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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
The U.S.'s top intelligence official has greatly expanded the range of federal and local authorities who can get access to information from the nation's vast network of spy satellites in the U.S.
The decision, made three months ago by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, places for the first time some of the U.S.'s most powerful intelligence-gathering tools at the disposal of domestic security officials.
Access to the high-tech surveillance tools would, for the first time, allow Homeland Security and law-enforcement officials to see real-time, high-resolution images and data, which would allow them, for example, to identify smuggler staging areas, a gang safehouse, or possibly even a building being used by would-be terrorists to manufacture chemical weapons.
Fortunately, this system is incapable of being abused, because of magical incantations that will be placed upon it. Also, our officials can never be corrupted by power, because they are as gods.
[...] Plans to provide DHS with significantly expanded access have been on the drawing board for over two years. The idea was first talked about as a possibility by the Central Intelligence Agency after 9/11 as a way to help better secure the country. "It is an idea whose time has arrived," says Charles Allen, the DHS's chief intelligence officer, who will be in charge of the new program.
Of course it has. So has the ability to listen to everyone's phone calls, and to use audio amplifiers to listen to everyone's conversations, whether outdoors, or with a laser on the windows to "hear" the sound vibrations of what you're saying indoors!
It's the Wonderful Worldwide Wire!
DHS officials say the program has been granted a budget by Congress and has the approval of the relevant committees in both chambers.
[...] Access to the satellite surveillance will be controlled by a new Homeland Security branch -- the National Applications Office -- which will be up and running in October.
Unlike electronic eavesdropping, which is subject to legislative and some judicial control, this use of spy satellites is largely uncharted territory. Although the courts have permitted warrantless aerial searches of private property by law-enforcement aircraft, there are no cases involving the use of satellite technology.
In recent years, some military experts have questioned whether domestic use of such satellites would violate the Posse Comitatus Act. The act bars the military from engaging in law-enforcement activity inside the U.S., and the satellites were predominantly built for and owned by the Defense Department.
According to Pentagon officials, the government has in the past been able to supply information from spy satellites to federal law-enforcement agencies, but that was done on a case-by-case basis and only with special permission from the president.
Even the architects of the current move are unclear about the legal boundaries. A 2005 study commissioned by the U.S. intelligence community, which recommended granting access to the spy satellites for Homeland Security, noted: "There is little if any policy, guidance or procedures regarding the collection, exploitation and dissemination of domestic MASINT." MASINT stands for Measurement and Signatures Intelligence, a particular kind of information collected by spy satellites which would for the first time become available to civilian agencies.
According to defense experts, MASINT uses radar, lasers, infrared, electromagnetic data and other technologies to see through cloud cover, forest canopies and even concrete to create images or gather data.
Because "largely uncharted territory" and "unclear about the legal boundaries" and "little if any policy, guidance or procedures" are always the way to go when we're considering mere civil liberties.
Anyone remember being brought up on rhetoric about how America stood for freedom and liberty?
What do those words mean any more?
Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5; you may not watch them, but they're watching you. It's to keep us safer! If we don't do it, the terrorists win!
[...] let me assure you that some of these satellites most assuredly can read heat/infrared inside buildings. That capacity goes back to the Seventies; I well recall reading William Burrows' Deep Black in manuscript when I was at Avon back circa 1987 (unsuccessfully; my boss was unconvinced it was a paperback, which wasn't an entirely unfair judgment), and which became the declassified bible on intel satellite capabilities for a bunch of years, though it's now out of print and out of date, last I looked.
But just a little googling would confirm this capability, I assure you. It's as basic to cutting through clouds, after all, as is radar capability.
The main limitation on satellites these days is time over station: not so much resolution (though obviously there are limits -- but we really are vague on what those are, unless "we" have major clearance) or spectrum.
You can look up some of the capabilities here. For more IMINT (imagery intel) see here.
[...] These electronic cameras provide real-time transmission of images to ground stations via Milstar relay satellites. The IMPROVED CRYSTAL sensors operate in visible and near infrared light, as well as thermal infrared to detect heat sources. These sensors probably incorporate low-light-level image intensifiers to provide night-time images. The KH-12's have an infrared capability superior to that of the IMPROVED CRYSTAL, with the advantage in infrared primarily for camouflage detection, for looking at buried structures, for looking at differential thermal inertia in the target area, for trying to determine which factories are operating and which factories are not.
A key (pardon me) element:
[...] A periscope-like rotating mirror reflects images onto the primary mirror, enabling the KH-12 to take pictures at very high angles of obliquity, imaging objects hundreds of kilometers away from its flight path.
If you like, read more here on TENCAP (Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities), and a huge slew of satellite and other overhead program capabilities, including SIGINT (signals intel) as well as IMINT.
