Paul continues threat to hold FBI director nomination
July 26th, 2013
06:57 PM ET
9 years ago

Paul continues threat to hold FBI director nomination

(CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul is vowing to block a confirmation vote on the next FBI director unless he gets sufficient answers from the law enforcement agency about the use of surveillance drones in the United States.

The FBI revealed in a recently unclassified letter to the Kentucky Republican that it has used unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance in 10 cases on U.S. soil - eight of them criminal and two involving national security.

“None of the UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) used by the FBI are armed with either lethal or non-lethal weapons, and the FBI has no plans to use weapons with UAVs,” wrote FBI Assistant Director Stephen Kelly.

Drones were authorized for surveillance in three other criminal cases, but they were not used, according to the letter.

While CNN previously reported the FBI has used drones on U.S. soil about a dozen times, the recent letter marked the first time it broke the number down between criminal cases and national security cases.

The letter listed examples of drone use, including in the case of a 5-year-old child held hostage in an underground bunker in Alabama earlier this year.

But Paul says the new information is not enough to answer his questions.

The first-term senator has been a leading voice on seeking answers on the legal use of drones by the U.S. government in counterterror operations overseas.

He led a filibuster earlier this year, blocking a vote on President Barack Obama's nominee of John Brennan as CIA director, while he demanded answers about the government's policy for drone strikes in the United States.

Raising questions now about drone surveillance, Paul issued a letter last month asking FBI Director Robert Mueller about its policies. Getting no response, he sent a second letter on July 9, saying he will object to the consideration of James Comey as Mueller's successor until he gets "adequate answers" to his questions.

The FBI sent two responses this month, one classified and one unclassified.

In the unclassified version, the FBI went on the record about the 10 cases of drone surveillance. The FBI also maintained that it would acquire a warrant before using a drone when the suspected individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Paul sent a new letter on Thursday, asking for more clarification on the FBI’s understanding of a "reasonable expectation of privacy."

"I am concerned that an overbroad interpretation of this protection would enable more substantial information collection on an individual in a circumstance they might not have believed was subject to surveillance," the letter stated.

He also pressed for copies of educational and training material the FBI uses on such matters.

Filed under: FBI • James Comey • Rand Paul • Robert Mueller • Senate
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. PJ

    "If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and $50 in cash, I don't care if a drone kills him or a
    policeman kills him"
    -Rand Paul-

    This guy is as looney as they come and a filibustering fraud.

    July 26, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  2. Marie MD

    Speaking of drones!
    This guy gets worse by the minute and the rethugs/tea trolls/livertarians wonder why congress' rating is at 10%?
    Hillary said it best . . . . . . Turkey?

    July 26, 2013 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    Rant Paul is once again doing what he can to get headlines. He's become predictable and boring, like pretty much every Repub in Washington these days: flapping their lips, getting nothing done – then flapping their lips about how nothing gets done.

    Think I'll go do something more interesting than pay attention to Rant – like watch water boil ...

    July 26, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  4. Norma Vessels

    Rand Paul, you are a dweeb!

    July 26, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  5. Donkey Party

    Rand Paul is an arrogant, attention seeking anarchist, who puts his political profile ahead of national security. His behavior and actions borderline on treason.

    July 26, 2013 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  6. Liz

    Sen Rand Paul is a true American.

    July 26, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  7. Evergreen

    Is he also concerned about satellite surviellance, they are unmanned.

    July 26, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  8. timvervba

    I wonder if Senator Paul is only concerned with drones used by the federal government. Perhaps he is okay with state and privately used drones. Maybe he has no problem with a news station flying helicopters to track the comings and goings of the American people. No traffic report; No high speed chases through downtown Los Angeles; Never a satellite image of the Earth and Mars.

    July 27, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  9. DJ Reality

    Ahhhhh! Obstructionism the only thing Paul's good for.

    July 27, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  10. jboh

    Obstruction by investigation, but still the same old TEA/GOP obstructionism.

    July 27, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  11. just me

    It is ridiculous that ONE senator has the power to keep an important position unfilled while he tries to score political points to further his own ambitions

    July 27, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  12. Burt

    Here we go again! After telling his followers that the government will use or has used drones for lethal strikes on US citizens on US soil...which is complete nonsense by the way...and getting them all in a tizzy. He plans to waste MORE taxpayers money to get an answer that doesn't exist! Talk about paranoia! Have you even seen one of these surveilance drones? It's a model airplane for crying out loud! Nothing more! And it does the exact thing the police do during a stake-out...gather information! The ONLY downside of their use is that they are replacing 'PAID' human beings to do the work! That's what RANT Paul should be upset about! But no matter how many responses he receives, he won't believe a one, because he already has his own fabricated lie in his head! Just to keep the party faithful dangerously perched on the edge of the 'deep end'! How much money has he and his ilk wasted already while preaching the evils of big goverment and fiscal responsibilty?

    July 27, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |