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The Skylab-Area 51 Incident

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the back-in-time dept.

NASA 334

IZ Reloaded writes "The Space Review has an interesting story written by Dwayne Day about the 1974 incident when astronauts onboard Skylab took photos of a facility that did not exist in the US called Area 51. From The Space Review: What the memo indicates is that there was a difference between the way the civilian agencies of the US government and the military agencies looked at their roles. NASA had ties to the military, but it was clearly a civilian agency. And although the reasons why NASA officials felt that the photo should be released are unknown, the most likely explanation is that NASA officials did not feel that the civilian agency should conceal any of its activities. Many of NASA's relations with other organizations and foreign governments were based on the assumption that NASA did not engage in spying and did not conceal its activities."

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A Closer Look (5, Interesting)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435493)


Good story, but it would have been interesting to see the actual picture taken by the astronauts in 1974, rather than the Geological Survey pic taken in 1968.

By the way, if you're interested in a higher-resolution look at Area 51, just point your Google Earth to 37 d 14' N, 115 d 49' W.

Re:A Closer Look (3, Interesting)

metternich (888601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435504)

Many foreign miltaries are complaining that google details their installations just a little too well...

Re:A Closer Look (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435625)

I guess public space imagery matters if your biggest military rivals don't have their own satellites. Our biggest rival in 1974 was in space before we were, so I don't see what made this such an issue.

Re:A Closer Look (5, Insightful)

JasonBee (622390) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435694)

Well fie on them - Google doesn't own any satellites last I checked.

If you want to buy sub 1-metre resolution satellite pics just go the SPOT consortium in
France. Any interested parties will BUY their data at FAR greater resolution than what
Google supplies.

Meh

Re:A Closer Look (5, Informative)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435568)

RTFA. The photo is still classified, even if the fact that it exists is not.

Re:A Closer Look (3, Insightful)

christian.elliott (892060) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435569)

The article states the the picture taken by those astronauts wasn't of high resolution, therefore nothing could really be seen from the photo (other than the fact that it was there). It was more the fact that the photo itself was taken against the rules laid out and that they were able to take the photo and see where it was.

Re:A Closer Look (1)

_Shorty-dammit (555739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435641)

actually, you just need to enter 'area 51' in the search entry box.

Re:A Closer Look (1)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435834)

... or just type in 'Area 51'

Area 51 is not Unidentified (5, Interesting)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435501)

Area 51 on google maps [google.com]

I watched a History Channel documentary on Area 51 recently titled 'History's Mysteries: Area 51: Beyond Top Secret,' it was very interesting.
Link: http://store.aetv.com/html/product/index.jhtml?id= 73034 [aetv.com]

Interesting Area 51 facts:
Area 51 has the longest runways in the world.
Area 51 was the test site for the U2, SR-71, B2, and F-117 aircraft.
Area 51 is heavily guarded, and can only be seen from a mountaintop 24 miles away with a high-powered telescope.
You can scavenge aircraft wreckage from around its perimeter with a metal detector and sometimes are able to see the craft name and manufacturer on some of the pieces.
Area 51 employees bury most of the wreckage of crashed aircraft on its site in order for them not to end up in public scrap yards.
Area 51 has captured Russian Mig and other Russian aircraft which they flew and tested.
Area 51 was first officially acknowledged to exist in 1995 due to lawsuit from some of its employees against the US government.
Area 51 has the largest collection of fully-functional extra-terrestrial spacecraft in our Solar System (okay, I just made that last one up.)

Re:Area 51 is not Unidentified (5, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435547)

Area 51 has captured Russian Mig and other Russian aircraft which they flew and tested.

One small quibble.
Not necessarily 'captured'. We were given several MiG's and Sukoi's in 1990/91 by the German AF, after they merged with the former East German AF.

Re:Area 51 is not Unidentified (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435594)

I believe 'captured' was the word they used on the History Channel documentary.

Re:Area 51 is not Unidentified (3, Informative)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435650)

Not necessarily 'captured'. We were given several MiG's and Sukoi's in 1990/91 by the German AF, after they merged with the former East German AF.


While I've heard we were given some MiGs in the past, I also heard this rumor once.

That at once point (probably a while ago) we did "capture" a MiG or whatever. I think it went along the lines that he had to land for mechanical failure or we forced him to land or something.

In any case, what makes the story stand out is that we eventaully sent the MiG back in several boxes (ie, after we'd taken it apart to see what it had).

Any idea if this is true?

