Head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Robert Mueller, has admitted that the agency uses drones for surveillance on United States (U.S.) soil, but said that the domestic drone use occurs “very seldom,” when specific circumstances call for it.
Mueller was testifying at a scheduled hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked whether the agency uses drones for domestic surveillance, to which Mueller responded, “Yes.”
Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) later asked Mueller to elaborate.
“It’s very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident where you need the capability,” Mueller said.
The exchange was a significant revelation in a hearing that largely consisted of Senators thanking Mueller, who is stepping down in September, for his service at the agency.
Lawmakers also asked about the FBI’s role in investigating improper targeting of political groups at the Internal Revenue Service, what measures could have prevented the bombing at the Boston Marathon, and the FBI’s role in secret NSA surveillance programmes recently revealed by leaker Edward Snowden.