Suspicions confirmed. FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted Wednesday before a Senate judiciary committee hearing that the agency employs domestic drones for surveillance use over US soil. Mueller also admitted that the FBI has yet to establish clear guidelines for their use.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Mueller: “Does the FBI own or currently use drones and for what purposes?”
Mueller: “Yes, for surveillance.”
Grassley: “Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on U.S. soil?”
Mueller: “Yes, in a very, very minimal way, and seldom.”
Grassley also asked Mueller whether the FBI had guidelines for using drones that would consider the "privacy impact on American citizens."
Mueller said the FBI was only in "the initial stages" of "exploring guidelines" for their use.
The Guardian reports:
It is known that drones are used by border control officials and have been used by some local law enforcement authorities and Department of Homeland Security in criminal cases.
Mueller said he wasn't sure if there were official agreements with these other agencies.
"To the extent that it relates to the air space there would be some communication back and forth [between agencies]," Mueller said.
The revelation came as Mueller was defending the National Security Administration's widespread surveillance of Americans' phone and internet records, which has been the subject of growing condemnation due to what critics call the clear erosion of civil liberties and privacy in the country.