A lawmaker helped create the drone industry - and has reaped the benefits.
A drone reportedly flew over North Dakota last year, taking pictures of a meth lab. The drone's flight log was released in July in response to a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil-liberties organisation.
The flight log sheds light on the way drones are being used - routinely and to an extent not previously known to the public. The release of the flight log and other documents caused a furore, and civil libertarians expressed dismay over the widespread use of drones.
However surprising the news about the drones may have been to activists, the surveillance of the meth lab is part of a global trend. Officials in Northern Ireland used drones to keep dignitaries safe at the G8 summit in June. Drones have flown over train tracks in Germany to look for graffiti artists.
Many countries, including China and Israel, make drones. Yet the US is the world's leader in creating technology for drones and in promoting their use - for both military and civilian purposes. The interest in drones in the US crosses political lines, with both Democrats and Republicans investing in the aircraft.
President Barack Obama, a Democrat and a liberal, has been more aggressive than his predecessor. US forces have launched about 360 drone strikes against al-Qaeda commanders and other militants since 2009, according to the New America Foundation. That is more than six times the number of strikes that President George W Bush authorised during his two terms.
The increase in the use of drones came partly because technology improved over the years, making the strikes more efficient, and also because Obama adopted a more focused campaign against al-Qaeda commanders and other militants in Pakistan.
The US-directed strikes, which are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, are frequently in the news - an attack reportedly killed six in Pakistan earlier this week. US Secretary of State John Kerry said recently the US would end the drone strikes, however, "as we have eliminated most of the threat".
Less well known, however, is the fact that drones are used in the civilian airspace over the US, UK and Europe.
It is a growing, if under-reported, trend. Many of the drones used in Pakistan, along with those sent to Afghanistan, now have a permanent home in the US. These drones are turned over to civilians who work for the federal Customs and Border Protection agency, police departments, and other government offices.
McKeon, a California Republican, is chairman of the House armed services committee and co-chairman of a legislative group he founded, the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, which supports expansion of the industry.
Military officers on Capitol Hill and executives in the aerospace industry have welcomed McKeon's support.Of the dozens of members on the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus in the House of Representatives, McKeon has received the most "drone-related campaign contributions" - $833,650 (£551,689), according to a report by Hearst Newspapers and the Center for Responsive Politics.
McKeon is a case study in how a member of Congress can work within the system, operate within ethical boundaries created by Congress, and have an impact on policy - as well as increase profits for Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, all of which make drones in his district.
McKeon, who has not been accused of any crimes or charged with any ethical violations, refused repeated requests for interviews for this article.
New Yorkers march against the use of drones
Years ago, Americans were shocked at the way lobbyist Jack Abramoff worked the system in Washington. But he was also convicted of bilking, or cheating, Indian tribes, and imprisoned for serious criminal offences.
After the scandal, members of Congress re-examined their ethical rules. Today, however, the system remains much the same.
Lobbyists promote clients, including the makers of drones, and contractors give money to members of Congress, who in turn work on legislation that regulates their industry. Within this world of money and politics, McKeon is one who stands out.
Not only is McKeon the recipient of contributions from drone manufacturers, but he is also one of Washington's most vocal supporters of the industry. He and members of his Capitol Hill office have close ties with lobbyists and contractors.
In a "Most Corrupt" report for 2012 compiled by researchers for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a progressive watchdog group, McKeon is one of several given a "dishonourable mention" over a mortgage he had received on preferential terms and his alleged improper use of official staff.
Another Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington report looks at the way members of Congress "use their positions to benefit themselves and their families". The report says McKeon's campaign paid his wife, the treasurer, a salary of about $118,000 (£77,956) in the 2010 campaign cycle.
McKeon once received a cut-rate loan from lender Countrywide Financial, as researchers for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington point out. He was included in a congressional report about Countrywide's attempt to influence members of Congress.