Saturday, September 29, 2007

August 15

The Wall Street Journal reported that
[t]he U.S.'s top intelligence official has greatly expanded the range of federal and local authorities who can get access to information from the nation's vast network of spy satellites in the U.S.

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....
Before, the only other agencies that could get the data were a few federal civilian ones such NASA and the USGS, and then only for scientific and environmental research. Now, however, everybody from The Department for the Security of the Fatherland to local police can seek access to the most powerful satellite surveillance technology available, secure in the knowledge that
[u]nlike electronic eavesdropping, which is subject to legislative and some judicial control, this use of spy satellites is largely uncharted territory. Although the courts have permitted warrantless aerial searches of private property by law-enforcement aircraft, there are no cases involving the use of satellite technology.
Which to cops, as a general rule, translates to "no restrictions."
"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.
The WSJ notes that some military experts have suggested that such domestic use of military spy satellites violates the Posse Comitatus Act. But so what? Who cares that some stupid law says it's illegal? That's just really so very September 10th thinking.

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