Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bush administration expands domestic use of spy satellites

Beware the Eye in the Sky.

Just in case the Bush administration's increased power to read your e-mail and to intercept your phone calls wasn't quite intrusive and unsettling enough, The Dept. of Homeland Security has expanded the use of military spy satellites into domestic law enforcement.

From the Wall St. Journal (subscription req'd):

The decision, made three months ago by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, places for the first time some of the U.S.'s most powerful intelligence-gathering tools at the disposal of domestic security officials. The move was authorized in a May 25 memo sent to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asking his department to facilitate access to the spy network on behalf of civilian agencies and law enforcement.


According to officials, one of the department's first objectives will be to use the network to enhance border security, determine how best to secure critical infrastructure and help emergency responders after natural disasters. Sometime next year, officials will examine how the satellites can aid federal and local law-enforcement agencies, covering both criminal and civil law.
Criminal and civil law?

Civil law?

    4: the law that applies to private rights esp. as opposed to the law that applies to criminal matters
Am I missing something? What possible legitimate application could military spy satellites have with regard to the enforcement of contracts and the adjudication of child custody disputes, and property successions?

In recent years, some military experts have questioned whether domestic use of such satellites would violate the Posse Comitatus Act. The act bars the military from engaging in law-enforcement activity inside the U.S., and the satellites were predominantly built for and owned by the Defense Department.


Some civil-liberties activists worry that without proper oversight, only those inside the National Application Office will know what is being monitored from space.

"You are talking about enormous power," said Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel and director of the Project on Freedom, Security and Technology for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit group advocating privacy rights in the digital age. "Not only is the surveillance they are contemplating intrusive and omnipresent, it's also invisible. And that's what makes this so dangerous."

Mr. Allen, the DHS intelligence chief, says the department is cognizant of the civil-rights and privacy concerns, which is why he plans to take time before providing law-enforcement agencies with access to the data. He says DHS will have a team of lawyers to review requests for access or use of the systems.
Yes, and I am certain that the civil liberties of American citizens will be of utmost concern to the Bush administration lawyers who will review those requests.

Yeah, I know - 9/11 changed everything. Blah, blah, blah.

The National Security State continues to grow by leaps and bounds. I don't even recognize this country anymore.