“The United States House of Representatives is demanding that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel explain to Congress details pertaining to any domestic spying missions conducted by Pentagon-operated surveillance drones.
The House voted this week on a lengthy appropriations bill that, tucked deep within, contained a provision ordering the Department of Defense to disclose information about a little-known drone program that could be collecting images of unknowing Americans.
Citing heightened concerns over the aircraft, the House approved a measure that said in part that the secretary of defense must report on the policies and procedures in place within the military regarding the collection and usage of data picked up by Pentagon surveillance drones. If passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president, Sec. Hagel will have 90 days to submit a report to Congress explaining what policies and procedures are in place across the military to ensure that the constitutional rights of Americans are not violated by any Pentagon drones flown in America.
“The conferees understand that the Air Force has policies and procedures in place governing the disposition of UAV collections that may inadvertently capture matters of concern to law enforcement agencies. These policies and procedures are designed to ensure constitutional protections and proper separation between the military and law enforcement,” begins the measure. “However, it is unclear if other Services and Defense agencies have similar policies and procedures in place, or if these policies and procedures need to be revised or standardized. Therefore, the conferees direct the Secretary of Defense to report to the congressional defense committees on the policies and procedures in place across the Services and Defense agencies governing the use of such collections and to identify any additional steps that need to be taken to ensure that such policies and procedures are adequate and consistent across the Department of Defense.”
In all, the appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013 was approved by a vote of 267-151, with the majority of support coming from members of the Republican Party. Also included in the bill is congressional approval for $982 billion to fund the government during the fiscal year, with separate appropriations concerning the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.