DHS Delays Launch of Spy Satellite Program

Oct. 1, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After several requests from the Homeland Security Committee calling for a moratorium on the controversial use of spy satellite imagery for domestic purposes, the Department has heeded the call and delayed its planned October 1st launch of its new National Applications Office (NAO). The Department has cited the need to address unanswered privacy and civil liberties questions from Congress -- as addressed in the Committee's September 6th hearing on the matter and also in letters from August 22nd and September 6th from Committee Members.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement regarding the decision:

"While we are pleased by the Department's decision to go back to the drawing board and get it right, we are troubled by its silence on the second part of our request: that Congress also be provided 'a full opportunity to review the NAO's written legal framework, offer comments, and help shape appropriate procedures and protocols.'

"The moratorium on NAO implementation is only a first step. We look forward to working collaboratively with the Department to ensure that the final written plans for the NAO include the rigorous privacy and civil liberties safeguards that are necessary to keep faith with both the Constitution and the American people.

"Turning this technology on the homeland without a written legal framework for operations is a recipe for disaster," said Thompson.

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Chair of the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment, added the following:

"This is a rare chance for Congress to be involved at the front end of an important proposed surveillance program. We must not squander this opportunity. I look forward to reviewing the legal documents from the Administration and appreciate its cooperation."

Rep. Christopher P. Carney (D-PA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Management, Investigations, and Oversight also issued the following:

"Congress has a critical oversight role to play here. We need accountability in the process. I am pleased that the Department has agreed to address our questions. Although, it would be better if the Department went one step further and could advise us when to expect the promised documents so we can continue to protect the rights of the people."

SOURCE Committee on Homeland Security

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