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Google Earth and "Collateral Damage" 541

netbuzz writes "British news reports say insurgents are using Google Earth to pinpoint vulnerable targets within bases in Iraq. Could Google be doing more to prevent this? Should they be doing more? They certainly could explain more."
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Google Earth and "Collateral Damage"

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  • by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:00AM (#17610362) Journal
    and make the world "safe for democracy".
    • I don't know how to put this for you, but I was reading a suggested article in a rag you boys here probably never read, "Soldier of Fortune". In it, several of our past and present US Army Snipers and Marine Corps Snipers are all yacking about how the officers and politicians are using them in movie style "overwatch" positions. Which as you, enlightened, slashdotters would understand is a "WASTE" of people with training in REAL sniping (long range enemy personnel removal) not defensive positions in visibl
      • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @05:00AM (#17611084) Journal
        Now I'm not a sniper and my service wasn't with the US army, but then it sounds to me like either that's hyperbole or the US is doing something else very wrong.

        I'm one of the AA guys. You know, those who in a war would get to jam a SA missile down someone's tailpipe or put a helluva lot of 30mm holes in a helicopter or low flying plane. Specialized troops too, with specialized (big) guns, lots of electronics and radar dishes, specialized training, etc, not your average infantry grunt.

        But guess what? We had assault rifles too, and we were trained to use them too. We also did our own guard duty (in a visible guard tower, too), patrols, etc.

        Not only that, but it was pretty much assumed and understood that in a pinch we could and would have to fulfill other roles too. We had our own light machineguns, our own rocket launchers in case we have to deal with a mess of tanks, we were trained to chuck a grenade, storm a hill, or dig a foxhole and defend that hill.

        Wars aren't neatly organized affairs, and you don't always have exactly what you need in exactly the right place. And sometimes having exactly what you need of everything in every place is a waste of manpower and material. For example, you don't dig in two brigades of infantry around your big guns brigade, just so the big guns guys can be so ultra-specialized that they never have to touch an assault rifle. It's easier to just put them somewhere where normally they won't be assaulted, but if shit hits the fan and they do, they'll have to fight like everyone else. You also don't give them a company of infantry for guard duty, they get to post their own guards.

        Also war isn't so neatly organized as to always have a designated target in advance. I know I wouldn't expect a designated airplane to surgically shoot and then go home, so I'm not sure why these guys would absolutely need a strategic target designated in advance. Most of war is dealing with unplanned stuff. Some guys appear from where you didn't expect. You shoot them. If you're a sniper or designated marksman, you do your best to put a hole in someone while the other guys pin them down. And add your own suppression factor, because the fear of a sniper ranks up there with fear of heavy machineguns in a fight, when it comes to keeping people with their head down.

        So if you're telling me that US snipers are so ultra-specialized that they absolutely can't function as anything else, and can't possibly shoot anyone other than as strategic target designated in advance, then methinks the USA badly needs to rethink their training and logistics. But I doubt that the US military is _that_ inept, or that indeed officers coming from a military academy and various training courses would use Hollywood action movies to learn tactics from. It's a bit like saying that programmers use Hollywood movies to learn how to use a command line.

        Being sent together with a squad of other soldiers, also isn't the end of the world like you make it sound. It's not being sent with a group of civilians, it's normal military procedure anywhere in the world. The designated marksmen, SAW guys, anti-tank guys, etc, actually train for that. Sure, a sniper rifle or designated marksman rifle isn't raw firepower, but it's not there as raw firepower in the first place. That's what the other soldiers around you are for. They'll do the spraying lead job. You do yours.

        Now I'm as anti-war as it gets, and, yes, I'm against the war in Iraq. I could understand ideological or humanitarian reasons against it. But "waah, they're making me work together with a squad, like in Hollywood movies!" is just awful mis-understanding of basic military tactics.

        Also, it seems to me like the apex of hypocrisy, if someone is indeed against war for oil and influence, to advocate instead being a hired assassin for some equally corrupt dictator or cocaine baron. At least the army does have some democratic checks (just vote against the guy sending them there), just taking money from the highest bidder doesn't have any
      • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @06:24AM (#17611526)
        You do realize that Soldier of Fortune is a mag aimed at people who dream of being Soldiers of Fortune, but have never touched a rifle, and are most likely inept worker drones with violent dreams? Quoting Soldier of Fortune to talk military strategy is like quoting Weekly World News to discuss the finer details of Israelo-Palestinian peace talks.

