Good news from FBI chief: We’re using drones for surveillance inside the U.S., but only a little

posted at 3:21 pm on June 19, 2013 by Allahpundit

Rand Paul’s speechwriters must be sleeping maybe three hours a night these days.

Federal agencies have been using drones for years to monitor the northern and southern borders of the U.S., and those drones have occasionally been deployed to help domestic law-enforcement agencies like the FBI…

FBI hostage negotiators used surveillance drones during a standoff earlier this year with an Alabama man who had taken a boy hostage inside a makeshift underground bunker…

“It’s very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident when you need the capability,’’ said Mr. Mueller, who said he wasn’t sure what becomes of the images recorded by such drones. “It is very narrowly focused on particularized cases and particularized needs.’’

Our readers know I’m skeptical that the Snowden revelations will move the needle of public opinion much away from surveillance and towards privacy. If you ask the public whether they’re concerned about government intrusions, they’ll say yes, but how many votes turn on that? What are the real-world repercussions for 47 senators skipping a national-security briefing on surveillance measures so that they can get home early for the weekend? Everyone’s supposedly worried about privacy the same way everyone supposedly has a sense of humor. Watch what they do (or don’t do), not what they say. The wrinkle in my skepticism is that there may be a point at which the cumulative effect of various different forms of surveillance — Internet, phone records, drones, CCTV in cities, and so on — begins to hatch a backlash. Scooping up more and more of American’s digital trail in one realm might be tolerated, but the pressure exerted from being surveilled on all sides might build a real constituency for Paul-like politicians whose core platform includes rolling back some of these measures. Paul’s own candidacy in 2016 could be a temperature check on that, but it depends on how aggressive he is in making it a central part of his campaign. His strategy until now has been to triangulate between libertarians and mainstream conservatives who are more equivocal about the liberty/security trade-off. If he goes hard against the NSA, does he end up spooking the righties who worry that he’s a bit too much like his dad to be trusted on national defense? I don’t know. I’d prefer a real choice in 2016 so I’d rather he lay his cards on the table. But if he thinks that’s a sure loser, why would he do that?

Note, by the way, the boldface part in which Mueller emphasizes that the FBI uses drones only in particular cases. That’s also been O’s defense in how the NSA operates: The feds collect mountains of electronic communications data from Americans, but only when they have a particular suspicion do they zero in on someone and ask for a FISA warrant to explore his/her particular communications in detail. The analog in terms of video surveillance, which is probably closer than we think to being feasible (isn’t it always?), is near-comprehensive coverage of the United States via CCTV cameras, drone cameras, etc, with the feds permitted to access particular footage of a given area at a given time only if they obtain a FISA warrant. Whether they’re following their own rules in not abusing the footage or using it more broadly than thought will be unknown to the public because, as we’re reminded so often lately, national security would be compromised if we knew exactly what’s going on. And the feds will, of course, catch some bad guys this way; note the virtuous use of drone surveillance in the excerpt above. When the technology is available and the public understands it has some beneficial ends, it’ll be very hard to stop it.


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Obama’s police state

Schadenfreude on June 19, 2013 at 3:22 PM

The entire stupid/cheering world so deserves Obama!!!

You wanted his tyranny, you got it, fools!!!

Schadenfreude on June 19, 2013 at 3:22 PM

How many trolls will defend Obama in this or a similar thread?

Schadenfreude on June 19, 2013 at 3:23 PM

Federal agencies have been using drones for years to monitor the northern and southern borders of the U.S., and those drones have occasionally been deployed to help domestic law-enforcement agencies like the FBI…

Define years. I wonder why it’s working on the Northern border and not the Southern?

Cindy Munford on June 19, 2013 at 3:24 PM

It’s not so much the surveillance for me, with 3 billion phone calls a day they can’t listen in on my Sunday evening phone call with my parents. It’s that career bureaucrats, especially with this regime, feel free to abuse Tea Partiers, True the Vote, and various whistle-blowers. Oh, and a poor film maker. I have zero trust in the government.

rbj on June 19, 2013 at 3:25 PM

“It ain’t all that bad, Mr. Jones, yer daughter is jus’ a little bit pregnant…”

coldwarrior on June 19, 2013 at 3:32 PM

How many trolls will defend Obama in this or a similar thread?

Schadenfreude on June 19, 2013 at 3:23 PM

Ready for some Globe-Bull Hot Air? Just saw a report by WWL in New Orleans that Tropical Storm #2 of the season has officially been named.

Tropical Storm Barry.

A hard rain’s gonna fall, or something!

