Posted by The Crux | Not content with the ability to secretly tap into Americans' emails and phone calls, the Bush Administration seeks to expand its domestic-spying powers:
"A program approved by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security will allow broader domestic use of secret overhead imagery beginning as early as this fall, with the expectation that state and local law enforcement officials will eventually be able to tap into technology once largely restricted to foreign surveillance....
"The program, described yesterday by the Wall Street Journal, quickly provoked opposition from civil liberties advocates, who said the government is crossing a well-established line against the use of military assets in domestic law enforcement" (Washington Post)....
Reportedly, "secret overhead imagery" equipment can penetrate buildings. Let's hope you're not engaged in adult play while bored employees surf the monitors -- or, if you are, that your performance warrants applause.
Dyre Portents observed:
"Privacy is being eroded to fight symptoms of larger problems (badly waged war on drugs, crappy middle eastern policies, poverty etc etc). How much privacy are we going to allow to slip away before we start fighting the fire rather than the smoke? And then there's corporate data mining...."
This Administration has already shown a penchant for using taxpayer resources for political gain. Might some over-zealous operative use the "secret overhead imagery" equipment to spy on political "enemies"? For those who think it's beyond possibility's realm, I have one word: Watergate.
Ed at Captain's Quarters voiced concern our constitutional right to due-process:
"While some conservatives undoubtedly would argue that they see nothing wrong with giving law-enforcement agencies access to existing technology, others will rightly object on two grounds. First, the obvious application for the sneak-peek technology would be to avoid search warrants. If probable cause existed for a warrant, law enforcement wouldn't need the satellite technology; they'd simply enter. That's the way it's supposed to work, and has worked well for over 200 years. Civil liberty is based in part on judicial oversight of law enforcement encroachment on private property, which the sneak-peek technology would obliterate.
"Second and perhaps more importantly, American legal tradition has separated military and foreign-intel collection from domestic law enforcement, and for good reasons. The Posse Comitatus Act forbids the military (except the Coast Guard, for certain purposes) from acting in a law-enforcement role, except under emergencies specifically requiring martial law."
The Liberty Papers brought up similar legal concerns:
"Given the seeming public acceptance of surveillance cameras in public areas, I imagine that many people won’t have a problem with this. The problem, though, is that there is yet another erosion of the line between domestic law enforcement and the military, first established in the Posse Comitatus Act....
"Turning the very hardware of the military and intelligence communities over to domestic law enforcement and, in effect, spying on the American public goes a step too far, and takes us further down the road that the Posse Comitatus Act was intended to divert us from."
Libby at Newshoggers addressed potential for abuse in this way:
"The only thing certain is these military satellites are extraordinarily powerful, literally able to see through walls and their full capabilities are, (here's the big surprise), completely secret from everyone but a handful of intelligence agents. As for oversight of possible abuse of the system -- surely you jest.