RE: Washington and "evil amateurs"?

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Thu Sep 21 2000 - 19:31:21 PDT

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    Joseph A. Dellinger wrote:
    > I related to a friend of mine ... a post from SeeSat
    > complaining about 'Washington officialdom is still being fed the "evil
    > amateurs endanger US national security" line'
    I appreciate Mr. Dellinger's concern, and the efforts of his friend, but I
    don't recall much serious discussion here along those lines. Perhaps I
    overlooked it.
    > He wrote a letter to his Senator about this issue, and was personally
    > called back by a senate staff member. They told him that they had never
    > heard of the issue, and didn't think it was an issue.
    I agree that it is not an issue.
    The U.S. government has the legal right to keep the current orbits of its
    satellites secret.
    Hobbyists around the world have the legal right to track whatever they can
    detect in orbit, and use the information as they see fit.
    That is not to say that everyone who has heard of the hobby is pleased.
    According to a recent article in Time, there is at least one un-named senior
    intelligence official who is outraged:,3266,44546,00.html
    ""The fact that you can know readily where U.S. satellites are at any time
    means that if you're India or North Korea, it's that much easier to hide what
    you're doing," says an outraged senior intelligence official. If he had his
    way, some of the satellite trackers would be prosecuted."
    On the other hand, a recent article by Phil Chien quotes an NRO spokesperson
    who seems far from outraged:
    "Some military experts say amateur efforts to track classified satellites
    undermine national security and violators should be prosecuted. The National
    Reconnaissance Office has taken a more laid-back attitude: "There's a lot of
    Web pages which indicate how to view what they claim are military satellites
    which may or may not be accurate. That's just fine with us," said spokesperson
    Rick Oborn."
    Ted Molczan
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