Re:Area 51 is not Unidentified (3, Informative)

Ours (596171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435712)

From what I've read, when the US had "obtained" equipment from the Soviets (and vice-versa), they had to return it if the other side knew of it and could prove it. In the time they had to return it they would certainly pick it appart and gather as much data as they could before sending it back in whatever state they are willing to lie that the aircraft was when it "crashlanded" or "got trashed during shipping". I guess they had to return the vehicules otherwise it would have been considered and act of war. PS: Planes where also obtained by the way of defecting pilots. Whether the planes where returned or not is not certain, I'm guessing that they where.

Re:Area 51 is not Unidentified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435787)

'were' does not have have a silent 'h'.

Re:Area 51 is not Unidentified (5, Informative)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435974)

>at once point (probably a while ago) we did "capture" a MiG or whatever

Yes, there was a Russian pilot who defected by flying his jet to Japan.

* On 6 September 1976, a Soviet pilot, Lieutenant Viktor Belenko, decided to defect to the West. He flew his aircraft, a Mikoyan "MiG-25" interceptor, from Siberia to Japan. The "Foxbat", as it was known in the West, was one of the most advanced aircraft fielded by the USSR to that time, and it had figured prominently in the nightmares of Western military officials.

http://www.vectorsite.net/avmig25.html [vectorsite.net]

There was also this program that attempt to steal a combat-ready Russian MiG-15 Fighter for one hundred thousand dollars

http://www.psywarrior.com/Moolah.html [psywarrior.com]

The canopy opened, and from the plane stepped a cocky young lieutenant in a blue flying suit. While the American pilots watched in open-mouthed wonder, the Red pilot tore up a photograph of North Korean dictator Kim il-Sung, and handed his pistol to a nearby F-86 pilot in a jeep on the way to the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing Headquarters. Early reports were that he had torn up a picture of his girlfriend, but North Korean pilots were not allowed to have girlfriends during the war. They were warned that many girls were South Korean spies.

After a few moments of shock, the defector was rushed to intelligence while his MiG Fighter was placed in a well-guarded hangar. The North Korean Lieutenant, No Kum-Sok, explained his motives to the officers assigned to interrogate him.

Re:Area 51 is not Unidentified (2, Informative)

ptomblin (1378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435658)

They had MiGs there long before the reunification of Germany. Many were presents from the Israelis who captured them in their various wars. Some came after Israel signed the peace deal with Egypt - Egypt got modern western aircraft, and the US got a bunch of their old Soviet equipment. And some where flat-out purchased from non-aligned nations.

Re:Area 51 is not Unidentified (1)

Demon-Xanth (100910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435592)

I had an instructor that was in the Air Force and had a friend that worked in area 51. He made the following statement:

"What is there is man made, but he'll die before he says what it is."

Re:Area 51 is not Unidentified (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435682)

Area 51 has the largest collection of fully-functional extra-terrestrial spacecraft in our Solar System (okay, I just made that last one up.)

Quite right. As if anyone thinks the government keeps the alien stuff at Groom Lake anymore, now that every UFO geek in the world knows about it. Nah. All the alien kit is now at the old Soviet base on Farside, which was handed over to the US after the cancellation of the Buran programme left the Russians unable to effectively maintain it.

All there is at Area 51 these days is a lot of secrecy and security, the kind of secrecy that gets you more attention than you would by just operating openly, and from time to time they send up some trippy lightshows to distract the conspiracy theorists from what's really going on.

(I fully expect to see this post quoted verbatim on godlikeproductions within a week. They love this kind of stuff.)

Re:Area 51 is not Unidentified (1)

Roj Blake (931541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435774)

Reminds me of Blake's 7 when Blake risks everything, and gets Gan killed, to destroy Control. Only to find it was moved 30 years prior.

(Blake asks where Control was moved to)
TRAVIS: Even I don't know that. But it's safe and secure and will remain so while those who seek to destroy us believe it's here. You see, it's the great illusion, Blake. You give substance and credibility to an empty room, and the real thing becomes undetectable, virtually invisible.

Re:Area 51 is not Unidentified (0, Redundant)

netkid91 (915818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435744)

Try searching for "Area 51" in google maps, it actually pops up something.

Re:Area 51 is not Unidentified (1)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435822)

As I tried to zoom in closer, Google told me "We are sorry, but we don't have imagery at this zoom level for this region"....considering Google can zoom down to the window of my office building, and they don't have anything better then that!? Uhuh...yea, no space aliens my butt!

Daily Reminder: If you oppose medical marijuana... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435509)

...then you're a shitbag.

Grade A bag-o-shit.

Coral Cache (2, Informative)

ickeicke (927264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435511)

Better sooner then later, we don't want the server to crash as well as the UFOs, do we? http://www.thespacereview.com.nyud.net:8090/articl e/531/1/ [nyud.net]

Re:Coral Cache (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436151)

THAN you fucking retard.

funny (0)

fireiceviperhotmail. (944265) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435519)

i find it funny that the u.s goverment always denies that stuff excists but then the
thing crashes down to earth or a picture is taken of it.... and all of a sudden it
does excist !

Julien. http://free.hostdepartment.com/8/81fortune/ [hostdepartment.com]

Re:funny (0, Troll)

wolenczak (517857) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435738)

Just like weapons of mass destruction... oh wait.

No Denial Necessary (1)

Prototerm (762512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435820)

See this pen thing in my hand? Just look into the pretty light. You didn't see anything. In fact, neither one of us was ever here!

(/obligatory movie reference)

Besides, everyone knows they moved the UFO wreckage to Area 52. What's really scary, though, is not the wreckage itself, but all the alien pr0n they found on board.

Re:No Denial Necessary (1)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436291)

You laugh, but there's a very real correlation of when aliens have visited, and when tentacle hentai came about.

Re:funny (1)

g0at (135364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436142)

Yeah... or the corollary: the U.S. government insists that something exists, until it is acceptably proven that it doesn't, in which case they change their tune. (weapons in Iraq anyone?)

-b

A fun little theory (5, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435521)

Anybody else think that the only reason the government still denies the existance of area 51 is to keep people looking at it? Makes you wonder why, doesn't it? /conspiracy theory

Re:A fun little theory (4, Insightful)

njfuzzy (734116) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435563)

Area 51 is the site that publically "doesn't exist". Probably a good way to draw attention away from more classified places.

Re:A fun little theory (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435584)

Hey, update your knowledge. The government admitted its existance in 1995.

Sure, nothing *really* has changed, because they didn't really say anything else, so most of what we have is rumor and speculation, and it's almost as secretive as it was before (there was some interesting speculation in a Popular Science article that part of the reason they acknowledged Area 51 was because they moved most recent test programs elsewhere; I think namely White Sands and somewhere else), but it DOES exist.

Re:A fun little theory (4, Funny)

Rob Carr (780861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435593)

It works! No one ever talks about Area 50!

Re:A fun little theory (1)

wx327 (782536) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435872)

Lisa: Area 51!? I found Area 51!
Guard: No m'am this is Area 51A
Lisa: Grr....well, um, i'm kind of lost, can you tell me where I am?
Guard: I'm sorry, the location of this location is classified!

Oldest trick in the book (1, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435570)

Magicians call it "misdirection"; they get you looking in one direction so you don't see what's happening elsewhere. All the conspiracy nuts spend so much time obsessing about "Area 51" that they fail to see the government's real conspiracies (war in Iraq, etc.).

Re:Oldest trick in the book (2, Funny)

Deagol (323173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435833)

Don't forget the "chemtrails" The Man is using to poison the population.

Re:A fun little theory (4, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435588)

Anybody else think that the only reason the government still denies the existance of area 51 is to keep people looking at it? Makes you wonder why, doesn't it? /conspiracy theory

They also argue that when the government fails to confirm the obvious, it both undermines governmental authority and legitimacy, and contributes to wild speculation, such as aliens and soundstages in underground hangars at Area 51.

Part of inteligence is counter inteligence. If you make enough "noise", the truth will be hidden amongst so much wild speculation no one will be able to figure out what actually goes on there. It probably also serves as a nice decoy for other facilities.

Re:A fun little theory (5, Funny)

oscartheduck (866357) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435637)

It's because they don't want you looking at Area 52, which is just up the road aways and is run by Centauri.

Re:A fun little theory (2, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435649)

Because nothing really all that exciting is going on at Groom anymore. They probably still fly borrowed aircraft some are probably even made by our "friends" like Mirages. Keeping Groom secret keeps everybody looking at that base while the really interesting stuff is going on at Dougway.

Re:A fun little theory (1)

doublem (118724) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435960)

Dougway?

Where's that?

Got a link to some photos / Google Maps???

Re:A fun little theory (4, Funny)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436070)

Keeping Groom secret keeps everybody looking at that base while the really interesting stuff is going on at Dougway.

What's Dougway? (about 250 pounds! *rimshot*)

Re:A fun little theory (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435654)

The fun stuff happens at Area 42.

-----
A word from the Anonymous Coward 'which' succesfully confirmed
not to be a script by guessing the word 'revival'.

Re:A fun little theory (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436019)

The fun stuff happens at Area 42.

Au contraire ... the most excellent stuff is at Area 69 ...

Re:A fun little theory (0, Offtopic)

tepzepi (854536) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435699)

I can't stand it anymore... it "existence" and "exists" and "exist" IANAGN, but please :-)

X-Files already did it (2, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435731)

Mulder got into some secret base in disguise (long story), and the military commander of the base didn't even know where the aircraft they were testing came from, and quietly asked Mulder if they had alien technology in them.

Re:A fun little theory (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435753)

Area 51 is a red herring. All of the REALLY good stuff is at Area 52.

Re:A fun little theory (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436243)

Anybody else think that the only reason the government still denies the existance of area 51 is to keep people looking at it? Makes you wonder why, doesn't it? /conspiracy theory

I always thought that a super secret government base would be like one of GI Joe's Cobra: you know in a mountain side with a big door that opens up only when craft are entering/exiting and only some local homes around the area where base employees live. I find that Area 51 is boring that it is viewable from space at all. I'd hope that our government has spent a few billion actually stealthing the entire airfield rather than "securing" an area where the general public and foreign intel keeps its eyes on.

Move along (4, Funny)

AkA lexC (939709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435523)

Nothing to see here

Timely piece (4, Interesting)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435545)

In our current environment of detainees, secret wiretaps, torture, and the like, I find this article quite timely. The closing paragraph seems rather foreboding:

Nothing more is known of this Skylab photography incident than the fact that the photograph was not released. NASA and the State Department clearly lost the argument. But the opponents of releasing it preserved national security, as they defined it.

It seems that similar discussions are happening around current issues, with leaks aplenty. I wonder who will win the argument now?

Re:Timely piece (1)

NaruVonWilkins (844204) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435608)

Of course, this time we can see a direct link between releasing information and preserving national security. Stopping the people responsible for this mess from continuing to put us at risk by forcing them to answer for their actions.

Re:Timely piece (4, Interesting)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435697)

What's the argument? We're detaining people, tapping wires, and torturing people. (Of course, a Navy SEAL's definition of torture is different from Harvey Fierstein's, but there's no question we're doing more to suspected terrorists in captivity than feeding them ice cream.)

If we weren't detaining people, tapping their phones, and beating information out of someone, I'd be pissed. I'm paying the government to protect me. Short of naming Kreskin to a newly-minted cabinet position of Secretery of The Psi-Corps, I'm not sure how else this would be best accomplished "in our current environment."

Now, you can quibble that we're detaining, tapping, and beating the wrong guys, or not enough guys, and that's fine, we're an open society, get angry and discuss away, but I find it tough to argue against any of these procedures in toto.

Re:Timely piece (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435778)

nice reply :) i totally agree!

Damn straight! (2, Insightful)

Deagol (323173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435981)

Off to Room 101 all those subversives must go. They're not human, after all -- it's not like they bleed the same as you or I.

Pity your opinion is held by such a large number of people.

Re:Timely piece (3, Insightful)

murderlegendre (776042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436007)

If we weren't detaining people, tapping their phones, and beating information out of someone, I'd be pissed. I'm paying the government to protect me.

Careful now.. if and when they come for you, there may be no one left to say anything.

Re:Timely piece (5, Informative)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436199)

Now, you can quibble that we're detaining, tapping, and beating the wrong guys, or not enough guys, and that's fine, we're an open society, get angry and discuss away, but I find it tough to argue against any of these procedures in toto.

Under due process of law of a reasonable government, detention and eavesdropping are fine. We don't have due process of law or a reasonable government at the moment, but yes, that's not an arguement against detention and spying in toto.

Torture, on the other hand, is not only illegal, immoral, a greate recruiting tool for the enemy, and , but it doesn't work as a reliable source of information [cvt.org] . People will say anything to make it stop, tell you what they think you want to hear.

Re:Timely piece (2, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436280)

If we weren't detaining people, tapping their phones, and beating information out of someone, I'd be pissed. I'm paying the government to protect me.

Da, tovarisch! Only bourgeois capitalist running-dog counter-revolutionaries will be detained, phone-tapped, and beaten! We glorious workers and peasants of the new socialist brotherhood of man have nothing to fair from our wise and just leaders! FOR THE MOTHERLAND!

Re:Timely piece (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435805)

Who will win the argument this time? Probably the enemies of the United States if we keep tipping our hat with these damn leaks.

Government Secrecy (4, Insightful)

ranton (36917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435548)

I do not see why people always assume that governments should not keep secrets from its citizens. Part of the government's job is to handle issues that the general public should not know about.

