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21 June 2013

USA Drones Compilation

From: "Al Mac Wow" <macwheel99[at]>
To: "'drone-list'" <drone-list[at]>
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2013 22:08:00 -0500
Cc: 'Isaac Kramer' <ikramer[at]>
Subject: Re: [drone-list] Sen. Paul & FBI Director on Domestic Drone Use

It may be of interest to people correlating this info that:

  • 2012 early, Congress directed FAA to issue rules for drones to be operated in American National Air Space (NAS). This was part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-95) designed to promote and facilitate the use of civilian unmanned aircraft.[1]
  • Most of us learned that hundreds of organizations had been issued FAA permission to operate drones in USA.
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)[2] sent FOIA to FAA requesting identification of those organizations.  Info has been trickling into EFF, which has been sharing the results on their web site.  Most of the initial certificates, which the FAA told EFF about, were issued to government agencies at all levels of government, and to colleges and universities.
  • Consequently, many of us following stories of domestic drone usage, knew over a year ago, that the FBI was among the government agencies operating drones in domestic US air space.
  • Muckrock,[3] worked with EFF to send FOIA to the individual named organizations, asking for clarification on how they planned to use their drones.  As that info trickles in, it also is shared on their web sites.
  • Other groups did FOIA in parallel with EFF and Muckrock, such as the news media within the cities and states where their local government agencies had received drone usage permission.
  • Many activist groups have been hammering these gov agencies, seeking privacy reassurance, which has been very slow to come out, because the pattern has been to ignore privacy concerns until it seems like it may become a major policy issue.
  • In addition to what EFF found from FAA about specific organizations directly authorized to use drones for specific missions, there are loaners by one agency to another, where the FAA authorization is to the loaning organization, without any report to FAA or anyone else about the loaned scenarios.  Examples:
    • An IG report found that CBP had been loaning its drones to many other federal agencies.
    • DHS is loaning its drones to many local police agencies.[4]
  • Many institutions are flying drones without getting FAA permission.  I don’t know what the #s are, but if the stories in the news media are any indication, the vast majority of organizations flying drones in the USA, are doing so without FAA authorization, even though the fines are astronomical if caught, like $10,000.00 per day of violation.
  • News has come out that when US military and CIA personnel are being trained in the use of military drones, they often practice, using innocent American civilian vehicle traffic.  Congress has asked the Secretary of Defense for info regarding this, and that info is just about due to be delivered, assuming the Pentagon decides to cooperate with Congress.
  • When we look at details of drone crashes (100+ counting), we learn that most military and CIA drones are actually operated by personnel with government sub-contractors.  One of the best resources, for info about drone crashes is Drone Wars UK[5] library of drone resources.[6]

Here is map of 64 bases inside USA allegedly used to control military and CIA drone usage around the world.[7] Here are just the military ones, with list of names of bases involved.[8]  Here are links to 110 coming.  They also talk about 88 actually operating right now (88-64=24 not on earlier list.).[9] Here is info about CIA bases for drones around the world.[10]  All this info is as of when it was found out.  Reality is constantly evolving.

Here is map of US cities, where various institutions got FAA approval to fly drones over US airspace.[11] This is as of April 2012.  Here is December 2012 update.[12]  Here is revised again Feb 2013.[13]

Lots more have been added since then, not in public documents yet.

       Color Coding:
       Red – Active;
       Blue – Expired;
       Yellow – Denied.

The civilian operations map does not, of course, include classified operations by various branches of the military, CIA, NSA, Customs and Border patrol, FBI, DEA, etc. alphabet soup of agencies, which may be operating from other than the 64 military bases, or 88, or whatever the # is.

Don’t forget the ACLU map of USA constitution free zone,[14] based on the notion that the border can include any place within 100 miles of the border, which includes most of the population of the USA.

Alister William Macintyre

[1] downloaded as CRS Drones in NAS 2012 SeptCRS = Congressional Research Service;  FAS = Federation of American Scientists; NAS = US National Air Space.


[3] = List of places in USA found to have drones, then been issued a FOIA request seeking info on what they are being used for, info they should have already shared with FAA, so it should not be a big deal to make a copy.  Many of these org are dysfunctional when it comes to responding to FOIA about this data.


[5] Drone Wars UK – see Drone Scribd Info.











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