As reported by BuzzFeed, a listing for the aircraft appeared on a General Services Administration Auctions website that facilitates the bidding on and purchasing of surplus federal government property. The plane, a Cessna Citation 560, is currently listed for $1,000 USD with zero bidders. It also possesses a Wescam MX-20, which, according to the manufacturers’ website, is “ideal for high-altitude, long range persistent surveillance.” The craft also carries infrared sensors that aide in detecting potential targets at all hours of the day.
This plane in particular gained notoriety for its presence at Black Lives Matters protests in 2020, when BuzzFeed found that the one-of-a kind spy craft circled and surveilled the June demonstrations after the murder fo George Floyd in Washington, D.C., as well as Baltimore in April and May after the death of Freddie Gray. This activity is controversial, to say the least, because the FBI asserts it does not track any activity protected by the First Amendment — which protesting very much is.
The US Department of Justice Cessna Citation 560.Credit: HR Planespotter/Planespotter.com
Following the aircraft’s presence at the protests, several politicians called on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCOLB) to investigate into the FBI’s surveillance on Black Lives Matters protests, expressing concerns that it infringed upon demonstrators’ rights.
“The act of protesting has played a central role in advancing civil rights in our country, and our Constitution protects the right of Americans to engage in peaceful protest unencumbered by government interference,” they wrote. “We are, therefore, concerned that the federal government is infringing on this right, and we ask that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) investigate the federal government’s surveillance of recent protests, the legal authorities for that surveillance, the government’s adherence to required procedures in using surveillance equipment, and the chilling effect that federal government surveillance has had on protesters.”