'Mistaken': Military IG slams Bill Barr's legal justification for aerial surveillance of George Floyd protests
Bill Barr (Brendan Smialowski:AFP)

Attorney General William Barr has vigorously defended the use of aerial surveillance against nonviolent George Floyd protestors in Washington, D.C. as well as in  Minnesota, California and Arizona. But Sami D. Said, inspector general for the United States Air Force, disagreed with Barr’s claims and and described him as “mistaken” in a report released on Monday, August 24.

Reporter Colin Kalmbacher, in Law & Crime, notes that Barr has defended that aerial surveillance based on the statute 32 U.S.C. § 502(f) — which, Barr said, “authorizes states to send forces” in support of “operations or missions undertaken by the member’s unit at the request of the president or secretary of defense.” But Said, in his report, found Barr’s claims to be misleading, saying, “Policy interpretations by (the National Guard Bureau, NGB) led to a mistaken belief that (secretary of defense) approval for use of the RC-25B was not required by intelligence oversight rules, and also led to a mistaken belief that 32 USC § 502(f) status was an appropriate status for RC-26B air crew and support personnel.”

Said’s report also noted that on June 3, the “(chief) NGB asked” the secretary of defense’s office to “approve Sec. 502(f) status” and the office “never approved the request because (the secretary of defense’s) staff could not find a lawful way to approve it.”

According to the report, “There was no evidence that POTUS, SecDef or SecArmy knew of the RC-26B flights until it came to light in the media.”

Said, in the report, went on to say, “A comprehensive review of the mission authorities involved showed numerous directives in the area of support to civil authorities, with some nuanced distinctions. While authorities for support of border missions, counterdrug operations, and natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, hurricanes and the like were fairly well-known and regularly exercised, each has its own specific authorities and limitations. Employment of National Guard assets in response to civil unrest scenarios are highly unusual, distinctly different and require special measures.”