Friday, June 05, 2009

Bills Would Kill DHS Satellite Surveillance Office

Ben Bain writes on

A senior House Democrat has introduced legislation that would kill the controversial National Applications Office (NAO), a Homeland Security Department-run program to make intelligence and military satellite imagery available to civilian agencies for domestic purposes.

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Homeland Security Committee’s Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment Subcommittee, introduced a bill on June 4 that would require DHS to immediately close the NAO. She also introduced a measure, co-sponsored by Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.), to prohibit DHS from spending any money on the NAO or any similar program.

Bush administration officials signed a charter to launch the office that would offer access to satellite imagery for homeland security, emergency response and possibly law enforcement purposes. NAO's charter gave the office no authority to accept requests to acquire or intercept communications, and DHS officials have said NAO would not do so.

However, privacy advocates worried the program could be used to spy on Americans and lawmakers who want more information on how the program will be run have fought the program’s advancement.

More here.


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