Skip to comments.Lawmaker: Spy Project Threatens Security
Posted on 12/09/2004 5:38:55 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
Congress' new blueprint for U.S. intelligence spending includes a mysterious and expensive spy program that drew extraordinary criticism from leading Democrats, with one saying the highly classified project is a threat to national security.
In an unusual rebuke, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, complained Wednesday that the spy project was "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 and Senate that provides for future U.S. intelligence activities.
The compromise noted that the four senators believed the mystery program was unnecessary and its cost unjustified and that "they believe that the funds for this item 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 contacted by The Associated Press declined to further describe or identify the disputed program, citing its classified nature. Thirteen other senators on the Intelligence Committee and all their counterparts in the House approved the compromise.
Despite objections from some in the Senate, Congress has approved the program for the last two years, Rockefeller said.
The Senate voted Wednesday night to send the legislation to President Bush (news - web sites). The bill is separate from the intelligence overhaul legislation that also won 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 was almost certainly 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 American defense and spy satellites as frighteningly vulnerable, saying technology to launch attacks in space was widely available internationally. The study, by a commission whose members included Donald H. Rumsfeld prior to his appointment as defense secretary for President Bush, concluded that the United States was "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 defense analyst with GlobalSecurity.org, who has studied anti-satellite weapons for more than three decades. Pike said other countries would inevitably demand proof that 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 T. Richelson, who wrote a highly regarded book about CIA (news - web sites) technology in 2001.
Any criticism from a Democrat is automatically discounted as BS. Democrats refuse to spend money on our security but are the first to point fingers when something goes wrong.
If the dums are agin it, I'm for it
Publically speaking about sensitive programs is against the law. Even if no specifics are mentioned, people can garner content by the context of the comments. The Senators that are talking (complaining) about this need to be punished immediately.
Any guesses? Reborn ASATs maybe?
They'd do better if they took the money they spend on sensitivity training and put it into Arabic language study...
You bet! There are (likely) lots of HUMAN LIVES involved.
It's not in West Virginia!
Why are they complaining now after they screamed and yelled for days that we MUST pass this thing? Didn't they read it before they voted for it? Just think how difficult it will be if the senate reverts to 2/3 to 1/3 funding and staff like the Democrats ran it for years. They will have even fewer stooges on their staffs to read this stuff for them.
We are slowly makinfg in-roads due to the fact of majorities in both houses of congress. Amazing as it seems it takes twice as long to get back what these Doves deprived us of years ago.
After the fall of the Soviet Empire they convinced the American people we didn't need to spend money protecting ourselves, and most swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. We had to learn the hard way they only had their own special interest in mind. To them money saved from Defense and Intelligence gave them the money for special interest pork barreling. There are Republicans guilty of this too. Unfortunately greed is one human trait we will combat as long as humans exist.
Exactly. The liberals have too many black marks on their record to contend with so in order to deal with their crisis they attempt to erase the past with this crap. They are absolute correct, the bill sucks, but their intention was to hide a sordid past and they have succeeded to some extent there.