The Pentagon has admitted that the US military has used its drones for domestic surveillance missions. But, it also points out, the occurrences have been rare and always within the letter of the law.
USA Today reports that the news stems from a Freedom of Information Act request. A Pentagon report explains that fewer then 20 missions have been flown by military spy drones on non-military missions between 2006 and 2015.
While the authorities won’t publish details of non-military spying missions flown by the drones, it has publicly published a list of nine missions which all occurred between 2011 and 2016, which you can read below.
For its part, the military seems to have refused to carry out the dumbest of civic requests for drone time. The documents, for instance, point out that one Mayor asked the Marine Corps to find potholes in his city using its drones. The request was deemed to “not make operational sense.”
Obviously it’s impossible to tell what happened on the domestic spy missions. But surveillance of US citizens by drone isn’t allowed, unless it’s both lawful and approved by the defense secretary.