There was a time when you could walk down the street with an index finger on a spelunking mission, fairly sure the world wouldn't share a chuckle over a photo of the act. Thanks to the Street View feature of Google Maps, Murphy's Law dictates that this will happen to you. Tomorrow. The defense? Wear a very large hat.
So I was quite surprised by Matthew Kalman's recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle about sensitive Israel security installations being "jeopardized" by Google Maps. Clearly, issues such as labeling and mass distribution transcend the origin of these photos. The irony is, most "top-secret" sites-- in Israel or anywhere else-- tend to be surrounded by tall fences, German shepherds, and roving bands of guards with very large machine guns. Shhh! Don't tell anyone where the Pentagon's located.
Granted, it is access that's an issue-- photographs "where anyone can get them," as the cliche goes. But John Anyone is looking for topless sunbathers, not nuclear weapons facilities. As for relationships between governments regarding one another as hostile (possessing the motivation, sophistication and resources necessary for actual physical interaction with these sites), spying from above is old news. Very old. When the United States' National Security Agency, National Reconnaissance Office and Naval Research Lab declassified information about a project called POPPY, we learned that such snooping from above has been happening since 1962. Even earlier, the U2 spy plane controversy served as a wake-up call to invest in large tarps... some 47 years ago!
The Chinese seemed to have taken heed-- the Washington Post having revealed what appears to be a "submarine tunnel" at the Jianggezhuang Base on the Yellow Sea. The U.S. and Russia have no doubt already adopted similar clandestine measures... if none such have been discovered, that could just mean they're working!
Gretel Ehrlich's book, This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland, includes excerpts from a Japanese film crew's interview of expatriate Ikuo Oshima, conducted in 1997. He had a unique perspective on the subject:
"When I look up at the night sky I see satellites. Now I hear about the ones that are so strong, they can see a car license... I still get my food with a harpoon, same as the hunters a thousand years ago. This makes me wonder what that satellite sees: on one side of the world it sees Tokyo and on the other side it sees me standing at the ice edge dressed in polar bear pants and holding a harpoon. What does this make the satellite feel? Maybe confused and broken."
by Eric Duby
Related Galaxy Posts:
Cryptome -The Google of Secrets
The New, Real "Minority Report": How the U.S. Gov't Aims to Catch Criminals That Haven’t Yet Committed a Crime
The Rise of the Surveillance Society—“Big Brother” or Common Sense?
Cyber Warfare: What the Pentagon Security Breech Says About the Future
The Manchurian Bot
Motion Tracking - Sci-Fi Meets Real World