        Quite frankly, if anyone's living in Hollywood dream world, it's you. I'd suggest enlisting in the Army to figure out how stuff really works. I'm guessing there'll be a rude awakening.
    • Specifically, the way to combat this is to build facilities like Cheyenne Mountain [wikipedia.org] -- they wouldn't sanely put Stargate Command [wikipedia.org] anywhere else.

      Short of that, all Google is doing is making it easier, and not significantly so. But Google also makes it easier to stalk people, it makes it easier to plan protests (peaceful or not), or to have secret societies which are completely untraceable and incredibly dangerous.

      This is the price of freedom. Freedom makes it easier for everyone to do what they want, even if w
    • by Don_dumb ( 927108 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @06:09AM (#17611426)
      That doesn't go far enough, I believe that the July 7th bombers may well have used maps such as these - http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tube/maps/ [tfl.gov.uk] which I might add are openly available to the public in pamphlets, the back of diaries, they are even posted on the walls of the city!

      How many people have to die before we realise that the Ordinance Survey and London street mapping should be stopped. Fortunately those saintly graffiti artists are already working on censoring maps in public places.
      • Some of the civilian maps were of such poor quality, that people used to joke that they are there "dlia zabluzdenia protivnika"- to confuse the enemy :)

        Besides, I read that map companies sometimes make non-existing dead-end streets in their maps as a way to fingerprint them and to know it's their map if some other company steals and reprints it.

    • by inKubus ( 199753 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:33PM (#17617374) Homepage Journal
      What's next:

      How do these terrorists communicate with each other? With SPEECH? OH FUCK! LET'S SHUT DOWN ALL THE SCHOOLS! LEARNING TO TALK MIGHT HELP THE TERRORISTS!
      How do these terrorists get to their targets? By *WALKING*?!!?! Headline: Teaching children to walk may have terror implications.

      The media should be PROSECUTED for even speculating on crap like this. Everyone is so stupid and ignorant that they can just pull up any thing unfamiliar and scary sounding and link it to terrorism. OH MY GOD, INCREDIBLY USEFUL TOOLS BENEFIT TERRORISTS TOO! Retards. CAMP STOVE FUEL "WHITE GAS" CAN MAKE A POWERFUL BOMB! *Camp stoves banned*

      If I didn't love freedom of speech so much I'd say to take away their rights thereof. Instead we need to fight back with the correct information, because the public needs to know. But every time I do, I get put down, like Fox News knows more than I do. I try to explain that my IQ is higher than the ENTIRE Fox News ANCHOR TEAM *MULTIPLIED* TOGETHER, but they say, "Why aren't you on TV." *sigh* Which is why I'm filing a patent for a discreet, handheld device that can be used to sterlize and render barren any person in 10 seconds or less without their knowledge. Simply wave the device near their gonads and *click* press the red "Easy" button. In seconds you've assured a better future for the world.

  • Google News (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:01AM (#17610368)
    This story reminds me of the reporter who was kidnapped in Iraq and convinced his captors that his articles were critical of the war. They Googled him and let him go.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kidbro ( 80868 )
  • Two points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scareduck ( 177470 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:02AM (#17610380) Homepage Journal
    1) The Telegraph leans to the right. This report may be nothing more than a shill to shut down Google Earth.

    2) That said, it does seem reasonable that insurgents might be able to make use of Google Earth for some targeting information. Since the data is generally fairly stale, though, one wonders just how useful it would actually be.

    • Re:Two points (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:31AM (#17610588) Journal
      Stale? look at an arial of your home town. Then look at the courthouse. Zoom out for around three to five miles (range of a morter) and look for areas of concealment, escape routes that either let you run like hell, or easily blend in with a bunch of other people, obscure line of sight directly to the court house, or obsticles that might make someone responding from that general direction slower then from another route.

      Then jump in the car and drive to those locations and see how much they have changed in the last few years of being stale. I bet not much. BTW, how often does the courthouse change?

