Homeland Security to open domestic spying office

17 Sep in Civil Rights, Surveillance Society, TSA / Homeland Security
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Without any congressional input, the executive branch has begun structuring a department to conduct domestic surveillance spying.  With a moniker that would make Orwell blush, the National Applications Office will have virtually unfettered access to classified intelligence data, including the ability to access inch-level spy-vs-you satellite detail to observe the citizens of the United States.  Snipped from their own website (emphasis added):

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) National Applications Office (NAO) is the executive agent to facilitate the use of intelligence community technological assets for civil, homeland security and law enforcement purposes within the United States.  The office will begin initial operation by fall 2007 and will build on the long-standing work of the Civil Applications Committee, which was created in 1974 to facilitate the use of the capabilities of the intelligence community for civil, non-defense uses in the United States.

Despite opposition from both Democrats and Republicans on the committee that the program violates the Posse Comitatus Act, the Assistant Secretary for Intelligence & Analysis continued to assert that legal and civil rights oversight concerns were misplaced.  And rightly so, I mean honestly, who wouldn't trust such a forthright bunch?  Are these tactics part of the instruction they get when getting a homeland security degree?  Seriously ...

The committee has issued a request to Cherthoff to suspend the program until such time that congress can discuss it.  Though, since this project comes directly from executive loins, I don't see Cherthoff taking any action to intervene.

Hat tip to Granny Doc - I don't know how the hell the rest of us haven't heard about this yet!

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Re: Homeland Security to open domestic spying office

There are some other disturbing things about this program:

1) The "standard operating procedures" aren't done yet

2) The guy in charge with oversight is proudly BFF with the guys that he's supposed to be keeping in check (so obvious when you watch his testimony in front of the Homeland Security Committee)

3) The only people who will be performing oversight are within the Executive Branch (the Congress should be performing oversight, but considering they didn't know about the NAO until they read about it in the paper, i would bet on their being too heavily involved)

4) 7 out of the 9 people who came up with the NAO are all either Bush guys or worked at at a DC consulting firm with Mike McConnell (there is not much info available on the other two guys)

5) The media has said nothing about this!

I'm so scared of where this country is headed...

Re: Homeland Security to open domestic spying office

Thanks for that Jen, I hadn't even considered the implications of having no standard operating procedures in addition to no congressional oversight.  Oh yeah, and no media.  I mean, this isn't some hidden story - it was on freakin' C-Span.  We either have to assume that not a single journalist or news room assistant in the entire country watched c-span that day, or that they did and by some unfathomable stretch of group denial just don't see it as being newsworthy.  I'm not sure which scares me more...

Re: Homeland Security to open domestic spying office

Oh get off your high horse ScubaDude. Some of the programs started by this administration might not be in the long-term best interests of this country, but they are a far cry from, I dunno... Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, trans-fats, colon cancer, the Black Panthers, Hillary Clinton...

Re: Homeland Security to open domestic spying office

The employees of DHS, and the politicians who created it, need to be put on trial for treason. The U.S. government is the greatest enemy this country has ever faced.