Do you have any privacy left when Big Brother can spy on you from space -- or through your walls?

WASHINGTON, DC -- Spy satellites. Gamma ray scanners. Thermal-imaging devices.

It's not science fiction -- it's a list of the exotic, high-tech surveillance equipment the government now uses to monitor, track, and arrest American citizens, the Libertarian Party pointed out today.

"Yesterday's science fiction has become today's political reality," said Steve Dasbach, the party's national chairman. "High-tech military equipment that was once used against foreign armies is now being used against American citizens on a routine basis."

As a result, the Fourth Amendment's protection against "unreasonable search" is under technological siege, he warned - and government agencies are rushing to take advantage of this new power.

"Most people don't realize it, but law enforcement agencies are now spying on us through the walls of our houses, taking high-resolution photographs of us from space, and conducting drug tests based on trace elements of chemicals in the air," said Dasbach.

Paranoid fantasy? Not at all: Such high-tech surveillance equipment is becoming an increasingly common tool for law enforcement, according to reports in USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.

Here's a sampling of how state and federal agencies are using this terrifying technology to spy on Americans:
* In North Carolina, county governments use high-resolution spy satellite photographs to search for property improvements that might increase property tax assessments.
* On the Mexican border, police use a "gamma ray scanner" to check tanker trucks for contraband, scanning right through the vehicle's metal sides.
* The Naval Surface Warfare Center has developed an "ion sniffer," a metal box that analyzes the chemical makeup of the air --and can detect, for example, traces of cocaine through the skin days after drug use.
* In Georgia, the state's Department of Revenue will start using NASA satellites to examine the state's 58,910 square miles for illegal timber cutting.
* In New Jersey, California, and other states, police use thermal imaging devices to scan houses for unusual heat sources that could indicate indoor marijuana growing operations. Houses can be scanned while police sit in their cruisers on the street.
* And in Arizona, the state's Department of Water Resources uses spy satellite photographs to monitor 750,000 acres of state farmland, and compares the images to a database to discover which farmers don't have irrigation permits.
Even worse: The federal government will spend another $4.5 million this year to develop even more intrusive surveillance equipment.
Currently under development by the Justice Department: A "super x-ray" -- combining traditional x-ray technology, ultra-sound imaging, and computer-aided metal detectors -- to reveal items hidden under clothes from up to 60 feet away.

The courts are currently wrestling with the implications of the new technology, debating the limits of the government's power to "search" individuals from a distance with high-tech gadgets. Several contradictory court decisions have already emerged, for example, about whether thermal-imaging searches are Constitutional.

Meanwhile, Republican and Democratic politicians continue to look for new uses of the technology -- with some government officials already talking about using satellite surveillance to track items as small as backyard porches to check for zoning violations and construction permits.

"In the name of fighting crime, politicians seem eager to obliterate the protections against unreasonable search, with equipment that Americans used to only read about in Tom Clancy technothrillers," said Dasbach. "It's time for the American public to wake up and realize that Big Brother is here today -- and he's got a gamma ray scanner in his hand."