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Hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security

Statement

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


HEARING OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
SUBJECT: TURNING SPY SATELLITES ON THE HOMELAND: THE PRIVACY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES IMPLICATIONS OF THE NATIONAL APPLICATIONS OFFICE

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REP. PAUL BROUN (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I believe in my heart that you all are honorable folks, and I believe that, as you state very fervently, that there are protections within your agency, but that doesn't satisfy me. Frankly, I don't believe this horse is dead yet and so I'm going to beat it a little bit more.

I agree with Ms. Harman that I think you have a real Posse Comitatus problem here, and I also know that technology is expanding tremendously -- minute by minute, almost -- and I have a tremendous distrust of government.

And I'm not assured by you gentlemen that there are sufficient checks and balances put in place, because what I hear from you all is that the agency's going to police itself and that there's no outside policing of the agency by some separate entity of government.

And as Mr. Green was talking about, I believe very firmly that there needs to be some outside review, there needs to be some way of going to check the agency itself. We're talking about a new agency; we're talking about new technology; we're talking about advancing technology. And I believe that every person on this committee wants to make sure that this nation stays safe and secure, but I for one am not willing to give up my liberties and my constitutionally protected, God-given rights to your agency or any other. And I hope you see from all of us that there is a tremendous concern here.

I'm new on this committee, and I'm just trying to get a hold of things that are going on. And it just deeply concerns me as a new member of Congress about what you're telling me, because I don't see any outside review; I don't see any sort of effort on your part of looking beyond the agency itself.

So please reassure me how when there are other people sitting in your seats how in the future, as new technology is developed, how, as we advance a year, five, 10 years from now, that there won't be intrusions into people's privacy and their private lives so that we can protect our homeland, that we can protect the national interest, but that individuals -- law-abiding citizens  aren't under danger.

And I don't see that, frankly. I don't see that and I don't hear that from this testimony today. So if you all could assure me, I'd feel a whole lot more comfortable and hopefully the other members of this committee will, too.

MR. ALLEN: I think we have gone through the layers of review, and this is an office within a department and there are layers of review there.

There's another whole agency within the intelligence community called National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which has a -- also significant reviews. And they only do this where there is a Proper Use Memorandum. There are -- and there's significant review there.

There is also the director of National Intelligence, who has his own civil rights, civil liberties officer, and the DNI is, you know, responsible to ensure that all of his activities are under his -- he designated this to the secretary -- are done legally and properly. There's the intelligence -- the PFIAB, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board -- and under it there's the Intelligence Oversight Committee, which also looks for any violations of intelligence law -- of intelligence operations and activities.

So there is huge review, and it's beyond just this office, which I will be the operations manager within the department. But I'll let my colleagues talk about proper use.

And of course, probably the most significant review is here today, the Congress of the United States.

MR. SUTHERLAND: I think Secretary Allen said it well. I think Mr. Teufel and I both have been getting briefings on the capabilities of the system and I think the technology, which the secretary could speak about much more articulately than I can, the technology and what the purpose of the imagery is is not concerning -- you know, I mean, just the capabilities of the system  and I don't know if you've been able to talk about that a little bit more.

MR. ALLEN: The capabilities of the -- I know and I deeply respect Congresswoman Harman -- there are limits of physics. We're talking about space systems. We're not talking about -- as Congressman Lungren pointed out -- airborne or other kinds of manned or unmanned aircraft. We're talking about systems -- today, a great deal of the requirements probably -- as they come in from these civil users, non-Defense users, under the National Applications Office  a lot of these are satisfied by commercial imagery. Commercial imagery is a growing industry and it has -- the commercial industry has capabilities that are reaching and approximating those of classified imagery satellites.

And there're many waiting to be launched around the world. So we're in a -- I agree with you, we're in a different era where technology is driving us into a world of deeper concern, and no one has more concern I think than I do, given my career with intelligence and with the Central Intelligence Agency. But from my perspective, there is significant oversight throughout these processes, and these systems are not directed at individuals because these systems are not capable of that from space -- from space. And in this, we're talking about a space-based system here.

MR. TEUFEL: I just wanted to add, sir, I share your distrust of government. That's why I took the job that I hold presently. And I note that the Founders had a profound distrust of government and so when they crafted the Constitution of the United States, they made it a limited document, limiting what we all can do -- we who work in the federal government. And so I'm very focused on that because we all have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. And so I want to tell you that, the Constitution means a great deal to me.

There are a number of agencies that are involved in oversight here, far more than existed previously, a number more people who are going to be looking at this thing, including career employees -- career employees in my office who, you know, in our close work with I&A are becoming more and more involved at an earlier and earlier level with intelligence and analysis activities. And they have various protections under the law that, if necessary, to protect their country and the Constitution, they can and doubtless will exercise.

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