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Sen. Paul Issues Letter to FBI Director Seeking Answers on Domestic Drone Use

Jun 20, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Rand Paul today issued the following letter to Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller, regarding his concern over recent remarks by Director Mueller that indicate the FBI is using surveillance drones on American citizens. In the letter, Sen. Paul requests that Director Mueller address these concerns by answering a set of questions regarding the FBI's use of surveillance drones without operational guidelines. Below is the text of that letter.



June 20, 2013


Robert S. Mueller


Federal Bureau of Investigation

U.S. Department of Justice

935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 2055-0001


Dear Director Mueller,


During your appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 19, 2013, you confirmed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) uses drones for the surveillance of American citizens. You also confirmed that the FBI is currently utilizing these surveillance tactics in the absence of any operational guidelines. I am disturbed by the revelation that the FBI has unilaterally decided to begin using drone surveillance technology without a governance policy, and thus without the requisite assurances that the constitutional rights of Americans are being protected.


As such, I am requesting your prompt answers to the below questions.


1)      How long has the FBI been using drones without stated privacy protections or operational guidelines?

2)      Why is the FBI only now beginning to develop guidelines for the use of drone surveillance?

3)      Is the FBI working in consultation with Congress in developing operational guidelines for drone surveillance?

4)      What measures do you intend to adopt to protect Fourth Amendment and privacy rights?

5)      Will the FBI make publicly available all rules, procedures and operational guidelines for drone use? 

6)      Given that they have already been used, what has the FBI done with information already collected by drones?  What are the rules governing storage of information collected via drone?

7)      In what circumstances would the FBI elect to use drone surveillance? Does this surveillance require a warrant?

8)      How many drones does the FBI possess? Is the FBI seeking to expand its inventory of drones?

9)      Are these drones armed? Do they have the capacity to be armed? If so, what guidelines will be put in place regarding the arming of drones and the use of armed drones?

10)  Is there ever a scenario you can envision where the FBI would seek to arm its drones?

11)  Does the FBI currently prohibit federal grant funds under its jurisdiction from being used by recipients to purchase drones?


In the future, I hope that your agency intends to be more forthcoming with information on its use of drone surveillance. I look forward to your comprehensive reply by July 1, 2013.







Rand Paul, M.D.

United States Senator







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