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DHS To Kill Domestic Satellite Spying Program

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the right-sporting dept.

Privacy 150

mcgrew writes "The Bush administration had plans in place to use spy satellites to spy on American citizens. This morning the AP reports that new DHS head Janet Napolitano has axed those plans. 'The program was announced in 2007 and was to have the Homeland Security Department use overhead and mapping imagery from existing satellites for homeland security and law enforcement purposes. The program, called the National Applications Office, has been delayed because of privacy and civil liberty concerns. The program was included in the Obama administration's 2010 budget request, according to Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat and House homeland security committee member who was briefed on the department's classified intelligence budget.'"

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150 comments

DHS should kill (3, Insightful)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438629)

DHS.

Re:DHS should kill (3, Interesting)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438821)

That should be just the start. Let's add these:

ATF
DEA
IRS

Re:DHS should kill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439373)

If you are going that far, you might as well add this one too:

schwit1

Re:DHS should kill (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440083)

I don't know why you were modded "flamebait", but I agree ATF and the DEA should be abolished; alcohol, tobacco, and firearms are legal and the ATF is simply a holdover from alcohol prohibition. Drugs should be legalized, as drug laws cause all the problems they purport to solve.

But you can't have government without some means of payiing for it, and I, for one, don't want some rich asshole who already has a lower tax rate than me able to easily cheat on his taxes. I pay my taxes and it irks me that someone tries to get out of paying theirs. When you cheat on your taxes, you steal from ME.

Re:DHS should kill (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439781)

Kill President North Korea Iran Bomb Assassinate Murder White House Congress Senator Obama Allah Allah Peace Upon Name Fuse Sulfur Fertilizer

Like targetting agreements. (1, Redundant)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438633)

I think these things are as symbolic as the targetting agreements the USA used to make with the likes of Russia. "Oh, are missiles are no longer pointed at each other." Except that, its really not too hard to change that. Similarly, if the President wants to get a picture, covertly, of USA territory, he certainly can. It's not like the satellites don't ever fly over the USA.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (2, Insightful)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438707)

Do you have any idea how much red-tape laws create? It doesn't matter if people "can" still use these satellites to spy, what matters is that doing so will force people to walk through miles of red-tape. Right now, if the police knock on my door, I can tell them to **** off and there is jack crap they can do about it. If they really want in, they get to jump through hoops to do so. This is a huge deterrent for corruption. It's the same reason we lock our door -- just because someone "can" smash the window to unlock the door doesn't mean it doesn't "deter" people from doing it.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (4, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438753)

In lots of jurisdictions, a cop could just smash through your door and chalk it up to a mistake, with few consequences.

Sure, they wouldn't be able to prosecute you, but that wouldn't make the events a whole lot more convenient to you.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438913)

They don't really need to prosecute you when they can just shoot you and plant some weed on your corpse [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Like targetting agreements. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439067)

Well, pushing back on my own comment a little bit, the red tape does make it more difficult to maintain a pattern of such behavior.

And reading your link, the officers ended up less dead than the victim, but they were punished, and it isn't real likely they will ever be public officials in the future.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439179)

They got a slap on the wrist, especially at the federal level. They should have gotten at least 40 years sentence.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439369)

Yes, the sentencing was weak. But the fact that they were removed says the system is not completely dysfunctional.

Death Penalty (3, Funny)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439415)

It's murder and conspiracy. This is the same damn thing we executed Tookie for. Death penalty. You cannot have cops murdering people and planting evidence to justify it. Absolutely not. Death penalty.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439253)

reading your link, the officers ended up less dead than the victim, but they were punished, and it isn't real likely they will ever be public officials in the future.

Well, yeah, from the link, it looks like three police officers are serving a total of twenty years in jail for that one. I'd expect that this would be a deterrant to other officers to make sure that they get the red tape right, yes.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439451)

Most people are quite interested in keeping their careers. Hell, most people are honest (at least most of the time).

I agree that the sentence seems weak (I haven't studied the situation enough to have a strong opinion), but it was plenty sufficient to serve as a deterrent to others.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440237)

Don't forget the dog.

They always shoot the dog.

Extra points if it's a small one and running away.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439219)

Or simply lie to a judge to get a warrant. Man who beat cocaine rap sues the city; whistleblower's case survives [illinoistimes.com]

Vose, former head of the SPD narcotics unit, prepared a detailed memo in early 2005 that outlined problems with searches conducted by Carpenter and Graham, specifically the use of "trash rips," in which police sift through a suspect's garbage to find evidence of illegal (usually drug-related) activity and use that evidence to obtain a search warrant.

A few weeks after Vose submitted his memo, Graham and Carpenter performed a trash rip at Washington's residence at 1429 Guemes Court and found plastic bags that field-tested positive for cocaine residue, according to the affidavit Graham submitted to a judge.

