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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Satellite-Surveillance Plan Aims to Mollify Critics

    Satellite-Surveillance Plan
    Aims to Mollify Critics
    December 20, 2007; Page A4

    WASHINGTON -- After delaying a domestic satellite-surveillance program for more than two months, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff expects to finalize a new charter for it this week, a move that attempts to quell civil-liberties concerns and get the program back on track.

    Mr. Chertoff also plans soon to unveil a cyber-security strategy, part of an estimated $15 billion, multiyear program designed to protect the nation's Internet infrastructure. The program has been shrouded in secrecy for months and has also prompted privacy concerns on Capitol Hill because it involves government protection of domestic computer networks.

    Both areas put Homeland Security in the middle of a public debate over domestic spy powers, kicked off by the revelation two years ago that the National Security Agency had been eavesdropping on some conversations in the U.S. without a warrant. In the fall, the department put the satellite program on hold after an outcry on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers have also asked Mr. Chertoff to delay the introduction of the cyber-security initiative. "One lesson I've learned is it's not enough to say we know what we're doing is going to be OK," Mr. Chertoff said in an interview. "We've got to really make it clear to the public that we're doing this, but we're not doing that."

    The satellite program, which would be run by a new department branch called the National Applications Office, would expand the domestic use of satellite imagery by federal and local authorities.

    Congress lashed out at the department when The Wall Street Journal reported plans for the program in August. Mr. Chertoff suspended the program until legislators received more information. The satellite-spy technology was originally developed to monitor activities and people outside the U.S.

    House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi said his committee received its last update on the spy-satellite program three months ago. "We still haven't seen the legal framework we requested or the standard operation procedures on how the NAO will actually be run," he said. In a spending bill Congress passed yesterday, lawmakers prohibited the department from spending money on the program until Mr. Chertoff certifies the program is legal and the Government Accountability Office reviews the certification.

    In creating the charter, Mr. Chertoff said there had been "back and forth" over keeping the language clear and simple. "If it is jargon-laden, then people look at it and say, 'What's the hidden agenda here?'"

    The charter will clarify that the satellite program will follow all current U.S. legal restrictions on technical surveillance. Where a warrant is required for collection, one will be obtained before that activity is approved. Under the charter, the program won't use technology to intercept verbal communications.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Doots's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    I thought Homeland Security was created to keep us secure. What a laugh!

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    What are they going to be looking for with this satellite?
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