Possession of the keys, known as DNSSec, would let the U.S. government spoof IP addresses and prevent citizens of any other nation from doing so. It's a sign of just how distrusted the U.S. has become under President Bush that ICANN might do this. It's a sign of just how real those suspicions are that I would support it.
While observers like ICANNWatch see this as an attempt to avoid legal responsibility, it would also help sidestep a recent Department of Homeland Security demand that it turn over the master key for the DNS root zone, which controls the network.
Heisse Online, a German site, seems to be the only organization reporting correctly on what is going on, although their report couches all this in technical terms.