Friday, June 21, 2013

Because You Don't "Need To Know"

PREFACE:  "...The term "need to know", when used by government and other organizations (particularly those related to the military or espionage), describes the restriction of data which is considered very sensitive. Under need-to-know restrictions, even if one has all the necessary official approvals (such as a security clearance) to access certain information, one would not be given access to such information, or read into a clandestine operation, unless one has a specific need to know; that is, access to the information must be necessary for the conduct of one's official duties...."

Apparently YOU don't have a "need to know," when it comes to how the FBI is spying on you.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation says the FBI has been less than forthcoming with "drone licenses" and supporting records.

Jennifer Lynch at EFF writes:
"...Just yesterday, Wired broke the story that the FBI has been using drones to surveil  Americans. Wired noted that, during an FBI oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Robert Mueller let slip that the FBI flies surveillance drones on American soil. Mueller tried to reassure the senators that FBI’s drone program “is very narrowly focused on particularized cases and particularized leads.” However, there’s no way to check the Director on these statements, given the Bureau’s extreme lack of transparency about its program..."
Lynch says the records were obtained via a Freedom of Information act lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration.
"...unlike other federal agencies, including the US Air Force, the Bureau has withheld almost all information within its documents—even including the dates the FAA’s Certificates of Authorization (COAs) were issued...the FBI is withholding information, including something as basic as the city and state of the Bureau’s point of contact, that could in no way be expected to risk circumvention of the law (the applicable test under FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (b)(7)(E))..."
Lynch cautions:
"...Given the FBI’s past abuses and the information recently revealed about how the Bureau exploits specious interpretations of federal law to help out the NSA’s spying program, we have good reason to be concerned about the FBI’s lack of transparency here..."
Craig Whitlock reports in the Washington Post that FBI Chief Robert Mueller:
"...told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI uses drones “in a very, very minimal way and very seldom.” He gave no other details, except to say that the agency has “very few” drones and “that our footprint is very small.”..."
Whitlock says the FBI is declining to say how many drones the agency has, where they are flown or how many surveillance operations it has conducted.

When information about the FBI drone program was released, after the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed its Freedom Of Information Act law suit, Whitlock says, "...The FAA redacted the vast majority of the text, citing the need to keep law enforcement operations confidential. But the records suggest that in at least one operation, the FBI was flying a Puma AE, a lightweight drone with a range of about six miles. The Puma has a wingspan of eight feet and carries powerful infrared and electro-optical cameras. It is made by AeroVironment, a California firm..."

This week a group of legislators expressed concern about the FBI drone fleet:  Senator Rand Paul, Sen. Mark Udall, and Senator Charles Grassley want answers and clarifications, because apparently, We the People do have a "need to know."

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