There are numerous reasons why the general public has to be kept in the dark about certain issues. It could be so that your average uneducated person does not form irrational beliefs that could cause civil disorder. It could be because the government themselves do not have all of the info yet, and do not want to spread disinformation. It could also be because the information has to be kept hidden from foreign governments.

While any powerful organization has the ability to abuse power, people have to understand that they cannot know everything. There is a reason why information about Area 51 has been kept secretive. It may very well be for the wrong reasons, but there is no proof of that. I for one will just sit back and be comforted that if there are facilities in this government that I cannot learn about, it must be pretty hard for other governments to learn about them too. If I wanted to know more I would join the Air Force and try to get into intelligence, and maybe excel enough to get clearance to these secret government projects.

--

Re:Government Secrecy (2, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435604)

It may very well be for the wrong reasons, but there is no proof of that.

There is also no proof that they have a good reason. Trusting your government is not a good idea, at least not until they've earned it, and then only two years at a time.

Re:Government Secrecy (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435623)

"Trusting your government is not a good idea, at least not until they've earned it, and then only two years at a time."

Was it Jefferson who said a healthy distrust of government is a fundamental aspect of democracy?

Re:Government Secrecy (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435801)

Trusting your government is not a good idea, at least not until they've earned it, and then only two years at a time.

So, what... do we declassify everything every two years just to make sure it's all completely benign by everyone's standards, everywhere? The whole point of intelligence committees made up of your elected representatives is to regularly rotate in some people that can do a sanity check on the policies that are at work, here. Likewise, you can't operate a place like Area 51 without the bugetary approval of a lot of people. And it's not like they get one big bank transfer every year... their funds are approved/disapproved on a project-by-project basis.

The whole point of being able to quietly work on things like the SR-71 (and its more recent offspring) is to have the ability to actually use it for a while before the people it's intended to help watch fully understand the capability. Don't you think it's helpful to know as much as possible about where North Korea and Iran are parking specific pieces of their nuke infrastructures? Sure, we're getting more of that from orbit than from things being flown out of the Nevada desert, but the principle is the same: operational details made public to every citizen are thus made public to every person in the world.

I'm intensely curious about this sort of stuff, and know people in the intel line of work, but I'm very glad that I can't personally get all the details... because I don't want the guys running Taiwan-aimed Chinese missile batteries knowing them, either.

That being said, I vote every chance I get, and think long and hard about each candidate's posture on intel, degrees of budget transparency, etc. It's a fine line to walk. I don't like wasting money, I don't like pointless power grabs... but I also like knowing that, when guys on the ground in northern Pakistan sieze a laptop from a local Al Queda franchise office, that we can be - in very short order - listening in on the calls to/from the phone numbers that were stored that same day in someone's cheesily encrypted ZIPped jihaddi speed-dial spreadsheet that includes Long Island zip codes. And park a drone over the little hut in the Afghani countryside (or Syrian suburb) that's handling the calls.

Or, if you're not into that sort of thing, how about knowing that there are undercover cops infiltrating urban gangs? My city has a huge problem with central American gangs. Rapes, murder, robbery - the whole gambit. I do not want the general public knowing the names, faces, and addresses of the men and women who are tasked with breaking up those little fiefdoms. So, I trust my city and county governments with some somewhat more localized secret stuff. I have to. So, I vote for decent people to run the show. And I vote for decent people to have a hand in the legislative process that funds the executive people. It's not perfect, but it's necessary.

Re:Government Secrecy (2, Insightful)

tehlinux (896034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436137)

Some good advice.
"Loyalty is good, but trust is overrated. Be a little bit paranoid."
-Donald Trump

Re:Government Secrecy (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435606)

"It could be so that your average uneducated person does not form irrational beliefs that could cause civil disorder."

Civil order is not a valid excuse for government secrecy. If the government took proper action in re: whatever it is they are hiding, civil disorder would not be a risk.

Treat the people like morons, and they'll become morons.

Re:Government Secrecy (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435757)

"Treat the people like morons, and they'll become morons."

There were many morons in this world before far before they were treated like one.

Re:Government Secrecy (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435614)

I have been studying the issue on an ongoing basis and have reached the conclusion that in order to be able to wield information effectively, you must be able to control it. And controling it includes keeping it from people and making sure it only flows through controlled channels.

Re:Government Secrecy (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435634)

I do not see why people always assume that governments should not keep secrets from its citizens. Part of the government's job is to handle issues that the general public should not know about.

