[lit-ideas] Mysterious New U.S. Spy Program?!

  • From: JimKandJulieB@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2004 16:40:11 EST

This is a little ... unnerving...
_Click here:  US-Spy-Budget-Mystery_ 
Critics say mysterious new U.S. spy program  endangers national security 
04:25 PM EST Dec  10 
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Congress' new blueprint for  intelligence spending 
includes a mysterious and expensive spy program that drew  extraordinary 
criticism from leading Democrats, with one saying the highly  classified 
is a threat to national security.  
In an unusual rebuke, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West  Virginia, the senior 
Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, complained  Wednesday the spy 
project is "totally unjustified and very, very wasteful and  dangerous to the 
national security." He called the program "stunningly  expensive."  
Rockefeller and three other Democratic senators - Richard  Durbin of 
Illinois, Carl Levin of Michigan and Ron Wyden of Oregon - refused to  sign the 
congressional compromise negotiated by others in the House of  Representatives 
Senate that provides for future U.S. intelligence  activities.  
The compromise noted the four senators believe the mystery program is  
unnecessary and its cost unjustified and "they believe that the funds for this  
should be expended on other intelligence programs that will make a surer  and 
greater contribution to national security."  
Each senator - and more than two-dozen current and former U.S. officials -  
declined to further describe or identify the disputed program, citing its  
classified nature. Thirteen other senators on the intelligence committee and 
their counterparts in the House approved the compromise.  
The measure, which authorizes spending for intelligence activities for the  
fiscal year that began Oct. 1, is separate from the intelligence-overhaul  
legislation that received final congressional approval Wednesday.  
The rare criticisms of a highly secretive project in such a public forum  
intrigued outside intelligence experts, who said the program is almost 
a spy-satellite system, perhaps with technology to destroy potential 
attackers.  They cited tantalizing hints in Rockefeller's remarks, such as the 
program's  enormous expense and its alleged danger to national security.  
A U.S. panel in 2001 described U.S. defence and spy satellites as  
frighteningly vulnerable, saying technology to launch attacks in space is 
available internationally. The study, by a commission whose members included  
Rumsfeld prior to his appointment as defence secretary for President  George 
W. Bush, concluded the United States is "an attractive candidate for a  Space 
Pearl Harbor."  
Sending even defensive satellite weapons into orbit could start an arms race  
in space, warned John Pike, a defence analyst with GlobalSecurity.org, who 
has  studied anti-satellite weapons for more than three decades. Pike said 
 countries would inevitably demand proof any weapons were only defensive.  
"It would present just absolutely insurmountable verification problems  
because we are not going to let anybody look at our spy satellites," Pike said. 
"It is just not going to happen."  
Rockefeller's description of the spy project as a "major funding acquisition  
program" suggests a price tag in the range of billions of dollars, 
intelligence  experts said. But even expensive imagery or eavesdropping 
satellites - so 
long  as they're unarmed - are rarely criticized as a danger to U.S. security, 
they  noted.  
"From the price, it's almost certainly a satellite program," said James  
Bamford, author of two books about the National Security Agency.  
"In the intelligence community, it's so hard to get a handle on what's going  
on, particularly with the satellite programs."  
Another expert agreed.  
"It's hard to think of most any satellite program, at least the standard  
ones, as dangerous to national security," said Jeffrey Richelson, who wrote a  
highly regarded book about CIA technology in 2001. 

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