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15 september 2007

U.S. Reconnaissance Satellites: Domestic Targets

U.S. Reconnaissance Satellites: Domestic Targets

Documents Describe Use of Satellites in Support of Civil Agencies

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 229

Washington D.C., September 14, 2007 - Today the National Security Archive publishes a collection of documents concerning the use of U.S. reconnaissance satellites to collect data on targets within the United States over the last four decades. This new publication follows the August 15, 2007, revelation in the Wall Street Journal that the United States is planning to expand the use of reconnaissance satellites over the United States in support of civil agencies (those outside of the Defense Department and Intelligence Community) in response to recommendations by an independent study group.

Obtained primarily through the Freedom of Information Act and archival research, the declassified documents published today describe a number of uses for which U.S. reconnaissance satellites have been employed, including evaluation of satellite performance, mapping, disaster relief, and assistance to Environmental Protection Agency investigations.

One manifestation of the increased reliance on satellites in support of civil agencies is the establishment, effective on October 1, of the National Applications Office (NAO) within the Department of Homeland Security. Creation of the NAO--which would replace the three-decades-old Civil Applications Committee--and the intention to make greater use of reconnaissance satellites for law enforcement and homeland security purposes has generated concern among civil libertarians and members of Congress and led to Congressional hearings.

The documents demonstrate a consistent desire to expand the use of satellite reconnaissance in support of civil agencies over a period of decades, and also that some of the issues being raised in reaction to the disclosures of August 15 were raised years earlier--such as the appropriateness of using reconnaissance imagery to assist EPA investigations.

Visit the Web site of the National Security Archive for more information about today's posting.
(source/bron: persbericht National Security Archive)

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