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Pentagon Admits to Deploying Military Spy Drones Over the U.S.


"It's important to remember that the American people do find this to be a very, very sensitive topic."

(Photo: AP/Mesa County Sheriff's Unmanned Operations Team)

The Pentagon authorized drone deployments across the U.S. for non-military missions throughout the past decade, according to a new report that recently was made public from a Freedom of Information Act request.

The spy drone flights, which the Pentagon inspector general's report states were rare and lawful, occurred fewer than 20 times between 2006 and 2015 for non-military purposes. In the report, the inspector general emphasized that the flights always complied with existing laws, although the report did not provide specific details on any of the domestic spying missions.

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union, told USA Today that the Pentagon's use of non-military spy drones may require that laws are updated and revised.

"Sometimes, new technology changes so rapidly that existing law no longer fit what people think are appropriate," Stanley said. "It's important to remember that the American people do find this to be a very, very sensitive topic."

Although the inspector general's analysis had been completed March 20, 2015, it was not released to the public until Friday.

When then-FBI director Robert Mueller testified before Congress concerning the 2013 revelation that the government used unmanned aerial surveillance drones over the U.S., he stated the deployment was carried out in a "very, very minimal way, very seldom" for the purpose of aiding the FBI in its investigations, USA Today reported.

The inspector general's 2015 report stated that because advancements in drone technology have corresponded with widespread overseas military use, the Pentagon had implemented an interim policy in 2006 that authorized when and where unmanned aerial surveillance drones could be used domestically. This reportedly allowed spy drones to be used for homeland defense purposes, as well as to aid civil authorities, USA Today noted. But the policy specified that the use of military drones for civil authorities required the Secretary of Defense's approval or approval by someone whom the secretaries delegated for that purpose, the paper added. The 2015 report revealed that defense secretaries never delegated that responsibility to any other party.

(H/T: Drudge Report)

Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter

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