06/20/2013 12:24 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2013

I'll Be Watching You

This week's stunning news that the FBI is using drones as a surveillance tool in the United States almost veered into black comedy -- certainly ripe for a song parody, or rather a parody-song-medley:

Sung to the melody of "Send in the Clowns"

"Send in the drones... There have to be drones..."
No beat and segue into a tiny piece of Bob Dylan's classic, "Ballad of a Thin Man"
"and somebody else says, "Who is that man?" Do you see the drones...
There's something happening here, but we don't know what it is
Do you see the drones..."
Beat and end with Sting's incomparable:
"I'll be watching you...every step you take, every move you make...
I'll be watching you... de de de da, de de de da... I'll be watching you."

More startling for me, though, was the possibility that all those nights I spent peering from the deck onto a 180* view of Los Angeles studying what I was certain were UFO's as they hovered silently and motionless in the sky were really drones? Another bubble burst in the Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe.

But on a more serious note, who grants permission for a drone to do surveillance?

Are the commercial airlines participating in some fact gathering way like Verizon, Facebook, et al? (I have no evidence to support this, I'm only asking.) Is there some secret branch of the FISA court that then has to authorize a legitimate warrant? According to a statement released yesterday by the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration approves each use. I'm missing something -- when did they become a judicial branch of the government?

In a statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Robert Mueller stated, "...the law enforcement agency very seldom uses drones now, but is developing guidelines that will shape how unmanned aerial vehicles are to be used."

I could be wrong but it seems to me they should have set up the guidelines before they "launched" the drones.