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US Set to Use Spy Satellites on US Citizens 513

duerra writes "A plan to use U.S. spy satellites for domestic security and law-enforcement missions is moving forward after being delayed for months because of privacy and civil liberties concerns. The plan is in the final stage of completion, according to a department official who requested anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about it. While some internal agencies have had access to spy satellite imagery for purposes such as assisting after a natural disaster, this would be the first time law-enforcement would be able to obtain a warrant and request access to satellite imagery."
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US Set to Use Spy Satellites on US Citizens

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  • Re:Plain view? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Carnildo ( 712617 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @09:28PM (#22414488) Homepage Journal

    So does this redefine the plain view laws?

    The article only mentions it briefly, but it seems to be subject to the same plain-view laws as helicopters and airplanes.
  • by Finallyjoined!!! ( 1158431 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @09:31PM (#22414502)
    Over on this side of the pond we don't need no stinkin spy satellites.....

    Every major city & town is already 90% covered by CCTV. You can't walk from one side of the street to the other without appearing on a CCTV system.

    We're already covered.. Say cheese :-)
  • Re:They've won. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @09:35PM (#22414546)
    >> "Ben Franklin said that those who trade liberty for safety deserve neither."

    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" This statement was used as a motto on the title page of the book "An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania" (1759) of which Richard Jackson is believed to be the primary author. It was very likely Franklin, who in the Poor Richard's Almanack of 1738 wrote a similar proverb: "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power."

    Details: []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:02PM (#22414792)
    In that quote, Franklin is excoriating Quakers in Pennsylvania who have given up "essential liberty" in order to make themselves less of an immediate target to raiding tribes who supported the French in the French and Indian War (known in Europe as the Seven Year War, IIRC).

    Here it is: []

    In fine, we have the most sensible Concern for the poor distressed Inhabitants of the Frontiers. We have taken every Step in our Power, consistent with the just Rights of the Freemen of Pennsylvania, for their Relief, and we have Reason to believe, that in the Midst of their Distresses they themselves do not wish us to go farther. Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Such as were inclined to defend themselves, but unable to purchase Arms and Ammunition, have, as we are informed, been supplied with both, as far as Arms could be procured, out of Monies given by the last Assembly for the King's Use; and the large Supply of Money offered by this Bill, might enable the Governor to do every Thing else that should be judged necessary for their farther Security, if he shall think fit to accept it. Whether he could, as he supposes, "if his Hands had been properly strengthened, have put the Province into such a Posture of Defence, as might have prevented the present Mischiefs," seems to us uncertain; since late Experience in our neighbouring Colony of Virginia (which had every Advantage for that Purpose that could be desired) shows clearly, that it is next to impossible to guard effectually an extended Frontier, settled by scattered single Families at two or three Miles Distance, so as to secure them from the insiduous Attacks of small Parties of skulking Murderers: But thus much is certain, that by refusing our Bills from Time to Time, by which great Sums were seasonably offered, he has rejected all the Strength that Money could afford him; and if his Hands are still weak or unable, he ought only to blame himself, or those who have tied them.
    Franklin is slamming those that have given up the "essential liberty" of arming themselves in the face of "insiduous Attacks of small Parties of skulking Murderers".

    Franklin is referring to bearing arms as an essential liberty. And he says that those who give up that essential liberty has only himself to blame for getting victimized by raiding parties.
  • Re:Starting now? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:52PM (#22415232)

    The current system has a lot of hoops to clear to do a CONUS tasking even for legitimate research purposes. So, in a sense, yes, they have been doing this, but you'd better have a damn good reason for doing so.

    On the other hand, I question exactly how much utility this will provide. Given the orbits you can realistically only get data on a specific spot once or maybe twice a day, and only a few shots at that. It'll give you an idea of long-term activity that's happening out in the open, but for most time-sensitive law enforcement tasks it'll be far simpler to do traditional surveillance.

  • by peccary ( 161168 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @11:05PM (#22415426)
    Has anyone here ever seen a photo from the spy satellites that was not downsampled? Fuzzed, obscured, obfuscated, if you will? The exact capabilities of those satellites are highly classified, and the way they stay secret is by keeping the photos secret too.

    Now what is going to happen if we start handing out eyespies to every deputy with a warrant? Poof, there goes the secret.

  • by Derling Whirvish ( 636322 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:10AM (#22416054) Journal
    I'll bet that the very first use of this will be to spot a field of marijuana. Any takers?
  • Re:W00t. 1st post (Score:2, Informative)

    by paganizer ( 566360 ) <{thegrove1} {at} {}> on Thursday February 14, 2008 @02:07AM (#22416912) Homepage Journal
    That is one of the things that surprises me; one of the reasons I was initially in favor of him was I remembered that he voted to ban gun confiscations during national emergency, while Clinton voted against the ban; seeing this, A person would think I should be a Clinton hater, because she actively campaigned for and supported a law that would, in your words, allow them to "personally come and take their guns".
    Well, I am a Clinton hater. but she is out in the open; no one, especially not a gun owner, would trust her for a flat second on any 2nd amendment issues. Obama doesn't seem to be popping up in the radar on this issue.
    Besides, your argument that the president doesn't have that sort of power is specious; Bush has proven over the last 7 years that the presidency is able to get away with anything without worrying about congress.

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye