The FBI's Been Using Drones to Surveil Americans Since 2006

By Adam Clark Estes on at

It's tempting to write off all this drone hysteria as a problem for people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but there's mounting evidence that it hits close to home, too. A new report from a federal watchdog agency says that the FBI has been using drones to watch over Americans since 2006.

The fact that the Feds have been using drones on American soil is not news. Former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III admitted to the agency's drone program back in June. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI uses drones "in a very, very minimal way, and seldom" and that the program as a whole "is very narrowly focused on particularized cases and particularized leads." But it's been around a while!

The watchdog report also said that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has bought drones and plans to use them. The U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration bought and tested drones but later decided not to use them. The FBI has also used drones to patrol the border at least once. But beyond that, the FBI really doesn't want to talk about its drone program.

What does all this mean for the average American? Well, so long as they're not a wanted fugitives, the FBI's drones probably aren't coming for them. This news should serve as evidence that the federal government not only has a long history of using drones on American soil but also plan to use drones more in the future. They shouldn't even think about fleeing to Canada, either. They have drones there, too. [LAT]