21:14 GMT25 January 2020
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    A former US Central Intelligence Agency officer Larry Johnson claims that a FBI program that deploys small aircraft to carry out video and cellphone surveillance violates the constitutional rights of US citizens.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — A US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) program that deploys small aircraft to carry out video and cellphone surveillance violates the constitutional rights of US citizens, former US Central Intelligence Agency officer Larry Johnson told Sputnik.

    “The constitutional requirement that the FBI is supposed to adhere to, is that they cannot go out and start spying on people and collect information without a warrant,” Johnson said on Tuesday. “Citizens cannot just become objects of spying.”

    Earlier on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported the FBI has been operating a small aircraft carrying video and cellphone surveillance technology hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government.

    In a recent 30-day period, the FBI secretly flew its aircraft over “more than 30 cities in 11 states” across the United States, according to the report. The surveillance equipment was used for ongoing investigations generally without a judge's approval.

    FBI spokesperson Christopher Allen told Sputnik on Thursday that the agency employs aircraft to conduct investigations of specific targets, but does not use the planes for bulk data collection or mass spying.

    Allen argued the program was not secret, and operated in accordance with the US Attorney General Guidelines and the FBI's Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide.

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    Tags:
    surveillance, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States
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