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Defense bill makes US-based Russian satellite monitoring stations 'next to impossible' due to spying fears

Brian Heater

The State Department hoped the building of satellite monitoring stations might soften tempers between the US and Russia, which have flared in the wake of asylum for Edward Snowden and arguments over Syrian politcs. Congressional Republicans, the Pentagon and the CIA, on the other hand, had different ideas, suggesting that US-based stations built to support Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) - the Russian equivalent to GPS - could help the country's spying efforts. And now language included in a defense bill signed by President Obama late last week likely marks the end of the project - for now, at least.

An anonymous Republican aide told The New York Times that, "the idea was to make it next to impossible, if not impossible, to do this," essentially removing the State Department from the process as, "they were the ones who caused all the trouble in the first place." The plan, intended to improve GLONASS's accuracy, would require the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defense to assure Congress that the stations wouldn't be used to spy on the US to get the green light.

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