July 27, 2013
FBI Admits Using Drones Ten Times In US

The FBI reports that they have used drones ten times within US borders. This was revealed to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in a letter the agency sent to him this week.

The FBI's letter was written by the agency's director of legislative affairs, Stephen Kelly. Kelly says that in the ten times drones were used, they were never armed. They were only used in "very limited circumstances" for special cases that needed overhead surveillance.

The Hill reports that the letter says that eight of the times the drones were used for criminal cases. One of these cases included an incident in Alabama earlier this year when a 5-year-old boy was held hostage in an underground bunker.

The other two times were used for national security.

The letter was sent to Senator Rand Paul after he said he would block a confirmation vote for the next FBI director, James Comey. He has demanded answers about the agency's use of unmanned aerial drones (or, UAVs) within the US.

In the declassified letter, the FBI's Stephen Kelly assures Senator Paul that the agency "does not use UAVs to conduct 'bulk' surveillance or to conduct general surveillance not related to an investigation or assessment."

The document says that the FBI cannot use drones without approval from an internal legal council. It also requires clearance from senior management. It was also pointed out that the FBI would need a court-issued warrant before using drones to collect information on a person who would have a "reasonable expectation of privacy." CNN reports that this has yet to be done, though.

A second letter has also been sent to Senator Paul. It contains classified information he cannot disclose publicly.

Senator Rand Paul says he will continue to object to the appointing of James Comey as the new head of the FBI until he is fully satisfied. Paul has sent a letter on Thursday asking FBI officials to clarify the term "reasonable expectation of privacy" and its applied meaning in the field.

[Image via JimNtexas via photopin cc]