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Satellite ‘safe zone’ isn’t that safe after all

White House wants plans for GPS shutdown

Global Positioning System would be disabled during crisis to keep enemies from using it

By Ted Bridis
Technology Writer
The Associated Press
Updated: 8:54 p.m. ET Dec. 15, 2004


WASHINGTON - President Bush has ordered plans for temporarily disabling the U.S. network of global positioning satellites during a national crisis to prevent terrorists from using the navigational technology, the White House said Wednesday.

Any shutdown of the network inside the United States would come under only the most remarkable circumstances, said a Bush administration official who spoke to a small group of reporters at the White House on condition of anonymity.

The GPS system is vital to commercial aviation and marine shipping.

The president also instructed the Defense Department to develop plans to disable, in certain areas, an enemy’s access to the U.S. navigational satellites and to similar systems operated by others. The European Union is developing a $4.8 billion satellite navigation program called Galileo.

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