Lawmakers continue oversight of FAA banning media drones from covering the border crisis
WASHINGTON—Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and Oversight Committee Republicans sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Steve Dickson continuing their probe into the FAA’s decision to censor the ability of U.S. media outlets to accurately report on the humanitarian and national security crisis occurring on the southern border. Documents provided to Committee Republicans reveal an FAA headquarters manager initially determined banning media drones would be illegal but then suddenly reversed course after a phone call with an unknown U.S. Customs and Border Protection official.
“We are continuing oversight of actions taken by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to censor the ability of U.S. media outlets to accurately report on the crisis on the southern border by issuing temporary flight restrictions prohibiting the use of drones in Del Rio, Texas while thousands of migrants were crossing the border. In response to our September 21, 2021 letter, the FAA recently provided Committee Republicans with heavily redacted documents showing the agency determined that issuing temporary flight restrictions would be ‘illegal’ only hours before the agency reversed course and announced that drones were temporarily prohibited. The FAA’s decision to abruptly reverse course on the legality of banning media drones raises questions about potential political interference at the agency to hide President Biden’s border crisis from the public,” wrote the Republican lawmakers.
On September 21, 2021, Oversight Republicans initially requested information on the FAA’s decision to issue a temporary flight restriction (TFR) affecting an area on the border in Del Rio, Texas where thousands of illegal immigrants crossed the border. New information and redacted emails provided to Committee Republicans between the FAA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection raises concerns about the legality of the TFR and the FAA’s rationale to abruptly change its position at the last minute.
“That telephonic or other assistance apparently changed FAA’s opinion on the legality of issuing a TFR. Ultimately, the TFR was issued later that evening, raising concerns about its legality and FAA’s rationale for changing its position,” continued the lawmakers. “These e-mails call into question FAA’s conduct, particularly where a TFR may have been issued improperly and for the purpose of disrupting media attention related to the border crisis. The American people have a right to transparency when it comes to President Biden’s failed border and interior enforcement policies.”
The letter can be found here.