America under surveillance

Granted new power to spy inside the U.S., the Bush administration may be doing more than eavesdropping on phone calls — it could be watching suspects’ every move.

By Tim Shorrock

Aug. 9, 2007 | In the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 1, 2005, a U-2 surveillance aircraft known as the Dragon Lady lifted off the runway at Beale Air Force Base in California, the home of the U.S. Air Force 9th Reconnaissance Wing and one of the most important outposts in the U.S. intelligence world. Originally built in secret by Lockheed Corp. for the Central Intelligence Agency, the U-2 has provided some of the most sensitive intelligence available to the U.S. government, including thousands of photographs of Soviet and Chinese military bases, North Korean nuclear sites, and war zones from Afghanistan to Iraq.

But the aircraft that took off that September morning wasn’t headed overseas to spy on America’s enemies. Instead, for the next six hours it flew directly over the U.S. Gulf Coast, capturing hundreds of high-resolution images as Hurricane Katrina, one of the largest storms of the past century, slammed into New Orleans and the surrounding region.

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