reaper drone in flight

Pentagon Admits to Flying Spy Drones over U.S.

Americans recently learned the Pentagon has flown spy drones over the United States for non-military missions for nearly a decade, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

In response to the request, the Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General, released a report last week, entitled "Evaluation of DoD's Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Support to Civil Authorities," in which facts of the domestic military drone program were revealed.

The partially redacted report, created March 20, 2015, said the Pentagon flew “less than 20 drone missions between 2006 and 2015.”

"I can tell you with 100% certainty that these exercises are of a Defense support-to-civil authorities nature. It's (training for or responding to) a natural disaster of some kind, earthquake, flood, hurricane or nuclear-reactor blowing up. Something like that," said Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Crosson, Pentagon spokesman.

While an analysis of all these domestic drone flights was denied by the Pentagon, the report did give info about nine of these missions conducted between 2011 and 2016 that outlined how drones like the MQ-9 Reaper and the RQ-11 Raven were used for search and rescue missions, in addition to DOD training exercises.


The report went on to say, "no evidence that any DoD entity using UAS's [drones] … in support of domestic civil authorities, to date, has violated or is not in compliance with all statutory, policy, or intelligence oversight requirements."

Yet, an interim policy exists that "encourages the use of DoD drones to support appropriate domestic mission sets."

With this report confirming previously held suspicions of military drones in U.S. airspace, those who have previously spoken out on the topic may follow-up on this report.

Sen. Rand Paul raised this issue with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2013, asking, "Do you believe that the president has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil? What about the use of lethal force against a non-U.S. person on U.S. soil?"

A month later, then Attorney General Eric Holder responded to Paul's drone strike question, saying, "It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States."

Yet, Holder emphasized this type of order was "unlikely to occur."

To this day, occurrences of American citizens being killed by U.S. military drones have only happened outside of the U.S.

Posted in General News

Tags: DHS, Department of Homeland Security, Defense Department, Pentagon, Brionne Griffin, drones, spying


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