After all the hand-wringing about domestic wiretapping, there's barely a peep (and certainly no legislative wrangling) when Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence endows Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Secretary, with the power to train U.S. spy satellites on American citizens. Wall Street Journal is unfortunately subscription only. Here's a link, just in case. Here's a snippet:
The U.S.'s top intelligence official has greatly expanded the range of federal and local authorities who can get access to information from the nation's vast network of spy satellites in the U.S.
The decision, made three months ago by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, places for the first time some of the U.S.'s most powerful intelligence-gathering tools at the disposal of domestic security officials. The move was authorized in a May 25 memo sent to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asking his department to facilitate access to the spy network on behalf of civilian agencies and law enforcement....
According to officials, one of the department's first objectives will be to use the network to enhance border security, determine how best to secure critical infrastructure and help emergency responders after natural disasters. Sometime next year, officials will examine how the satellites can aid federal and local law-enforcement agencies, covering both criminal and civil law. The department is still working on determining how it will engage law enforcement officials and what kind of support it will give them.
As these things tend to go, civil libertarians will raise their typical objections. In response, both DNI and DHS will assure everybody that the expansion is crucial for national security, is in the hands of diligent professionals, and will never be used outside of strict, specified guidelines. Then, years down the line, something will leak, or be declassified, and we'll find out that the civil libertarians were perfectly correct to raise a big fuss.