Print 25 comment(s) - last by marsbound2024.. on Feb 19 at 12:09 AM

New oversight committee gets ready to use American spy satellites domestically

In many ways, I'm not in the least bit surprised the U.S. government is forming a permanent task group to oversee the use of U.S. space-based resources for domestic use.  Of course, I am a little surprised that the U.S. government began the program in 2005 with almost no mention in the media outside of a few wire reports. 

The inevitable knee-jerk reaction: "No, no! The U.S. must never use its foreign intelligence powers domestically!"

Let's be a little more pragmatic here.  The United States, commander of the most powerful intelligence services in the world, will use spy satellites domestically eventually -- if it hasn't already.

For all the problems of the Department of Homeland Security, I can find little fault with the proposed National Applications Office.  The NAO, originally commissioned to start operations in October 2007 under the umbrella of the DHS, would be the oversight institution for use of foreign intelligence capabilities domestically.

The Office is currently on hiatus pending a Congressional injunction.

In 1974 Nelson Rockefeller commissioned a study that exposed several illegal programs inside the U.S. intelligence community, including the infamous CIA mind control program MK-ULTRA.  One of the lasting effects of Rockefeller’s commission included the creation of a Civil Applications Committee -- a committee designed to oversee the use of U.S. space-based resources for domestic purposes; Earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters -- that sort of thing. 

So guess what? We've already used those satellites for domestic purposes since the 1970's, though with an extremely limited scope. 

The NAO is an expansion of the little-documented, rarely-mentioned Civil Applications Committee.  It is compromised of three parts, one of which effectively replaces the CAC; the other two working groups will oversee homeland security, the other law enforcement. 

So why the Congressional injunction?  Privacy concerns, of course.  It's good to see someone didn't fall asleep at the wheel in Congress.  A report from the Associated Press claims the injunction is in the final stages of dissolve: the new Office could officially open doors as early as next month. 

After all, at least the government is playing by the book with this one.  One proclamation of retroactive immunity for illegal wiretaps is enough for 2008 already.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

NIMBY just took on a whole new meaning...
By clovell on 2/15/2008 2:24:04 PM , Rating: 3
Form the AP article -
>It is possible that in the future an agency might request infrared imaging of what is inside a house, for instance a methamphetamine laboratory, and this could raise constitutional issues. In these instances, law enforcement agencies would still have to go through the normal process of obtaining a warrant and satisfying all the legal requirements. The National Applications Office also would require that all the laws are observed when using new imaging technology.

I don't particularly want anyone to be able to take aerial shots of what I do in my fenced backyard much less inside my house. As long as I'm not losing my expectation of privacy and these guys can run a tight ship, I'll deal with it - like Kris said, it's an inevitable eventuality. I think they should require a warrant every time they use this crap on someone.

RE: NIMBY just took on a whole new meaning...
By ziggo on 2/15/2008 3:18:49 PM , Rating: 2
I would just like to point out that infra-red does not look through walls, it cant even "see" though a window. If the ambient temperature of a house is abnormally high thats one thing, but it won't be able to "see" you walking around your house.

By KristopherKubicki on 2/15/2008 3:36:05 PM , Rating: 2
All true, but what if the AP had mentioned X-ray or t-ray instead? I don't know the range on those particular devices, but I doubt the three of us are the first people to propose such methods.

By Ringold on 2/15/2008 3:55:01 PM , Rating: 2
This can already be used, possibly, to grab information about citizens we may not want easily known:

As always, America is just one step behind the pace of Europe in increasing federal power. On the other hand, in grand American style, why use a helicopter... when you can use billion-dollar satellites!

As the blog from which I pulled that link from said:

First, they came for the dry rubs, and I did nothing because I prefer to marinade.

Then, they came for the propane gas, but still I did nothing, because I have a flame pit.

And then..

RE: NIMBY just took on a whole new meaning...
By masher2 on 2/15/2008 9:03:51 PM , Rating: 2
> "I would just like to point out that infra-red does not look through walls, it cant even "see" though a window."

It depends on your definition of "see". It does allow you to collect information through a wall that otherwise would be hidden. If the wall is very thin and/or poorly insulated, FLIR technology can allow a very rough level of imaging as well.

Certainly you have an expectation of privacy when you turn on a space heater in a particular room. Technology that allows someone outside your home to determine that violates that expectation, and certainly shouldn't be allowed without a search warrant.

By AmyM on 2/17/2008 2:25:06 PM , Rating: 5
This happens more often than you would imagine. Law enforcement helicopters have used FLIR to detect indoor "Greenhouses". From there, a few drive by’s/stakeouts to determine if there is "traffic" at the locale. Then an anonymous tip to police that someone is selling pot out of the house. From this point the "Official" investigative process begins; (sanctioned stakeout), subsequent buyer arrests or undercover "buys", and presto: Court Ordered search warrant.

By Fnoob on 2/16/2008 7:25:25 PM , Rating: 2
Lord knows what they would think if they could see what we are reading ;)

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
Related Articles
Who Needs Due Process? Senate Passes Spy Bill
February 14, 2008, 10:10 AM

Latest Headlines

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Yahoo Hacked - Change Your Passwords and Security Info ASAP!
September 23, 2016, 5:45 AM
A is for Apples
September 23, 2016, 5:32 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki