FBI Chief: We Use Surveillance Drones in US

But Robert Mueller insists the agency does so rarely

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 19, 2013 3:22 PM CDT

(Newser) – FBI chief Robert Mueller's testimony on Capitol Hill today is drawing headlines mostly for his acknowledgement that the agency uses drones for surveillance on US soil. Mueller, however, emphasized that the practice is rare, reports the Hill. "Our footprint is very small," he told senators. "We have very few." Notably, he got pressed on related privacy concerns by Dianne Feinstein, who recently defended the government's data mining practices, reports the Huffington Post.

"I think the greatest threat to the privacy of Americans is the drone, and the use of the drone and the very few regulations that are on it today, and the booming industry of commercial drones," she said. So what's the FBI doing to safeguard privacy? "We are in the initial stages of doing that," responded Mueller, who said the use of drones was "narrowly focused on particular cases and needs," reports USA Today. The Wall Street Journal has a concrete example of one such use: The FBI used drones to scope out the area during a hostage standoff in Alabama earlier this year.

FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill.
FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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