After declining to comment, the FBI admitted this week to flying surveillance aircraft over Baltimore. (The Baltimore police requested airborne support.) The purpose was “providing aerial imagery of possible criminal activity,” though it’s important to realize that the equipment typically mounted on light aircraft like those two Cessnas are capable of monitoring several city blocks at once. They’re also able to stay airborne much longer than helicopters, and the advanced equipment likely affixed to the aircraft uses infrared and thermal imagery. So no one can escape this eye in the sky, not even on the darkest night.
“The fact that at any point the government or a contractor for the government could have a wide view or a large picture of what’s going on on block after block of the city is really concerning,” Cimbolic, the former ACLU employee, told The Washington Post. “It’s scary.”
Sure is! What’s especially worrisome is how opaque both federal and local law enforcement have been about the exact details of this domestic high-altitude surveillance. Sean Gallagher, an Ars Technica editor and former Navy officer, suspects that the FBI aircraft carried “stablized forward looking infrared and electro-optical sensor systems.”