Fly-by-night: FBI’s surveillance air force

posted at 9:21 am on June 2, 2015 by Ed Morrissey

Last week in the Twin Cities, local media began buzzing about a “mysterious Cessna” circling the metropolitan area. The Star Tribune reported on it Friday, posting the plane’s flight-tracker data that showed continuous loops over the Mall of America and other major retail locations in the area during the two-hour flight. It came to light when an aviation buff decided to look into the flight and discovered that the plane was leased to a non-existent Virginia company:

Bearing the call sign N361DB, the plane is one of three Cessna 182T Skylanes registered to LCB Leasing of Bristow, Va., according to FAA records. The Virginia secretary of state has no record of an LCB Leasing. Virtually no other information could be learned about the company.

Zimmerman’s curiosity might have ended there if it weren’t for something he heard from his aviation network recently: A plane registered to NG Research — also located in Bristow — that circled Baltimore for hours after recent violent protests there was in fact an FBI plane that’s part of a widespread but little known surveillance program, according to a report by the Washington Post.

Similar flights have since been spotted near Chicago, Boston and in California, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU has filed several Freedom of Information Act requests for more information.

It believes the planes use cameras and infrared imaging technology to photograph people and vehicles in a broad swath of the city; technology to sweep up cellphone data from a plane also exists, but it’s not clear if the FBI flights use it.

The FBI would make no comment at the time, but the Associated Press reports this morning that the agency operates its own covert surveillance air force, including the Minneapolis-area fly-overs. They use shell companies designed to hide their operation, although obviously that didn’t work out so well:

The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology — all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

What could those “specific, ongoing investigations” be? The Twin Cities hasn’t had a Ferguson or Baltimore situation arise, so that wouldn’t be a likely concern. The obvious answer would be counter-terrorism operations, especially given the specific threat made by al-Shabaab to the Mall of America and the recruitment activity here for both al-Shabaab and ISIS.

That might explain the secrecy too, at least in part, but this seems like a clumsy way to go about covert surveillance. Low-flying planes will eventually draw attention from aviation buffs like John Zimmerman, and the modern data age makes tracking down planes all too easy. Even then, it might have remained at least somewhat covert if the FBI hadn’t put up flights over riots in Baltimore and Ferguson, two explosive situations where “covert” surveillance was bound to be noticed — and where the FBI’s normal jurisdiction doesn’t reach anyway. “Any FBI aviation support to a local law enforcement agency must receive high-level approvals,” the bureau said in a statement after their role in riot surveillance was made public. That suggests high-level people cared less about keeping counter-terrorist surveillance methods secret than they did about involving themselves in the Baltimore and Ferguson events, and on that point readers can guess what they prioritized more.

Is this an invasion of privacy? Police (and the FBI) do stakeouts all the time, and as long as the subjects tracked are in public, no warrant is necessary — as long as all they do is look and gather data on specific subjects’ behavior and movements in public.  The AP notes that the planes have the capability of doing more than that:

“The FBI’s aviation program is not secret,” spokesman Christopher Allen said in a statement. “Specific aircraft and their capabilities are protected for operational security purposes.” Allen added that the FBI’s planes “are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.”

But the planes can capture video of unrelated criminal activity on the ground that could be handed over for prosecutions.

Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they’re not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is rare.

So it’s potentially not as benign for everyone else as the FBI suggests in its statement, although it may well be operationally benign if they aren’t utilizing those capabilities … at the moment. The problem with this statement is that we’ve heard it before. It’s exactly what James Clapper told Congress about the NSA two months before Edward Snowden revealed that it’s exactly what they were doing.

If the FBI needs to operate these flights to conduct specific investigations into counterterrorist threats, we should make sure that the data gleaned remains narrowly tailored to the investigations. After the false testimony from Obama officials on the NSA programs, Congress should get Justice officials — especially those who blew the program to inject themselves into the Baltimore and Ferguson riots — under oath to get specific testimony on the scope and operations of the FBI’s Fly By Night air corps.