However, when the Illinois State Police crime lab tested the plastic bags the detectives said they had found in Washington's trash, no drug residue was found. Without that evidence, the detectives had no right to search Washington's home [see "Springfield's worst nightmare," Feb. 15].

Washington's complaint contains four counts: conspiracy and false arrest allegations involving the search warrant, an additional count of false arrest against the now-retired Lt. Rickey Davis -- who, in May 2006, had Washington rearrested for "harassing" him at Gold's Gym -- and a claim against the city and the detectives' supervisors, Davis and Deputy Chief William Rouse, for maintaining a "practice and policy" that allowed certain detectives to "operate as rogue police officers." The suit was filed on behalf of Washington and Jennifer Jenkins, a woman who was living with Washington at the time of his arrest.

City's legal bills for ex-cops' defense expected to soar [illinoistimes.com]

Re:Like targetting agreements. (3, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438773)

Do you have any idea how much red-tape laws create? ... This is a huge deterrent for corruption

It only deters people that think they have to follow the law, not be above it, and in our government, we have more of the latter.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439663)

It only deters people that think they have to follow the law, not be above it, and in our government, we have more of the latter.

That simply isn't true. The vast majority of public officials are not blood thirsty maniacs or vigilante super-hero wannabes. Despite what the movies and media likes to portray, there is far less corruption than people would like to sensationalize about; the problem is that media isn't interested in people following the law, it only wants to focus on drama. I work in a retail-finance store that has people trying to cut town a lot, so I've had a lot of dealings with the law. You'd be amazed at how afraid most officers are to do something without a court order. Most law enforcement officials are good people.

Your point is no more logical than arguing that door-locks are useless because people just break windows anyway. Why do we even have laws if people just break them? This is far more than a symbolic move, it's a social move. Even if someone tries to spy, or break your window, they still risk being caught, which is the point. It's a deterrent, not a magical solution.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439769)

You'd be amazed at how afraid most officers are to do something without a court order. Most law enforcement officials are good people.

I'm not talking about most rank and file cops or government workers. I would agree that they are good and law abiding people. What I am talking about is Presidents, cabinet members, heads of agencies, and the like, regardless of political party.

The great mistake that we conservatives made was that we looked at the abuses of the Clinton administration but rather than throw Tolkien's ring into the volcano when we had the chance, like Isildur we thought we could wear it better. Now Obama looks to be tempted by the same ring himself, although this is a step in the right direction.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439921)

Oh, don't get me wrong, I agree with that entirely; My original point in responding to the sub-thread starter was that this is not simply a symbolic move. It is, as you suggest, a step in the right direction. As long as the government can use the power of the ring freely, they will -- the least we can do is set it in the cookie jar and close the lid. At least that way, they have to put their hand in the red to get what they want.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439689)

The real value of "Red Tape" is if a request has to pass through five or six people, they all know about it, so there's at least some chance a particularly stupid or unethical request will become public knowledge. Would the general public have ever heard about how ridiculously big the FBI file on Martin Luther King was if fewer people had been involved in maintaining it?
    The second value is in where records are kept. Without any 'red tape' there may still be one copy of a request for a particular photo mission kept in in the spooks offices at Langley, and one in the West Wing. Start an impeachment proceeding against the President, and just maybe those could disappear before anyone knows the white house ran multiple satellite ops on the Dixie Chicks. A third copy in the hands of a federal judge makes that harder.
    It's never perfect. We are trying to put some checks in place against abuse of power, but not so many nothing gets done or nothing that should be secret stays secret. It leads to real complicated forms of 'red tape', such as briefing select groups of Senators but giving each of them slightly differently phrased papers so that if one of them leaks a copy, the Executive and Judicial branches can tell which one. Still, sometimes what we need is more 'red tape', not less.

Afro-American Racism Against Whites and Asians (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439159)

During the election, about 95% of African-Americans voted for Barack Hussein Obama due solely to the color of his skin. See the exit-polling data [cnn.com] by CNN.

Note the voting pattern of Hispanics, Asian-Americans, etc. These non-Black minorities serve as a measurement of African-American racism against Whites (and other non-Black folks). Neither Barack Hussein Obama nor John McCain is Hispanic or Asian. So, Hispanics and Asian-Americans used only non-racial criteria in selecting a candidate and, hence, serve as the reference by which we detect a racist voting pattern. Only about 65% of Hispanics and Asian-Americans supported Obama. In other words, a maximum of 65% support by any ethnic or racial group for either McCain or Obama is not racist and, hence, is acceptable. (A maximum of 65% for McCain is okay, and European-American support at 55% for McCain is well below this threshold and, hence, is not racist.)

If African-Americans were not racist, then at most 65% of them would have supported Obama. At that level of support, McCain would have won the presidential race.

