Homeland Security to open domestic spying office
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 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!