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the agency operates its own covert surveillance air force, including the Minneapolis-area fly-overs. The use shell companies designed to hide their operation

“MORE GOVERNMENT! MORE FREAKIN’ GOVERNMENT!” screamed every leftist from here to Timbuktu.

Bishop on June 2, 2015 at 9:23 AM

Yes, that makes perfect sense, announce a secret program so every one knows, including the terrorist, it is not secret…

right2bright on June 2, 2015 at 9:25 AM

Regardless of what the FBI is up to, I’ll bet everything that it’s not because of this.

cynccook on June 2, 2015 at 9:27 AM

If they’re hovering over the Mall of America–about 20 minutes away from me–they’ll see me there about once every five years.

RBMN on June 2, 2015 at 9:27 AM

Remember that dude from back in the day who talked about openness and transparency in gubment, that citizens would no longer have to distrust those operating the levers of power?

What was that guy’s name; Brock, Drack, Larak…something like that. He had such good ideas, too bad he never became like preznit or something so as to put that transparency into effect.

Bishop on June 2, 2015 at 9:27 AM

Definitively Flowers Air Deliver Service.

LoganSix on June 2, 2015 at 9:28 AM

He had such good ideas, too bad he never became like preznit or something so as to put that transparency into effect.

Bishop on June 2, 2015 at 9:27 AM

So why do you think he turned? Was he just power-mad or did he soil his underwear worrying about an attack “on his watch”?

rhombus on June 2, 2015 at 9:34 AM

I think we are legally restricting our press more than the government. Scary thought:
This is what the RCFP has to say:

Liability for intrusive or harassing newsgathering activities

Type: ESSAY
Unlike the other three privacy torts, intrusion on seclusion (like the tort of trespass) is a tort of information gathering, not one based on the actual information that is published. Intrusion is said to be an intentional physical, electronic or mechanical invasion of a person’s solitude or seclusion that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. It includes some secretly recorded conversations, overly aggressive surveillance and the use of telephoto lens to capture photographs. Because intrusion is based on offensive prying and not the publication of offensive material, you may be liable for intrusion regardless of what you learned through the intrusive act and whether you published the information.
Whether an act intrudes on the privacy of another depends on whether that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. The general rule is that people may photograph, film and record what they can easily see or hear in public places, provided they do not harass, trespass or otherwise intrude. If you are unsure whether a particular place would be considered public — a restaurant, for example — ask yourself if it is the type of place where you, if you were there, would reasonably assume that secret photographs would not be taken or secret recordings made. The answer may be different for a private dining room reserved for one diner and his or her guests and a large dining room in which customers that enter off the street and ask to be seated are served.
Analogized to the digital context, the interception of Internet file-sharing activities is not actionable intrusion because “there is no expectation of solitude or seclusion when a person activates a file sharing program and sends a file to the requesting computer” on a public computer network like the Internet, according to one court. Likewise, the intermingling of personal and business records, on computers and e-mail provided by the employer, lifts any veil of privacy that may have applied in an employee’s intrusion claim based on the employer’s reading, using and distributing the employee’s personal and private documents without his authorization or knowledge, another court recently held.
Overzealous surveillance, even if it occurs in public, may give rise to intrusion claims or, in some cases, harassment or stalking suits. These activities could include the constant monitoring of a subject’s comings and goings from a vehicle parked near his or her home, following subjects to and from their home and places they visit and using video cameras, binoculars or “shotgun microphones” capable of picking up conversations from long distances. These tactics, often the hallmark of celebrity journalists, led many states to enact anti-paparazzi laws, which create statutory liability, in some states both civil and criminal, for newsgathering activities that involve such harassment.
Thus, digital journalists who engage in aggressive interviewing and other arguably intrusive newsgathering activities should research the law of their states to find out whether there is an anti-paparazzi law on the books and what type of conduct constitutes intrusion under the invasion of privacy tort.