At this point, African-American supremacists (and apologists) claim that African-Americans voted for Obama because he (1) is a member of the Democratic party and (2) supports its ideals. That claim is an outright lie. Look at the exit-polling data [cnn.com] for the Democratic primaries. Consider the case of North Carolina. Again, about 95% of African-Americans voted for him and against Hillary Clinton. Both Clinton and Obama are Democrats, and their official political positions on the campaign trail were nearly identical. Yet, 95% of African-Americans voted for Obama and against Hillary Clinton. Why? African-Americans supported Obama due solely to the color of his skin.

Here is the bottom line. Barack Hussein Obama does not represent mainstream America. He won the election due to the racist voting pattern exhibited by African-Americans.

African-Americans have established that expressing "racial pride" by voting on the basis of skin color is 100% acceptable. Neither the "Wall Street Journal" nor the "New York Times" complained about this racist behavior. Therefore, in future elections, please feel free to express your racial pride by voting on the basis of skin color. Feel free to vote for the non-Black candidates and against the Black candidates if you are not African-American. You need not defend your actions in any way. Voting on the basis of skin color is quite acceptable by the standards of today's moral values.

Re:Afro-American Racism Against Whites and Asians (0, Troll)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439395)

Amazing.... you're an anonymous moron. On Slashdot.

Who ever would have suspected that?

The polling data you link to doesn't mention any reasons as to why anyone voted for Obama or McCain. Yes, it breaks it down by race, income, education, and when they decided who to vote for... but there's a lack of reasons why.

Piss off, you troglodyte, and take your crapola with you.

Re:Afro-American Racism Against Whites and Asians (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440077)

It's copypasta and they don't care what you think. Replying just confirms to them that you read it, or at least noticed it.

Re:Afro-American Racism Against Whites and Asians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28440627)

DFTT

Re:Like targetting agreements. (4, Insightful)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439273)

The interesting thing here -- and this comment is partly motivated by your sig -- is that this killing of the domestic satellite spying program is not a liberal action but a conservative one. If you need an example of where real conservatives and today's Republicans differ, here it is. Republicans such as Peter King will say this is "a step back in the war on terror" but a real conservative would say the U.S. government never had any business spying on its citizens in the first place.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439529)

The interesting thing here -- and this comment is partly motivated by your sig -- is that this killing of the domestic satellite spying program is not a liberal action but a conservative one

That's very true and I think that the decision of conservative pundits to support Obama where he does continue surveilliance powers to remain consistent is dead off. It would be better to admit that we were wrong and move on. The sooner you admit your mistakes, the sooner you can fix them.

I've also got on my page a pretty big rethink on free trade and a major rethink of foreign policy. When our society is working at its best, our liberals are our daydreamers and our conservatives advocate tried and true, but some of the things conservatives tried have not worked: free trade, and an interventionist foreign policy. So, we have to jettison them and move on.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28440399)

Liberal attitude desires a weak government with weak tools.

Conservative attitude desires a strong armed government with no restrictions on the tools or methods it uses.

To deny these two facts is to deny the recent political history, actions of recent politicians, media and random Joe-blow squawking in the United States.

Sure, the Republicans now fear Democrats having power, but that's because they were able to leverage and use them to devastating affect and don't want it turned on them.

Perhaps they should learn to read their bible and understand what "reap what you sow" really means.

Re:Like targetting agreements. (0, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440525)

Liberal attitude desires a weak government with weak tools

That's actually not true at all. Conservatives should historically favor a weaker government because freedom is the value which remains supreme and a government imposing laws is not free. Liberals favor a stronger government because they are willing to trade freedom for what they see as social justice.


Perhaps they should learn to read their bible and understand what "reap what you sow" really means

If you want to make it that way, its a two way street. Fact is, liberals began and continue the expansion of government.

Good (4, Insightful)

jimmyswimmy (749153) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438663)

Intel assets should not be used to spy on our own country. They have too much money to spend on this sort of thing. Imagine the DOD budget being spent to enforce laws. Traffic tickets being issued because a satellite saw you going too fast, or jaywalking. Obviously I'm going for histrionics here, but it's a slippery slope once you take away the absolute prohibition.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28438755)

Queue "then the terrorists have already won...." crowd.

Re:Good (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438871)

That would be 'cue' not 'queue'.

Re:Good (2, Funny)

halivar (535827) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439051)

Well, there are a lot them.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439055)

Terrorist fearmongering is so last year.

Now it's the socialists that have already won!

Re:Good (0, Redundant)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438807)

We are responsible for what happens within our own country. The DHS is responsible for knowing what happens within our own country.

I agree that domestic spying isn't the way to go; after all, we should be able to earn the trust of the people within our nation.

I'm not fond of police state policies. After all, it focuses too much power in one location, and power breeds corruption.

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

davidwk (1464497) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438827)

At last we have a little good news to compare with the various stories that come from England. They are definitely sliding down the slippery slope. Too bad - I kinda like Britain. Seems like it will take a miracle for them to restore their liberties.

Re:Good (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438939)

Britain is just trying to make V For Vendetta come true. Soon they're going to have a mysterious virus released upon them and a dictator is going to take over (repetitively elected). Soon they will also have this faceless fellow martyr himself as an attempt to incite revolution.

