TIME on the FBI operating a small nationwide air force of low-flying planes carrying video and cellphone surveillance technology, hidden behind fictitious shell companies acting as fronts for the United States government, according to The Associated Press:
The FBI asked the AP not to disclose the names of the fake companies it uncovered, saying that would saddle taxpayers with the expense of creating new cover companies to shield the government’s involvement, and could endanger the planes and integrity of the surveillance missions. The AP declined the FBI’s request because the companies’ names — as well as common addresses linked to the Justice Department — are listed on public documents and in government databases.
At least 13 front companies that AP identified being actively used by the FBI are registered to post office boxes in Bristow, Virginia, which is near a regional airport used for private and charter flights. Only one of them appears in state business records.
Included on most aircraft registrations is a mysterious name, Robert Lindley. He is listed as chief executive and has at least three distinct signatures among the companies. Two documents include a signature for Robert Taylor, which is strikingly similar to one of Lindley’s three handwriting patterns.
The FBI would not say whether Lindley is a U.S. government employee. The AP unsuccessfully tried to reach Lindley at phone numbers registered to people of the same name in the Washington area since Monday.
Overall unsurprising but fascinating nonetheless. The government continues to look for new and inventive ways to invade American citizens’ privacy and conduct warrantless surveillance operations.