The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said it has used drones at least 10 times for surveillance purposes in the United States. In three additional cases in the United States, drones were authorized, but “not actually used.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) published a letter on Thursday from FBI Assistant Director Stephen D. Kelly. Kelly admitted that the FBI used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the country without obtaining warrants. “The FBI uses UAVs in very limited circumstances to conduct surveillance when there is a specific, operational need,” the letter reads. “Since late 2006, the FBI has conducted surveillance using UAVs in eight criminal cases and two national security cases.”
The FBI says that it would only be required to obtain a warrant to use a drone in cases for which a person “would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.” The FBI claimed that it has yet to need to ask for a warrant, but that all requests for drone use are by an agency lawyer and approved by a senior management official. According to RT: “The agency said one of these cases involved the rescue of a 5-year-old boy who was being held hostage in an underground bunker – information that strongly suggests UAVs were used in the Alabama hostage crisis in which a retired truck driver kidnapped a boy from a school bus and held him hostage for six days.”
Sen. Paul has sent a series of open letters to the FBI, each requesting detailed information about the FBI’s use of drones in the United States. Sen. Paul didn’t like the response he received last week, when the FBI stated the agency can use drones without a warrant in cases where there is no “reasonable expectation of privacy.” Paul the clause could result in “an overbroad interpretation of this protection”. He asked the FBI to clarify what would require a warrant. Paul also tweeted about his concerns, stating, “spying without warrants is unconstitutional.”
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