Skip to main content

Administration Set to Use New Spy Program in U.S.

More from WaPo:

Congressional Critics Want More Assurances of Legality

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 12, 2008; A03

The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation's most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea's legal authority.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department will activate his department's new domestic satellite surveillance office in stages, starting as soon as possible with traditional scientific and homeland security activities -- such as tracking hurricane damage, monitoring climate change and creating terrain maps.

Sophisticated overhead sensor data will be used for law enforcement once privacy and civil rights concerns are resolved, he said. The department has previously said the program will not intercept communications.

"There is no basis to suggest that this process is in any way insufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans," Chertoff wrote to Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and Jane Harman (D-Calif.), chairmen of the House Homeland Security Committee and its intelligence subcommittee, respectively, in letters released yesterday.

"I think we've fully addressed anybody's concerns," Chertoff added in remarks last week to bloggers. "I think the way is now clear to stand it up and go warm on it."

His statements marked a fresh determination to operate the department's new National Applications Office as part of its counterterrorism efforts. The administration in May 2007 gave DHS authority to coordinate requests for satellite imagery, radar, electronic-signal information, chemical detection and other monitoring capabilities that have been used for decades within U.S. borders for mapping and disaster response.

But Congress delayed launch of the new office last October. Critics cited its potential to expand the role of military assets in domestic law enforcement, to turn new or as-yet-undeveloped technologies against Americans without adequate public debate, and to divert the existing civilian and scientific focus of some satellite work to security uses.

Democrats say Chertoff has not spelled out what federal laws govern the NAO, whose funding and size are classified. Congress barred Homeland Security from funding the office until its investigators could review the office's operating procedures and safeguards. The department submitted answers on Thursday, but some lawmakers promptly said the response was inadequate.

"I have had a firsthand experience with the trust-me theory of law from this administration," said Harman, citing the 2005 disclosure of the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, which included warrantless eavesdropping on calls and e-mails between people in the United States and overseas. "I won't make the same mistake. . . . I want to see the legal underpinnings for the whole program."

Thompson called DHS's release Thursday of the office's procedures and a civil liberties impact assessment "a good start." But, he said, "We still don't know whether the NAO will pass constitutional muster since no legal framework has been provided."

DHS officials said the demands are unwarranted. "The legal framework that governs the National Applications Office . . . is reflected in the Constitution, the U.S. Code and all other U.S. laws," said DHS spokeswoman Laura Keehner. She said its operations will be subject to "robust," structured legal scrutiny by multiple agencies.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company

And meanwhile...

Gov’t Obtains Phone Records of NYT Reporter

Federal investigators have obtained the phone records of a New York Times reporter who helped uncover the government’s secret domestic surveillance program. The Times reports that former government officials have recently been called before a federal grand jury and confronted with phone records documenting calls with the reporter James Risen. The Justice Department is trying to identify Risen’s sources for the book, State of War, and for articles he wrote for the Times about the nation’s spy agencies. It is unclear how the federal investigators obtained the phone records. The government may have subpoenaed the phone company to hand over Risen’s records.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

John Searle on Derrida

Makes a lot of sense to me. For what it's worth, I'm trying to struggle through Otobiographies; we'll see how that goes...but as far as I can tell, Searle is spot on.

Later: Twelve pages and four hours into Otiose-biographies, I gave up in disgust. If anyone reading this can explain the first twelve pages of this Derridiocy to me in plain English, I'd be both surprised and much obliged. Seriously.
Volume 30, Number 16 · October 27, 1983ReviewThe Word Turned Upside Down By John R. SearleJacques Derrida
(click for larger image)On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralismby Jonathan CullerCornell University Press, 307 pp., $8.95 (paper)1."Deconstruction" is the name of a currently influential movement in American literary criticism. The underlying theory was developed not by literary critics but by a French professor of philosophy, Jacques Derrida, and many of his ideas are in turn owing to Nietzsche and Heidegger. Culler writes as a disciple of Derr…

Gaza Shall Not Die! -- International Solidarity Day in Gaza, January 1, 2010

Hyperlink courtesy of yours truly; all else is Norm's. To see the graphic at the top of Norm's website, reproduced below, at full size, just click here. Please make this widely known.
The time is now to break the siege of Gaza.

Please see the announcement at the top of my web site.

Please spread the word! I hope you''ll join me on that historic day.

Noam Chomsky, "A Review of B. F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior" in Language, 35, No. 1 (1959), 26-58.

The original demolition of Skinner -- pretty entertaining to read!

Chomsky later pilloried Skinner further -- negative reinforcement? -- in the NYRB on the occasion of another, more popular (and frightening, from what I can glean) book of Skinner's, which I'll paste in below:
Volume 17, Number 11 · December 30, 1971The Case Against B.F. Skinner By Noam ChomskyBeyond Freedom and Dignityby B.F. SkinnerKnopf, 225 pp., $6.95IA century ago, a voice of British liberalism described the "Chinaman" as "an inferior race of malleable orientals."[1] During the same years, anthropology became professionalized as a discipline, "intimately associated with the rise of raciology."[2] Presented with the claims of nineteenth-century racist anthropology, a rational person will ask two sorts of questions: What is the scientific status of the claims? What social or ideological needs do they serve? The questions are logically independent, but the second type of question n…