Eric Holder: ATF Planning to Use Drones

Attorney General Eric Holder admitted Tuesday that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was in the process of looking at the use of domestic drones. 

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, questioned Holder during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, asking the Attorney General if he believed if the Federal Aviation Administration or Congress should regulate of drone use.

“Would you think that it would be better that Congress intervene and employ legislation safeguarding the Fourth Amendment, right of privacy basically on citizens or do you suggest as Attorney General that the FAA still control who gets a drone or not?” Poe asked. 

Holder did not specifically address Poe’s question but reveled some details of the use of drones in the Justice department. 

“Within the Department, the only component that uses these vehicles at this point is the FBI,” Holder explained. “The ATF in the process of working through to see if they want to make use of them.”

Holder added that the Inspector General had recommended that the Justice Department come up with a policy to regulate the use of drones for domestic surveillance. 

“I think that would be appropriate thing to do and we are in the process of trying to work through what rules and regulations would handle the use of these kinds of vehicles,” Holder concluded. 

The Justice Department has spent nearly $5 million on drones since 2004 according to the Inspector General.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has already spent $600,000 exploring the use of drones to support their operations.


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