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439137)

That would be a good thing. Oppression and the removal of liberties is the price we pay for getting too complacent and comfortable. And we have. Indolent and lazy, far too happy to blather about Big Brother than to actually care about freedom. Either we won't notice the lack, and will quite happily settle down as the mindless cattle that we are, or something will have to change. Unfortunately, there's some things that don't change evolutionary - when you've got a power system in place, it's a very rare individual that will willingly cede that power. Because even if they're an idealist, they'll realise that the people who accept the reins of oppression willingly are too _stupid_ to govern themselves.
So I say bring the oppression. Lets have more surveillance, more security, more monitoring. Let's have more nanny state. Because it won't roll back - it's just too much power to discard, and there's still 'good' arguments for why you need more of it. And the people making the arguments... well, they stand to gain greatly one way, but not so much the other.
That's something that will only change through revolution. Root and branch, our political system has degenerated into nepotism and cyclical cronyism - as nothing really changes, apart from the colour scheme on the propaganda, and the political class continue to gain in power.
Revolution is all that will resolve that - because those in charge like being in charge.

Re:Good (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439557)

Revolution will only change it for a short time. There is a cycle of democracy turning into fascism, with the fascism ended by revolution, and the new democracy started by that revolution, only to end in fascism again.

Maybe not so good? (0, Redundant)

iPhr0stByt3 (1278060) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438885)

I prefer to think of law enforcement as a good thing. If we can cut the costs of law enforcement personell (which, by the way, can be more easiliy corruptable) and use more effecient methods to enforce the laws we have, then I think we should. If you believe you should not get a ticket for speeding, then you need to petition a law change... not expect law enforcement to turn a blind eye.

But more to the point, I don't think it's fair that Americans expect their government to do everything for them and blame the leadership when a terrorist attack is successful and then complain when the DOD actually tries to improve their surveillance, with VERY LITTLE infringement on your privacy at that.

One more comment: I am actually scared the way our country is going that it is starting to make personal convictions a criminal offense (go religious freedom), so perhaps what the DHS has done here is actually a good thing despite my general opinion of government surveillance.

Re:Good (2, Funny)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438995)

But jaywalking is a federal issue, it ummm effects the children, or is a terrorist act, or something like that...

Re:Good (2, Funny)

icebrain (944107) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439487)

No, no, no... you've got it all wrong. See, there's the possibility that you might jaywalk across state lines while carrying items to be sold. Therefore, jaywalking falls under the "interstate commerce" clause of the Constitution, and federal regulation applies to all street crossings and incidents of jaywalking.

Afro-American Racism Against Whites and Asians (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439049)

During the election, about 95% of African-Americans voted for Barack Hussein Obama due solely to the color of his skin. See the exit-polling data [cnn.com] by CNN.

Note the voting pattern of Hispanics, Asian-Americans, etc. These non-Black minorities serve as a measurement of African-American racism against Whites (and other non-Black folks). Neither Barack Hussein Obama nor John McCain is Hispanic or Asian. So, Hispanics and Asian-Americans used only non-racial criteria in selecting a candidate and, hence, serve as the reference by which we detect a racist voting pattern. Only about 65% of Hispanics and Asian-Americans supported Obama. In other words, a maximum of 65% support by any ethnic or racial group for either McCain or Obama is not racist and, hence, is acceptable. (A maximum of 65% for McCain is okay, and a maximum of 65% for Obama is okay.)

If African-Americans were not racist, then at most 65% of them would have supported Obama. At that level of support, McCain would have won the presidential race.

At this point, African-American supremacists (and apologists) claim that African-Americans voted for Obama because he (1) is a member of the Democratic party and (2) supports its ideals. That claim is an outright lie. Look at the exit-polling data [cnn.com] for the Democratic primaries. Consider the case of North Carolina. Again, about 95% of African-Americans voted for him and against Hillary Clinton. Both Clinton and Obama are Democrats, and their official political positions on the campaign trail were nearly identical. Yet, 95% of African-Americans voted for Obama and against Hillary Clinton. Why? African-Americans supported Obama due solely to the color of his skin.

Here is the bottom line. Barack Hussein Obama does not represent mainstream America. He won the election due to the racist voting pattern exhibited by African-Americans.

African-Americans have established that expressing "racial pride" by voting on the basis of skin color is 100% acceptable. Neither the "Wall Street Journal" nor the "New York Times" complained about this racist behavior. Therefore, in future elections, please feel free to express your racial pride by voting on the basis of skin color. Feel free to vote for the non-Black candidates and against the Black candidates if you are not African-American. You need not defend your actions in any way. Voting on the basis of skin color is quite acceptable by the standards of today's moral values.

Re:Afro-American Racism Against Whites and Asians (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439465)

Posting the same crapola multiple times doesn't make it informative.

Re:Good (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439259)

Intel assets should not be used to spy on our own country.

What? And ruin the premises of many popular television programs? If we had nothing to watch but Dancing with the Stars, lame-assed pseudo reality shows, and similarly lame comedy, we'd have nothing to do. And what about films? Or white guys who like guns^H^H^H^H^H^H^H...conspiracy theory buffs?

Sounds to me like you want to weaken our government. If that happens, the terrorists win.

Re:Good (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439365)

Imagine the DOD budget being spent to enforce laws.

Imagine accidentally leaking classified operating parameters of our spy satellites in a (relatively) minor domestic case. And I doubt any prosecutor would want to rely on this kind of information. The defense could just claim that some classified parameters were needed to mount an effective defense, then the judge throws the evidence out when it's clear that they can't do that

Too much cost for too little payoff, even beyond the fundamental disagreement.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439419)

I think a better answer is to allow these things to enforce laws, but for things like speeding or jaywalking place limits. For example, while I personally have no problems with unmarked cars and absolutely do not believe that using them amounts to entrapment (the unmarked cars did nothing to cause you to speed), the state I live in has said that a police car must be 3/4th visible at the time they clock you. I know they do use planes and I'm not sure how that works, but just place limits on what can be used when instead of outright banning it.

I know they spent almost three years before they got an arrest warrant on one of my neighbors in the 90's. He went from smuggling illegal immigrants to dealing drugs in a neighborhood where locking your doors was unheard of, but just in case your neighbors all had keys so that if you were on vacation and something happened or if you house burned down you could use their phone. Originally, they would unload the drugs in the garage, then they had too many cars, so they would do it in the driveway, then it progressed to them parking cars on the street (usually 3-5), take off the tires (the rubber throws off dogs), unload the drugs, and put them back on. Our neighbors started begging the police for help, and all we were told was write down everything. So they did, and the police would come about every other day to remove the 2-8 stolen cars parked out front and they ran every plate of a vehicle that drove down the street, but they couldn't find anything solid enough for a search warrent.

After discharging a pistol in the middle of the street (he was aiming at his GF and her 2 year old son, but was too high to come close), he tried riding after them on his motorcycle and crashed in his drive way. Since he was bleeding, the police were obligated to ask if his home was safe for him, and when he said he didn't know they were obligated to search it in order to ensure there was no threat to him. When they did, they could seize anything illegal in plain sight. I personally witnessed at least three trunk full's of drugs and guns removed from the house. Unfortunately, chain of custody was screwed up so they couldn't get either a search or arrest warrant.

About 18 months later, my neighbor called the police saying his driveway was blocked, that it wasn't a big deal, but we were told to call on anything small. A squad car was able to respond, they asked my neighbor about it, and then approach the drug house to see if the owner was there. Right as they reached the door, a man opened the door, walked out and right in the officers. I believe he fell to the ground, but in the process some crack fell out of his pockets. That was finally enough to get a search warrant (though it still took a couple months) and by the time they could execute it, he had been gone for about 2 weeks due to a price being put on his head (he was using too much and dealing too little).

Now I've left out some of the details about how since we were an influential neighborhood ( a couple of lawyers with political connections) they semi-abused the law (they used some government employees for surveillance; the technicality is they weren't told to go there for surveillance as that's illegal but what they happen to see is admissible in court as if a police officer saw it). FOr our part, FBI agents flew in from DC to thank us since it lead to over 90 arrest warrants since they could trace the chain and get the higher ups not just the street dealers which are replaced almost instantly. IN cases like that, I would have no problems with them using satellites and what not instead of either letting them get away with it (like they would have in most neighborhoods) or abusing the system (like they did for us). ESPECIALLY, if it meant they could speed up some of those processes. I have no problems with guns (nor did the police; they asked if it was one of the other neighbors first and explicitly said they didn't care if he discharged weapons as we technically were in city limits, but practically speaking weren't) and I don't support our current drug policies, but there are some people they need to put in jail or receive SERIOUS counseling.

Re:Good (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439595)

Cant AWACS overland actually track speeders, once they go fast enough to make it show up on the computer?

Re:Good (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440657)

Your local air traffic control radar can often show traffic, depending on how they are configured. I was fascinated to see moving blips that were local highway traffic.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439809)

Besides, if we want up to the minute spy surveillance on activities within our own country, we could just contract it out to those countries who already actively spy on us! I'm sure they'd be happy to loan us more of their money to finance the results of their preexisting spying resources!

It's Far, Far More Efficient... (3, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438703)

...to contract with Google to do it for them.

Why build when you can outsource?

Re:It's Far, Far More Efficient... (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438779)

Well, usually what they do to get around regulations preventing the CIA from spying on the US (for example) is simply work out an agreement with an ally, so that (for instance) the CIA sends intel on Israelis to Mossad in return for Mossad sending intel on Americans to the CIA. So in fact outsourcing is often exactly the sort of thing intelligence agencies are up to.

