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FBI Needs To Explain Use of Surveillance Aircraft in Kenosha

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In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., asked the director for “information regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) reported use of surveillance aircraft during protests and unrest, and its preservation procedures of footage from those aircraft.”

Johnson pointed out that the FBI operated “surveillance aircraft” in Ferguson, Missouri (2014); Baltimore, Maryland (2015); and Kenosha, Wisconsin (2020), and he asked for more information regarding:

  • how the FBI decides when and where to use such aircraft
  • who in the FBI monitors the footage
  • whether and with whom the footage is shared
  • whether the FBI acts on footage of criminal behavior
  • how the footage is preserved

It stands to reason that Johnson is responding to certain allegations regarding the FBI’s apparent willingness to limit access to such footage in legal cases.

The Daily Caller reported on allegations that the FBI had withheld high quality footage of the Kenosha riots from defense attorneys in advance of Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial.

Kira Mautone wrote that “the FBI allegedly testified, in private, that they were in possession of another version of the video in HD that they did not supply the members of the defense.”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that FBI technician Brandon Cramin testified that “he was in an airplane 8,500 feet above downtown Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020 taking video with a special infrared camera.”

The Sentinel also reported that defense attorney Mark Richards complained in court that the FBI had “rebuffed [the defense’s] attempts to access the rest of the video, at one point telling them it no longer exists.”

According to the New York Post, jurors in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial were finally “shown new FBI drone footage of the close-range shooting” after prosecutors, who “had previously obtained a low resolution copy of the footage,” received “the enhanced version” last week.

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