Report: FBI Spent $3 Million on Drones
And you were worried about the NSA?
The FBI has spent more than $3 million on unmanned aircraft from 2004 through May 2013, according to an audit released Thursday by the Inspector General.
The Department of Justice’s law enforcement entities have spent $3.7 million on drones between four of its agencies, according to the report, though the FBI accounted for 80 percent of the amount. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had spent nearly $600,000 on drones to use in future operations.
The FBI told the Inspector General’s Office they did not believe there was any difference between collecting evidence through a drone or a manned aircraft.
However, the audit described the FBI’s drone use as “uncoordinated.” Extended drone flights could track an individual’s movements for hours and such pervasive surveillance could have legal ramifications if the tracking crossed over into private property, according to the Inspector General.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in June, then-FBI director Robert Mueller admitted the FBI had been using drones on U.S. soil in isolated instances that warranted specialized surveillance.
“Our footprint is very small,” said Mueller. “We have very few and limited use and are exploring not only the use but also the necessary guidelines for that use.”
Guidelines for drone use are particularly loose. The Federal Aviation Administration’s 2012 Modernization and Reform Act will not require drone integration into the national airspace system until Sept. 30, 2015.