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Pentagon flew drones over US to aid first responders


The Pentagon was pushing back Wednesday afternoon on a USA Today report about the government’s domestic drone program, with defense officials asserting the few non-military missions flown over U.S. territory were done to aid first responders.

A defense official, who had knowledge of drone use inside the U.S. and spoke to Fox News, detailed several missions: Helping first responders extinguish forest fires in California in 2013; assisting in two search-and-rescue missions in California in 2015; helping stop recent flooding in Mississippi and South Carolina.

In those cases, requests were made by organizations such as FEMA, the California Office of Emergency Services and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

“We felt like we could help,” said the official, who had
knowledge of the military’s drone use inside the U.S. “We were
supporting first responders.”

But that explanation differed from the description of the drone program in a USA Today report that portrayed the unmanned aerial vehicles as being used to “spy over U.S. territory.”

USA Today, which first reported in-depth about the flights on Wednesday, cited a Pentagon inspector general report that was recently made public by a Freedom of Information Act request as the source of most of its information.

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