      I guess most things would be static for several years past staleness of the photos. I'm not sure that military bases change the internal design much. I doubt they move the mess hall or sleeping tents around every 3 months. (they might, I don't know. But more importantly, hills hiding your point of attack from the view of guardsmen or some other obsticles like rivers with the only bridge 5 miles down stream and you have a good change of finding a place to launch an attack with somewhat acurate results and a decent change of getting away. I guess patrols with aircraft and a no-go zone could eliminate that for some locations.
      • Re:Two points (Score:5, Insightful)

        by scum-e-bag ( 211846 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:45AM (#17610658) Homepage Journal
        Then jump in the car and drive to those locations and see how much they have changed in the last few years of being stale. I bet not much. BTW, how often does the courthouse change?
        ...and what stops someone from doing this in the first place? I mean really, some good old fashioned recon can get you the same info needed for an attack on a courthouse. Heck, even getting military base info such as where transports/tanks/etc are parked is easy enough with a little bit of work.

        Grid references, so the enemy is using GPS guided missiles now?

        This is nothing more than a google bash.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Technician ( 215283 )
        Then jump in the car and drive to those locations and see how much they have changed in the last few years of being stale. I bet not much. BTW, how often does the courthouse change?

        I wonder if for the war effort, Google could be convinced to photoshop in a few bases and relocate a few by a couple blocks. A 4 mile away rocket attack may miss the compound entirely.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          War effort? Are you kidding? We aren't at war, we've invaded some random country for no good reason. If we want to avoid getting our shit blown up, why don't we just leave?
          • Re:Two points (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Pink Tinkletini ( 978889 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @04:38AM (#17610964) Homepage
            Because then they'll just come blow our shit up over here. You have our administration to thank for this state of affairs, where foreigners the world over who otherwise couldn't care less about us—I mean, except for the Palestine thing—now consider us their mortal enemies. Thanks, George!
            • Re:Two points (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Dave Emami ( 237460 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @07:39AM (#17611934) Homepage
              You have our administration to thank for this state of affairs, where foreigners the world over who otherwise couldn't care less about us--I mean, except for the Palestine thing--now consider us their mortal enemies.

              Go read up on the ideology of those mortal enemies a bit. Their "grievances" go back well before the liberation of Iraq or any actions of President Bush 2.0. In one of his statements immediately 9/11 attacks, Bin Laden talks about the sword reaching the US "after 80 years", referring to the breakup of the Ottomon Empire after WW1, at a time when the US was barely world power. Ayman al-Zawahiri (Al Qaeda's second-in-command, more or less) frames the Israeli/Palestinian dispute in terms of the "Al Andalus tragedy", the end of Moslem rule in southern Spain -- in 14-freaking-92. And while that's probably not a majority outlook, neither is it an isolated one. If Americans thought like this, the first thing we would have done upon perfecting the atomic bomb would have been to drop one on Buckingham Palace to get back at the British for burning the White House during the War of 1812. That's one basic problem: an inability to "get over it." Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, we A-bomb'ed them, yet sixty years later we're the closest of allies. Germany conquered France, now those two nations are the core of the EU. Yet in the Middle East they're still upset about the Crusades.

              This isn't a problem that started with Bush, nor will it end once he's gone. It's a war that's been going on, at a lower level of intensity, for quite a while -- the recent phase having begun in 1979. 9/11 was merely the first time something happened where people couldn't ignore it, and the Middle East military operations under Bush just the first time the US has attempted (whether you agree with how he's conducted it or not) to actually do something about it. It's going to continue, whether we try to influence the outcome or not, and the US will be a target. We're just too big to be ignored, given how ubiquitous our worldwide economic and cultural presence is.

              Nor is this an exclusively a US, or even Western, problem. Or do you maintain that it's Bush's fault that Moslems are killing Buddhists in Thailand, Hindus in India, and animists in Darfur, whilst threatening to murder British authors [wikipedia.org], Danish cartoonists [wikipedia.org], and Dutch parliamentarians [wikipedia.org], and succeed in murdering a Dutch film-maker [wikipedia.org]?

              Now, as to the original article about Google's maps and the idea of restricting them somehow, that seems pretty useless. Anything on Goggle Maps/Earth is derived from sources [google.com] which are publically (or at least commercially) available, anyway.

