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In one of his final appearances on Capitol Hill, normally media-shy FBI Director Robert Mueller made some news. Mueller, who's retiring in September, acknowledged that the FBI has started to deploy unarmed drones in the U.S. Still, he played down how often agents use those drones.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is using drones on United States soil for surveillance purposes, the agency's director, Robert Mueller, told a Senate committee today.
"Our footprint is very small, and we have very few and of limited use, and we're exploring not only the use but also the necessary guidelines for that use," said Mueller , answering a question from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
Mueller, who was testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said they were used in a "very, very minimal way and very seldom."
Unmanned drones aren't just a tool for governments anymore. By as early as this year, the Federal Aviation Administration expects to propose regulations opening up the use of small, unmanned airborne vehicles — or drones — for commercial use.
Tens of thousands of these little, civilian drones are sold and piloted by hobbyists in the United States every year. Right now these drones are flown almost exclusively for non-commercial uses by enthusiast like Pablo Lema. Lema spends weekends flying his quardracopter around the San Francisco Bay.
A crowd of wildlife rangers gathered on a woody hillside in Nepal last year to try something they'd never done before. A man held what looked like an overgrown toy airplane in his right hand, arm cocked as if to throw it into the sky. As his fellow rangers cheered, he did just that. A propeller took over, sending it skyward.
The craft was an unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a drone, though not the military kind. Its wingspan was about 7 feet, and it carried only a video camera that filmed the forest below.
Newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (right) during a swearing in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Islamabad on Wednesday. Sharif has vowed to end U.S. drone strikes in the country.
Credit AFP/Getty Images
Pakistan's new government wasted no time on Saturday in lodging a formal diplomatic complaint with Washington over a U.S. drone strike that reportedly killed seven militants near the Afghan border.
U.S. Charges D'Affaires Richard Hoagland was summoned to Pakistan's Foreign Office to receive the government's official protest. U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson was out of the country at the time of Friday's attack.