Tuesday, June 2, 2015

FBI busted flying spy planes over U.S., absent court warrant

Can't say this is surprising ...

Look ... up in the sky. It's an FBI spy craft.
The FBI has been busted out by the media for flying spy planes over select U.S. sites, conducting secret surveillance absent specific court warrant.

The Associated Press reported the planes were being flown under guise of fictitious companies and were outfitted with video and cellphone surveillance technology.

The FBI said the planes' surveillance capabilities were used for ongoing investigations, and that operating without court warrant was commonplace for the missions. In one recent 30-day span of time, the media learned the FBI flew the planes above more than 30 cities across 11 states, AP reported.

Civil liberties' advocates are in an uproar, despite the fact the FBI said its surveillance program has
not been conducted on the sly.

"The FBI's aviation program is not secret," agency spokesman Christopher Allen said in a statement. "Specific aircraft and their capabilities are protected for operational security purposes. [The planes] are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance."

Yet the planes can indeed pick up video or activities on the ground that could be used for unrelated criminal cases, AP reported. On top of that, some of the crafts are fitted with technology that can identify thousands of individuals by the cellphones they're carrying, even if they're not placing a call, AP found.

"There are not your grandparents' surveillance aircraft," said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, AP reported. He said the flights were important to know about in case "the federal government is maintaining a fleet of aircraft whose purpose is to circle over American cities, especially with the technology we know can be attached to those aircraft."

Among the FBI flights the AP tracked in recent weeks included one over the District of Columbia, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis and Southern California. The FBI also helped local law enforcement monitor the recent Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore, AP said.

The fake companies that served as cover for the FBI flights operated under the names of FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services, AP found.

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