Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Defense Roundup....

  • Ever wanted to know every satellite that is in orbit above the Earth? Now you can, thanks to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Is this a good thing? Let's look.

Have you ever seen Patriot Games? You know, the movie where America found out how cool Sean Bean is? In that film, there is a (fictional) terrorist training camp in North Africa. When the CIA tries to get a look at this camp, they don't see anything. Why? Because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out satellite trajectories and ETAs (actually, it takes a hobbyist Astronomer, at most). I use the Patriot Games example because it's something I figure many people are familiar with.

Now, you take the knowledge that the US has an over-reliance on electronic forms of surveillance, add to that the knowledge that it isn't tough to figure out (and thus avoid) when a satellite is going to be overhead, and combine that with this new MS Excel spreadsheet, what do you get? Decreased intelligence capability? Maybe some people angry over at the NRO?

I'm all for transparency in government, but when it directly affects the operational capability of covert agencies, maybe it's something to think twice about.

  • If you've never seen secret government documents, check out these cover sheets. If you have seen secret documents, check out those cover sheets. And if you handle secret documents, ask your boss before using them (from Federation of American Scientists).
  • Ever wondered what a nuclear weapon would do to a city? Have you had debates on the differences between a 1kt yield and a 4 mt yield? Have you ever found yourself watching T2 and asking, "I wonder just how much of LA would have been affected by that blast?" Now you can have all those questions answered! See the FAS' Nuclear Weapon Effects Calculator.
  • From the Nuclear Threat Initiative: Russian prison connections lead to nuke smuggling? That's what two researchers from American University think. They argue that Islamic terrorists are meeting organized crime members in Russian prisons and forging links that could include nuclear materials smuggling.
  • Also from the NTI today, remember at the beginning of the movie The Rock, when Ed Harris and his Marines/Mercs are raiding the CW depot, and the guy accidently drops the little pretty green orb, and his skin melts off? That was a dramatization of the effects of VX gas. The Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, between Nov. 29 and Dec. 6, destroyed 3,000 pounds of VX agent, brining their total destroyed to 71,906 lbs! Wanna know what's really great? Those 36 tons equal... 3% of the site's stockpile.
  • How's two 90's action films references in one article for you? In unrelated news (one could relate it since, I have mentioned a Michael Bay film already, and Sean Bean was in Patriot Games), Michael Bay's The Island is out on DVD today. It's one of my fav films this year, and certainly worth checking out. But for some reason the DVD is lame. Picture quality is nice, but other than that, there isn't much there.

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