Friday Mar 01, 201309:31 AM GMT
Documents reveal US Marshals using spy drones
Fri Mar 1, 2013 9:22AM
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Documents obtained by the ACLU have revealed that the U.S. Marshals Service has experimented with using drones for domestic surveillance.


The documents, available on the ACLU website, were released via a Freedom of Information Act request.


The rights group says that although the Marshals Service admitted it had found 30 pages of information pertaining to its use of drones, it only actual handed over two, which were heavily redacted, containing only two short paragraphs of visible information.


Under the heading “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Man-Portable (UAV) Program,” an agency document overview states:


“USMS Technical Operations Group’s UAV Program provides a highly portable, rapidly deployable overhead collection device that will provide a multi-role surveillance platform to assist in [redacted] detection of targets.”

A further document reads:


“This developmental program is designed to provide [redacted] in support of TOG [Technical Operations Group] investigations and operations. This surveillance solution can be deployed during [multiple redactions] to support ongoing tactical operations.”


An LA Times report earlier this month revealed more, stating:


“In 2004 and 2005, the U.S. Marshals Service tested two small drones in remote areas to help them track fugitives, according to law enforcement officials and documents released to the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act. The Marshals Service abandoned the program after both drones crashed.”


Expressing doubt that these details cover the full scope of the Marshals’ drone use, ACLU says it is “surprising” that what was purportedly “a small-scale experiment” still remains secret after seven years.


“As drone use becomes more and more common, it is crucial that the government’s use of these spying machines be transparent and accountable to the American people. All too often, though, it is unclear which law enforcement agencies are using these tools, and how they are doing so.” a statement on the ACLU website reads.


“We should not have to guess whether our government is using these eyes in the sky to spy on us.” the statement continues.


ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump added that “Americans have the right to know if and how the government is using drones to spy on them.”


“Drones are too invasive a tool for it to be unclear when the public will be subjected to them.” Crump added. “The government needs to respect Americans’ privacy while using this invasive technology, and the laws on the books need to be brought up to date to ensure that America does not turn into a drone surveillance state.”


There are currently several bills on the table at the state and national level to reign in the use of drones, and not without justification.


The FAA recently released an updated list of domestic drone authorizations, showing more than 20 new drone operators, and bringing to 81 the total number of public entities that have applied for FAA drone authorizations through October 2012.


After Congress passed the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization last year, requiring the FAA to permit the operation of drones weighing 25 pounds or less, observers predicted that anything up to 30,000 spy drones could be flying in U.S. skies by 2020.




In a major step toward opening U.S. skies to thousands of unmanned drones, federal officials in February solicited proposals to create six drone test sites around the country. AP


According to the Department of Homeland Security’s website, the U.S. government has already been using drones domestically for several years, but remains mostly mum on their missions. RT


Privacy advocates worry that a proliferation of drones will lead to a "surveillance society" in which the movements of Americans are routinely monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinized by the authorities. AP


The prospect of armed drones patrolling U.S. skies has alarmed some lawmakers and their constituents. More than a dozen bills have been introduced in Congress and state legislatures to curb drone use and protect privacy. AP


A data dump of government documents secured via the Freedom of Information Act, released in August shows that the roll out of domestic unmanned drones will, for the most part, be focused solely on the mass surveillance of the American people. Prison Planet



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