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Speaking at a US Senate judiciary committee hearing, FBI Director Robert Mueller conceded that while the FBI hasn’t yet developed official policies on their use, they are already using drones over US soil for surveillance purposes.

Mueller tried to shrug off the revelation as no big deal, insisting that he was “unsure” about how often they’d been used, and how long the FBI keeps surveillance photos, but that they have used them “very seldom.”

“It’s very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident where you  need the capability,” said Mueller.

FBI’s Robert Mueller: Drones Are In Use In America

President Obama had insisted last month that the US would only use drones in areas where there is a continuing, imminent threat.” It isn’t clear what standards, if any, apply to surveillance operations inside the US however.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R – IA), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked Holder to  provide more information about the number and types of drones used by the FBI,  the rules that govern their use, and whether they’re capable of being armed.

The letter to Holder comes after FBI Director Robert Mueller testified earlier  on Wednesday — in response to questions from Grassley and Sen. Dianne  Feinstein (D-Calif.) — that the FBI uses drones to conduct surveillance  operation within the U.S.

Grassley was interested in getting those details, and has pressed Attorney General Eric Holder on the matter. Holder had submitted written details of Justice Department drone use to the Senate just last week, but omitted anything about an active FBI program. Holder’s answers had only confirmed DEA and ATF use, and said any theoretical FBI use would have to follow guidelines he would write.

Grassley questioned whether the nation’s top cop had been completely honest with the committee in his answers, because he made little mention of the FBI’s drone use after being asked whether any Justice Department entity uses, or plans to use, drones in the U.S.

“This exchange with Director Mueller raises  some concerns about the completeness of the previous response you provided to my  written question,” wrote Grassley. “Specifically, if the FBI is actively using  drones on U.S. soil, why was that fact not included in a detailed format as was  done with the DEA and ATF information?”

Holder told the committee  that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had acquired two “robotic miniature helicopters with video capabilities” and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,  Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has six Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS’s), which  it uses for crime scene and “surveillance purposes.”

But Holder did  not specifically mention whether or not the FBI used drones within the U.S.,  beyond stating that “the FBI’s use of UAS’s must comport with the attorney  general’s guidelines for domestic FBI activities and the FBI’s own domestic  investigations and operations guide.”

Grassley called this response “cryptic” and pressed Holder in his letter for more information  about how often the FBI uses drones and in what types of operations. He also  wants to know what limitations are placed on their use and whether warrants are  required.

Certification of Authorization (COA) Sponsors

August 29, 2013 – In response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the FAA is releasing specific Certificate of Authorization (COA) information that is not subject to FOIA exemptions. The file below contains information for 17 COAs.

June 20, 2013 – In response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the FAA is releasing specific Certificate of Authorization (COA) information that is not subject to FOIA exemptions. The file below contains information for 9 COAs.

April 18, 2013 – In response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the FAA is releasing specific Certificate of Authorization (COA) information that is not subject to FOIA exemptions. The file below contains information for 10 COAs. None of the COAs are currently active.

February 12, 2013 – In response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the FAA is releasing specific Certificate of Authorization (COA) information that is not subject to FOIA exemptions. The file below contains information for 24 COAs. None of the COAs are currently active.

 

FAA UAS Online Listening Session – Audio (WMV) /Transcript (PDF)

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Regulations & Policies

Title 14 Code of  Federal Regulations

  • Part 1, Definitions, Civil Aircraft, section 1.1
  • Part 21, Certification Procedures for Products and Parts
  • Part 21, Subpart H, Airworthiness Certificates, Experimental Certificates, sections 21.191 and 21.193

Advisory Circulars

  • AC 21-12, Application for U.S. Airworthiness Certificate, FAA Form 8130-6
  • AC 45-2, Identification and Registration Marking
  • AC 91-57, Model Aircraft Operating Standards

Forms

Orders

  • Order 1110.150, Small Unmanned Aircraft System Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC)
  • Order 8130.2, Airworthiness Certification of Aircraft and Related Products
  • Order 8130.20, Registration Requirements for the Airworthiness Certification of U.S. Civil Aircraft
  • Order 8130.34 (PDF), Airworthiness Certification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Policies

http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/uas/reg/

 

 

 

 

 

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