Filibuster Not Enough: Paul Keeps Pushing on Drones

Filibuster Not Enough: Paul Keeps Pushing on Drones

Give Rand Paul another victory in the fight against unauthorized drone usage by the Obama administration.

After the Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster in March, he wasn’t satisfied with the answers that he got. So he kept at it, writing letters and asking questions.

And he got the FBI to admit something it hadn’t before – they’ve used drones over American soil. From Cheryl K. Chumley of the Washington Times:

“The Federal Bureau of Investigations told Sen. Rand Paul in a recent unclassified letter that agents have flown drones over U.S. airspace a total of 10 times in the past seven years.”

Within that same unclassified letter sent to Paul (which can be seen below and is also posted on Paul’s website), the FBI wrote that they use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) “in very limited circumstances to conduct surveillance when there is a specific, operational need.

For example, they write, they’ve used UAV surveillance for kidnappings, search and rescue operations, fugitive investigations, and more.

In the last seven years (since 2006) they admit using drone surveillance 10 times – eight criminal cases, and two national security cases.

In addition to the above-quoted  unclassified letter, the FBI sent a classified letter to Paul. The unclassified response was sent to Paul after two requests for information from the Kentucky senator.

It was certainly a victory, and revealed information about the drone program that had not been admitted before. But of course, Paul wasn’t done. So he wrote a response back to the FBI Director Robert Mueller, asking for clarification on one more thing.

In the letter (which can also be seen in full below, or on Paul’s website), Paul reiterated his questioning.

The FBI, he said, clarified that they would get a legal warrant before using a UAV drone to gather information on an individual – when that person has “a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

And while Paul agrees that warrants should be gotten before doing that type of surveillance, he worries about one thing.

As Chumley writes “So Mr. Paul’s question: What is the FBI definition of an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy?”

Paul also asked for copies of documents such as field manuals and legal notes that would help clarify the potential discrepancy.

You can see the unclassified response from the FBI below, along with Paul’s follow-up letter.

The unclassified letter from the FBI.

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Paul’s follow-up letter, after not being satisfied with the response:

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