airupthere on June 2, 2015 at 9:35 AM

Obama harped on ending the corporate jet tax loophole. Apparently, the FBI’s planes fit in under that same loophole. Just an interesting observation:

For one thing, the so-called tax loophole the White House likes to bash applies to all aircraft except commercial airlines, including privately owned Cessnas and helicopters, not just corporate jets.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/apr/8/over-the-past-two-years-of-washington-budget-battl/

airupthere on June 2, 2015 at 9:40 AM

The GOP members just got a little excited. McCain will be calling for the FBI to get F-18’s next.

Mr. Arrogant on June 2, 2015 at 9:43 AM

I can think of an area where such flights might actually be useful, extending from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego.

Bigfoot on June 2, 2015 at 9:53 AM

What could those “specific, ongoing investigations” be? The Twin Cities hasn’t had a Ferguson or Baltimore situation arise, so that wouldn’t be a likely concern.

Minneapolis is the land of 10,000 Jihadis. Rioting by the gutter people is not the first thing that should come to mind.

That being said, this isn’t an efficient way of tracking individuals, this is mass surveillance and IMO as illegal as some of the provisions in the Patriot Act.

Happy Nomad on June 2, 2015 at 9:58 AM

They use shell companies designed to hide their operation

From congress, too?

Patriot Vet on June 2, 2015 at 10:03 AM

If we just let the government put up surveillance cameras on the street every block, and let them access any cameras inside of our homes, then they wouldn’t need to do things like this. Just submit, and let yourself be taken care of. It’s easier that way.

Fenris on June 2, 2015 at 10:04 AM

They use shell companies designed to hide their operation

From congress, too?

Patriot Vet on June 2, 2015 at 10:03 AM

No, they know that Congress won’t read the bill, they put the info in plain site for them.

LoganSix on June 2, 2015 at 10:05 AM

Well, the Mall of America is a juicy target for terrorists and I don’t think ISIS was bluffing when they said that they are planning on launching terrorist attacks inside the U.S. so it makes a lot of sense for the FBI to keep a close eye on the place.

SoulGlo on June 2, 2015 at 10:07 AM

The obvious answer would be counter-terrorism operations, especially given the specific threat made by al-Shabaab to the Mall of America and the recruitment activity here for both al-Shabaab and ISIS.

That might explain the secrecy too, at least in part, but this seems like a clumsy way to go about covert surveillance.

Only if you have your head up someones back side and are spending all of your time smoke crack… Being suspicious of a government that has proven that it lies to its citizens at every possible opportunity even when utterly unnecessary, is not being paranoid.

Not being suspicious of a government that has proven that it lies to its citizens at every possible opportunity even when utterly unnecessary, is not a sign of a well adjusted mentally healthy individual, its the sign of a profoundly mentally disturbed individual who has completely lost contact with reality.

oscarwilde on June 2, 2015 at 10:09 AM

I can think of an area where such flights might actually be useful, extending from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego.

Bigfoot on June 2, 2015 at 9:53 AM

And yet, it is that strip of land that is least likely to be placed under surveillance.

oscarwilde on June 2, 2015 at 10:13 AM

Remember that dude from back in the day who talked about openness and transparency in gubment, that citizens would no longer have to distrust those operating the levers of power?

What was that guy’s name; Brock, Drack, Larak…something like that. He had such good ideas, too bad he never became like preznit or something so as to put that transparency into effect.

Bishop on June 2, 2015 at 9:27 AM

Darth? No, that was somebody else.

GrumpyOldFart on June 2, 2015 at 10:14 AM

Whenever the FBI is involved in espionage activities, you can bet there’s a politician or judge who’s about to have some “leverage” applied in order to further the overall Democrat agenda. I wonder who it could be in this case.

DaNang67 on June 2, 2015 at 10:14 AM

So, we have a nice big hill of packed powder, and now we’re throwing a ton of grease on it.

