Satellite-Surveillance Program to Begin Despite Privacy Concerns
What's wrong with having "assurance that NAO operations will comply with applicable laws and privacy and civil liberties standards"? If our public servants have nothing to hide, they shouldn't mind the People and the law maintaining oversight.
WASHINGTON -- The Department of Homeland Security will proceed with the first phase of a controversial satellite-surveillance program, even though an independent review found the department hasn't yet ensured the program will comply with privacy laws.
Congress provided partial funding for the program in a little-debated $634 billion spending measure that will fund the government until early March. For the past year, the Bush administration had been fighting Democratic lawmakers over the spy program, known as the National Applications Office.
The program is designed to provide federal, state and local officials with extensive access to spy-satellite imagery -- but no eavesdropping -- to assist with emergency response and other domestic-security needs, such as identifying where ports or border areas are vulnerable to terrorism.
Since the department proposed the program a year ago, several Democratic lawmakers have said that turning the spy lens on America could violate Americans' privacy and civil liberties unless adequate safeguards were required.
A new 60-page Government Accountability Office report said the department "lacks assurance that NAO operations will comply with applicable laws and privacy and civil liberties standards," according to a person familiar with the document. The report, which is unclassified but considered sensitive, hasn't been publicly released, but was described and quoted by several people who have read it.