Pentagon admits using drones over the United States

Inspector general report concludes drone use "fully compliant" with laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIVB) – The Pentagon has been using spy drones for non-military missions over U.S. territory.

That’s according to a report by a Pentagon Inspector General.

The report was recently made public by a Freedom of Information Act request from USA Today, which first reported on it.

The report shows those domestic missions were rare, and don’t appear to violate any laws. The report indicates that spy drones on non-military missions over U.S. territory have occurred fewer than 20 times over the past decade supporting domestic civil authorities.


John Curr III, WNY director of the New York Civil Liberties Union called the disclosure “very shocking.”

Curr says now more than ever there’s a need for oversight.

“We need to have rules in place that protect us from the surveillance society. By that, I mean a government that can track us. A government that can follow us. Can follow our every movement. Can look into our windows, hear our conversations and peer into our houses of worship,” he said.

Most of the events were left out of the report, but some examples were cited, including one case involving an unnamed mayor asking the Marine Corps to use a drone to find potholes in a city. That request was denied.

“There’s no arguing that the technology makes us better in many ways when it’s used appropriately,” Curr added. “And no one’s arguing against the appropriate use of this type of technology. I do have to question whether or not it’s appropriate for the military to be doing this.”

The report says the Department of Defense is fully compliant with laws, regulations and national policies regarding the domestic drone missions examined.

But Curr thinks Congress should take a look at this, and if need be, enact a law that protects the privacy of all Americans.

“Whenever we balance privacy and security it should never tip away completely from privacy,” he said. “There should be monitoring of what’s happening with the data. What’s being used.”

The inspector general report — first reported by USA Today — concluded that, “Great care is taken by DoD personnel to protect the American public’s civil liberties and privacy rights while simultaneously preparing to employ UAS capabilities as required by National Command Authorities.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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