By Corinne Murdock |
Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and the rest of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform are probing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decision last fall to ban media outlets’ drones from flying over the southern border.
On Monday, the committee announced that its ranking member, Congressman James Comer (R-KY-01), sent a response letter to FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. According to their press release, “heavily redacted documents” provided by the FAA in response to an initial committee letter revealed that an FAA headquarters manager believed that banning drones would be illegal initially. However, an “unknown U.S. Customs and Border Protection official” called the manager and convinced that person to change their mind.
“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,” read the letter. “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. These emails 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 FAA first announced its ban in mid-September of last year. At the time, media outlets were informed that the ban was a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) of two weeks. It’s now been a little over six months.
However, the FAA reversed course again after some resistance from the media. Fox News received clearance to fly its drones the next day. In a later tweet, the FAA encouraged other outlets to apply for clearance. An FAA spokesperson later told Fox News that Border Patrol requested a temporary flight restriction because drones were interfering with those flights made by law enforcement.
The ban occurred after media outlets filmed the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants crossing the Del Rio, Texas area of the border, especially focusing on those huddled under a bridge.
The committee requested more documents from the FAA pertaining to all documents and communications referring or relating to the day of the TFR, unredacted copies of the emails given to the committee, documents and communications from Biden’s inauguration to present regarding the legality of issuing the TFR, and an explanation of the legal basis relied on by the FAA to issue the TFR.