WASHINGTON — The FBI uses drones for domestic surveillance purposes, the head of the agency told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, and citizens are strongly advised not to do anything that could be perceived as hostile toward them.
Asked by Sen. Chuck Grassely, “Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on U.S. soil?” FBI Director Robert Mueller responded, “Yes.”
“Follow-up question: Do we have anything to fear from these drones?”
“No, senator,” said Mueller. “We have everything to fear.”
The head of the FBI proceeded to warn every living person that, when they are not safely under a roof of some sort, they should “walk calmly. Don’t run. Don’t jump around. Just get to where you’re going. And please, for the sake of Christ, don’t have a beard.”
In his testimony, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson recounted how the FBI used a drone to help law enforcement amid a standoff and hostage situation in Alabama in January.
Said Bresson, “The situation was resolved peacefully and we feel the drone was a vital part of that success. The fact that it began acting of its own accord and hunted down seven police officers afterwards is irrelevant to what we’re discussing today, which is security.”
When questioned by Sen. Al Franken if he thinks the agency would consider greater transparency about its surveillance methods, Mueller was hesitant to concede any ground. “There is a price to be paid for that transparency,” he said. “I certainly think it would be educating our adversaries as to what our capabilities are.”
Outraged, Franken abruptly rose from his chair to address the director. A look of panic appearing on his face, Mueller slowly, quietly gestured to Franken that, for his own sake, he should probably sit back down.