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Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Defense Companies Battle Over Lucrative New Satellite Program

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By KATHERINE SHRADER
Associated Press Writer

Others in Congress and government have grown displeased about the costs of satellites, especially when agencies could be buying relatively cheap information from human spies paid in cash.

Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, said in several decades as an intelligence consumer, he rarely got useful information from satellite imagery. "Occasionally, you got something good, but not nearly worth the price we were paying for these things."

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., said Negroponte should offer a plan that outlines what the U.S. wants from satellites and its "woefully inadequate" human intelligence. Yet lawmakers, he said, won't be a "rubber stamp" for Negroponte's ideas.

Some tweaking of Negroponte's space plan has begun; more could come next month in legislation that authorizes and funds spy satellites.

Thompson said Lockheed has almost sealed the victory on Future Imagery Architecture. But, he added, "I would never underestimate Jane Harman's ability to influence events. She is very smart and a very strong member of Congress."


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