United States Spies On… The United States

“Big Brother” sounds cliche, but evidence says it’s true…

The Associated Press reported today that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the agency that controls America’s spy satellites and other aerial surveillance equipment, is keeping a close eye on matters at home. This spy work skirts a fine line between protecting the public and “performing illegal government spying on Americans.”

Although Bert Beauliu, director of the agency’s New Americas Office said, “We couldn’t care less about individuals and people and companies,” Steven Aftergood, a government monitor doesn’t trust them. “What it all boils down to is, ‘Trust us. Our intentions are good.'”

In the years before 9/11, such aerial surveillance was used mostly for matters of natural disasters. Since 2001, though, the agency has monitored more than 130 urban areas with equipment that is among the most advanced in the world. According to Executive Order 12333, the intelligence community can collect, retain, and pass along information about US companies and people only in certain cases. The agency says that it has aggressive internal monitoring, but critics don’t think that’s enough.

“If they deviated from their own rules, how would it be discovered?” posits Aftergood, noting that while budgets for surveillance have increased dramatically since 9/11, budgets for congressional oversight committees have not.

Invasion of privacy? Or just necessary precautions? [Myrrander]