As President Obama prepares to nominate a new FBI director, the bureau is coming under rising pressure from lawmakers to explain the limits of its recently disclosed drone fleet.
Civil liberties-minded senators on both sides of the aisle have fired off sharply worded letters and statements in recent days criticizing the FBI for deploying surveillance drones without clear guidance on how to protect privacy rights.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was the latest to scrutinize the bureau, sending a letter on Thursday to outgoing Director Robert Mueller asking a string of questions about his agency’s drone use.
“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,” Paul wrote.
Mueller acknowledged Wednesday, during a Senate hearing, that the bureau has a limited number of drones that it uses for surveillance on U.S. soil. He stressed they are used in a “very, very minimal way and very seldom.”