From: "Cher Neufer" <cneufer@neo.rr.com>
Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2007 11:40 PM
To: <northohio@norml.net>

> Military Satellites May Focus on U.S. Homes in the Name of Homeland
> Security.
> Pubdate: Sat, 13 Oct 2007
> Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
> Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
> The United States has a strong and well-founded aversion to the use
> of military force within its own borders. There have been exceptions
> — President Eisenhower’s deployment of the 101st Airborne to enforce
> desegregation in Little Rock, Ark., was perhaps the most vivid — but
> for the most part the nation has prospered by the separation of its
> police and military, which has helped protect the public from
> suppression and the military from distraction.
> The underlying principle is enshrined in the Posse Comitatus Act,
> enacted soon after the Civil War and intended to bar the Army from
> acting as a police force — originally, to bar it from enforcing
> order in the Southern states. Although written with the Army
> specifically in mind, it has since been applied to the other branches
> of the military and has helped to deter many attempts, well-meaning
> and otherwise, to press the military into police work, for instance
> in the "war on drugs."
> But the "war on terror," which reaches inside American borders as
> well as outside, inevitably has caused some to ask whether the
> military should fight it at home too. Specifically, the Department of
> Homeland Security, without so much as a phone call to Congress, has
> developed a program to draw on military surveillance satellites to
> help local police. Under the program as envisioned, police or
> sheriff’s departments could request targets — a suspected drug
> dealer’s house, say. A National Applications Office in the Homeland
> Security Department would consider the requests and, on approval,
> attempt to deliver the information to local law enforcement, which it
> refers to as its "customers."
> That’s tempting. What’s the harm in printing out high-resolution
> satellite images — which the government already is producing — and
> sharing them with officials who might use them to thwart criminals?
> In most cases, they would simply be photographs capturing activity
> outdoors, where there is little reasonable expectation of privacy.
> There could, however, be exceptions — critics warn of infrared
> sensors, advanced radar, acoustic scans and devices to pinpoint
> various structural materials.
> Such applications help to highlight at least three immediate reasons
> to greet this idea with skepticism. First, it turns the military away
> from its essential mission — fighting America’s enemies abroad —
> and toward an area where it doesn’t have much expertise, namely
> spying on those it’s charged to defend. Second, redirecting spy
> cameras and sensors onto American rooftops offers up perilous
> possibilities in mission and technology creep. And third, this
> administration long ago lost the public’s trust on domestic
> surveillance.
> Philosophically, refocusing satellites on the home front represents a
> new dimension in warrantless surveillance. Cameras said to be able to
> make out objects that can fit in one’s hand would be trained on
> backyards; at some angles, through windows; and with some
> technologies, through walls and roofs, probing for heat or other
> indicators of life or malfeasance. The government’s surveillance
> capabilities would be radically expanded. All of that should alarm
> anyone who values privacy in the home or who questions the virtue of
> a snooping government.
> Practically, the ramifications cut another way. Imagine the criminal
> defendant brought to court because a military satellite spotted a
> marijuana patch in his backyard. He would be entitled to challenge
> the imagery that supplied evidence against him. Is the Pentagon ready
> to disclose the specs on its super-secret devices in order to help
> county sheriffs round up pot farmers?
> The sanctity of one’s home is not an ideological principle; it is an
> American one. Indeed, it was no less a conservative than Justice
> Antonin Scalia who wrote for the Supreme Court in 2001 in ruling that
> a government thermal analysis of a home was an unlawful "search." His
> reasoning deserves repeating as the administration and Congress
> consider the use of satellites to crimp still further the remaining
> privacy that Americans enjoy. In Scalia’s words: "Where, as here, the
> government uses a device that is not in general public use, to
> explore details of the home that would previously have been
> unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a ‘search’
> and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant."
> Newshawk: http://www.drugsens e.org/donate. htm
> Pubdate: Sat, 13 Oct 2007
> Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
> Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
> Contact: letters@latimes. com
> Website: http://www.latimes. com/news/ printedition/ front/
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