FBI Has Used Drones On Americans To Save A Child... And The Rest Is Secret

from the for-the-children! dept

You may recall a few weeks ago that FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted to using drones to spy on Americans (and that there were no rules about using those drones). In response, Senator Rand Paul asked Mueller for details and those have now been sent, saying that the drones have been used 10 times, though they're very, very, very quick to play down the significance of this (and to highlight how they were used to recover a kidnapped 5-year-old -- "for the children!").
The FBI uses UAVS in very limited circumstances to conduct surveillance when there is a specific, operational need. UAVs have been used for surveillance to support missions related to kidnappings, search and rescue operations, drug interdictions, and fugitive investigations. Since late 2006, the FBI has conducted surveillance using UAVs in eight criminal cases and two national security cases. For example, earlier this year in Alabama, the FBI used UAV surveillance to support the successful rescue of the 5-year-old child who was being held hostage in an underground bunker by Jimmy Lee Dykes. None of the UAVS used by the FBI are armed with either lethal or non--lethal weapons, and the FBI has no plans to use weapons with UAVs. The FBI does not use UAVs to conduct "bulk" surveillance or to conduct general surveillance not related to an investigation or assessment.
Of course, they follow that up by also saying they can't really talk about how they use drones, because, you know, that's secret.
While we share your interest in transparency concerning the use of law enforcement and national security tools, we are not in a position to disclose publicly more detailed information concerning the Bureau's specific use of UAVS. Such additional information is "Law Enforcement Sensitive" or, in some cases, classified, based on the need to protect the effectiveness of this capability in law enforcement and national security matters. We have enclosed a classified addendum that provides more detailed information in response to your inquiry. We request that you not disseminate the information in the addendum without prior consultation with the FBI.
Yeah. So, they use drones "to save the kidnapped hostage children!" and [REDACTED]. That's not particularly comforting.
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Filed Under: america, children, drones, fbi, rand paul, robert mueller, surveillance


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2013 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Of course, they follow that up by also saying they can't really talk about how they use drones, because, you know, that's secret.

    Ever play MS Flight Simulator? Same thing...only your aircraft is real.

    Yes, I think everyone understands what it is.

    It's not a drone it's a UMAV that runs via remote control.

    Um. Yeah, a UMAV is a drone, and a drone is a UMAV.

    Not that big a secret....

    Clearly, the parts marked secret are...

    As for the FBI's lack of transparency, this is likely a preventative measure to make sure countermeasures aren't used against the drones.

    This is the point. The FBI would appear to be using what many would describe as military weaponry against its citizenry, or, if you prefer, treating the people it exists to protect, as enemy combatants, with, apparently, inadequate oversight. They feel the need to keep this information out of the hands of its own citizens "to make sure countermeasures aren't used against the drones" is an implicit statement that the public at large would have some reason to use countermeasures against the drones, which would mean that the FBI seems to see fit to use this military weaponry against a significant enough number of its own citizens, that the general populace cannot be trusted with information about the use of this weaponry, which they funded with their own taxes. I don't know how much you know about the entire point of classifying government (read: the people's) information is to protect national security. Saving a kidnapped child, while quite noble, does not fall under the umbrella of national security. If the child is lost, the nation will somberly soldier on. Keeping secrets from the public is supposed to be a sacrifice of the government's desire, and more importantly, duty, to keep its owners aware of everything it does so that the people (the same ones mentioned in 'of the people, by the people, for the people') will be able to justly and rationally dictate the government's next steps. As more information slips into the black hole that is secrecy in the name of national security, we face greater and greater threats to our ability to perform this duty. Wally, you don't want to be ineffective in this duty, do you?

    I certainly do not. Now, another possible, albeit highly unlikely explanation for the secrecy about their use of this military weaponry, is that if the public at large knew more about it, they would use their increasingly endangered democratic might to weaken, and perhaps even entirely prohibit FBI's ability to use such military weaponry against its own citizens. I can imagine a world in which that is true. Hopefully, however, you're right that the FBI does not wish to entirely limit the public's democratic rights, and it merely wishes to attack American citizens with military weaponry, with relative certainty that the citizens cannot employ any countermeasures to defend themselves. That would be a relief, considering the possibilities.

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