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FBI received FAA clearance to fly drones domestically four times

June 21, 2013 at 8:22 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, June 21 (UPI) -- The FBI received Federal Aviation Administration clearance to conduct four drone surveillance operations since 2010, administration documents indicate.

Documents released by the FAA Thursday show the FBI began seeking clearance to fly drones over domestic targets in 2009 and received its first clearance in 2010.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III testified Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee that drones were used domestically "in a very, very minimal way and very seldom."

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson declined to say how many drones the agency has, where they use them or how many operations have been conducted.

"We don't want to get into how many or the geographic locales," he said Thursday.

The FBI revealed in a statement after Mueller's testimony that the agency used a drone in February during a seven-day hostage standoff in Alabama.

The FAA's documents were disclosed after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation a privacy rights group based in San Francisco, The Washington Post reported.

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