Pentagon: Use of surveillance planes in protests was legal

The use of National Guard reconnaissance planes in four U.S. cities to monitor the widespread protests earlier this year didn’t violate rules against the military collecting intelligence on Americans, a Pentagon report has concluded.

The investigation by the Air Force inspector general found that the planes were used to gather information about crowd size, crowd flows and fires but they did not monitor individuals. The probe was ordered by Defense Secretary Mark Esper in response to questions within the department and Congress about whether the military illegally conducted surveillance of American citizens during the unrest after the death of George Floyd.

The flights in late May and early June came as President Donald Trump was calling for tougher measures to quell the widespread unrest. Floyd was a black man who died after a white Minneapolis policeman pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes.

National Guard troops were used to assist local law enforcement in a number of cities around the country.


Author: Dian Welle