          • At war (Score:5, Funny)

            by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @05:30AM (#17611204) Homepage
            > We aren't at war, we've invaded some random country for no good reason.

            You know, invading some random country is one of the two main causes of getting "at war". The other is being invaded by some random country.
    • Re:Two points (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:44AM (#17610652)
      Depends on how you define 'useful'. Governments spent billions of dollars, risked many dozens if not millions (as in all of our) lives, to get information of lower quality than google earth in the 50s, 60's and 70's. Most military installations are built/used with this in mind now. Something you want other satellite holders to see you put out there, stuff you don't you spend oodles of time effort and money to hide, and anything you don't care about (like where the US army parks its old aircraft), you put wherever is convenient or cheap. In that regard I doubt the occupation forces in Iraq are so braindead as to have anything particularly useful of theirs show up on google earth now.

      However, buildings don't move, and the insurgency in iraq, while predominatly made of Iraqi nationals, is most certainly far more mobile than any previous insurgency in recent memory. Simply put the iraqi's have cars. If you're an insurgent in one town, you can look at google earth, plot out where you want to go, set up, position, coordinate based on GPS locations etc.. with other people in another. I was thinking loosely about this problem where I live. I live in one city (~70K people), but really I don't know my way around any of the smaller towns that surround us, nor do I know my way around the biggest city near me (which is toronto nearly 150Km away). But, moving from place A to B is fairly easy, at least when I'm not crawling through the jungles of borneo or riding my camel through the middle of the desert. The resistance in Iraq can use GE just the same as any of us can use google earth to figure out where we're going.

      With respect to the article specifically. The parking lots of Iraq's military installations, now in use by the British, probably haven't moved too far, nor have the suitable places for housing since those photos were taken. Given how long the occupation has been going on, those bases haven't moved and I somehow doubt the british army has been able to magically conjure up new places within the bases to put their tents, and even if google pictures are a year or two old those things are likely not all that much different.

      With Google Earth a resistance fighter can see their way around rooftops, so long as the buildings are still standing, target things that don't move, or things that are consistently moved to and from the same place (like vehicles), and generally get a feel for what the terrain they are going to operate in looks like, and the layout. The fact that google earth might be somewhat out of date is less of a problem, if your information is wrong, you get killed, but it was better than nothing. Whereas the US/UK/FR/PRC/RUS would demand up the day satellite info to ensure maximum survivability of their soldiers, resistance movements tend to be more willing to make sacrificies.

      In a broader sense, I think militaries and goverments will have to adapt their organization around satellite imagery. Right now they're all used to thinking only other people with spy satellites can see these things. Sure everyone has maps, but maps are no where near as useful as a satellite photo, even a crappy one. This probably means a lot more things in semi portable or easy to construct bunkers like they use for jet fighters.
  • Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvilGoodGuy ( 811015 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:02AM (#17610382)
    I wondered when someone was finally going to try to blame Google for blowing buildings up. With GPS as accurate as it is, and satallite imagery easily accessable, I don't think Google is what we need to deal with. We need to deal with the guys with the bombs.
  • by fabs64 ( 657132 ) <beaufabry+slashdot,org&gmail,com> on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:06AM (#17610402)
    "They certainly could explain more."

    And say what, exactly? Terrorists also use cars, do we ask carmakers to explain? Google earth is just a very nice fancy map, do we ask cartographers to explain?

    What a pointless article.
  • Oh ya (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichPowers ( 998637 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:06AM (#17610406)
    Because Google is the only way to view satellite images. Shutting down Google Earth would totally solve everything! The US is ultimately responsible for concealing its assets from satellite photography. Same goes for every other country on Earth. Someone out there is always watching. PS: Must be a slow news day...
  • *Insurgents* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Skiron ( 735617 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:08AM (#17610416) Homepage
    If the UK was invaded by a foreign power, and the people fought back, we would be called 'the resistance', or 'freedom fighters' or what not - so why do Bliar and Bush and co. call the Iraqi people that fight back 'insurgents' ??
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TWX ( 665546 )
      Probably because there are several different groups that are fighting/targeting different other groups, and some of these groups are killing Iraqis more than they're attacking U.S. troops. Doesn't help that many of those aren't Iraqis either.
    • by fabs64 ( 657132 )
      Propaganda has always been a part of war.
      Look up some depictions of the Japanese in America in ww2.
      Or even better, the german "Hun" in England in ww1.
    • Re:*Insurgents* (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nyeerrmm ( 940927 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:31AM (#17610584)
      The other difference is that, at least in theory, a 'resistance' would refer to a group trying to drive the invaders out, as is the case with the European resistances in WWII.

