February 13, 2007
Domestic Access to Spy Imagery Expands
A plan to use U.S. spy satellites for domestic security and law-enforcement missions is moving forward after being delayed for months because of privacy and civil liberties concerns.
The charter and legal framework for an office within the Homeland Security Department that would use overhead and mapping imagery from existing satellites is in the final stage of completion, according to a department official who requested anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
The future of this program is likely to come up Wednesday when Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff goes to Capitol Hill to talk about his department’s spending plan.
Last fall, senior Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee asked the department to put the program on hold until there was a clear legal framework of how the program would operate. This request came during an ongoing debate over the rules governing eavesdropping on phone calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists inside the United States.