And check out this on 3-D imaging capability. But first:
[...] They are known in the spy trade as “Keyhole-class” satellites. And they have a resolution of 5 to 6 inches, meaning they can distinguish an object that small, but no smaller, on the ground. Two other satellites are radar-imaging, built by Lockheed Martin in Watertown, Colo. Their resolution is about 3 feet.
Later in the story:
[...] Using initially a Cray supercomputer and now smaller computers, NIMA analysts create 3-D animations — called “envisions” — for policymakers so they can understand problems faced by peacekeepers or soldiers before they make decisions on deployment.
Similar animations were shown to pilots at preflight briefings in 1995 to help them prepare for bombing runs over Bosnia. Multiple route plans have been animated so the pilots know the advantages and disadvantages of each.
And the simulations can be just as useful in the battles against terrorism and narcotics. The CIA has pulled together street-by-street urban landscapes that are used to prepare intelligence officers and agents for missions to “denied areas” like South Beirut before they arrive on scene. With some newly acquired technology, those officers and agents can use a joystick to take a virtual “stroll” through such an area long before they arrive.
Pike says that NIMA now maintains an imaging archive that can be accessed via the closest server.
“Until the past few years, the imagery, even though the downlink was digital, had to be converted to film — because physically, the intelligence community didn’t have the bandwidth to move it,” says Pike. “During Desert Storm, an airplane had to fly the pictures to Saudi.”
Now, he notes, there is enough bandwidth to sent these multi-gigabyte images to wherever they are needed.
These 3-D capabilities can even help intelligence analysts determine what a terrorist or drug lord’s intentions might be. For example, if analysts know that a suspected terrorist has rented an eighth-floor apartment in a particular building, they can order a 3-D re-creation of that neighborhood. By “flying” through the neighborhood 80 feet above the ground and freezing the view in front of the suspect’s apartment, the analysts see what the suspect sees — and perhaps gets a good view of what’s being targeted.
And the analysts are not limited to satellite imagery. They can add information gathered from other sources to create a more complete 3-D image.
Here are three examples: a CIA agent covertly takes photographs of a “denied area,” like south Beirut. Those photos can be added to the 3-D animation of the neighborhood, created mainly from satellite imagery, yielding a more realistic look for the CIA officer or commando who will follow him.
In the second example, a CIA agent obtains technical data, but not a photograph, on China’s new F-10. When the Chinese roll out a mock-up of the F-10 and a Keyhole satellite snaps its picture, the analyst can take a look at the imagery and then add in the technical data to create a better, fuller and more compelling view for policymakers and military intelligence officers.
Finally, an analyst can combine unclassified, low-resolution, multispectral imagery of North Korea’s nuclear reactor — the kind that shows heat and ultraviolet emissions — with classified high-resolution Keyhole imagery of the same reactor. The commercially available low-resolution imagery can sense a rise in heat — and thus the operational tempo at the reactor — while the high-resolution imagery can watch for the movement of fuel rods or other equipment at the reactor.
“We have become very good at fusing imagery from visible light and radar imaging satellites with imagery from multispectral satellites, which are unclassified,” says Richelson.
Richelson notes that each has its strengths. For example, the classified radar-imaging satellites — initially code-named “Lacrosse” — can see through clouds and at night and to some extent can even see underground. The recent discovery of the ruins of ancient Arabian cities provides the best unclassified example of radar-imaging capability.
Radar images can also be digitally rearranged to create the perspective of seeing the target from all sides, an immense value in the analysis of foreign weapons systems and military installations.
Satellites that have infrared cameras, like the unclassified Landsat, can better detect targets that are camouflaged.
“So, multispectral or hyperspectral imagery can be combined with visible light imagery to detect things that each alone can’t detect,” Richelson said.
Another, newer capability of imagery analysis involves “modeling” — creating 3-D computerized models of buildings, ships, planes and other objects, then combining them to obtain further information. One recent example involved manipulating an image of a North Korean freighter to obtain the ship’s internal dimensions, cargo-loading capabilities and maximum load. Then the analyst modeled an image of a North Korean Scud missile. By adding details on the ship’s history and North Korean sales of missiles to other nations, the analyst produced a 3-D model that could help determine how many missiles were loaded on a freighter headed for Iran.
The CIA can now use artificial intelligence along with modeling to match a known building to an unknown location. The analyst and computer scientist can take a covertly obtained blueprint, create a digital model of the facility, then “ask” a computer to scan the available imagery and find the completed facility.
The key to understanding all these advances is knowing the real value of digital imagery: the capacity to manipulate, model and combine.
This is all stuff from back in the Nineties.
All this stuff, and what's come since, will now be directed at you.
Oh, and I forgot to mention MISTY. Remember MISTY?
