RE: N Korea needs us!

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Tue Aug 10 2004 - 09:51:47 EDT

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    Graham wrote:
    > What has this N Korea nonsense got to do with this dissussion?,
    > as it this data would be used by North Korea!,this
    > is wildly throwing reality out the window.Arm chair
    > sluths get real!.The only people using this data
    > for destructive purposes  would be Al Qaeda
    > sympathizers.Stick to the facts and reality
    The reality is that Al Qaeda has little or nothing to gain from knowing the
    precise orbits of spy satellites.
    Soon after the shock of the 9-11 attacks, came the further shock that the
    perpetrators had lived and trained to fly aircraft in such lovely communities as
    Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach and Delray Beach, all located in South Florida,
    U.S.A. They had hidden in plain sight, coincidentally, in places which one can
    be certain were not tasked for U.S. spysat imaging.
    Even if they had been training in countries routinely tasked for imaging,
    terrorists operate on such a small scale that they are nearly impossible to
    distinguish from the communities in which they reside.
    Imaging reconnaissance satellites are products of the cold war, designed to
    image missiles, aircraft, naval vessels, tanks, and their supporting military
    bases and industrial infrastructure (e.g. factories, railways, sea ports). Most
    of these facilities are large and fixed in location, often taking years to
    construct - all of which make them ideal imaging targets. Despite Russia's
    robust capability to track the imagers, which informed their deception and
    denial programs, it could not hide everything it did, all of the time.
    In contrast, terrorists hide out in rural caves and urban safe houses, drive
    around in cars and SUVs, and the closest thing they have to military bases are
    little more than boot camps. They do not remain in one place very long. All of
    this makes them poor targets for imaging.
    Consider the 9-11 perpetrators. As far as is known, their principle activities
    consisted of surveilling their targets (by visiting them, much as a tourist
    would), taking flying lessons, personal combat training, and meeting in hotel
    rooms in the U.S. and abroad. None of this would have stood out meaningfully in
    a satellite image. 
    Much more useful against terrorists are the SIGINT (signals intelligence)
    satellites, which can intercept communications transmitted via radio. The
    satellites in question operate in very high orbits, of the geosynchronous and
    Molniya class. Knowing the precise orbits of SIGINT sats is of zero use to
    terrorists because there is virtually no place on Earth that is not under the
    constant surveillance of one or more such satellites. The only certain way for
    the terrorists to evade detection by such satellites is to avoid modes of
    communication which involve radio transmissions, which they did not learn from
    > Do as others have done and tighten access
    > to data.Turning security into a joke isn't only idiotic,
    > it's dangerous.
    The roughly dozen or so folks who contribute most of the spy sat observations
    are mostly mature, well-educated, thoughtful people, from around the world,
    including the U.S.A. Our professions include law, science, applied sciences, and
    business. We range in age from 51 to 78 years (median 63 years). I cannot recall
    the last time any of us joked about security on SeeSat-L. Nor do we joke about
    it in private.
    I do not pretend to speak for the others, but as I see it, what would be truly
    idiotic, and dangerous to democracy, would be to engage in meaningless
    self-censorship, either in the mistaken belief that it would do any good, or out
    of concern for our image.
    Ted Molczan
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