Big Brother is sort of watching you

Reply Sat 18 Oct, 2008 10:15 am
October 17, 2008
Big Brother is sort of watching you
Posted by Warren Strobel
McClatchy Blog

Your N&S trio hasn't posted much this week, as we've been tied up with a number of things, a lot of them related to foreign policy/national security in the closing days of the 2008 presidential campaign.

This one falls in the category of In Case You Missed It, a phrase now being condensed in the blogosphere and elsewhere to ICYMI. We thank a loyal reader for passing it along...

As noted in several places, including the ars technica blog, a catch-all funding bill that President Bush signed into law a few weeks ago permits the start up of something called the National Applications Office at the Department of Homeland Security. Why do they always give these things such anodyne names? Like National Security Agency? Or Terrorist Surveillence Program? Never mind. We know why.

In any event, the National Applications Office will use spy satellites--intended to peek into places like North Korea and Iran--to peer down on the United States. The stated purpose of the new office is to use satellite imagery and other intelligence to help in civil emergencies, respond to natural disasters, assess vulnerabilities to terrorism at U.S. ports, and the like. But the potential for civil liberties' infringement is clear, and you don't have to be paranoid to imagine some future scenario along the lines of the Will Smith movie Enemy of the State.

As ars technica notes, the law Bush signed contains some safeguards. It limits the NAO to activities "substantially similar" to those carried out under a 1976 interagency body called the Civil Applications Committee. Those are the aforementioned natural disaster/geological survey-type uses. It also calls for quarterly Inspector General classified reports on the data collected by the NAO.

That sounds reassuring. But as our colleague Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month, a yet-to-be-published report by Congress' Government Accountability Office said the Department of Homeland Security can't provide solid assurances that privacy and other laws will be respected, or that data will not be improperly shared with other U.S. agencies.

Experience shows that once you start a program like this, it tends to expand, and becomes impossible to kill. So stay tuned. Or rather, look up.

P.S. - The NAO's draft charter is here.

  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 749 • Replies: 1
No top replies

Reply Sat 18 Oct, 2008 11:35 am
who pays all these people? and DOnt they get some pangs of self doubt during staff meetings?

Buncha Goebbels.
0 Replies

Related Topics

What makes people vote Republican? - Discussion by BumbleBeeBoogie
The 2008 Republican Convention... - Discussion by Cycloptichorn
McCain's VP: - Discussion by Cycloptichorn
McCain is blowing his election chances. - Discussion by McGentrix
Another Republican Scum-Bag - Discussion by BigEgo
Another Republican Moron Jim DeMint - Discussion by BigEgo
Another Silly, Stupid Republican! - Discussion by BigEgo
Republicans hate the working class - Discussion by BigEgo
Republicans Dumb and Dumber - Discussion by BigEgo
  1. Forums
  2. » Big Brother is sort of watching you
Copyright © 2023 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 03/30/2023 at 06:36:44