And I probably should clarify that so far as we know, no, unlike tv and movies, there's still no live video capability, and most likely not even color capability (if it's there, there have been no leaks yet). But they can do live stills, and if you don't need live capacity, the combined 3-D modeling capability I quote about above is obviously amazing.
On the other hand, the ability to follow specific locales is highly limited: there are only so many satellites, so a panopticon it isn't yet.
It's the threshold-crossing here that's revolutionary, and crucial. All this stuff was never supposed to be used against Americans. Now it's suddenly okay. Trust the government!
ADDENDUM, 8/16/07, 1:31 a.m.: Washington Postcoverage.
The Bush administration has approved a plan to expand domestic access to some of the most powerful tools of 21st-century spycraft, giving law enforcement officials and others the ability to view data obtained from satellite and aircraft sensors that can see through cloud cover and even penetrate buildings and underground bunkers.
A program approved by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security will allow broader domestic use of secret overhead imagery beginning as early as this fall, with the expectation that state and local law enforcement officials will eventually be able to tap into technology once largely restricted to foreign surveillance.
Other nonvisual capabilities can be provided by aircraft-based sensors, which include ground-penetrating radar and highly sensitive detectors that can sense electromagnetic activity, radioactivity or traces of chemicals, military experts said. Such radar can be used to find objects hidden in buildings or bunkers.
Etc. Italics mine.
How does the bureaucracy work? Like this:
[...] The two officials have been coordinating for months, as recommended in a 2005 study headed by Keith Hall, then the director of the National Reconnaissance Office.
Hall's group cited an "urgent need" for expanding sharing of remote sensing data to domestic groups other than scientific researchers. "Opportunities to better protect the nation are being missed," the report said.
The NRO finds that there's an "urgent need" for more "customers" in government for their "product." They, too, can better justify more money and positions with more "customers" if, like so many others both in government and the private sector, they can feed at the trough of money for "homeland security." That's how it works. [ADDENDUM, 8/21/07, 4:02 p.m.: Jim Henley ably commented on this the other day.]
[...] Under the new program, the DHS will create a subordinate agency to be known as the National Applications Office. The new office, which has gained the backing of congressional intelligence and appropriations committees, is responsible for coordinating requests for access to intelligence by civilian agencies.
FYI, NAO: ok.
[...] "We can give total assurance" that Americans' civil liberties will be protected, Allen said. "Americans shouldn't have any concerns about it."
Everyone just take his word for it! It's the government, so we can trust them!
ADDENDUM, 11:01 a.m.: It's probably not a good idea to make this post much longer, as it's already long past the length many will bother to read, let alone click on the links to, but so it goes. This was sent to me by a reader who prefers to stay anonymous, and it seems credible and unsurprising:
[...] A few years ago I interviewed for a software engineering job at Lawrence Livermore national lab. The job description was quite vague, but reading between the lines it sounded like they wanted people to write software to analyze satellite imagery looking at nuclear sites.
That seemed strange since there are other agencies in the government that had that expertise, but I shrugged it off and submitted a resume.
A few weeks later they flew me in for an interview and finally explained what they were doing. They had to set up an adaptive optics camera assembly and put it in a helicopter. As a demo, they flew over San Francisco and employed their special camera and processing software to track vehicles. The demo involved tracking all vehicles in a 10 km by 10 km square, with plans to scale the system up to a 30 km by 30 km square.
It turns out that the software needed to process that data in real time is rather simple to write given a modern graphics card. And of course, once you can track vehicles, you can track individuals since vehicles tend to leave or return to people's houses, which can be easily identified by mapping street addresses to GIS coordinates.
I saw a video of their demo and it was very impressive. And it wasn't completely evil; they got very quiet when I asked certain types of questions, but my hunch was that they had expensive nuclear detectors that could only be used at a few points in a city. Put the detectors along highways and combine it with this system and you gain the ability to track the origin and destination of vehicles carrying nuclear material. Not a risk that worries me personally, but something that various government folk are overly concerned with.
Anyway, this option is much, much cheaper than satellite work.
Sure. And, obviously, there are endless sorts of surveillance capabilities; certainly datamining and vast webs of street cameras, and pointable audio pick-ups, and the like are more immediately threatening than satellites, but none should be ignored, and the sudden change of our government's legal attitudes are critical.
Gary and Spirula, you seemed to have missed the point i was trying to make. the post was not advocating shutting down the borders but rather questioning our expansion of spy satellite network access that supposed to keep us safe. If we were truly concerned with keeping Americans safe, don't you believe we should start with protection of the borders?
In other words, those in charge are not truly concerned with real safety, but rather looking for ways to tighten the grips of our freedoms.
Let me repeat...I am not advocating shutting off the borders, but if you TRULY want us to believe you are trying to protect us, you do not leave them WIDE OPEN.