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In the declassified letter, the FBI said that it used a drone in February in a high-profile case where a five-year-old boy was held hostage in a bunker in Alabama. The letter states that the FBI has only employed unarmed drones in accordance with Fourth Amendment laws.
The FBI broadly described its use of drones for use in search and rescue operations, drug sanctions and fugitive investigations, but declined to elaborate on additional uses, citing national security concerns. The bureau described such cases as "law enforcement sensitive."
According to the letter, the FBI must be authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration and have bureau legal counsel sign off on missions before drones can be used domestically. The FBI was authorized to use drones an additional three times but decided not to, according to a footnote in the lette