Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder - Transparency and Accountability on Drones

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Montana's U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester 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."

Baucus and Tester 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.

Complete text of Baucus and Tester's letter follows below:


March 27, 2013

The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General of the United Sates
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder,

We are writing to express concern with the use of drones in the United States and abroad. While recent disclosure of certain legal opinions to members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is a step in the right direction, it is our belief that the Department of Justice needs to provide further documentation about the legal foundation for the government's authority to use drones against its own citizens.

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 Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees protection from unreasonable search and seizure. While the domestic use of unmanned aerial vehicles may serve useful purposes such as fighting wildfires and aiding in search and rescue efforts, the American people deserve to know that any use of drone technology for surveillance purposes holds true to our constitutional rights.

Moreover, it is fundamental to the rule of law that our government operates within the boundaries of the law both at home and abroad. That is never truer than when the lives of American citizens are in question. 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.

We would therefore urge the Department of Justice to release any opinions pertinent to the legal foundation for, and limitations on, the use of weaponized drones against American citizens outside the United States, and the use of surveillance drones within the United States.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Max Baucus
Jon Tester


Source:
Skip to top
Back to top