At a House Judiciary Committee hearing today, Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was in the process of building a fleet of domestic drones.
In sworn testimony, Holder confirmed that the ATF has already spent over $600,000 on the program, and is in the process of trying to bring the drones into their surveillance arsenal.
Last year we reported on how the maker of the Shadowhawk drone was actively promoting its technology as a way to monitor citizens who carry guns. Now it looks like we have another government agency planning on using this technology to do exactly that.
Holder told the committee, “Within the Department, the only component that uses these vehicles at this point is the FBI,” … “The ATF in the process of working through to see if they want to make use of them.”
But as we’ve reported in the past, there are actually a number of agencies within the federal government who are already operating their own fleets of drones for domestic surveillance. In fact, last year the Department of Homeland Security confirmed they were purchasing a fleet of Predator B Drones for homeland operations – the same drones that are used in the skies over Afghanistan.
Around the same time, the State of Nebraska told the world that the EPA was using drones to spy on state farmers. It was later confirmed by EPA officials, who said they were looking for people violating the Clean Water Act.