      However in Iraq, the US and UK would like nothing better than to leave, but feel a responsibility to insure stability after the mess we caused (in one set of rhetoric), or to secure freedom for the people (in another set of rhetoric.) The insurgent forces are not fighting to remove a foreign dictatorship, or if they think they are they're doing a really bad job of it. What they're doing, at least as best as I can tell, is to insure that the new government is their groups government, or, at risk of sounding self important, to stick it to US because they don't like us and our policies on Israel and other various issues.

      Obviously it's a much more complex issue, we are trying to impose our own idea of order, and put up people in power that we can at least stand. However, it seems to me, though I'm biased, that the basic differences are there and important.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 )
        Well, they are trying to prevent the formation of a government and state that would be inimical to their interests as they see them, as well as erode the will of occupation, which is supporting that government.

        A lot of occupying forces would "like nothing better than to leave" - I'm sure that's how the USSR felt about Afghanistan - but that doesn't make them any less a force of occupation.
    • Words Have Meaning (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shihar ( 153932 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @05:23AM (#17611164)
      We call them 'insurgents' because that is the correct term that describes all the fighters in Iraq.

      A resistance movement is seeking to oust a foreign occupying power to restore the previous ruling power. Now, it is true that Iraq has resistance movements trying to kick out Americans and restore the Baathist to power, but they do not actually make up all or even a majority of the fighters in Iraq. Shiite militias and Al-qaeda are not seeking to restore the Baathist.

      Insurgent is a broader term. An insurgent on the other hand is someone who takes up arms against the current governments authority. That is a term that describes almost all of the fighters in Iraq. Iraq fighters are not just fighting occupation. They are fighting other militia groups, the government, and some times just indulging in good old fashion ethnic cleansing. Doing any of the above is defying the authority of the current government, hence they are insurgents.

      As far as to why we don't call them freedom fighters, it is because Blair and Bush (and most Western folks for that matter) don't consider Baathist trying to restore an Arab fascist government, Shiites trying to ethnically cleanse the Sunnis, or Al-qaeda trying to create a theocratic state and ethnically cleanse Shiites on the side to really fall under any (western) definition of "freedom fighting".

      If it makes you feel better, and I am sure it will because you are clearly suffering from a sever case of moral relativism, I imagine that if the Soviets had invaded the US or Britain, they would have called us insurgents and not freedom fighters also.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by glesga_kiss ( 596639 )
        We call them 'insurgents' because that is the correct term that describes all the fighters in Iraq.

        Agreed. It's also far better than the alternative, "terrorists", which was clearly chosen for it's propagandistic factitious links to the events in New York City in order to manipulate peoples opinions. Every time I hear it mentioned, my hope for mankind diminishes slightly.

  • by Venik ( 915777 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:09AM (#17610426)
    A logical solution would be not to have any vulnerable targets, especially "within bases". Here's an idea: guard your bases better. I mean, what if one day you'll have to fight an enemy that has their own aerial and space recon and doesn't have to rely on Google? So blaming Google is a ridiculous excuse for the incompetence of the military commanders entrusted with the safety of these bases.
    • Good point. Concrete is cheap, but we still house troops in tents and unarmored trailers.
      I'd be potting ordinary ISO containers in concrete (you get a nice bunker with a builtin anti-spall liner) if I were tasked with base defense, but the US isn't much on bunkers.
  • by Pavan_Gupta ( 624567 ) <`pg8p' `at' `virginia.edu'> on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:12AM (#17610444)
    I had wondered what should be done about this when I first happened across the article on Digg and I honestly believed that that it would make sense for Google to censor sensitive regions of the world. They could do what they did for the D.C. area and beige-out some of the imagery to protect sensitive images of the country. But then the big ugly can of worms is opened as to what's sensitive to who, etc.

