WASHINGTON ? Law enforcement, emergency response and border control agencies have won greater access to the nation’s spy satellites and other sensors to monitor U.S. territory.

The sharing of imagery and data will be especially useful in policing land and sea borders and in disaster planning, Charles Allen, the Department of Homeland Security’s chief intelligence officer, said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The effort may eventually support domestic law enforcement activities as well, he said, but the legal guidelines for that are still being worked out.

The CIA and Pentagon are generally prohibited from spying on American citizens, and Allen stressed that the new data-sharing effort doesn’t violate that ban. “This is not a system for tracking Americans,” Allen said.

A new office within the Department of Homeland Security, called the National Applications Office, will now be the conduit for all domestic requests for spy satellite information.

It will be up to the intelligence agencies themselves ? the Pentagon’s National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, for example ? to determine which requests they can honor.

Using spy satellites to capture data about the United States also raises privacy concerns.

“What could go wrong? There’s the possibility of a recurrence of past abuses ? surveillance used against political opponents as in the Civil Rights era, the McCarthy era,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.

“There’s also an incidental erosion of personal privacy in which one now has to assume that anywhere you are, you are subject to overhead surveillance by the government. And that is a change in what it means to be an American,” Aftergood said.

Allen said the office’s operations will be monitored closely by oversight committees, inspectors general, and DHS’ privacy office.

“This is going be a very controlled process and I can’t conceive of Americans having any serious concern,” Allen said. “No American should be at all concerned.”

Still, Aftergood advised caution, citing Congress’ recent embrace of new wiretapping powers for the government.

5 Responses to “Spy Agencies to Share More Satellite Imagery With Homeland Security, Local Agencies”

  1. 1 Angel

    Sounds like they are tightening the noose.

    Police state here we come.

    I’m curious to see what the rest of you think.

  2. 2 Vincent Narodnik

    “It cant happen here!”
    “Times have changed-were better now!”
    Those are the third and fourth biggest lies told on this planet
    after the one the snake told
    and the one men usually use to get women into bed.

  3. 3 Sandman

    Most of these programs for a police state have been greatly helped and accelerated by the passage of the Patriot Act. This is why I have a problem with full support of Tancredo or Hunter. I know that Ron Paul is not perfect and I am upset that he is not signed on with the Ramos/Campean thing, but at least he did not vote for a future police state (or an unwinnable war). America will not be worth defending if we go into a totalitarian/Fascist mode, looks like thats the case, and we are not too far away.

  4. 4 Educated American

    Thanks for the video Vincent. I’ve always loved the Clash.

    Sandman: I have been following this march toward the police state since around the time of the Iran-Contra hearings, and the ramp-up of the War on Drugs under Bush sr. shortly afterwards. I have noticed a steady acceleration of police-state measures and responses through the Clinton years (expanded marijuana arrests, Waco, 1993 WTC bombing, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, project Echeleon, etc.) to now. As you mention, the USA Patriot Act and it’s follow-ons have brought this whole decades-long plan to near completion.

    As Emperor Palpatine said on Family Guy:

    “Something, something, DARK SIDE. Something, Something, COMPLETE.”

    We need to oppose these gross abuses of our liberties without appology or reservation!

  5. 5 the marlboro man

    I was looking at sites about 9/11 one had awarning/about valtion of PAT/ACT? funny my dam machines been acting funny since?SORRY BUSHIE hope that works.

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