Tester, Baucus seek transparency, accountability on drones

Senators to DOJ: ‘the American people deserve to know that any use of drone technology for surveillance purposes holds true to our constitutional rights’

(U.S. SENATE) – Montana’s U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus are calling on the Department of Justice to release any and all opinions related to the legal foundation for, and the limitations on, the use of surveillance drones inside the United States.

In a letter to the U.S. Attorney General this week the Senators acknowledge drones may be useful for fighting wildfires and aiding in search and rescue efforts, but say greater transparency is needed to ensure privacy rights of American citizens are protected.

“Of great concern to us is the use of drones within the United States as tools for enhanced aerial surveillance, and at the heart of this issue is the right to privacy. Our home state of Montana is a stalwart supporter of this right and it is enshrined in our state constitution,” the Senators wrote. “While our national security needs are important, transparency and accountability are fundamental cornerstones of the American system of government. It is the responsibility of our government to be as open as possible with its citizens, and to assure them that any government action is within the bounds of the law.”

Tester and Baucus also co-sponsored an amendment introduced by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul last week that would require a search warrant to use drones for surveillance on U.S. soil.