FBI director Robert Mueller said the government has used surveillance drones in the U.S. — though "in a very, very minimal way, very seldom" — at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. "It's very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident when you need the capability," Mueller said before the judiciary committee. "It is very narrowly focused on particularized cases and particularized needs." He said he did not know what happens to the images the drones capture.
Mueller's answer came following questioning from California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who said drones were the "biggest threat to privacy" in America today. This is funny, because Feinstein had just given a rousing defense of the National Security Agency's program to collect the metadata on all phone calls made by all Americans. Feinstein is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and since Edward Snowden leaked the NSA programs, has dismissed concerns that the government is spying on Americans. At Wednesday's hearing, Feinstein said the NSA collects "not the names, but the data. Not the content, but the data." A drone wouldn't collect the content of your conversation, either. It would only show exactly where you are and when. Which is what your phone call metadata says, too. Nevertheless, Dianne Feinstein is anti-NSA paranoia but pro-drone paranoia.
- Dianne Feinstein