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Tuesday, 02 October 2007 18:14

Domestic NAO spying delayed by Congressional committee

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The National Applications Office (NAO), a department of U.S. Homeland Security, was not allowed to begin domestic observations within the United States and its territories on October 1, 2007, due to concerns with civil liberties and the legality of its actions.         

The NAO was to use military satellites to observe within the United States, primarily with respect to such civilian activities as emergency response, border control ,law enforcement, weather, climate, and map making.

According to an online article in the New York Times, “The program would have expanded access to material gathered by satellites that monitor American territory to agencies involved in emergency response, border control and law enforcement. A new office within the Homeland Security Department, called the National Applications Office, would coordinate requests from civilian agencies for satellite information. Currently, civilian use of the material has generally been limited to monitoring weather and climate changes and to making maps.” [New York times article “U.S. Postpones Domestic Spy Satellite Program” (subscription required)]

Specifically, members of the House Homeland Security Committee (HHSC) recommended the postponing of the start of NAO operations. Two HHSC members with concerns are Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (Democrat from Mississippi), who is also the chairperson for the HHSC, and Rep. Ed Markey (Democrat from Massachusetts).


Additional information on the program is found at the Homeland Security website called “Fact Sheet: National Applications Office”.



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