Del Dolemonte on June 19, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Turns out that Muller is one of the biggest Liars in DC.

“Eventually we’ll develop processes for using drones domestically, but trust us”.

The entire US gov’t is rogue, from the left to the right.

Obama is “Bushhitler” and “Bushchimpey” on steroids. He makes Dick Cheney mild.

Schadenfreude on June 19, 2013 at 3:34 PM

I wonder….is it illegal to shoot down a GOGO drone that is surveilling you without a warrant?

Is it any different than stomping on a bug you find in your phone or lamp at home?

BobMbx on June 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM

occam’s lady-shaver:

This coincides with the Topfreedom movement; Secret Service and State are filled with hooker-loving horndogs, ergo voyeurism as public servitude.

derit on June 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM

boy that terrorist boogeyman sure pays a lot of dividends for the statists don’t it

roflmmfao

donabernathy on June 19, 2013 at 3:37 PM

We’re just going to trash the Constitution a little bit…don’t worry…

PatriotRider on June 19, 2013 at 3:37 PM

The feds collect mountains of electronic communications data from Americans, but only when they have a particular suspicion do they zero in on someone and ask for a FISA warrant to explore his/her particular communications in detail.

It would be stupid to claim such a thing, and I believe you are confused, since ISP access records are there years and years after the fact. Why collect them before the warrant?

What would grabbing the data accomplish, anyway, if the suspicion itself is external and no data is actually used heuristically until a “suspicion turns up”? Makes. No. Sense.

Masih ad-Dajjal on June 19, 2013 at 3:37 PM

rbj on June 19, 2013 at 3:25 PM

I agree. I didn’t give a flying flip about their minor ventures into my boring life until they started using my government against me and my tax money for a storage facility. It may not be what they plan but in my view that is just a place for information to be used at a later day.

Cindy Munford on June 19, 2013 at 3:38 PM

If one of those drones comes near my house….it’s toast…

PatriotRider on June 19, 2013 at 3:38 PM

donabernathy on June 19, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Especially when they won’t even use the word. Ft. Hood is a workplace incident?

Cindy Munford on June 19, 2013 at 3:39 PM

In other words, AP doesn’t care about unreasonable search and seizure. He only cares about keeping every American safe from terror.

We’ve come a long way from “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”, haven’t we?

rbj – If you say the right words in your phone call, they might listen to your call. But that’s beside the point. Don’t you have a right to say “I’m not breaking the law, get the heck off my phone line”?

Move this case to the physical world. Would you be ok with having your car searched every time you drove?

hawksruleva on June 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Our watchdog state run media will alwys protect the American people from tyranny…if only.

d1carter on June 19, 2013 at 3:41 PM

I can’t wait for the first mid-air collision with a…say commercial plane.

They’ll blame it on sequestration.

Schadenfreude on June 19, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Bet they are over EVERY TEA Party event, every large gathering of Christian groups, every big gun event, and every other occasion where you have more than 50 mostly white Americans gathered together who are not happy with the government.

I hope folks start to notice them when they are about and make an effort to shoot them down.

babylonandon on June 19, 2013 at 3:41 PM

We’re just going to trash the Constitution a little bit…don’t worry…

PatriotRider on June 19, 2013 at 3:37 PM

“What’s that, rube” — any leftist

Schadenfreude on June 19, 2013 at 3:42 PM

I wonder….is it illegal to shoot down a GOGO drone that is surveilling you without a warrant?

Sure it is: Destruction of Government Property—Malicious Mischief — Communication lines, stations or systems—18 U.S.C. § 1362. Ten years and/or a quarter-million dollar fine.

Socratease on June 19, 2013 at 3:42 PM

TEA Party protest in D.C. today.

As for me, I completely agree with #2. I haven’t read the sign yet, but I’m sure its ok.

BobMbx on June 19, 2013 at 3:42 PM

…and I’m just a little bit pregnant.

Hucklebuck on June 19, 2013 at 3:43 PM

“Yes We Scan”

“Drones Of My Father”

“The Audacity Of A Dope”

MichaelGabriel on June 19, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Good news from FBI chief: We’re using drones for surveillance inside the U.S., but only a little

I’m surprised he could remember if he even knew about them.

BacaDog on June 19, 2013 at 3:44 PM

“Can you prove that?”
“You don’t believe me?”
“Any reason why we should?”

mojo on June 19, 2013 at 3:46 PM

I wonder….is it illegal to shoot down a GOGO drone that is surveilling you without a warrant?

Is it any different than stomping on a bug you find in your phone or lamp at home?

