Homeland Security Kiboshes Domestic Spying InitiativeJune 25th, 2009 by Russ
In the 1998 campy terror-thriller, Enemy of the State, Will Smith is constantly admonished by Gene Hackman to avoid looking up for fear of having his face recognized by a CIA domestic spy satellite.
Truth, as they say, is stranger than fiction. Not only was a 2007 domestic surveillance program designed right out of the paranoid mind’s eye of the film, it had been in the works for nearly three years before sane officials shut it down.
Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday that she is putting an end to a little known and highly reviled program designed to use spy-satelites to track the activities of American citizens. Innocuously called the National Applications Office, the program allowed local and federal law enforcement to access spy-satellite images in surveillance efforts that were both warrantless and without probable cause.
Brazenly proposed by Bush Administration toadies in 2007, the program has raised the ire of privacy-advocates and public servants-alike. In fact, in October of that year, Congress filed an injunction to prevent its funding or operation. Its charter wasn’t officially signed until February 2008.
Since then, Napolitano said her department had conducted a five-month review of the program, and had already gotten bored of peeping on naked citizens through open skylights.
In the words of Will Smith’s Gene Hackman’s character, Brill:
The government’s been in bed with the entire telecommunications industry since the forties. They’ve infected everything. They get into your bank statements, computer files, email, listen to your phone calls… Every wire, every airwave. The more technology used, the easier it is for them to keep tabs on you. It’s a brave new world out there. At least it’d better be.
And so, the National Applications Office is relegated to the dustbin of history, while mass wiretapping, drone aircraft surveillance programs, and library card tracking aggregators continue to invade the privacy of US citizens.