Dude, the groupthink is going to add an entire power of ten to your slashdot account number for uttering such heresy. You must add water to some of that rationality - you can't be serving it straight up like that. Some local readers may blow a gasket looking for negative mod points to use. Honestly, man. Think of the media-educated children who might be reading this! Next thing you'll be saying is that not everyone who does have a clearance is evil. You're taking all of the fun out of half the shows on TV.

Re:Government Secrecy (1)

ranton (36917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436169)

Yeah, I hope no one will figure out that I am a government secret agent trying to spread disinformation.

Oh wait, I cant type this here, it will blow my cover. I have to make sure to close this before I accidentally hit submit.

Re:Government Secrecy (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435662)

At the very least we should still have oversight, such as an independent secret court to monitor the secret police.

I can't believe how undemocratic what I just wrote sounds. Yet even still, it's too much for some.

Re:Government Secrecy (4, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435686)

It could be so that your average uneducated person does not form irrational beliefs that could cause civil disorder.

That's not a valid reason. Follow that path far enough and the government can keep you deliberately uneducated to prevent civil disorder. A government that does this is evil.

It could be because the government themselves do not have all of the info yet, and do not want to spread disinformation.

That's semi-valid, though in most cases it would be preferable for the government to release any information that only fell into this category couched in phrasing that makes it clear that the information is not reliable or incomplete.

It could also be because the information has to be kept hidden from foreign governments.

That's valid, though a well designed government should require that such information be reviewed regularly, so that it can be released as soon as it is stale.

In general, the government should keep as few secrets from its people as possible, otherwise you're on your way to fascism.

Re:Government Secrecy (5, Insightful)

bear_phillips (165929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435690)

The problem is not in keeping secrets from the general public. The problem is certain parts of the government keeping secrets from ELECTED officials. With the current administration a large number examples have popped up where elected officials where kept in the dark. When certain parts of the government hide information from elected officials, then the government looses any accountabilty. Without accountability then we don't have a democracy. The current administrations secret wiretaps, prisons etc.. is a huge example. I am not so much upset that the general public didn't know, but my elected official sure as hell should have known about it.

Re:Government Secrecy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435969)

Ummm many did know of the taps. It is true that everyone did not but surely you are not going to inform every single member of the house are you? That's what special committees are for.

Re:Government Secrecy (1)

ranton (36917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436089)

Not every elected official needs to know everything. Loose lips sink ships. When something is deemed to be classified, then even within the government it should be kept as secretive as possible. Anyone without a need to know does not need to know.

You have committees and such to deal with these matters, it is infeasible for every member of the Congress to sign off on every classified matter.

Re:Government Secrecy (2, Insightful)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435704)

It could also be because the information has to be kept hidden from foreign governments.

Probably it's the most common reason. For the same reason private companies protect their secrecy. If you are developing some new digital gizmo, you don't want your competitors to know too much as it would allow them to develop their own counter-gizmos. The same goes for new design of fighter planes. I think it's as simple as that with Area 51 - it's just a government-level equivalent of automobile industry reluctancy to reveal too soon the look and features of their new models.

Re:Government Secrecy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435949)

Then a disclosure of the following would silence the alien hunters: "Area 51 is a government facility for research, design and testing of military technology. While we confirm the existence of Area 51, for reasons of National Security, we cannot go into the details of what new things we're researching there. Because of the technology used in these project, many thing will appear "alien" to you."

instead of "There is no Area 51. That map you're showing me of Area 51 doesn't change my mind. I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of Area 51. All those 'we will shoot you if you enter this area' signs are for nothing. Close your eyes. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

Re:Government Secrecy (1)

ranton (36917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436122)

As far as the government is concerned now, the more attention that Area 51 gets the better. Just like a magician they are going to keep people and governments looking there instead of where most of the real research is being done. With all of the billions of dollars our government has at their disposal I would hope they are better at hiding information from me (and people like me) than they are doing with Area 51.

--

Re:Government Secrecy (1, Troll)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435915)

It could be so that your average uneducated person does not form irrational beliefs that could cause civil disorder.
You mean like religious beliefs that make people violently protest, say, against abortion clinics???

Re:Government Secrecy (2, Funny)

Scroatzilla (672804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435916)

Cool.

Please give me 33% of your income.

I can't tell you why.

Re:Government Secrecy (1)

ranton (36917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436224)

Well, since only the top tax bracket pays even 35% taxes, I wouldnt have to give you that much because I am not rich.

And it is okay if you dont tell me where you spend every penny, but I better be able to see something for my money; such as:

Having roads
Having police
Having the ability to go to work without worrying about being blown up by a land mine.
Having an economy good enough so I dont have to be a farmer.
Having a job market good enough that virtually any competent worker can easily find a job.
etc.

