Despite a recent infusion of federal funds to Boeing, the FIA situation has become so worrisome that Representatives Porter Goss of Florida and Jane Harman of California, respectively the top chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, last week visited Boeing's Los Angeles-area complex to investigate. They also held a closed-door hearing on the subject last week, with more planned. In part to cut wear-and-tear on existing satellites which one source said are already operating as much as 20% below their original image-gathering capacity and reserve time for intelligence needs, CIA Director George Tenet last June ordered that virtually all government mapping be done with commercial imagery. In a memo whose tone sources interpreted as reflecting an urgent situation, Tenet ordered that government spy satellites "only be tasked under exceptional circumstances" for mapping.
Boeing is struggling to get FIA back on track, but officials are still worried. As one U.S. official put it: "We're not quite sure how long our existing satellites are going to last. Some of them are beyond their expected life, so it's kind of like you just sit there and you're thankful every day that they work."