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Shocking Menace of Satellite Surveillance (Part I)

08.09.2008
 
Pages: 123
reading and lasers that can assault someone, even someone indoors. Aviation Week & Space Technology mentioned in 1984 that “facets of the project [in the Star Wars program] that are being hurried along include the awarding of contracts to study...a surveillance satellite network.” It was bound to be abused, yet no group is fighting to cut back or subject to democratic control this terrifying new technology. As one diplomat to the U.N. remarked, “‘Star Wars’ was not a means of creating heaven on earth, but it could result in hell on earth.”

The typical American actually may have little to fear, since the chances of being subjected to satellite surveillance are rather remote. Why someone would want to subject someone else to satellite surveillance might seem unclear at first, but to answer the question you must realize that only the elite have access to such satellite resources. Only the rich and powerful could even begin to contemplate putting someone under satellite surveillance, whereas a middle- or working-class person would not even know where to begin. Although access to surveillance capability is thus largely a function of the willfulness of the powerful, nevertheless we should not conclude that only the powerless are subjected to it. Perhaps those under satellite surveillance are mainly the powerless, but wealthy and famous people make more interesting targets, as it were, so despite their power to resist an outrageous violation of their privacy, a few of them may be victims of satellite surveillance. No claim of being subject to satellite surveillance can be dismissed a priori.

It is difficult to estimate just how many Americans are being watched by satellites, but if there are 200 working surveillance satellites (a common number in the literature), and if each satellite can monitor 20 human targets, then as many as 4000 Americans may be under satellite surveillance. However, the capability of a satellite for multiple-target monitoring is even harder to estimate than the number of satellites; it may be connected to the number of transponders on each satellite, the transponder being a key device for both receiving and transmitting information. A society in the grips of the National Security State is necessarily kept in the dark about such things. Obviously, though, if one satellite can monitor simultaneously 40 or 80 human targets, then the number of possible victims of satellite surveillance would be doubled or quadrupled.

A sampling of the literature provides insight into this fiendish space-age technology. One satellite firm reports that “one of the original concepts for the Brilliant Eyes surveillance satellite system involved a long-wavelength infrared detector focal plane that requires periodic operation near 10 Kelvin.” A surveillance satellite exploits the fact that the human body emits infra-red radiation, or radiant heat; according to William E. Burrows, author of Deep Black, “the infrared imagery would pass through the scanner and register on the [charged-couple device] array to form a moving infrared picture, which would then be amplified, digitalized, encrypted and transmitted up to one of the [satellite data system] spacecraft...for downlink [to earth].” But opinion differs as to whether infrared radiation can be detected in cloudy conditions. According to one investigator, there is a way around this potential obstacle: “Unlike sensors that passively observe visible-light and infra-red radiation, which are blocked by cloud cover and largely unavailable at night, radar sensors actively emit microwave pulses that can penetrate clouds and work at any hour.” This same person reported in 1988 that “the practical limit on achievable resolution for a satellite-based sensor is a matter of some dispute, but is probably roughly ten to thirty centimeters. After that point, atmospheric irregularities become a problem.” But even at the time she wrote that, satellite resolution, down to each subpixel, on the contrary, was much more precise, a matter of millimeters--a fact which is more comprehensible when we consider the enormous sophistication of satellites, as reflected in such tools as multi-spectral scanners, interferometers, visible infrared spin scan radiometers, cryocoolers and hydride sorption beds.

Probably the most sinister aspect of satellite surveillance, certainly its most stunning, is mind-reading. As early as 1981, G. Harry Stine (in his book Confrontation in Space), could write that Computers have “read” human minds by means of deciphering the outputs of electroencephalographs (EEGs). Early work in this area was reported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1978. EEG’s are now known to be crude sensors of neural activity in the human brain, depending as they do upon induced electrical currents in the skin. Magnetoencephalographs (MEGs) have since been developed using highly sensitive electromagnetic sensors that can directly map brain neural activity even through the bones of the skull. The responses of the visual areas of the brain have now been mapped by Kaufman and others at Vanderbilt University. Work may already be under way in mapping the neural activity of other portions of the human brain using the new MEG techniques. It does not require a great deal of prognostication to forecast that the neural electromagnetic activity of the human brain will be totally mapped within a decade or so and that crystalline computers can be programmed to decipher the electromagnetic neural signals.

Pages: 123
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