Bush Wants to use Domestic Satellites for Spying on US Citizens

Eye in the Sky

Because of the administration’s poor handling of the electronic spying program (mainly conducted by the super-secret National Security Agency, which operates a worldwide web of electronic eavesdropping systems), Harman says she and other members of Congress will be more cautious about accepting civil-liberties assurances from administration officials. “We have to make sure this is not a back door for spying on Americans,” Harman told Newsweek.

Harman said that she had discussed the administration’s plans for expanding domestic use of picture-taking spy satellites—which are supposedly capable of taking very high-resolution photographs of buildings, vehicles and people—with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. According to Harman, he promised strict procedures to protect the rights of Americans, including obtaining court authorization for law enforcement-related surveillance operations where appropriate. Despite Chertoff’s assurances, however, Harman said that Congress probably would not fully approve the program until the administration is more explicit about how it would operate.

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