Obama Justice Department Insists It Should Be Able To Secretly Stick GPS Devices On Cars Without Warrants

November 8, 2011
(Techdirt via eye) Back in August, we wrote about the (somewhat surprising) appeals court ruling in the District of Columbia circuit saying that longterm GPS tracking of someone by law enforcement required a warrant. The issues at play here certainly aren’t entirely clearcut. After all, it does make sense that when you’re in a public space, you have little expectation of privacy. But is that true when it comes to tracking everywhere you go in public? That seems a little more questionable, and it’s clearly the part that the court had trouble with, noting that short bursts of surveillance don’t require a warrant, but sustained surveillance gets past the expectation of privacy barrier and requires a warrant. While some worry that this is too vague, it does have a certain amount of logic to it.

Either way, the Justice Department wants none of that, and is asking the full circuit to rehear the case and reverse the original ruling, saying that it should not require a warrant, suggesting that the sum of all our public travel does not deserve any privacy. While I do agree that the initial “rules” are vague, I have to agree that sustained, long-term tracking through a secretly installed GPS devices does seem to cross a line on the “expectation of privacy” spectrum.


LightSquared’s GPS Request Jeopardizes National Security

October 1, 2011
…Redraw Frequency

(Hudson NY/Taylor Dinerman) It appears that members of the current administration have put the reliability and safety of the GPS signal at risk to support an ambitious commercial communications project largely owned by one of the President’s major campaign contributors. The LightSquared proposal for a $7- $8 billion mobile broadband system is, according to the Coalition to save GPS who are quoted in the June 20 2011 edition of Space News saying that “all testing done so far shows that LightSquared cannot operate as planned without devastating GPS.”
The American government’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which controls frequency use in the US, has, it seems, come under pressure from the White House to approve LightSquared’s application to use frequencies that may interfere with the GPS signal. If the Administration tried to tamper with the testimony of US Air Force Space Command’s commander General Shelton to facilitate the LightSquared project, it would show an unimaginable level of recklessness.
Over the last thirty years the US has spent more than $100 billion building and operating the GPS system. To put this investment at risk — especially to please a campaign contributor — will have lasting effects on both US national security and America’s international position.
Since it came into use in 1990, the US Air Force’s GPS system has excited admiration and envy throughout the world. Former President Chirac of France complained that it was making the Europeans into “Technological vassals of the Americans.” Keeping the system healthy and safe has been a major policy priority of the George H. W. Bush, Clinton and George W, Bush administrations. The Obama administration’s own National Space Policy, published in June 2010, says that “The United States must maintain its leadership in the service, provision and the use of global navigation satellite systems [GPSs].
Although it is not often mentioned, the GPS is also an essential part of out nuclear deterrent. The guidance system on missiles, bombers and submarines all use the GPS, as well as its backup systems, to maintain the capacity for precision targeting of US nuclear warheads. It is no wonder that the opponents of global civilization, and of America in particular, have sought ways to jam, or knock out the system.
The North Koreans recently launched a major jamming attack on the GPS signal that interfered with the system’s operation to the extent that a US intelligence-gathering aircraft was forced to land with its mission uncompleted. In 1991, US Air Force officers were happy to explain that Saddam’s attempt to transmit a jamming signal against the GP S system failed. The USAF simply destroyed the transmitter using a GPS guided bomb.
In 2004 the US government forced the European Union to agree to change its plans to transmit a radio frequency signal that would have endangered the smooth operation of one of the GPS signals from its Galileo satellite navigation system. The uneven history of the development of the Galileo system, and the failure of the Europeans to find a workable “commercial” model for its development, is a sign of just how expensive and difficult it is to make a system like GPS work reliably and safely.
The frequencies used to transmit the GPS signals are assigned to the US government by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) based in Geneva, Switzerland. The main frequencies, and others nearby on the electromagnetic spectrum whose use can interfere with the GPS signal, are highly coveted by America’s rivals, such as the European Union and China. Keeping US control of these frequencies is a constant political struggle. America’s diplomats have so far been successful, thanks in large part to the internationally recognized reliability and utility of the GPS system.
As this scandal unfolds, the ITU and those who seek to break America’s hold on the GPS signal frequencies will be watching carefully. If they see that the White House was prepared to endanger the integrity and reliability of the GPS signal to satisfy a campaign contributor, the effects could be disastrous. The next time a nation or group of nations try and convince the ITU to allow them to transmit signals that may harm the effectiveness of the GPS signal, the international bureaucrats in Geneva may decide to go along with the request. After all, they might reason, if the US President doesn’t care to protect the safety and integrity of the GPS signals, why should they?
The GPS system consists of a constellation of 31 satellites and two ground control stations,with the main one in Colorado and a back-up one in Maryland. Each satellite contains a highly accurate atomic clock and a set of transmitters. The satellites send a set of signals down to Earth where receivers measure the difference in the timing of the reception of each signal, known as the “Time Offset.” As the Air Force “Space Primer says, ” Based on the time offset, the distance between the satellite and the receiver can be determined. This process is followed for at least four satellites. The cumulative information is entered into the position equations and calculated.” The receiver then shows where the receiver is on Earth, helps one to navigate and also gives us access to an amazingly accurate time measuring device.
The GPS has made possible, fror example, an agricultural revolution called “Precision Farming,” whereby farmers, by combining their knowledge of their fields’ geology and the GPS signal, have been able to reduce radically the amounts of fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides they need to grow their crops. Other uses include banking, and of course the GPS receivers that the public uses for everything from hiking to getting to the grocery store. America’s GPS has gone from being considered an expensive military luxury in the 1980s, to being a war-winning technology in the 1991 Gulf War, and now to being an essential part of 21st century civilized life
If someone inside the White House tried to get Shelton to say that “he hoped the necessary testing for LightSquared could be completed within 90 days.” This is particularly problematic, as General Shelton obviously knows that the Defense Department cannot order a new screwdriver in less than six months, let alone test and certify as safe a major potential modification to way the US government uses radio frequencies.

Iran’s Flying Saucer

March 18, 2011
They illustrate the article with this picture.
Looks cool!!!
…Also, surprisingly fake!
I’m bummed.
I was hoping that Iran’s leaders
were getting some
alien anal probes
in exchange for the nifty flying
saucer technology. 
After all, Iran has said publicly
that it shot down several
in 2009. Really.
It turns out that the actual device looks like this

From FARS News:  TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran unveiled a home-made unmanned flying saucer as well as a light sports aircraft in an exhibition of strategic technologies.  The unmanned flying saucer, named “Zohal”, was unveiled in a ceremony attended by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.  Zohal, designed and developed jointly by Farnas Aerospace Company and Iranian Aviation and Space Industries Association (IASIA), can be used for various missions, specially for aerial imaging. The flying machine is equipped with an auto-pilot system, GPS (Global Positioning System) and two separate imaging systems with full HD 10 mega-pixel picture quality and is able to take and send images simultaneously. via elderofziyon.blogspot.com

Posted via email from noahdavidsimon’s posterous

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

November 3, 2010

Your excess of pejorative language also gives away your anti-Israel agenda. Thus we learn that Israel practises “Machiavellian diplomacy” (not “Machiavellian” enough to stop the UN endorsing the Goldstone Report, though), “divide and rule” (divide and rule whom?) and “obfuscation and procrastination”. Tell me Lord Phillips, at Taba in 2001 Yassir Arafat was offered all of Gaza and 97% of the West Bank. Moreover the West Bank area offered was contiguous, not “cantons”. He turned it down. Was that “obfuscation and procrastination” on the part of Israel?


October 20, 2010