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Saturday, May 13, 2006

This is Absolutely Frightening

(Keywords: , , , I love )

As a follow up to my last post, I offer this story from AP, titled Spy Agency Watching Americans From Space:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A little-known spy agency that analyzes imagery taken from the skies has been spending significantly more time watching U.S. soil.

In an era when other intelligence agencies try to hide those operations, the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, is proud of that domestic mission.

He said the work the agency did after hurricanes Rita and Katrina was the best he'd seen an intelligence agency do in his 42 years in the spy business.

That's right, spying on americans from space is a good thing. Is this a preemptive attack on former NSA staffer Russell Tice's claim, reported at, that "I think the people [in the Senate] I talk to next week are going to be shocked when I tell them what I have to tell them. It's pretty hard to believe"?

President Bush has seen his nominee for the CIA chief's position come under intense scrutiny over the NSA wiretap and phone tracking scandal. It's absolutely amazing that he didn't see this coming. As the head of the NSA, Gen. Michael Hayden was already in the heart of the scandal when Bush appointed him - how could he not have known that putting Hayden in the spotlight would only make things worse. I've said it before, but what a stupid, stupid man. But sometimes, I'm glad he's a stupid, stupid man. It makes busting him so much more likely.

The govexec story goes on to say that, "Tice would not discuss with a reporter the details of his allegations, saying doing so would compromise classified information and put him at risk of going to jail. He said he 'will not confirm or deny' if his allegations involve the illegal use of space systems and satellites." That story came out friday night, this eye in the sky story comes out at 6:30 AM EDT the very next saturday. It's not unreasonable to think they're related.

According to the AP story, "With help, the [National Geospatial-Intelligence] agency can also zoom in. Its officials cooperate with private groups, such as hotel security, to get access to footage of a lobby or ballroom. That video can then be linked with mapping and graphical data to help secure events or take action, if a hostage situation or other catastrophe happens." More corporate cooperation in the spying on americans. And notice the spin - it's all there to protect you. Freedom is slavery.

Back to the AP story; "Among the government's most closely guarded secrets, the quality of pictures NGA receives from classified satellites is believed to far exceed the one-meter resolution available commercially. That means they can take a satellite "snapshot" from high above the atmosphere that is crisply detailed down to one meter level, which is 3.3 feet." Three feet is about the footprint of a human body from above. One of the ways that the number of people in a crowd is measured - say by the press for a rally or a protest - is to look at the square yardage of the densest part of the crowd.

I don't know about you, but the next time I go out, I'm giving the sky the finger. If they're watching, they'll see it.