Slippery slope, indeed.

Chris of Rights on June 2, 2015 at 10:17 AM

Well, the Mall of America is a juicy target for terrorists and I don’t think ISIS was bluffing when they said that they are planning on launching terrorist attacks inside the U.S. so it makes a lot of sense for the FBI to keep a close eye on the place.

SoulGlo on June 2, 2015 at 10:07 AM

I agree with you that MoA considers itself a target for terrorists (I think it an unlikely one despite the presence of so many Jihadis in Minn.) I also am certain that ISO will attack here. Soon.

That being said, how is covertly circling the MoA going to stop any sort of attack? If it were designed as a deterrent, then the FBI would announce what it is doing. No friend, this is another example of our government spying on Americans without cause and without a warrant.

Happy Nomad on June 2, 2015 at 10:17 AM

Q: where have we seen this before
A: Killing Pablo by Mark Bowman

tmitsss on June 2, 2015 at 10:20 AM

I live in Minneapolis and have no problem whatsoever with this. Ed, I’m sure you remember the building explosion in Cedar-Riverside (aka: Little Mogadishu) that has never been ‘solved’. Judicial Watch has filed a FOIA suit to get the Justice Department to open their files. The Minneapolis FD said it was a gas leak, the gas company said no it wasn’t, and then, nothing but crickets. An apartment building occupied mostly by young, single Somali men just explodes spontaneously. Hmmmm. These people are up to no good and the libs in charge refuses to face the facts. We have a mayor who uses Facebook as her main outlet for communication and a chief of police who spends most of her time celebrating her ‘diversity’. How comforting. At least the FBI is watching out. Unfortunately, at this point, it’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s a question of ‘when’. My suggestion? Do your shopping somewhere else besides the Mall of America. And I wouldn’t be hanging around that pretty Federal Reserve building downtown either. Lots of nice targets. Follow the link in this previous post and listen to what these fine ‘citizens’ have to say about America and sharia law. One thing for certain, they’re not the smartest bunch. Maybe that’s our salvation.

Regardless of what the FBI is up to, I’ll bet everything that it’s not because of this.

cynccook on June 2, 2015 at 9:27 AM

Kidfromjersey on June 2, 2015 at 10:22 AM

Yes, that makes perfect sense, announce a secret program so every one knows, including the terrorist, it is not secret…

right2bright on June 2, 2015 at 9:25 AM

You hate living in a Constitutional Republic don’t you.

MoreLiberty on June 2, 2015 at 10:34 AM

Being suspicious of a government that has proven that it lies to its citizens at every possible opportunity even when utterly unnecessary, is not being paranoid.

But, but, but…freedom

MoreLiberty on June 2, 2015 at 10:37 AM

If the FBI needs to operate these flights to conduct specific investigations into counterterrorist threats, we should make sure that the data gleaned remains narrowly tailored to the investigations.

And probably the best way to do that is to use the warrant system.

Ed, you missed an important bit in the AP story:

The FBI asked the AP not to disclose the names of the fake companies it uncovered, saying that would saddle taxpayers with the expense of creating new cover companies to shield the government’s involvement, and could endanger the planes and integrity of the surveillance missions. The AP declined the FBI’s request because the companies’ names — as well as common addresses linked to the Justice Department — are listed on public documents and in government databases.

I would have told them, “Then you should have done a better job hiding your violations of Americans’ civil liberties.”

rhombus on June 2, 2015 at 9:34 AM

Or, he was simply lying all along.

GWB on June 2, 2015 at 10:40 AM

I would have told them, “Then you should have done a better job hiding your violations of Americans’ civil liberties.”

Yup

MoreLiberty on June 2, 2015 at 10:41 AM

And usually there is this thing known as a ‘case’ for which ‘surveillance’ is approved, which has actual individuals attached to it seeking legal counsel to ensure that it does not violate the freedom and liberty of those not involved with the subjects of the ‘surveillance’.

And while a nondescript van is fine for the street level, having aircraft that are doing such ‘surveillance’ without official markings or identifier then starts to sound more like ‘espionage’. And the way we’ve seen how the data is treated where individuals who aren’t the ‘subjects’ of interest can become of personal ‘interest’ to those behind the ‘surveillance’ that can cross the line to ‘stalking’.

Doing so regularly begins to increase the likelihood of such slippage as individuals doing the ‘surveillance’ start to let their minds wander from their job to other people of ‘interest’.

ajacksonian on June 2, 2015 at 10:53 AM

Seems like vehicles would be a lot less conspicuous.

MTinMN on June 2, 2015 at 11:02 AM

If the FBI needs to operate these flights to conduct specific investigations into counterterrorist threats, we should make sure that the data gleaned remains narrowly tailored to the investigations. After the false testimony from Obama officials on the NSA programs, Congress should get Justice officials — especially those who blew the program to inject themselves into the Baltimore and Ferguson riots — under oath to get specific testimony on the scope and operations of the FBI’s Fly By Night air corps.

The first bolded above is mere wish casting, because of the second bolded above. I’m surprised you didn’t catch this.

The law of the land has been effectively nullified. Everyone sees it happening, but no one is even trying to stop it.

runawayyyy on June 2, 2015 at 11:06 AM

Seems like vehicles would be a lot less conspicuous.

MTinMN on June 2, 2015 at 11:02 AM

It might be for after the fact, if something happens. They can go back and see who drove in and where they came from.

RBMN on June 2, 2015 at 11:10 AM

we should make sure that the data gleaned remains narrowly tailored to the investigations.

Yeah, right.

GaltBlvnAtty on June 2, 2015 at 11:16 AM

How many of those planes were confiscated through Civil Asset Forfeiture from people suspected of committing crimes ?

kurtzz3 on June 2, 2015 at 11:17 AM

I read this story several days ago, and it was debunked to my satisfaction as conspiracy theory nonsense. I’m surprised to see it here being promoted as such.

JannyMae on June 2, 2015 at 11:22 AM

FYI if you use an android device and are rooted, you can avoid this IMSI interception (cell phone tracking) by the FBI with this app:
https://secupwn.github.io/Android-IMSI-Catcher-Detector/

Its in alpha but with the amount of publicity this is getting lately, its probably going to be developed rather rapidly.

I ran it for a while and only detected one potential interception over a month of use.

Defenestratus on June 2, 2015 at 11:26 AM

Some of you guys that have time in the middle of the day to comment on blog posts really have your tin-foil hats twisted on way too tight. Surveillance for suspected or known criminal activity has gone on since before the Pinkertons. It’s done by law enforcement, insurance companies, “journalists”, papparazzi, skip tracers, bill collectors, con artists and your neighbours.

There is this pervasive western myth that living in freedom means doing whatever you damn well please, even when doing so means your fleecing, scamming, stealing, abusing, threatening, conning, or otherwise criminally exploiting your fellow man. The innate goodness of each of us, left to our own devices, is just the myth you think it might be. While people pride themselves on their good deeds and random acts of kindness, an outrageous number of us think nothing of acting criminally for whatever purpose it suits. EVERY law enforcement agency has way more files to pursue for criminality than they have the resources or the public have the will to pursue.

So jumping to the conclusion that a covert air op is violating somebody’s perceived public rights is as likely to be as ill-informed as it is true. An observant person, whether they’re LEO or Joe the plumber, observes illegality (or participates in it) every single day. Yes, the FBI could be “spying” on jihadis, listening for chatter, or observing movement, or the same for an interstate drug gang, or for any number of criminal activities that breach criminal or interstate commerce, immigration or other laws, the violation of which they’re investigating. Its their job…. Every LEO looks the other way a dozen times a day. If they didn’t, they’d never get past the first city block when they leave for work in the morning.

