Kentucky’s junior senator said he’s concerned about grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency being used to purchase drones for surveillance.
Republican Rand Paul expressed that view at a hearing today of the Senate’s Homeland Security Subcommittee. He claimed FEMA’s fusion centers, which were created by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to promote the sharing of information, do not have a stellar record for defending civil liberties.
“A few years back, you know, the Missouri Fusion Center was targeting people for their political beliefs, third-party candidates, pro-life people, people with different bumper-stickers on their car were said to be targeted by the Fusion Center," said Paul. "There is a big concern that allowing your money, our money, to be used to purchase drones without any rules in place or without any awareness of what the rules are is disconcerting.”
Officials from FEMA said their disaster preparedness grants have not been used to buy drones. However, they concede money has been provided for what they call “remoted-controlled, low-level aircraft” used for surveillance.
“There are some who believe that once you get outside your house you have no privacy, I tend to disagree and I think these are things that we have to revisit," said Paul. "But we now have the FBI director saying that drones are being used. He wasn’t aware or forthcoming with some any specific policy on privacy so these are not things of passing concern.”