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Pentagon Drones Over US: Legal Spy Missions Detailed in New Report

Image: Pentagon Drones Over US: Legal Spy Missions Detailed in New Report
An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) flies by during a training mission at Creech Air Force Base on November 17, 2015 in Indian Springs, Nevada. (Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 09 Mar 2016 01:47 PM

The Pentagon has admitted that it deployed drones over the U.S. on non-military missions "fewer than 20 times" over the past 10 years, according to a report made available this week via a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Pentagon inspector general's report stated that the missions, which took place between 2006 and 2015, were in compliance with existing laws, but it did not provide any further details on the spy drones, USA Today reported.

"Sometimes, new technology changes so rapidly that existing law no longer fit what people think are appropriate," Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union, told USA Today. "It's important to remember that the American people do find this to be a very, very sensitive topic."

Military drones are slow, high-flying vehicles used for spying that have the ability to stay airborne for a full day, according to Popular Science. The military has used drones overseas as a regular tool for hunting down militants and tracking the movements of terror suspects.

"We conclude that [the Department of Defense Unmanned Aircraft Systems] support to domestic civil authorities very seriously," said the conclusion of the released study. "Great care is taken by DoD personnel to protect the American public's civil liberties and privacy rights while simultaneously preparing to employ UAS capabilities as required by National Command Authorities."

"Our [review] of UAS policy implementation across the department, coupled with our unit visits to discuss actual events, did not reveal evidence that any DoD entity has employed a UAS or conducted PED in support of domestic civil authorities contrary to laws, regulations, or national policies," the statement continued.

One of the known uses of a drone on U.S. soil came in 2011, when a sheriff's department in North Dakota asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection about the availability of a Reaper drone to watch over a ranch where suspected armed cattle thieves were hiding, Popular Science noted.

The drone allowed police to storm the building where the suspects were found sleeping.

Before the inspector general's report was finished last year, the Pentagon issued a new policy for spy drones, requiring the defense secretary to approve all domestic spy drone operations, according to USA Today.

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The Pentagon has admitted that it deployed drones over the U.S. on non-military missions "fewer than 20 times" over the past 10 years, according to a report made available this week via a Freedom of Information Act request.
pentagon, drones, over, us
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2016-47-09
Wednesday, 09 Mar 2016 01:47 PM
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