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Legislators call for spy satellite delay

Sept. 7, 2007 at 1:48 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers and civil liberties groups called for the U.S. Homeland Security Department to delay a new spy satellite program.

Critics say the program, which would allow police and counterterrorism officers to use spy satellites positioned above the United States, would mark a violation of civil liberties, USA Today reported Friday.

"Privacy and civil liberties concerns were apparently an afterthought" when the White House gave Homeland Security the go-ahead for the program, Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., said at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing.

"Even if this program is well-designed and executed carefully by all of you, someone somewhere else in the administration could hijack it and use it for other means. I worry about it in this administration and I worry about it in another administration," Harmon said.

Members of the committee asked Homeland Security to impose a "moratorium" on the program until civil liberties and privacy concerns are addressed.

Charles Allen, the Homeland Security Department's chief intelligence officer, said the program would only be aimed at monitoring natural disasters, fighting illegal immigration and assessing and planning security measures.

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