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
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
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.
of retroactive immunity for illegal wiretaps is enough for 2008 already.