If you don’t want law enforcement, just say so. Understand there’s no halfway in criminal investigation. Yes, there are reasonable rules of engagement to protect innocents and the principles of the constitution, but if you tie their hands too tightly, nobody is safe.

/rantoff :)

Skip2014 on June 2, 2015 at 11:39 AM

The feebs couldn’t even hide behind their stupid shell corp. We’re giving these agencies way too much money.

Kissmygrits on June 2, 2015 at 11:39 AM

So why do you think he turned? Was he just power-mad or did he soil his underwear worrying about an attack “on his watch”?

rhombus on June 2, 2015 at 9:34 AM

He never “turned.” He’s just a liar.

Sterling Holobyte on June 2, 2015 at 11:42 AM

Did they get any actionable intelligence from these flights? Were they able to make an arrest or stop some awful thing from happening? If not, this money could have been better spent.

Kissmygrits on June 2, 2015 at 11:45 AM

“This secret program is not secret, and we refuse to discuss it.
“We are gathering data through specific judicial permission, that we have not bothered to request.
“We are licensing the aircraft through nonexistent companies because we have nothing to hide.”

And so it starts.
“First they rounded up the ‘potential terrorists’, but I said nothing because I was not one.
“Then they rounded up the ‘potential secessionists and militia members’, but I did not protest.
“When they came for me, I begged for help—but there was nobody left….”

Wait for it.

orangemtl on June 2, 2015 at 12:08 PM

Will a 30-06 take down a Cessna? How about 50-cal?

Nutstuyu on June 2, 2015 at 12:14 PM

Interesting, Flight Aware shows today’s spy mission, but no history. Normally you can see a fair amount of history on most anything IFR or VFR flight following for that matter.
In this airspace and at 4K feet you would really need to be directed, and once you’ve squawked anything other than 1200 you are in the system and F.A. should have a history.

JusDreamin on June 2, 2015 at 12:22 PM

This is a great reason not to allow Muslims to immigrate to our country. Not only are they a terrorist risk to us, but they also result in a diminution of our liberties.

Instead, we allow millions in and few assimilate. We are insane.

Nomennovum on June 2, 2015 at 12:25 PM

Minneapolis has a large population of Muslim immigrants. There are over 100,000 Somalis alone. It has been a hotbed for IS recruitment and a constant source of threats, including on the Mall of America.

In Baltimore, we have lawless rioters organizing assaults and committing numerous crimes.

Flying a surveillance aircraft over those locations given the circumstances seems like a good idea to me.

Plus you have to love how the people who are screaming the loudest post their entire lives on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and who knows what else.

But they’re going to pick up your call to grandma and your upset. Mmmm-OK.

Marcus Traianus on June 2, 2015 at 12:29 PM

JannyMae on June 2, 2015 at 11:22 AM

So, you don’t believe the AP?

Skip2014 on June 2, 2015 at 11:39 AM

Your definition of “reasonable” might wear an armband. Mine doesn’t.

GWB on June 2, 2015 at 12:39 PM

It came to light when an aviation buff decided to look into the flight and discovered that the plane was leased to a non-existent Virginia company:

Yeah, isn’t that called “fraud”?

“But, but, but…MUSLIMS!”

Oh, never mind then…God Bless the FBI!

(If they were really smart, they’d use black helicopters and sane, rational people would never buy it and this story would have been non-existent.)

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 2, 2015 at 12:48 PM

It believes the planes use cameras and infrared imaging technology to photograph people and vehicles in a broad swath of the city; technology to sweep up cellphone data from a plane also exists, but it’s not clear if the FBI flights use it.

Because it’s of vital importance that we get grainy, green photos of people chewing with their mouths open at the mall of America food court.