BobMbx on June 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM

There are some places in Appalachia that the government won’t take their drones because they most likely won’t get them back. LOL

Johnnyreb on June 19, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Orwell was only off by 30 years. And Terminator is looking like reality. John Conner…errr….I mean Rand Paul 2016.

ModerateMan on June 19, 2013 at 3:46 PM

“Tropical Storm Barry”

Nothing to worry about, it’ll become a depression before you know it :)

cktheman on June 19, 2013 at 3:46 PM

“Tropical Storm Barry”

Nothing to worry about, it’ll become a depression before you know it :)

cktheman on June 19, 2013 at 3:46 PM

I hear those things are born in Africa.

Ronnie on June 19, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Remove the “Hon” from in front of these people’s names…

PatriotRider on June 19, 2013 at 3:48 PM

It’s too bad #Benghazi didn’t have any drones. It may have been helpful to have a President and maybe, I don’t know, a Secretary of State who was on our side, too.

HopeHeFails on June 19, 2013 at 3:48 PM

I saw a drone in flight last Saturday near Martinez, CA. I have no idea who it belonged to, it was the first I’ve seen. Perhaps nearby petroleum refineries and significant railroad concentration was the issue of interest.

I mooned it.

Mason on June 19, 2013 at 3:49 PM

A couple of years ago I went through a property tax protest here in Houston. If you think GoogleEarth is the extent of their ability to see what’s going on your yard think again. They had oblique aerials on every side of my house that showed every window and door. The clarity of the photos showed the colors of the shirts of the electricians they happened to catch in my yard.

I use rental survey equipment and sit in on product introduction seminars. One that was attended by numerous city, county and other local g’ment types was about the GPS cameras they vendors want to sell for inspectors to use. With easements along back property lines they can go into your yard and record everything under the guise of checking their utilities. Time, location, direction of shot, etc.

My forensic engineer buddy can sometimes see where a person is in their house when he scans a it for moisture intrusion surveys. Using actual scanners designed for this is getting more common.

DanMan on June 19, 2013 at 3:50 PM

But Rand Paul’s filibuster was about about a total non-issue! Drones used domestically? Where would Rand get such a silly misinformed misguided idea?
Drones over American airspace! Pffft!
These aren’t the drones you are filibustering for … you whackobird!
Sincerely
McRhino and co.

PoliTech on June 19, 2013 at 3:50 PM

“Tropical Storm Barry”

Nothing to worry about, it’ll become a depression before you know it :)

cktheman on June 19, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Isn’t that when the government pees on your leg and tells you it’s raining?

Bitter Clinger on June 19, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Let me turn this revelation on it’s head.

Using them only a little?!?! Sooo, if that’s the case then the FBI should give up their drones. Obviously if they use them seldomly, its really not worth maintaining the equipment, manpower, and training. You’ve already got helicopters (black ones), just use those.

NickelAndDime on June 19, 2013 at 3:52 PM

George Orwell was only off by 29 years.

D-fusit on June 19, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Yeah, well I imagine that some drones that take out the Taliban are only used “seldom”.

It all depends what “seldom” means…and what “particular needs” are.

So like the IRS, only seldom and particular, which means just a segment, like maybe ohhhhh, opposition? Tea Party? Conservatives groups?

Out of all the tens of thousands of non-profit, just “particular” ones were targeted, and seldom at that…

right2bright on June 19, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Unlike his last showing it seems that Mueller spent more than 30 seconds preparing and knew more than his name when giving testimony.

RJL on June 19, 2013 at 4:00 PM

“”We are vaporizing er… ‘correcting’ our opponents in the Ministry of Love but only a little.” Read your Orwell!

MaiDee on June 19, 2013 at 4:01 PM

A billion little surveillance here, a billion a little surveillance there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money surveillance.

hawkeye54 on June 19, 2013 at 4:02 PM

So it’s not rape-rape?

Because they’re only ******* us a little?

Well, ok then.

novaculus on June 19, 2013 at 4:02 PM

George Orwell was only off by 29 years.

It’s Bush’s fault.

hawkeye54 on June 19, 2013 at 4:03 PM

That’s also been O’s defense in how the NSA operates: The feds collect mountains of electronic communications data from Americans, but only when they have a particular suspicion do they zero in on someone and ask for a FISA warrant to explore his/her particular communications in detail.

Really.

A quick scenario….

A random search is done on this mountain of data, revealing someone bragging about how many parking tickets he’s avoided paying. How would the court ordering the warrant know that the search was conducted before the warrant was requested? Would they even care?

