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Domestic Aerial Surveillance Is Not New

The potential of technologies such as drones should be public knowledge, as well as who is using them and for what purpose

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Lev Grossman’s look at drone technology is the kind of surveillance that serves us well ["Drone Home"]. At the very least, there is cause to keep watching as domestic use takes off. But high-tech aerial surveillance over American soil is not new. In the summer of 1998, the FBI’s Nightstalker aircraft was used to pursue three outlaw survivalists across hundreds of miles of Utah desert canyons. (They evaded it.) At that time, the Nightstalker program more or less flew under the public’s radar. Its use in this case hardly challenged civil liberties; it was just one more tool in a desperate search that would expose hundreds of police and special forces troops to extreme peril. Nevertheless, the potential of technologies such as drones should be public knowledge, as well as who is using them and for what purpose. I hope Grossman and TIME will continue to keep us informed as drones come home.

Dan Schultz, Chicago, Illinois