    And honestly, all this image censorship seems like a waste of time, because this kind of information could be discovered in such a large number of ways. Imagine just floating a balloon in the air with a camera atached and some GPS equipment? I guess the US could shoot every flying object out of the sky and then censor Google, but it's probably a lame solution... it's analogous (in my mind) to application security through obscurity.

    I'd imagine the betters solution for the US is to 1) place their own tents over vulnerable points (if they like the security through obscurity solution) and to 2) cut back on those points of vulnerability. What the heck did we do during the cold war -- satellite weren't only a US technology....
  • Shocked they haven't forced a blackout of critical areas. I'd almost call this more of a failure of the US government not Google. They can't be expected to know where critical areas are.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bunions ( 970377 )
      Exactly. I'm sure Google would be glad to help out with the War On Terrism and black out/blur any particular rectangles of the globe the US Gov't wants if it asked nicely.

      No sarcasm, btw. I'm sure they would. I mean, as long as we're talking about sensitive locations in Iraq, not just "We don't want anyone looking at potential targets in Poughkeepsie, so just blur out all of the eastern seaboard."
  • Google's Duty... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by akohler ( 997911 ) <kohler.a@gmail.com> on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:13AM (#17610456) Homepage Journal

    is to ensure that terrorists, insurgents, and other undesireables, shall not have access to information that is freely and publicly available through other channels anyway.

    Perhaps they should recruit all of the ISPs in the developed world to aid them in carrying out this grave responsibility. If will all just signed affidavits of government loyalty and agreed to undergo extensive background checking prior to using the Internet or any Net enabled tools, the problem would be solved.

    In all seriousness, when did Google become charged with being the Internet Police? Isn't combating "terrorism" someone else's job, already?

  • I call BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ktappe ( 747125 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:16AM (#17610476)
    The article states "We believe they use Google Earth to identify the most vulnerable areas such as tents."

    The satellite photos Google uses are updated every few years at best. If the UK forces had left their tents in the same place for years, it's not Google they should have been worried about, it's their commanders. But I somehow doubt those tents were left intact for such a long time, so the Telegraph is dishing out a pile of BS here.

  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:16AM (#17610478)
    Time to set up ranks of inflatable tanks, buildings, and such and move them every week. By the time they pinpoint the tanks, they will find nothing.

    Here is an article on the art of deception. I would love them to waste ammo and troups attacking the empty tents in the compound where all those inflatable tanks are.
    http://www.psywarrior.com/DeceptionH.html [psywarrior.com]
  • Google should required terrorists to identify themselves as such, provide a legimate street address and a valid credit card to purchase the info. That will provide the government with information as they audit such transactions and Google will have a revenue stream to show to the shareholders. It's a win-win situation unless the military arrives after the bomb goes off. But that's not Google's problem.
  • I'm sure our brilliant intelligence services worked a deal out with Google to put out false information in these maps to confuse, befuddle and ultimately exploit the enemy, right? You blew our cover!

    Also, you can't disprove this.
  • I wish we had Professor Farnsworth's "what if" machine. If we did, I would use it to give "these people" everything they want: government controlled internet, a video camera with speaker and mic on every block, no crypo among citizens, etc. and see what would happen. Because at this point I see little difference between the "insurgents" and these people in that both seem to believe that they are doing the right thing, and both are ignoring a lot of logic. I have the feeling that if either extreme were to "w
  • by EvilGoodGuy ( 811015 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:19AM (#17610508)
    Just wait until they discover they can control their Roomba with a Wiimote. Goodbye suicide bombings, hello Roomba bombings! Down with Nintendo, down with iRobot!
  • But last time I checked, Google was not the ONLY place to get satellite imagery, its just a public one. Can't we track the IP addresses from Iraq that are accessing Google images? I would hope that a military force as formidable as the US armed forces would have a way to hide targets, and protect them. I didn't read the article, but from what I can tell otherwise, those same targets are subject to Iraqi people reporting them to 'insurgents' as well. There are probably a dozen ways to find targets inside US
  • by l3v1 ( 787564 )
    In other news, scientists have found convincing evidence that geographical and geopolitical maps can be used by terrorists to pinpoint vulnerable locations and possible targets and to coordinate terrorist troop movements. They propose the BAM [Banish All Maps] Act in order to prevent terrorists' orientation.
  • duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oman_ ( 147713 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:24AM (#17610550) Homepage
    The military should be using Google Earth to find weak points in their bases so they can FIX THEM.

    You think if google earth didn't exist people wouldn't get this information? Well when they do you're going to be fscked and unprepared... It's like a real world analog for security through obscurity.
  • Maybe the army should use Google Earth to pinpoint vulnerable targets within their bases... and make them, oh I don't know, not vulnerable. Or better yet walk around you bases and figure out whats vulnerable in real time! I mean if Google Earth has data thats more than a year old and terrorists have used it to pinpoint vulnerable targets then doesn't that mean that the targets have been vulnerable for more than a year.
  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:30AM (#17610582) Journal
    Who here belives Google Earth displays or even has access to anything other than what they are permitted to by the military? So why is an intelligence officer moaning about something he knows won't change?

    If the "bad guys" belive the maps are up to date then they are the maps they will use. I think this is an attempt by the "good guys" to direct enemy mortar fire into an empty padock. Now since the proffesional bad guys aren't stupid, any doubt about the currency of the images reduces Google Earth to the informational status of an old street map.
  • by The Master Control P ( 655590 ) <.ejkeever. .at. .nerdshack.com.> on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:37AM (#17610616)
    Step 1: If practical, all US military bases in Iraq suddenly get very fuzzy on Google Earth. Or better yet, they get photoshopped to try and screw the insurgients into planning their attack with the wrong data.

    Step 2: If step 1 is not practical, just fuzz out all of Iraq. I believe they do something similiar with Israel and GPS and space photos - GPS is less accurate and public images are no better than 2M resolution, IIRC.

    [The part referenced by my subject line ends here]

    Step 3: Just admit that Iraq is the next Vietnam, and save a bunch of lives on both sides by leaving ASAP. The the hated government [blogspot.com] we're propping up is as useless and corrupt [washingtonpost.com] as the South Vietnamese government was. As in Vietnam, we've got a determined insurgiency that's being supported by outside forces (We're looking at YOU, Iran and Syria). As if to rub salt in the wound, this time they (Iran & Syria) finance their support using our own oil money. Once again, the enemy is proving that all our technology is fracking useless against them. Once again, we're spending outselves into a fiscal black hole.

    And once again, we're discovering that our government lied to start this war (nit: Yeah, the Gulf of Tonkin incident was just the excuse to escalate), and frankly has been systematically lying ever since. Greeted as liberators - insurgiency in it's death throes - Don't need more troops - Pay for itself in oil exports - We don't torture - Undercounting civilian deaths - Yada yada yada. We even get our own version of Vietnamization ("We stand down as they stand up"), and we all know how well that went last time. Then again, Iraqi-ization is going nowhere because the Iraqi army will never, ever stand up (i.e. don't want to anger the insurgients that will control Iraq when we leave).

    Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. So the question is... How long until we leave with our tail between our legs this time? And after Bush is impeached (?), will Cheney pardon him?
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:42AM (#17610640) Journal
    I'm not sure, but this just sounds like a grumpy journalist to me...

    Google is obviously in talks with the involved parties here.
    "We have opened channels with the military in Iraq but we are not prepared to discuss what we have discussed with them," a spokesperson told the newspaper. "But we do listen and we are sensitive to requests."

    It's just that they don't want to go public with all the details.

    That honestly sounds good enough to me. The important part is that they're aware of the problem, not that they inform grumpy Google journalists of every little thing they're discussing internally. I think they don't deserve the negative spin on this in that article.
  • by MDMurphy ( 208495 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:46AM (#17610666)
    It's such a shame there are so many idiots and that a good percentage of them work in the media. Google doesn't have a fleet of satellites buzzing overhead watching our every move. They buy existing satellite and aerial imagery from commercial sources. These sources are US and non-US based. Google made deals on bulk purchases of the *existing* data and make it cheaper, but they didn't create it.

    Also, the same clueless people assume this is all satellite imagery. The "good stuff" is actually lower level aerial photos shot from airplanes. Yep, someone flew right over the tops of those places and were paid to do so.
    So, like most of the other "secrets" Google is blamed for revealing these pictures were already out there and available.

