BORDER PATROL DRONES USED BY OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO SPY ON AMERICANS
NWV News Writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
July 8, 2013
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the Obama administration has increased the use of Unmanned
Systems (UAS) by the U.S. Border Patrol, the Predator drones allocated for border security are not conducting surveillance of the U.S.-Mexico border or the illegal aliens crossing the border, but the drones are being lent out to other government agencies to spy on Americans, according to a report made public on Wednesday.
The Department of Homeland Security's Customs & Border Protection (CPB) released on Wednesday records detailing daily Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flights that revealed the U.S. Border Patrol has increased the use of its Predator drones on behalf of state, local and non-CPB federal agencies.
However, the missions have nothing to do with illegal immigration or drugtrafficking, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit, public-interest group.
While acknowledging the use of drones for surveillance operations by other agencies, the CBP neglects to document how Americans' privacy is being protected from "unwarranted drone surveillance."
EFF obtained the 2010 Concept of Operations report about the UAV flights, and other records in response to the group's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the CBP. The lawsuit requested information about the CBP lending its drones to local, state and federal agencies.
According to the documents, CBP already appears to be flying drones well within the Southern and Northern U.S. borders, and for a wide variety of nonborder patrol reasons. What’s more — the Border Patrol is planning to increase its Predator drone fleet from the current 20 to 24 and its drone surveillance operations to 24 hours-per-day/7-days-per-week by the year 2016, the EFF officials said.
"We've seen bits and pieces of information on CBP's Predator drones, but Americans deserve the full story," said EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. "Drones are a powerful surveillance tool that can be used to gather extensive data about you and your activities. The public needs to know more about how and why these Predator drones are being used to watch U.S. citizens."
While officials from the CBP redacted information regarding dates, geographic location of drone flights, and names of the agencies using the drones, the logs do provide at least a little insight into the CBP drone surveillance operations, according to EFF officials.
For example, EFF learned that CBP conducted drone surveillance for law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, ICE, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Coast Guard, as well as Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the North Dakota Army National Guard, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
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"These missions ranged from specific drug-related investigations, searches for missing persons, border crossings and fishing violations to general surveillance imagery and aerial reconnaissance of a given location" state EFF officials.
"While the goal of each may be to gather... useful information, the drones [may] also collect information on the people living within those areas—and [we have] seen no policies describing limitations on how the information is used or whether it’s shared with law enforcement agencies like the FBI or ICE," said the EFF analysts.
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