Big Brother: Spying on Americans, The Threat of Satellite Surveillance
by John Flemming
October 13, 2010
Unknown to most of the world, satellites can perform astonishing and often menacing feats. This should come as no surprise when one reflects on the massive effort poured into satellite technology since the Soviet satellite Sputnik, launched in 1957, caused panic in the U.S. A spy satellite can monitor a person’s every movement, even when the “target” is indoors or deep in the interior of a building or traveling rapidly down the highway in a car, in any kind of weather (cloudy, rainy, stormy). There is no place to hide on the face of the earth. It takes just three satellites to blanket the world with detection capacity. Besides tracking a person’s every action and relaying the data to a computer screen on earth, amazing powers of satellites include reading a person’s mind, monitoring conversations, manipulating electronic instruments and physically assaulting someone with a laser beam. Remote reading of someone’s mind through satellite technology is quite bizarre, yet it is being done; it is a reality at present, not a chimera from a futuristic dystopia! To those who might disbelieve my description of satellite surveillance, I’d simply cite a tried-and-true Roman proverb: Time reveals all things (tempus omnia revelat).
As extraordinary as clandestine satellite powers are, nevertheless prosaic satellite technology is much evident in daily life. Satellite businesses reportedly earned $26 billion in 1998. We can watch transcontinental television broadcasts “via satellite,” make long-distance phone calls relayed by satellite, be informed of cloud cover and weather conditions through satellite images shown on television, and find our geographical bearings with the aid of satellites in the GPS (Global Positioning System). But behind the facade of useful satellite technology is a Pandora’s box of surreptitious technology. Spy satellites–as opposed to satellites for broadcasting and exploration of space–have little or no civilian use–except, perhaps, to subject one’s enemy or favorite malefactor to surveillance. With reference to detecting things from space, Ford Rowan, author of Techno Spies, wrote “some U.S. military satellites are equipped with infra-red sensors that can pick up the heat generated on earth by trucks, airplanes, missiles, and cars, so that even on cloudy days the sensors can penetrate beneath the clouds and reproduce the patterns of heat emission on a TV-type screen. During the Vietnam War sky high infra-red sensors were tested which detect individual enemy soldiers walking around on the ground.” Using this reference, we can establish 1970 as the approximate date of the beginning of satellite surveillance–and the end of the possibility of privacy for several people.