Re:Government Secrecy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436021)

I do not see why people always assume that governments should not keep secrets from its citizens. Part of the government's job is to handle issues that the general public should not know about.

Just because it's something someone or a group does or says 'they need to do', doesn't mean it's intrinsically part of their role. What constitutes their role is up to the electorate to decide.

There are numerous reasons why the general public has to be kept in the dark about certain issues. It could be so that your average uneducated person does not form irrational beliefs that could cause civil disorder.

God forbid the oiks should find out, eh? Wot with no proper schoolin' they'd never understand our clever and infallible plans!

[ This post sponsored by the government that thought Saddam Hussein had 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' that could 'attack Europe in 45 minutes!' and one that thought he was in league with Al Qaeda, until they didn't. Oops, to late, we invaded, doh! "Hey yeah we lied, but your too stupid to possibly comprehend the significance of our middle east strategy, so it doesn't matter!" ]

Hell, the US government won't even admit that GWB got drunk and in a fight and instead claimed "he slipped after choking on a pretzel" and the previous commander in chief equally farcically wouldn't admit he had a sexual relationship with an intern in the face of irrefutable evidence, and lets not get started on the exploits of Blair, Chirac, Berlusconi (and that's just the Western governments with at least some degree of accountability).

Yes, let's trust these guys!

While any powerful organization has the ability to abuse power, people have to understand that they cannot know everything.

No, they don't. Governments have to understand they are under increasing pressure to be transparent and fully accountable.

I for one will just sit back and be comforted that if there are facilities in this government that I cannot learn about, it must be pretty hard for other governments to learn about them too.

The citizens are invariably don't find out until many years after it's already well known by other governments exactly what a facility like this is for (and people usually work out what it's for long in advance). "Pretending it doesn't exist" avoids public accountability for the expenditure at a place like Area-51, but yields no strategic benefit.

If I wanted to know more I would join the Air Force and try to get into intelligence, and maybe excel enough to get clearance to these secret government projects.

Or, to put it another way, if they want to spend millions, let alone billions, of tax payers money they'd better have convincing justification as to why or they should get bupkis.

yeah.. yeah... yeah... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435573)

FUBAR and the american taxpayer.

"Deception Point" by Dan Brown (-1, Offtopic)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435578)

...is not as good as "The DaVinci Code" or "Angel and Demons," but it kept me turning pages... and if you enjoy bizarre speculation on NASA, the NSA, and their relation to U. S. politics you'll enjoy it.

Now, about that research vessel that just happens to be stationed above an undersea volcano, whose warm waters have attracted a huge crowd of hammerhead sharks... well, you know Chekov's dictum that if you show the audience a gun in the first act, it must go off in the third...

nothing to see here... (-1, Flamebait)

know1 (854868) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435616)

here's some other stuff the government wants you to think doesn't exist
www.serpo.org/information.html
remember, information is power

Re:nothing to see here... (-1, Redundant)

georgeda (752150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435668)

well that gave me a good giggle.

Imagine (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435666)

I can imagine that they don't do a lot of flying during the day over there. The real interesting thing would be to watch them with a high-powered telescope with night vision attachment.

You better be walking, with thermal camo, though. They've got sensors everywhere, I'm sure.

Tinfoil hat not included.

Re:Imagine (1)

lbrandy (923907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435717)

I can imagine that they don't do a lot of flying during the day over there. The real interesting thing would be to watch them with a high-powered telescope with night vision attachment.

Yea, strapping on a night-vision high powered telescope and looking into a pair of afterburners sounds pretty interesting.

Not as big as some other projects tho... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435683)

Like the Rex84 project where they keep working concentration camps operational that can hold 30 million people total. Infact if you google it there's a website with a list.

Or the MKUltra project where they tried to find truth syrums and abducted/kidnapped and forced marines, soldiers, and homeless people to do experiments.

Or the attack on the USS liberty by the Israeli's to trick America into war against their enemies.

Or the Chemtrails, where they do weather modification experiments using airplanes.

Or HAARP which produced a fucking aurora borealous over New York not too long ago.

Then there's the massive underground highway that apparently exists all over the USA that they use at their convenience.

What did you guys think? The US government, taking damn near 1/3rd of everyone's paycheck PLUS fiat taxing everyone on the planet through printing off dollars PLUS taxing corps up the wazoo isn't going to be doing a lot of secret stuff? How expensive do you really think road paving, policing, and military expenditure really is?

Do you really believe all that dough halliburton has been getting, now probably nearing 100 billion, is going into the pockets of the wealthy so they can buy tootsie rolls and nice cars? Rummy just admitted that the pentagon can't account for 2 TRILLION! Do you think that just vanished into thin air?

