New documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have revealed that the U.S. Marshals Service experimented with domestic surveillance drones.
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU, the Marshals Service provided only 2 heavily redacted pages, out of the 30 they claim to have found.
7 years after the program was discontinued, the Marshals Service still refuse to disclose any meaningful information.
The document reads:
USMS Technical Operations Group’s UAV Program provides a highly portable, rapidly deployable overhead collection device that will provide a multi-role surveillance platform to assist in [redacted] detection of targets.
This developmental program is designed to provide [redacted] in support of TOG [presumably the agency’s Technical Operations Group] investigations and operations. This surveillance solution can be deployed during [multiple redactions] to support ongoing tactical operations.
While the documents provided by the U.S. Marshals Service contain almost no valuable information about the nature of the surveillance drones, they did admit experimenting with drones in 2004 and 2005.
In reaction to the release, ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump said:
Americans have the right to know if and how the government is using drones to spy on them. Drones are too invasive a tool for it to be unclear when the public will be subjected to them. The government needs to respect Americans’ privacy while using this invasive technology, and the laws on the books need to be brought up to date to ensure that America does not turn into a drone surveillance state.