Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States Government Privacy Technology

How Drones Entered the FBI's Spying Toolkit 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the eye-in-the-sky dept.
Jason Koebler writes The FBI has had an eager eye on surveillance drones since first experimenting with remote control airplanes in 1995. But budget cuts nearly ended the Bureau's unmanned machinations in 2010, and it took a dedicated push aimed at making drones "a tool the FBI cannot do without" to cement their place in the FBI's surveillance toolkit. The near termination—and subsequent expansion—of the FBI's drone program over the past four years is chronicled in hundreds of heavily-redacted pages released under a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington over the past several months.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Drones Entered the FBI's Spying Toolkit

Comments Filter:
  • Everybody should have one

  • But budget cuts nearly ended the Bureau's unmanned machinations in 2010

    Because using a small, cheap, high-velocity, can-move-in-3D, expendable drone is more expensive than using more agents?

    • Because using a small, cheap, high-velocity, can-move-in-3D, expendable drone is more expensive than using more agents?

      Federal agencies don't get a budget that consists of "here's a pile of money, have fun spending it".

      They get a budget with line items for specific things. Like agent payroll. Or drone aircraft.

      Congress drawing a line through the "drone aircraft" line item is a budget cut....

      Though it's more likely that they asked for $XXX extra to pay for some drones plus staff to operate same, were to

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      Or *gasp* manned helicopters
    • "Because using a small, cheap, high-velocity, can-move-in-3D, expendable drone is more expensive than using more agents?"

      To the agents it is, yes :-)

  • by s.petry (762400) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:28AM (#47675667)

    If FBI agents want a hobby great, let them pay for it out of their own pockets. Quad copters are not that expensive, and off of the tax payers dime they can do what ever they want. Watch porn, go to the bar, fly kites, or fly drones.

    On the tax payers dollar, there is absolutely nothing for a drone to do that manpower can't do better.

    The FBI's job is to investigate federal crimes and arrest suspects of those crimes. Can they covertly listen in to conversations with a drone? Can they covertly film better with drones? Can they make arrests with drones? No to all of those things. The only thing they can possibly do with a drone is survey a bust location with a drone, and if a cop does not already know the bust location they are not good cops. The "bad guy would have gotten away if we didn't drone him" are impossible scenarios that don't happen.

    With the lack of arrests and prosecution the FBI has shown, I simply distrust the agency. I'm sure there are great agents working there that want to do the right thing, but the executive side shuts down real criminal investigations. The concocted "terrorist" attacks that the agency propagated to get additional funding plays a part in that.

    I'm not against some of the drone technology in the Military. As a veteran I know first hand that the Military has to deal with situations that are based on 2nd hand or out of date intelligence. This makes for unknown scenarios and a simple surveillance drone can turn the tide of an encounter. Their job is to handle well armed well trained military units of other countries. They are trained to watch out for civilians and try not to harm them, but civilians are the secondary concern of a soldier.

    Law enforcement, including the FBI, is not the military. The jobs are totally different, and the expectations are totally different. The Police's job is to protect and serve the public first. If an "unknown gang" has "unknown weapons" then the police have failed miserably at their jobs. That's not a dig on the individual officers, that's a dig at their management who sends them out to do the wrong jobs. Speed traps for example piss off the public and serve primarily to obtain revenue (which is in addition to what we pay for in taxes). It takes police off of patrols and basically turns them into thugs (we all know about the quotas, don't bother trying to bullshit us). If police were visible, patrolling the streets, and actually talking to members of the community, they would have been tipped off about that "unknown gang" long before there were problems.

    • Where've you been? Obviously you didn't get the memo. FBI needs to tech-up. And what do you think the NSA is all about? Tech trumps everything, and makes every job easier and more effective. That's the pitch, anyway. You must not work in the tech industry, or at least not anywhere that makes contact with marketing at any point...
      • by s.petry (762400)
        I got the memo and laughed at it, and of course cry a bit every time someone believes the bullshit.
      • by hooiberg (1789158)
        Well, technology makes a lot of work better and easier. You only have to be very selective in what tech you adopt, and what tech you redirect to the dumpster. But trying a bit with new things is alwys a good idea, otherwise you never discover new useful stuff. Just as programmers should try new editors, from time to time. :-)
    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      You do know that the FBI also has the Contra Espionage and terrorism Briefs and as you get so upset about using the military on US soil the FBI have a valid justification for using drones etc or would you rather use a manned helicopter with all the expense and additional risk that entails.

      weather having a police force do serious work like CT and CE is a totally other matter I think the FBI should have been split after Hover died into a traditional police force and something closer to MI5 or actually use
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      On the tax payers dollar, there is absolutely nothing for a drone to do that manpower can't do better.

      Except stay on station for 24 hours straight without blinking, without eating, without a bathroom break, without getting tired, without having their mind wonder.

      Can they covertly listen in to conversations with a drone?

      Yes, directional long range mics are not exactly new. Its easy to filter out the sound of the drone itself considering the difference between motor and prop frequency and that of the human voice. They can do it without risking an agent.

      Can they covertly film better with drones?

      Yes, again at altitude you won't notice the drone or hear it, it can sit there for hours on auto pilot and automa

    • "civilians are the secondary concern of a soldier" exactly why more needs to be done when they leave the military and enter the police force.

  • They respond really well to buckshot when they get caught scoping out ur girl in the bikini and produce awesome high res photos. They get board too when she's not on the phone and leaned to fly radio controlled aircraft.

  • After all, citizens, I mean criminals, could fight back with anti-drone drones. Better make these people terrorists for just attempting that. And also make anybody shooting at drones, except "law"-enforcement, a terrorist as well, easier all around.

  • Drones are military weapons and the FBI is a civilian organization. No civilian organization should have access to military style weapons, uniforms, or equipment.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      I own a UAS, does that make me a military organization?

      So do you think citizens shouldn't be allowed to own them either? Or is it that citizens should be allowed by not the cops? Whats the logic in your position? Is it okay for me because I don't have a hellfire missile? The FBI doesn't either, just cameras and mics ... just like mine.

    • "Drones are military weapons ... No civilian organization should have access to military style weapons, uniforms, or equipment."

      Knives are military weapons too! I hope you are prepared to go to Gitmo V2 for your beliefs, because with people like you we are well on our way!

"Pull the trigger and you're garbage." -- Lady Blue

Working...