Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wire: Obama to Kill Spy-Satellite Program

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that the Obama administration plans to kill a Bush administration spy satellite program at the Department of Homeland Security, according to officials familiar with the decision.

The Wall Street Journal said the program came under fire from its inception two years ago. Democratic lawmakers said it would lead to domestic spying.

The program would have provided federal, state and local officials with extensive access to spy-satellite imagery -- but no eavesdropping capabilities -- to assist with emergency response and other domestic-security needs, such as identifying where ports or border areas are vulnerable to terrorism.

It would have expanded an Interior Department satellite program, which will continue to be used to assist in natural disasters and for other limited security purposes such as photographing sporting events. The Wall Street Journal first revealed the plans to establish the program, known as the National Applications Office, in 2007.

"It's being shut down," said a homeland security official.

The plans to shutter the office signal Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's decision to refocus the department's intelligence on ensuring that state and local officials get the threat information they need, the official said. She also wants to make the department the central point in the government for receiving and analyzing terrorism tips from around the country, the official added.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: White House to Abandon Spy-Satellite Program

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