Monday 2 March 2009

Google Earth in showing things on the ground shock.

At times there are articles in the Sun of such bilious nonsense that it's difficult to know where to begin. So it is with today's "exclusive" regarding the amazing abilities of Google Earth:

BRITAIN’S nuclear defence HQ could be under threat from terrorists using Google Earth.

Close-up aerial views of the top-secret Naval base are on the computer program — available for free over the internet.

It even reveals the longitude and latitude of the facility in Faslane, Scotland — home to the UK’s Trident-armed nuclear submarine force.

Golly gosh, really? The longitude and latitude? Next you'll be telling us that it isn't a secret that the base is on the A814! You mean it isn't?!

Military experts warn that would make it easy for terrorists to launch accurate mortar or rocket attacks.

One told The Sun: “A strike on our nuclear capability would cause untold devastation. Terrorists could have a field day, knowing exactly where to aim strikes to cause the maximum devastation.”

To call this scaremongering crap of the highest order would be putting it too mildly. Quite apart from the fact that this base has been in the public eye for decades and that all it has attracted in that time has been peace protesters, as well as that the jihadists we have in this country have never shown any propensity for being interested in anything other than bombings or kidnappings, mortars and rockets being difficult to come by, the idea that someone lobbing a couple of mortars at a naval base will succeed in causing "devastation" is about as realistic as the majority of the films which the Sun's proprietor funds.

And it can be used to pinpoint Britain’s nuclear crisis HQ in Northwood, North London, MI6’s London offices and the SAS training facility in Hereford.

MI6's London offices? Could they possibly mean the SIS building, which sticks out like a sore thumb and which could only be missed by a Sun journalist, which is also about as secret as Rebekah Wade and the smacking Ross Kemp incident?

Satellite pictures show the exact location of SAS sleeping quarters, office blocks, bunkers and parade grounds.

Our source said: “We should be censoring sensitive military sites, not only for the protection of the servicemen and women, but also for the protection of the country.”

Military top brass are said to be furious that such sites can be viewed by anyone.

Really? Well, that's strange, because the exact opposite has been said to the reasonably well-known Alan Turnbull, who runs and who has in the past been subjected to articles in newspapers highly similar to this one. He was told by Rear Admiral Nick Wilkinson, then on the D-Notice committee, that any journalist suggesting his site, which contains the same aerial photographs referred to by the Sun and much more besides, should be censored ought to be put in contact with him so that he could put them straight. He also said of Turnbull's site:

A very interesting and useful compilation ... ... it does not add to the danger to national security

You are republishing open source material already widely in the public domain and not therefore increasing the danger to sensitive sites. These sites should already not only be aware of what is public, but also have taken security measures accordingly

Furthermore, in 2006 the government ended the previous censoring of Ordnance Survey maps, where bases and sensitive government sites were left blank as if there was nothing there, a more sure sign than anything else that security concerns were no longer being used as a fig leaf to hide what was right in front of anyone's eyes.

It's hard to disagree with Turnbull's own description of his own brush with the press and their sensationalism machine: that media hysteria will always win through, as will invented quotes, a complete lack of general awareness and a failure to present the opposite side of an argument. All are in abundance in today's Sun article, along with the last refuge of today's media scoundrels, the bogeyman of the terrorist.


Bruce Cowan said...

Technically, the nukes are actually stored a short distance to the West at Coulport, off Loch Long.

Unknown said...

Another truly moronic article from the Sun - glad to see someone debunking all the nonsense. has covered the "Google Earth is a security concern" issue numerous times, which I suggest anyone interested should go and read.

Oh, and the man who runs secret bases is called Alan TurnbUll.

Sim-O said...

If being on maps etc increases the security risk, then surely publicising theat fact in a national newspaper is also increasing the risk. Or maybe not...

Jihadi 1: Right. That's the rockets sorted. what we gonna hit?

Jihadi 2: There's a submarine base in Scotland that's just asking for it.

Jihadi 1: Great. How did you find out about that, then?

Jihadi 2: I read it in the Sun.

Jihadi 1: Haha! And you believe something in the Sun?

Tim said...

"Technically, the nukes are actually stored a short distance to the West at Coulport, off Loch Long."

Shut up, man... you're telling the terrorists!

Carl Eve said...

Gosh - I hope they don't see this then:

which can be found on google earth here:,-4.064941&sspn=11.666889,28.125&ie=UTF8&ll=50.379483,-4.182851&spn=0.005816,0.021887&t=h&z=16

fight the power, fight the power... hahahahahaha