In a Pentagon Inspector General’s report, completed in March of 2015 and released this week under the Freedom of Information Act, it has been confirmed that U.S. military spy drones have flown missions over U.S. soil spanning almost a decade.
The report goes on to clarify that these instances have happened “no more than 20 times” and were for non-military purposes. In the report, no examples were citied, rather referenced to as USA Today reports:
The list was not made public in the report. But a few examples were cited, including one case in which an unnamed mayor asked the Marine Corps to use a drone to find potholes in the mayor’s city. The Marines denied the request because obtaining the defense secretary’s “approval to conduct a UAS mission of this type did not make operational sense.”
In the past, the pentagon has publicly released at least partial list of those missions that were detailed in the report. A screen shot can be seen here:
Interest by civil authorities to use these drones has grown over the years, but what is so concerning is that a 2006 interim law wasn’t properly followed. The law was written so that these drones could be used to assist in matters of homeland security but that the use of these drones for such missions must be approved by the Secretary of Defense or someone delegated by him. Thus far, no one has been delegated to oversee these missions.
The Pentagon isn’t the only government agency to own and operate drones either, as USA Today reported:
The use of unmanned aerial surveillance (UAS) drones over U.S. surfaced in 2013 when then-FBI director Robert Mueller testified before Congress that the bureau employed spy drones to aid investigations, but in a “very,very minimal way, very seldom.”
Additionally many claim that current laws are not up to speed with the growing demand and usage of these drones. As technology rapidly advances, so do what the American people find acceptable. Flying drones with incredible capabilities over U.S. soil doesn’t sit well with many Americans, even though the Pentagon has banned all spying by drones on American citizens.
Military units that were interviewed as part of the report said that flying these domestic missions simply gives pilots more practice to improve their skills and give them valuable flying experience. Such training missions are currently allowed under new Pentagon guidelines.
This report will come as a shock to many Americans who were unaware these drones were flying over head on official missions. It will now be up to Congress to make sure privacy remains the top concern.
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