Questions about the government’s use of drones on American soil became part of the national conversation in March after Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster of Obama’s nomination of John Brennen to head the CIA. Since then, Paul has written two public letters to FBI Director Robert Mueller requesting details on the domestic law enforcement agency’s use of drones to surveil American citizens.
“Given that drone surveillance over American skies represents a potentially vast expansion of government surveillance powers without the constitutionally guaranteed protection of a warrant, it is vital the the use of these drones by the FBI be fully examined,” Paul’s second letter to the FBI reads.
Today, Sen. Paul got an answer.
“Since late 2006, the FBI has conducted surveillance using UAV’s [unmanned aerial vehicles, i.e. drones] in eight criminal cases and two nationals security cases,” the FBI’s public letter to Paul says. “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.”
It’s unclear how a drone was useful in surveilling an underground bunker.
The FBI’s letter also said that their drones are not fitted with weapons, nor do they have any plans to ever arm them. In addition to their public letter to Paul, the FBI also sent a classified letter further detailing their domestic drone program.
Paul has already issued a followup letter asking for clarification on the FBI’s definition of a person’s “reasonable expectation of privacy,” a line beyond which the FBI assured Paul their drone use would not go.
Fellow potential 2016 presidential contender Chris Christie today criticized Paul and other libertarian-leaning politicians for their views on national security issues.
“This strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought,” the New Jersey governor said Thursday at a Republican governors forum. When asked if he was referring to Sen. Paul, Christie said, “you can name any number of people and he (Paul) is one of them.”
Paul’s office shot back at Christie in a statement to POLITICO. “He needs to talk to more Americans, because a great number of them are concerned about the dramatic overreach of our government in recent years,” Doug Stafford, a Paul adviser, said. “Defending America and fighting terrorism is the concern of all Americans, especially Sen. Paul. But it can and must be done in keeping with our Constitution and while protecting the freedoms that make America exceptional.”
What do you think? Are you comfortable with the FBI using unarmed drones in Alabama air space?
What else is going on?
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3. Shelby derides ‘stale Obama policy leftovers’ during Senate floor speech
4. Liberal media criticizes Alabama PSC for opening meeting in prayer
5. Auburn police officer fired for speaking out against ticket and arrest quotas