It isn't logical to believe so I'm afriad.

You are too stupid to live (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435709)

Please kill yourself, and take as many conspiracy idiots with you as possible.

Re:Not as big as some other projects tho... (5, Funny)

TheCaptain (17554) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435711)

Ok...who the heck let Art Bell on here again? Who's turn was it to watch him again?

Re:Not as big as some other projects tho... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435799)

Ok...who the heck let Art Bell on here again? Who's turn was it to watch him again?

OMFG mod that one FUNNY!!!! ROFL!!!

Re:Not as big as some other projects tho... (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435963)

Heh.

As always, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's a kernel of truth in all those claims.

Things that were the realm of conspiracy theory have come out as mostly true before, look at eschelon and carnivore and things of that sort.

Re:Not as big as some other projects tho... (1)

TerenceRSN (938882) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436189)

If FEMA does as good a job with "REX 84" as they did with Katrina relief, I don't think we have anything to worry about.

This is science? My asp it is! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14435698)

Slashdot needs a "Pointless Waste of Time, Rumors and Lame Innuendo" section.

Oh wait ... that is Slashdot.

Re:This is science? My asp it is! (0, Offtopic)

Doomedsnowball (921841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435769)

This is Unintelligent Design at work. Become one of the unbelievers! These articles are like hunks of meat thrown in the 'gator tank. Don't complain about the cut of the meat, just get out the tank.

Leak it first, then we'll see! (0, Redundant)

darkhadden (941003) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435726)

See, we just need the spouse of someone working at area 51 to release some potentially damaging/destructive information to the administration, then they'll not only release the name and address of both persons, on 'accident', but they'll have photos of them on the crapper, leaving the gates of 51, driving routes home and to the grocery, where their children go to school, the fact that they are Democrats ("Mah opponent is a Massachusettes LIBERAL!" /Texas whine from that missing idiot the village is looking for), their voting records, date of birth, and just about anytyhing else Ol' Dicky can sneak out there under Scooter's front to destroy the family forever. Why? It's a matter of national security! Americans are not about action/reaction activism and anti-establishment neo-terrorism! This country was not founded on protest! Oh, wait... Get Simon and Schuster on the line, we better change that Tea Party thing... Can't have them learning THAT! It's not good for Haliburton so it's not good for U.S.

"F*CK YOU, I won't do what you tell me!" -RAGE

I hate government 'secrets'. Many of these posters are absolutely right. These so-called conspiracies are merely distractions.

"Don't fret precious, I'm here. Step away from the window, go back to sleep..." -A Perfect Circle

Piffle (2, Informative)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435752)

I know people who have worked at Area 51. Let me just say you conspiracy freaks need a more productive and useful hobby. Put down your Art Bell "end of the world" book and go out and get some sun.

Typical on conspiracy stories (0)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436186)

The truth is rated a troll. Fuck you, mods.

Re:Typical on conspiracy stories (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436289)

The truth is rated a troll. Fuck you, mods.

Wow, talk about quiet desperation!

Nothing to see here - please along...literally (2, Interesting)

BigAlexK (398239) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435763)

Area 51 has been the focus of so much attention for so long, that unsuprisingly it contains little of interest any more, at least for those looking for the more exotic objects.

The alledged testing (I say alledged so you keep reading, because this stuff is documented by multiple testimonies given under oath by verifiable ex-military personnel and ex government contractors) of earth-built anti-gravity discs goes on elsewhere in the Groom range, and they are stored in facilities built into the side of mountains, with the rock faces covered with doors made to look like the rock face itself, obvious given the amount of spy satellites (not all owned by the US military) floating around.

Other rather more exotic research and command and control exists at various other locations, including an underground facility in the desert at Utah reachable only from the air, also Edwards AFB and other AFBs. This stuff is again knwon about through sworn testimony from verifiable personnel.

Of course there is a lot of BS about Area 51, aliens, flying saucers (woooo!) etc. And the subject and area attract wackos like wasps to a honeypot. And yes, you can take the nonsense until proven truth line. But there is truth, it is out there, and you can get to it. It's not all rubbish, there are cover ups, and the truth is stranger than fiction. The Aurora spyplace for example has now been verified to exist through testimony, photographs and other documents.

maps.google.com (0, Redundant)

gnuLNX (410742) | more than 8 years ago | (#14435902)

Search for area 51. Pretty darned cool!

NASA officials did not feel that the civilian agen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436141)

Or maybe it was just a decoy?
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