Spy in the Sky

Wired.com is reporting on a little-known spy agency called the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency that studies satellite imagery for use in dealing with national security issues, government intelligence and natural disasters. Some privacy advocates are worried about the amount and level of information being collected on everyday citizens by the NGA, but the positives appear to far outweigh the negatives with this newest addition to the US intelligence community.

WASHINGTON — A little-known spy agency that analyzes imagery taken from the skies has been spending significantly more time watching U.S. soil.

In an era when other intelligence agencies try to hide those operations, the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, is proud of that domestic mission.

He said the work the agency did after hurricanes Rita and Katrina was the best he’d seen an intelligence agency do in his 42 years in the spy business.

“This was kind of a direct payback to the taxpayers for the investment made in this agency over the years, even though in its original design it was intended for foreign intelligence purposes,” Clapper said in a Thursday interview with The Associated Press.

Geospatial intelligence is the science of combining imagery, such as satellite pictures, to physically depict features or activities happening anywhere on the planet. A part of the Defense Department, the NGA usually operates unnoticed to provide information on nuclear sites, terror camps, troop movements or natural disasters.

You can read the entire Wired article @ Sky Spies Watch Us from Space.