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Report: GPS could be terrorist target

By Jeanne Meserve
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new report says the Global Positioning System is vulnerable to terrorist disruption and immediate steps should be taken to boost its security.

The report, from Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, says GPS has important defense and civilian applications. It also plays a critical role in telecommunications, the national electrical grid, the financial sector, and the transportation industry, the report says.

Titled "Defending the American Homeland," the Heritage report sets priorities for protecting the nation's infrastructure, strengthening civil defense, improving intelligence and modifying military operations.

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Among its recommendations: free the National Guard from overseas responsibilities and use it in support of homeland defense and increasing the number of GPS satellites.

The authors, including the Reagan administration's ambassador at large for counterterrorism, L.Paul Bremmer, suggest GPS should be classified as "critical infrastructure."

GPS is vulnerable because it uses a very low-power signal that can be interrupted, according to the report, which says Russia is actively marketing GPS jamming equipment.

Another report, completed for the Department of Transportation in August, acknowledges the threat of GPS jamming. The threat to safety, environmental and economic transportation concerns could be "severe," it concludes.

The Heritage Foundation, which supports development of a missile defense system, says ballistic missile technology already in the possession of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea also poses a risk to GPS satellites. Experts outside the foundation say the threat of ballistic missile attack is remote because GPS satellites are small and have high orbits.



 
 
 
 



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