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Napolitano Kills U.S. Satellite Program

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano killed a program begun by the Bush administration that would use U.S. spy satellites for domestic security and law enforcement.

In an announcement Tuesday, Napolitano said she made the decision after a five-month review of the program. After consulting local officials, Napolitano said the department should focus on other priorities to help share information with state and local law enforcement agencies.

The program, called the National Applications Office, was announced in 2007 and was to have the Homeland Security Department use overhead and mapping imagery from existing satellites for homeland security and law enforcement purposes.

Privacy and civil liberty concerns delayed the DHS program, which was described as a "poorly-conceived proposal" by Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Since 1974, federal agencies have requested satellite imagery through a federal interagency group, the Civil Applications Committee. The imagery has been used for scientific research, to assist in response to natural disasters like hurricanes and fires, and to map out vulnerabilities during a major public event like the Super Bowl professional football championship.

The Homeland Security Department said Napolitano's decision will not keep federal agencies from getting imagery as they have in the past.

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