FBI Director Robert Mueller testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today about a variety of recent scandals. Among other things, Mueller spoke briefly on the NSA, drones, and the IRS.
On the issue of drones, Mueller admitted that the FBI uses surveillance drones in the US, although he says use is restricted to specific cases. Mueller says drones are only used in “a very minimal way and very seldom.”
“Our footprint is very small,” he said. “We have very few… (Drone use) is narrowly focused on particular cases and particular needs.”
An example of the domestic drone use Mueller is referencing is when the FBI used drones to survey a scene during a hostage standoff in Alabama earlier this year.
Mueller proceeded to defend the NSA’s controversial communications surveillance programs, saying they are vital to national security.
"Communications are the soft underbelly of terrorist (operations),'' Mueller said."If that goes dark on us, we will be sitting waiting for the next attack.''
Mueller’s comments come days after NSA Director Keith Alexander said the NSA’s surveillance has helped stop over 50 planned terrorist attacks worldwide, including 10 aimed at the US.
Following discussion on drones and the NSA, Mueller spoke briefly about the on-going investigation of the IRS’ reported targeting of conservative political groups. Mueller assured the committee that “there is a sense of urgency with this,” saying that over a dozen FBI agents were in charge of the case.
“I can tell you it’s not languishing,” he said.