    Hmm, I wonder if anyone in charge of security for those bases ever looked on Google Earth to see just what was visible? If investigators found printouts that showed vulnerable locations then those same vulnerabilities would have been visible to the security people. By seeing what was freely available to the outside world they could have taken precautions to reduce the risk.

    Unless the attacks came just hours after new imagery was posted on Google Earth, then the security people screwed up royally.
  • Questionable Story (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pooua ( 265915 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:59AM (#17610736) Homepage
    I saw this story about 2 days ago. It wasn't very impressive to me at the time, and still isn't. For one thing, all we know of the insurgent's use of Google Earth is that a suspected terrorist shelter had printouts and coordinates written on it. Someone assumes this means terrorists are using Google Earth to plan attacks. Maybe so, but what are they going to do? Plot in the coordinates in a cruise missile? What piece of equipment do terrorists have that use coordinates? So, the terrorists' mortor fire is becoming more accurate; after 4 years of shelling the same targets, wouldn't one expect as much? And, yes, the maps on Google Earth are a few years old. Many of the buildings where I live, even entire apartment complexes, were not built yet in the Google Earth photos.

    Maps, whether Google Earth's or not, are useful for planning attacks in other ways. Maps can communicate where to meet, where to plant bombs, where convoys will travel, etc. But, Google probably does not have the only maps of Iraq that Iraqis can get. What are we supposed to do? Ban all maps from civilians?
  • Collateral Damage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kbolino ( 920292 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @04:16AM (#17610854)
    The phrase "collateral damage" refers to unintended casualties (esp. civilians) resulting from a military operation. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but the British soldiers are the intended targets--there's nothing collateral about them being killed.
  • by netadmin ( 66549 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @04:45AM (#17611010) Homepage
    Has nobody heard of WorldWind from NASA. They were publishing similar data way before Google got on board...

    http://worldwind.arc.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]

    First release August 2004!

    Perhaps NASA could be doing more to prevent...

  • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @05:49AM (#17611340) Homepage Journal

    At least nothing came up in a search for "fake"--but I'm ignoring the anonymous cowards, so maybe they have the insights?

    Anyway, it's obvious that if this is really a war (pretending that America was seriously threatened by the late Saddam and that a war was called for), and if you know how your enemy is acting, then this is an obvious case for seeding Google with fake intelligence to find out if the insurgents take the bait. It's called counterintelligence, even if you take "military intelligence" as an oxymoron. Actually, by doing it cleverly in narrow time windows and tracing the IPs for specific fake images, they could even get very specific data on the people who are supporting the insurgents.

    On the other hand, pretending that Dubya's politically filtered appointees are more competent than the insurgents, then we could also out-think them to figure out where the true images will encourage the insurgents to attack, and plan for counterattacks at those targets. Of course the problems there are that the insurgents are rather cunning, quite determined, have wide popular support, and are quick to change their tactics.

    The *REAL* problems of our situation in Iraq are *NOT* related to Google. The real problems are that Dubya's handlers regard themselves as being safe from paying any legal penalties for their perpetual and fanatical determination to ignore reality, while Dubya's incompetence compounds every mistake. If you haven't read The One Percent Doctrine , then you should read it just to see what happens when someone who is not as qualified as a college intern is frequently intervening at the highest levels of the decision-making processes.

  • by nsebban ( 513339 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @06:06AM (#17611408) Homepage
    The data and pictures used by Google to render maps in Google Earth have been bought by Google. Pretty sure Military Departments can buy these too, and I wouldn't even be surprised if they had access to even more detailed maps and data.
  • What a joke (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @06:30AM (#17611558) Journal
    It was shown that 9/11 terrorists trained on MS Flight Sim. But did ppl call for them to change it to prevent it? Nope. Which is the way it should be. Afterall, the terrorist are also using knives and forks for attack. Should we outlaw silverware/flatware?
  • Lets ban maps! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Snaller ( 147050 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @06:30AM (#17611564) Journal
    We all know that banning Google Earth isn't enough. They the'll just use maps! We have to ban maps as well! So that we can all feel secure!

"And remember: Evil will always prevail, because Good is dumb." -- Spaceballs