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FBI aircraft use requires scrutiny

Claims of “black helicopters” spying on us for the government are not just wild conspiracy theories, it turns out. Although the truth may involve blue Cessnas rather than dark-colored helicopters, the federal “eye in the sky” is very real.

An Associated Press investigation revealed the FBI operates a semi-secret air force of at least 115 planes, some equipped with very sophisticated electronic gear used for surveillance.

Even though an FBI spokesman insisted the program “is not secret,” many aspects of it are. For example, the agency set up at least 13 fake companies to shield the fact FBI aircraft belong to the government.

FBI officials say the planes are used only in specific investigations, not for general spying on Americans. But they often are sent aloft without asking for a judge’s approval.

Stating that members of Congress have a lot on their plates in terms of preventing federal agencies from spying unnecessarily and unconstitutionally on Americans is putting it mildly. A regular buffet of concerns has been laid out on Capitol Hill.

Now, lawmakers should add looking into the FBI program to the menu.

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