Given that Americans are overwhelmingly concerned about the Federal government’s surveillance efforts in the wake of leaks providing evidence that the National Security Agency has abused its powers and routinely disregarded privacy protections, officials at the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office appear oblivious of current events or are simply unconcerned about the image they present to the American people.
A spy satellite named NROL-39, launched by the office Thursday night, features a new logo portraying a sinister-looking octopus wrapping its tentacles around the globe. A tagline at the bottom of the logo informs: “NOTHING IS BEYOND OUR REACH.”
After questions about the logo intended message arose, an agency spokesperson told Forbes that the logo was not meant to have a sinister connotation.
“NROL-39 is represented by the octopus, a versatile, adaptable, and highly intelligent creature. Emblematically, enemies of the United States can be reached no matter where they choose to hide,” said Karen Furgerson. “‘Nothing is beyond our reach’ defines this mission and the value it brings to our nation and the warfighters it supports, who serve valiantly all over the globe, protecting our nation.”
— Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) December 5, 2013
If you were hoping to find out for yourself if the NROL-39 mission comes with any privacy concerns rather than taking NRO’s word, however, you are out of luck. The mission, like most all of the agency’s undertakings, is classified.
Nasaspaceflight.com reports that launch trajectory suggests NROL-39 is likely carrying a secretive payload that includes satellite for the agency’s radar reconnaissance fleet and a number of “nanosatellites” for scientific missions.
American Civil Liberties Union chief technologist Chris Soghoian offered the agency a bit of unsolicited advice via Twitter Thursday:
— Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian) December 5, 2013
Conversely, such in-your-face reminders of the government’s surveillance-state mentality may be just what the American public needs to maintain vigorous opposition to the government’s abrogation of privacy.