WASHINGTON - The United States uses drones for surveillance in some limited law enforcement situations, FBI Director Robert Mueller said on Wednesday, sparking additional debate about US President Barack Obama's use of domestic surveillance.
The acknowledgement came in response to questions from US senators who said they wanted to know more about the federal government's increasing use of unmanned aircraft.
"Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on US soil?" Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa asked during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
"Yes," Mueller said, adding that the use was in "a very, very minimal way and very seldom."
Mueller did not go into detail, but the FBI later released a statement that said unmanned aircraft were used only to watch stationary subjects and to avoid serious risks to law enforcement agents. The Federal Aviation Administration approves each use, the statement said.