(PresidentialInsider.com)- In October of last year, the Justice Department under Attorney General Bill Barr banned the use of surveillance drones made by Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI), a Chinese-based company that the US intelligence community has flagged as a Communist spy risk.
The use of DJI drones has been the subject of controversy since 2017 when the Army grounded its fleet of DJI-made drones over security concerns. The Department of Homeland Security quickly followed suit and banned their use after it was discovered that DJI drones were “providing US critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.”
Even after the DOJ banned them from use within Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in July 2021, spent over $72,000 to purchase 27 DJI drones, eight of which would be used by the US Secret Service.
On Friday, Republican Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding to know why the law enforcement branch charged with protecting both current and former Presidents and Vice Presidents would be employing the use of drones known to be used “by malevolent actors within the Chinese Community Party.”
Banks’ letter is the latest effort by the Indiana Republican to get the federal government to stop using DJI drones. It was Banks who, in July 2020, urged Attorney General Barr to ban the Justice Department from using these drones.
In his letter to AG Garland, Banks wants to know if the DOJ has reversed its ban on DJI drones, and if so, what was the justification for the reversal – especially in light of the fact that around the same time the FBI purchased these drones, the Department of Defense released a statement saying that DJI products “pose potential threats to national security.”
Banks requested details from Garland on how the Secret Service plans to use the drones and if they will be used to “monitor the activities and conversations of those in the Secret Service’s protection.”
In response to Banks’ letter, the Washington Free Beacon contacted Da-Jiang Innovations and its spokesman disputed the congressman’s claims, saying that the drones are “safe and secure for government and professional use.”