An AP investigation has determined that the FBI is responsible for a "mysterious fleet of aircraft conducting surveillance over US cities."
Scores of low-flying planes circling American cities are part of a civilian air force operated by the FBI and obscured behind fictitious companies, The Associated Press has learned.Emphasis mine. There is much, much more at the link.
The AP traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights in 11 states over a 30-day period since late April, orbiting both major cities and rural areas. At least 115 planes, including 90 Cessna aircraft, were mentioned in a federal budget document from 2009.
For decades, the planes have provided support to FBI surveillance operations on the ground. But now the aircraft are equipped with high-tech cameras, and in rare circumstances, technology capable of tracking thousands of cellphones, raising questions about how these surveillance flights affect Americans' privacy.
...The FBI says the planes are not equipped or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance. The surveillance equipment is used for ongoing investigations, the FBI says, generally without a judge's approval.
So here we are again, back to federal surveillance with no judicial review, no Congressional oversight, and thus no meaningful accountability.
This sort of fuckery was supposed to leave the building with George W. Bush and his merry band of miscreants, but, as I have said before on many, many occasions, once federal law enforcement has been granted any power to encroach upon the civil rights of the people, they are very reluctant to let it go.
And neither of the two major parties are keen to force them to let it go, because neither of them are particularly interested in a truly free citizenry.
[H/T to Shaker KatherineSpins.]