With more and more unmanned drones flying overhead, has the President or Congress told you that the U.S. Air Force, like the CIA, does not have the authority to conduct domestic “nonconsensual surveillance” unless the spying (so it says) is “accidental”?
Secrecy scholar Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists dug up an Air Force rule you may never have heard of. Thanks to a Pentagon directive permitting limited domestic surveillance, when this lawless snooping takes place, the Air Force has up to 90 days to bury the results while it decides whether to keep and share that data.
In a Wired.com article titled “Oops! Air Force Drones Can Now (Accidentally) Spy on You,” Spencer Ackerman sheds light on Aftergood’s discovery: “Acceptable surveillance includes flying drones over natural disasters; studying environmental changes; or keeping tabs above a domestic military base.”
Here comes the curveball the government doesn’t want you to see: “once the drones’ powerful sensors and cameras sweep up imagery and other data from Americans nearby, the Air Force won’t simply erase the tapes. It’ll start analyzing whether the people it’s recorded are, among other things, ‘persons or organizations reasonably believed to be engaged or about to engage in international terrorist or international narcotics activities.'” But you could unwittingly be nearby!