Re:It's Far, Far More Efficient... (0, Redundant)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438849)

While your post makes sense, I simply don't see Google as being willing to join that group of people.

Google's policies are generally the "nice guy" approach to things. They might be powerful, but they don't like to put themselves in a situation of potentially big liability.

(just imagine, google's servers could be hacked, revealing who is where and what they're doing). Google has enough problems trying to fend off the litigation it feels it doesn't deserve; why add to that plate?

Re:It's Far, Far More Efficient... (1)

Is0m0rph (819726) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439011)

Is helping China censor information from its people being a "nice guy"?

Re:It's Far, Far More Efficient... (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439267)

A much nicer guy than the others - Yahoo and MSN. In my opinion, Google made the best of a bad job there. At least google.cn marks visibly when it is being censored. Yahoo, MSN and, of course, Baidu, censor silently. If they didn't censor, they wouldn't be allowed in - so they have actually forced the wall down a crack by revealing the censorship. And, for those who can bypass the Great Firewall, they can see google.com in Chinese, uncensored. The alternative would have been not to offer google.cn - which would not, in my opinion, have made the world any better.

Re:It's Far, Far More Efficient... (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439031)

While your post makes sense, I simply don't see Google as being willing to join that group of people.

"Willing?" Who said anything about "Willing"? What's "Willing" got to do with anything?

Re:It's Far, Far More Efficient... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439099)

because they're going to still do it themselves... just not tell anyone this time.

more use (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28438761)

Food for thought:

The best way to maximise the power of these would be to use them day to day. The more comfortable and accurate we can make it on the common stuff, the better the technology will be when we need it for something more serious.

On that note, where can I get a tinfoil hat to cover my house?

Re:more use (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438959)

You could live in a tin shed...and dig underground ;)

Re:more use (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440125)

Metal roofing is an excellent option, it is quite durable. People usually go with something cheaper.

Re:more use (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439569)

On that note, where can I get a tinfoil hat to cover my house?

I saw a live-action documentary about tinfoil-hatted houses on Broadway...

I think it was called "LOLCat on a Hot Tin Roof" or something. Google it.

So the publicly known plans have been axed... (0)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438767)

So they axe the publicly known plan...

I wonder just how much more intrusive the "secret" plans that will take the public plans will be.

Politicians are politicians, parties don't matter when power is on the line. A politician won't give up power unless it is to get ever more power. This publicity stunt just gets them good press for awhile until the other shoe drops which will conveniently happen just after the re-election.

Yeah. Sure... (0, Redundant)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438825)

This was just the moment when they stopped to exist *officially*. ^^

See if can spot a satellite, spying on your country. I bet you can, and will still be able to in a decade.

Kill it? (0, Redundant)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438897)

Or just blacken it so that privacy and rights concerns will become moot? Cant complain about what you don't know about.

In the Name of National Security (0, Redundant)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438909)

DHS can probably secretly fund Google to develop a realtime Google Maps/Earth app.

All in the name of national security of course.

general rule of politics... (0, Redundant)

pig-power (1069288) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438927)

Seems that I was taught, when the megolomaniacs speak
of what they are NOT going to do?

"First they deny it, then they do it!"

Did they violate his anonymity? (2, Insightful)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438929)

From the article:
"Napolitano recently reached her decision after the program was discussed with law enforcement officials, and she was told it was not an urgent issue, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about it."*

Later on:
"Bratton, in his role as head of the Major City Chiefs Association, wrote on June 21 that the program, as envisioned by the Bush administration, is not an urgent need for local law enforcement."*

*(Emphasis mine)

Anonymity. Yes, we've heard of it.

      -dZ.

Re:Did they violate his anonymity? (2, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439303)

It's confusing but correct. An unnamed official is saying that Napolitano reached her decision after hearing from Bratton that it isn't an urgent need.

Unnamed official != Bratton.

Great news, IMO (4, Interesting)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438977)

A problem with camera surveillance, is much more innocent than criminal behavior is in view, so a fairly high proportion of suspicious behavior is actually innocent behavior that looks improbably suspicious. Statistically, its the same problem as with false positives in drug tests. Compounding this problem is that when law enforcement is impersonal and from a distance, the accused often is not given a fair, face-to-face chance to defend themselves before having their lives temporarily wrecked. By the time it goes to trial, it has already cost large legal fees and possibly employment.

In my own arrest a few years ago, for innocent behavior that looked suspicious from afar, I was never once interviewed by a law enforcement officer or prosecutor and given a chance to tell my story, right up to the morning of the trial.

There was to me surprisingly little public comment when the domestic satellite surveillance program was announced a couple of years ago. Its nice that the Obama administration seems to be doing the right thing with this anyway.

Re:Great news, IMO (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439409)

In my own arrest a few years ago, for innocent behavior that looked suspicious from afar, I was never once interviewed by a law enforcement officer or prosecutor and given a chance to tell my story, right up to the morning of the trial.