V7_Sport on June 2, 2015 at 1:03 PM

… There is this pervasive western myth that living in freedom means doing whatever you damn well please, even when doing so means your fleecing, scamming, stealing, abusing, threatening, conning, or otherwise criminally exploiting your fellow man. …
/rantoff :)

Skip2014 on June 2, 2015 at 11:39 AM

Okay, it was a rant… but BS. There is no such “pervasive Western myth”. Your statement does not describe how true Americans think, but how criminals and progressives think.

Criminals believe it’s okay to ‘fleece, scam, steal, abuse …’ others if it benefits them personally – progressives believe its okay to do those things to others who are deemed non-PC…

True Americans understand, and try to live by, the simple, elegant concept of rightful liberty because they know it is an essential element of a truly free society and one of the most important ideas our nation was founded on.

Thomas Jefferson defined rightful liberty well:

“Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add “within the limits of the law,” because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”

Criminals ignore rightful liberty, progressives despise the idea of it entirely.

DrDeano on June 2, 2015 at 1:04 PM

Criminals ignore rightful liberty, progressives despise the idea of it entirely.

DrDeano on June 2, 2015 at 1:04 PM

Correction: Leftists consider it to be fantasy. “Rights” come from government, so “rightful” just means “the ruling party approves.” The idea that you could have a rightful liberty of which the ruling party disapproves is, by definition, ridiculous.

GrumpyOldFart on June 2, 2015 at 1:33 PM

of course! they are monitoring that huge army of right-wing extremist terrorists that libtards are always ranting about.

WaldoTJ on June 2, 2015 at 2:47 PM

A few years ago several used aircraft sales companies were offering Cessna T182RGs for sale to the public. They were well-maintained, mid-time (about 6,000 hours’ on the airframe), and the avionics were good and fairly up-to-date. What was odd about the avionics was that there were two audio panels on the avionics stack. I never could figure out why two panels were necessary.

But they were sold as former FBI surveillance aircraft. The only difference I can discern between then and now is improved monitoring equipment.

Anti-Statist on June 2, 2015 at 2:53 PM

Hey mods, can you find out what happened to my post:
http://hotair.com/archives/2015/06/02/fly-by-night-fbis-surveillance-air-force/comment-page-1/#comment-9470107

Thanks.

Patriot Vet on June 2, 2015 at 11:51 AM

Patriot Vet on June 2, 2015 at 3:25 PM

If you don’t want law enforcement, just say so. Understand there’s no halfway in criminal investigation. Yes, there are reasonable rules of engagement to protect innocents and the principles of the constitution, but if you tie their hands too tightly, nobody is safe.

Skip2014 on June 2, 2015 at 11:39 AM

The unique thing about America is that our government is meant to provide liberty, not safety.

PersonFromPorlock on June 2, 2015 at 3:50 PM

the agency operates its own covert surveillance air force, including the Minneapolis-area fly-overs. The use shell companies designed to hide their operation

.
“MORE GOVERNMENT! MORE FREAKIN’ GOVERNMENT!” screamed every leftist from here to Timbuktu.

Bishop on June 2, 2015 at 9:23 AM

.
But we need more government intervention … to eliminate this other, unwarranted government intervention.

listens2glenn on June 2, 2015 at 3:59 PM

Skip2014 on June 2, 2015 at 11:39 AM

.
The unique thing about America is that our government is meant to provide liberty, not safety.

PersonFromPorlock on June 2, 2015 at 3:50 PM

.
Minor correction to that, PersonFromPorlock … the word “provide” should be changed to “secure.”

listens2glenn on June 2, 2015 at 4:02 PM

Warrants? We don’ need no steenking warrants!”

Bill of Rights?

Bwaahaahaahaa!!!!!!

Or, as Winston Smith put it to Julia: “We are the dead.”

profitsbeard on June 2, 2015 at 4:05 PM

I have been watching this for several days on other sites.
If the FBI can put up planes with shell companies to avoid exposure, so can jihadis.
Drop a couple of bombs out of a little Cessna that, now, everyone thinks belongs to the Feds —

AesopFan on June 2, 2015 at 11:28 PM