Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s Big Brother

Ain’t technology grand? I can sit here in China and zoom in on my son’s backyard in America with Google Earth.

Perhaps someday I will be able to watch my grandkids play in realtime.

The technology is here…now.  Our government uses it for National Security.  There is no doubt that it can (and probably has) serve our military well in Iraq and Afghanistan, our Intelligence community in many foreign lands and our scientists in tracking environmental information around the globe.

But what if someone wants to watch my grandkids running through the sprinkler in their underoos.


Watch you as you read this post?

A new intelligence institution to be inaugurated soon by the Bush administration will allow government spying agencies to conduct broad surveillance and reconnaissance inside the United States for the first time. Under a proposal being reviewed by Congress, a National Applications Office (NAO) will be established to coordinate how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and domestic law enforcement and rescue agencies use imagery and communications intelligence picked up by U.S. spy satellites.

The NAO was created days after President George W. Bush signed a new law approved by Congress expanding the ability of the NSA to eavesdrop, without warrants, on telephone calls, email and faxes passing through telecommunications hubs in the United States.

“These [intelligence] systems are already used to help us respond to crises. We anticipate that we can also use them to protect Americans by preventing the entry of dangerous people and goods into the country, and by helping us examine critical infrastructure for vulnerabilities.”

Charles Allen, DHS’s chief intelligence officer,and head the new program.

In fact our foreign intelligence and reconnaissance agencies have been used domestically in the past.

In 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration called on the NGA to capture imagery from lower Manhattan and the Pentagon to help in the rescue and recovery efforts.

(This came in handy due to the fact someone had located NYC’s emergency response center in the largest target in the world.)

Again in 2002, the FBI asked the NGA to provide detailed images of freeway interchanges and other locations to help spot the Washington D.C. snipers.

(This case was solved with good old fashioned police work and citizen assistance however.)

During Hurricane Katrina,  imagery from U-2 photo reconnaissance aircraft helped federal and state rescue operations.

(Perhaps someone had their finger over the lens when they photographed The Superdome.)

Well, those examples didn’t work out so well but I think this could be a tool for our security and public safety….


there is oversight.

“The enormity of the NAO’s capabilities and the intended use of the imagery received through these satellites for domestic homeland security purposes, and the unintended consequences that may arise, have heightened concerns among the general public, including reputable civil rights and civil liberties organizations,” Bennie G. Thompson,Mississippi ,Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee,in a September letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.

Thompson and other lawmakers reacted with anger after reports of the NAO and the domestic spying plan were first revealed by the Wall Street Journal in August. “There was no briefing, no hearing, and no phone call from anyone on your staff to any member of this committee of why, how or when satellite imagery would be shared with police and sheriffs’ officers nationwide,” Thompson complained to Chertoff.

This concern has slowed down the implementation of the NAO thankfully. Allen said that the ODNI is working with DHS ,DOJ and Interior to draft the charter for the new organization, which he said will face “layers of review” once it is established.

Who do you trust to watch your kids playing in the backyard?


Who do you trust to watch you read this post from China?

source: Alternet with h/t to Project For the OLD American Century


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  1. did I say too much??

    I just love Google Earth.  It’s such a trip, swooping down upon everyone’s home from a starting point somewhere in the universe.  But the closeup photos reveal that they were snapped a very long time ago.

    Are we talking here about a realtime Google Earth?  Ack

    • Zwoof on December 8, 2007 at 09:35

    (lengthy article I might add) deals with the privatization of gathering and combining this intelligence.

    Do we trust the tech companies that build this stuff or,

    the government that uses it?

    On one hand you have The Military Industrial Complex. Most of these firms go back many years in the Intelligence Industry, as far back as Ike’s warning in fact.  They do know the business.  But it is a business to them.  Most would spy on their Mom’s in the shower for a few billion bucks.

    On the other hand, do we trust political appointees perhaps from Regent University of Patrick Henry University.?  Monica Goodling Clones watching us from overhead?

    Or… do we scrap the whole idea as an invasion of privacy?

  2. Spell out you favorite message from you backyard!

  3. Go here to see if they are watching YOU


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