Would that have helped? We are often reminded not to talk to the police. In their current incarnation, the police don't seem to be in the business of maintaining peace and order, but rather in the business of arresting people.

In the current system, pleading with an officer wouldn't do much good. Their role is only to bring in suspects. It is for the courts to decide on the validity of the accusations. Maybe that's not how it ought to be... but that's the way it currently is. As such, talking to the police would not have done you much good.

Re:Great news, IMO (4, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439717)

A classic example of this sort of thing is taking photographs in public locations. The law allows for it, but law enforcement has been known to be to lacking in an understanding of that. As a photographer I would rather have the option of explaining to a policeman my rights (and perhaps showing an excerpt of the law) than to be hauled off to court for something that would eventually be thrown out. That latter wastes my time, the courts time and a whole lot of public money.

Re:Great news, IMO (2, Interesting)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439909)

Right. The system where any random person or machine with limited information can accuse you of a crime, you get arrested by default, and you have to pay thousands of dollars before even having a chance to argue your innocence, is nuts. Formally, there has to have been an "investigation" before the judge issued the warrant for the arrest. That investigation should include trying to find out whether the accused has done anything wrong, and that should usually involve talking with the accused. The further disconnected the police get from the community the less likely this is to happen though, and the use of camera systems tends to have that effect.

Re:Great news, IMO (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439421)

Common do tell ,, what did you do??? Enquiring minds want to know.
And if you are worried about anonymity then just post as AC :D

Re:Great news, IMO (2, Interesting)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439935)

I was seen with property that the accuser incorrectly imagined was theirs, and accused of theft.

Re:Great news, IMO (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439725)

A problem with camera surveillance, is much more innocent than criminal behavior is in view, so a fairly high proportion of suspicious behavior is actually innocent behavior that looks improbably suspicious.

I and my car were searched [slashdot.org] for parking in front of the wrong house. Two local cops, two FBI agents, and a DEA agent wearing a ski mask (in July in Illinois) came out with guns drawn. Not fun at all. Luckily there were no drugs, and they let us go after an hour or so.

There was to me surprisingly little public comment when the domestic satellite surveillance program was announced a couple of years ago.

The media sure didn't draw much attention to it.

Re:Great news, IMO (3, Interesting)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440257)

In my case the police showed up at my house at night, cuffed me, and took me to jail, but at least they didn't threaten to shoot me.

As life tribulations go, this is pretty mild stuff. But I think its instructive. I've always been Mr. Law Abiding, with no underage drinking, no drugs, no speeding, no jaywalking....is the legal system about justice? Not so much as I would have imagined, apparently.

Re:Great news, IMO (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440573)

I and my car were searched [slashdot.org] for parking in front of the wrong house. Two local cops, two FBI agents, and a DEA agent wearing a ski mask (in July in Illinois) came out with guns drawn.

I'm amazed at the crazy things that seem to happen to you, mcgrew. That said, in this particular case, as inconvenient and frustrating as it was for you, I'm not exactly surprised. The police/fbi/dea were watching a crack house, which you happened to park in front of. Your friends went inside, then came out a little later. From their perspective, I hope you can see how that looks a little suspicious -- it's exactly the behavior (externally speaking) they were watching for.

You just seem to have some really bad luck. :-) (The garage thing was very distressing, though, that's for sure.)

Jack Bauer will be angry... (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439035)

How is Chloe supposed to track the terrorists?

interesting. (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439041)

I'd like to make the observation without judging that for a government it's no problem to spy on "them", but they can't spy on "us".

Privacy Concerns? Really? (1)

astrodoom (1396409) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439089)

I didn't realize that what I did outside was private.

Re:Privacy Concerns? Really? (2, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439329)

Not private is not the same as government recorded and analyzed.

Re:Privacy Concerns? Really? (2, Insightful)

jdunn14 (455930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439351)

Imagine I have a 7 foot (or higher) privacy fence around my back yard. I have an expectation of privacy. Or I happen to own 150 acres in the middle of nowhere. I have less, but still some, expectation of privacy there as well.

Re:Privacy Concerns? Really? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439985)

How do you know those things can't see through your roof?

Re:Privacy Concerns? Really? (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440147)

We've already crossed that line: helicopters with infrared to spot marijuana grow houses. They're not yet at the point of detecting body heat through walls from helicopter altitude, AFAIK.

Re:Privacy Concerns? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28440717)

See: Blue Thunder

Fires and Hurricanes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439255)

Don't complain any more about using all resources available for the next series of forest fires and hurricane disaster recovery operations. I am sure Google streetview will suffice.

Why? (1)

ragutis (934425) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439537)

        I kinda question the utility of this.
The satellites that are close enough to get enough resolution for this
essentially take snapshots of whatever the window is for
a given satellite. so,

In real time, they'd need to know the location of the target, and have some available for targeting.
Wouldn't it be simpler and cheaper to have meat intelligence on the ground watch the target?

