Satellite Surveillance Ground Rules to Promise Legal Compliance

Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff plans to release the legal ground rules this week for a planned satellite surveillance program in the United States.

Chertoff had delayed the program after congressional critics raised questions about whether the program will preserve Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.

The charter to be released this week will assert that the program meets all current legal restrictions on technical surveillance, the Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.). The program won’t be used to wiretap verbal communications, and warrants will be obtained when necessary, according to the newspaper.

The program, which would be overseen by a new department branch called the National Applications Office, will expand domestic use of satellite imagery by federal and local authorities, the Journal story says.

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