Climate Intelligence Agency? Spooks Share Satellite Pics With Climate Scientists

By Brett Israel | January 5, 2010 6:10 pm

nasa-polar-ice-webMuch to the chagrin of a certain Wyoming Senator, the Central Intelligence Agency is poised to fight terrorism and spy on sea lions (Sen. John Barrasso once quipped the CIA should stick to the former occupation). The nation’s top scientists and spies are collaborating on an effort to use the federal government’s intelligence assets — including spy satellites and other classified sensors — to assess the hidden complexities of environmental change. They seek insights from natural phenomena like clouds and glaciers, deserts and tropical forests [The New York Times].

The program will have little impact on the CIA’s normal intelligence gathering, say those involved, and will only release data already in hand or data gathered during satellite down time. The images will even have their sharpness decreased in order to maintain some secrecy about the satellites’ true capabilities.

60 scientists, all with security clearances, will oversee the scientific aspects of the project, like analyzing detailed images of the polar ice caps. Of course, not everyone in Washington is on board with the collaboration, and as the attempted airliner bombing on Christmas Day reminded the public of the terrorist threat, the critics are likely to get louder. However, a report from the National Academy of Sciences, which advises the federal government, calls the satellite data essential, saying “there are no other data available that show the melting and freezing processes” [Popular Science]. The program actually began under former President Clinton, but was canceled by former President Bush. Clinton’s vice president Al Gore has been lobbying to restart the program since 2008.

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Image: NASA Earth Observatory

  • Christina Viering

    60 scientists?

  • John

    Climate and Intelligence don’t exactly seem like they belong in the same sentence lately. however, and more importantly, our intelligence resources do not need to be tied up by the NAS. We paid for them and built them in the interest of National Security. NASA has more than enough satellites available for these so-called “scientists”.

  • Intelligence Analyst

    Very interesting. Let them have access, these I’m sure are the most technologically advanced satellites in orbit. We’ll get more bang for our buck if they are used in normal downtime.

  • Alfa R.

    There are those, like economist Jeffrey Sachs, who believe that global warming will worsen impoverished conditions in Third World countries, which would then lead to political and social unrest and an increase in the recruitment of such unsettled & disgruntled persons into the ranks of militant terrorist groups. Maybe the CIA is hip to that?

  • gypsyb

    I agree that it doesn’t take 60 scientists to watch the ice melt! So what are they really looking for? They can see on the ground the changes in the animals, their nature, patterns, etc..
    They haven’t even figured out how all of the UHF/VHF/Analog and cell phone use has an impact on our earth or atmosphere. If it’s there doesn’t it have to weigh something being re-routed for our usage? What about the study saying our cell phone transmissions are killing honey bees (France)? IS anything being done to change this event?
    I would rather they be looking for UFO’s, with that many scientists on board along with our CIA.

  • Nick

    That’s cool. Sounds like a good idea.


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