For history, just the management of the information would be an expensive trick.
    "Ok, here's an obvious nuclear reactor in Elizabeth, NJ."
  Or, can I read the license plate on that car at 4:30 PM
on December 21 in Anchorage.

How many analysts does it take to locate a terrorist lightbulb?

Yeh, right (1)

rcamans (252182) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439549)

Like the NSA cares what she wants stopped

Re:Yeh, right (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440087)

Boy, you really hit the nail on the head on that one. Except that these are imagery satellites, not signals. And NSA doesn't fall under DHS. But hey, let's not confuse your prejudices with facts.

news of misdirection (1)

sbiefeld (1472061) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439565)

This news is just fluff and misdirection. So what if they aren't going to use satellites to watch us. They can monitor us more easily, efficiently, and cost effectively with CCTV, red light cameras, and speeding cameras.

Re:news of misdirection (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440227)

Fixed cameras like that serve a purpose, but for an aerial view a helicopter or light plane can get better pictures than a satellite at a tiny fraction of the cost. If you control the airspace, you don't need an expensive satellite to take pictures from the air.

It has to be said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439621)

If you're not doing anything wrong, then what's the big deal?

Re:It has to be said (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440175)

Does it really need to be said?

Since I'm not doing anything wrong, there isn't any reason for you to be checking, and when it comes to government, not doing things that have no reason is generally a better option than doing things that have no reason.

Re:It has to be said (2, Insightful)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440799)

And if you aren't smuggling heroin up your ass, you won't mind an anal probe every single day from the DEA, right?

Shell Game (0, Troll)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439627)

They are killing the program the public is aware of, but the satellites will continue to operate over the USA. The data will still be collected. The data or analysis of the data will still be forwarded to law enforcement using a mechanism that obscures the origin of the data (info laundering?). There just won't be an official federal program for law suits to target.

So the real story is... (2, Insightful)

Alascom (95042) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439919)

The title would be less exciting if it read "Bush and Obama has never used satellites to spy on Americans".

Bush didn't use spy satellites our of privacy and civil liberty concerns. Got it.

Now that we are straight on this particular issue, let the Bush bashing begin.

Re:So the real story is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28440217)

This is sadly commonplace yellow journalism.

Let's be honest. Every administration considers doing things that are shady/illegal. Why don't we see the howls from Slashdot about how Obama at least twice proposed unconstitutional taxes. He even used one as a campaigning point for months before someone must have finally caught his ear that his plan may have been popular with the know-nothings on the street but was highly illegal.

Why didn't we see the howls from the peanut gallery when it was revealed that the Clinton Administration had well researched plans as to a first strike scenario in Iraq? For those who think preemptive strikes are bullshit? One of your most favored leaders had one in mind all along. I have no doubt that Obama has something cooking for Iran.

But that's really the thing, isn't it? That having a plan isn't a bad idea. Covering your bases makes sense even if you consider actions that don't make crystal clear sense from the get go. People don't see this from all aspects because it benefits their wee-minded outlook on politics to grab the first stick they find and beat the hell out of someone from the other party.

It's a bullshit practice is what it is. Both parties do it. They're all shit and any honest person knows it. But any honest person doesn't begrudge them for looking at all possibilities in times of crisis.

Re:So the real story is... (0, Troll)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440383)

Bush was the one who's administration tried to get it started...

But just ignore that fact.

From what I have heard (3, Interesting)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 5 years ago | (#28440037)

"... overhead and mapping imagery from existing satellites for homeland security and law enforcement purposes.."

From what I have heard from certain people, they already have been doing this since Regan. The largest use for this was domestically was tracking the drug trade including but not limited to:

Large distribution rings by tracking differential images for trafficing patterns (e.g. large number of cars at 2 am at a pier that only stick around for a hour or two)

Using the IR module for finding growers in remote areas with camoed green houses.

Using the information to track abnormal warehouse activity.

Spying seems a slanted term since the cops don't SPY on people, they investigate. Same with the FBI and ATF.

So what we really have is DHS decides for what appear to be largely buget issues, not taking the information, THAT IS ALREADY BEING COLLECTED, and using it for DHS purposes. Since the DHS is a new agency they probably didn't have access to that data. This sounds largely like a formality to get them access to the data. Now the DHS will have to step through the FBI and local law enforcement channels which was the whole reason we created the DHS in the first place.

Seriously, this amounts to "The cops can use it, the FBI can use it, but the 'new' intelligence community can't." Here contract a plane to get your imagining instead.

If there was a privacy issue why not raise it when ATF raids a pot grower? Why now and not under Regan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2? And why no outcry over the fact it has been used for years already? Surely the use of images from those darn helicopters and airplanes must be a privacy conern also? Right? You know those images you can get from the county and local city... Hello? Sensible Dissent where are you? (in my best Shaggy impersonation).

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