month in Baltimore during the funeral of Freddie Gray. The FBI stated the following reason for the surveillance in Baltimore after the looting.
“The aircraft were specifically used to assist in providing high-altitude observation of potential criminal activity to enable rapid response by police officers on the ground. The FBI aircraft were not there to monitor lawfully protected First Amendment activity.”
Well, when they put it like that, it all makes sense. What do you think about the FBI flying secret planes for the purpose of surveillance?
[Image via Tea Party]