Ok, how about a more topical scenario….

A random search is done on this mountain of data, revealing someone bragging about hating obama and all democrats. Are any of us going to state, categorically, here and now, that such information won’t be used to target that individual for extra special scrutiny by the IRS, DoJ, EPA, OSHA, etc.?

If I went on a search for documents and emails passing between leftists employed by the govt right now, and was capable of finding everything, who here will tell me this hasn’t already been discussed? Or done?

These criminals have made it clear they don’t care about the legality of such a move. They’ve done it already (IRS), but in that case the pigeons went to them (seeking tax-exempt status). Does anyone here believe they would NOT take the small step from waiting for the target to present itself to going out and finding the target(s)?

Remember, they ALREADY have the data, and they ALREADY have the ability to find in that data whatever they want. Who here doesn’t believe it’s already happened?

runawayyyy on June 19, 2013 at 4:03 PM

Hucklebuck on June 19, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Et tu, Hucklebuck? :-)

Re: coldwarrior on June 19, 2013 at 3:32 PM

coldwarrior on June 19, 2013 at 4:04 PM

but only a little

Can I do it ’till I need glasses?

Herb on June 19, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Translation: We’re only spying on Tea Party rallies.

stevezilla on June 19, 2013 at 4:11 PM

You know, keeping us safe by keeping an eye on people doing subversive stuff like weeding strawberries: http://www.rural-revolution.com/2013/06/caught-in-act.html

Katja on June 19, 2013 at 4:12 PM

TEA Party protest in D.C. today.

BobMbx on June 19, 2013 at 3:42 PM

There is no coverage of the protest here or on Drudge! Talk about a black-out! I’m very disappointed with HA

wolverinefan on June 19, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Shep Smith and Judge Nepolitano,with whom I often disagree caught a prevarication by General Alexander, NSA honcho

(paraphrase)
Q ‘Do you have the ABILITY to use the data you have stored to spy on individuals.”

A (by Alexander) ‘No…we do not have the AUTHORITY to use this data…”

no ABILITY means are you physically able to do so.
no AUTHORITY-means you are not allowed to do so even though you may (or may not) have the physical ability.

This is thread related in that it shows the NSA, FBI, CIA etc. etc. CANNOT BE TRUSTED WITH YOUR FREEDOMS.

MaiDee on June 19, 2013 at 4:17 PM

“It’s very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident when you need the capability,’’ said Mr. Mueller, who said he wasn’t sure what becomes of the images recorded by such drones. “It is very narrowly focused on particularized cases and particularized needs.’’

So if I see one over my property and shoot at it, you won’t mind then. After all, it’s probably not yours.

CurtZHP on June 19, 2013 at 4:28 PM

Good news from FBI chief: We’re using drones for surveillance inside the U.S., but only a little

If you have nothing to hide then…

/s

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 19, 2013 at 4:33 PM

“It’s very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident when you need the capability,’’

You mean like 99.999% of all firearms in America?

right2bright on June 19, 2013 at 4:36 PM

So if I see one over my property and shoot at it, you won’t mind then. After all, it’s probably not yours.

CurtZHP on June 19, 2013 at 4:28 PM

And they won’t miss it if you shoot it down because they are so seldom used.

Follow up question to him: What is the budget for those drones, and the people who “fly” them?

right2bright on June 19, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Now all we need is lightweight drones able to home in on the Feds drones and we will have…

A Game of Drones

That day is near.

ajacksonian on June 19, 2013 at 4:44 PM

You know, keeping us safe by keeping an eye on people doing subversive stuff like weeding strawberries

Katja on June 19, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Don’t knock it. You should be able to defend yourself against maniacs armed with fresh fruit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piWCBOsJr-w

(/Monty Python)

Kingfisher on June 19, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Analpudnik.

The more he types, the less he thinks. This post is a prime example.

But then none of us come to Hot Air for the deep, thoughtful analysis, do we?

sartana on June 19, 2013 at 5:12 PM

I saw a drone in flight last Saturday near Martinez, CA. I have no idea who it belonged to, it was the first I’ve seen. Perhaps nearby petroleum refineries and significant railroad concentration was the issue of interest.

I mooned it.

Mason on June 19, 2013 at 3:49 PM

I was at Lake Berryessa a couple months ago and saw one there.

artchick on June 19, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Since we have a drone for President, this is just about right.

NO DRONES OVER AMERICA!

Stop the TSS!

Total Surveillance State.

profitsbeard on June 20, 2013 at 2:40 AM