While the Obama administration has increased the use of Unmanned Aerial
Systems (UAS) by the U.S. Border Patrol, the Predator drones allocated for border security are not conducting surveillance of the U.S.-Mexico border or the illegal aliens crossing the border, but the drones are being lent out to other government agencies to spy on Americans, according to a report made public on Wednesday.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs & Border Protection (CPB) released on Wednesday records detailing daily Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flights that revealed the U.S. Border Patrol has increased the use of its Predator drones on behalf of state, local and non-CPB federal agencies.
However, the missions have nothing to do with illegal immigration or drugtrafficking, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit, public-interest group.
While acknowledging the use of drones for surveillance operations by other agencies, the CBP neglects to document how Americans’ privacy is being protected from “unwarranted drone surveillance.”
EFF obtained the 2010 Concept of Operations report about the UAV flights, and other records in response to the group’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the CBP. The lawsuit requested information about the CBP lending its drones to local, state and federal agencies.
According to the documents, CBP already appears to be flying drones well within the Southern and Northern U.S. borders, and for a wide variety of nonborder patrol reasons. What’s more — the Border Patrol is planning to increase its Predator drone fleet from the current 20 to 24 and its drone surveillance operations to 24 hours-per-day/7-days-per-week by the year 2016, the EFF officials said.