BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore riots are now part of a congressional investigation into the FBI’s use of aircraft surveillance.
Pat Warren reports the ACLU is demanding answers.READ MORE: First African American To Lead The Maryland National Guard Was Honored After 38-Years Of Service
The FBI provided aircraft to the Baltimore Police Department for the purpose of providing aerial imagery of possible criminal activity, according to FBI Director James Comey.
Comey told a congressional committee Thursday city police requested the support.
“If local law enforcement asks for help in getting a look at a developing situation, we will offer that help. We’ve done it in Baltimore. We did it in Ferguson, as I recall,” he said.
The Baltimore unrest says the director is one of the infrequent cases when the FBI provides eye in the sky for local jurisdictions.
“It’s useful to everybody–civilians and law enforcement–to have a view of what’s going on,” said Comey. “Where are the fires in this community? Where are people gathering? Where do people need help?”
The FBI makes thousands of flights in these planes, raising the question: what kind of surveillance goes on when there aren’t any riots?READ MORE: A Dad Who Traveled 1,200 Miles For Covid-19 Care Is Finally Going Home. Here's What He Wants You To Know
“We need to know what it is that the FBI is doing in these thousands of flights every year over American cities,” said David Rocah, ACLU.
The ACLU is troubled, despite assurances from the FBI.
“We don’t fly planes around America looking down trying to figure out if somebody might be doing something wrong. The overwhelming use of our aircraft is a pilot flies as part of an investigation to help us follow a spy, a terrorist or a criminal,” said Comey.
And what that says is…
“What that says to me is that the cameras they have are cameras that are able to identifying a particular individual from many thousands of feet up in the air. That is a scary and sophisticated kind of surveillance technology,” said Rocah.
The ACLU has filed a freedom of information petition for FBI aircraft surveillance records.
The FBI was also tracked flying over peaceful protests.MORE NEWS: Baltimore County Urges People To Get Vaccinated With Super Weekend Flu Clinic
The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is also investigating.