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CIA declassifies deep-sea-sunk spy satellite

MSNBC posted an interesting story on the CIA efforts to monitor the whole territory of the Soviet Union in the early 1970s. A spy satellite codenamed Hexagon that actually managed to photograph the whole communist empire was declassified right now.

It took pictures of everything with such an accuracy that the U.S. experts could determine the locations and type of all rockets of certain types and their precise identity. The final step was to allow the satellite fall into the ocean near Hawaii. The parachutes broke so a secret box has sunk to 5 kilometers of depth.

That wasn't the end of the story. The CIA sent the most sophisticated state-of-the-art submarine vessel and they just got it out during the third attempt in the years 1971-1972.

I wonder how far the classified technologies have gotten in the four following decades i.e. where they are today. If you're a CIA insider, let me remind you that you can't give me the answer because it is classified. Thank me very much. You're welcome. Everyone else may answer, of course. ;-)

What can they monitor? Is there a secret infrastructure in outer space that is able to cripple hostile satellites or targets on the Earth? Can they listen to foes' communication? Are some satellites ready to assist in the EMP attack against a rogue nation such as Iran to send it back to the Stone Age?

Today, the Israeli media are excited by the top story about Ehud Barak's and Binyamin Netanyahu's plans to attack Iran before November. It's a sensitive thing. Defense minister Ehud Barak isn't directly named by Haaretz but because they say that he's the most analytic mind in the Israeli government (he has degrees in physics, mathematics, as well as economics) who has a piano in the living room, everyone knows it is Ehud Barak. ;-)

I guess that they're the most sensible practitioners in charge of Israel, they know what they're doing, but if they need to convince a few more people to gain a majority, they will hopefully be able to do so. I am sure that tons of people are already working on detailed war plans.

It may be very intriguing to surgically target several nuclear targets and nothing else. I am afraid this won't be the end of the story. Israel and not only Israel must be ready for a more intensive conflict. I personally think that NATO together with Israel should topple the regime in Syria, occupy it, and use the country as the main base – together with the friends in Azerbaijan – to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. The occupation of Syria assumes to confess that most of the organized people on the territory of that country are hostile jerks; the British government's decision to send money to Al-Qaeda "rebels" seems flabbergasting to me. How can you simultaneously waste the British taxpayer money for trying to weaken Al Qaeda and waste additional money for subsidies to nearly the same Al Qeada individuals at a different, nearby place? It's just stupid beyond imagination. Incidentally, Saudi Arabia was recently claimed by the media to be determined to shoot down Israeli aircrafts on their way to strike Iran but Israel refused these reports as invalid speculations.

The war on Iran isn't risk-free (especially for Israel and U.S. troops in the region, of course) but the alternative is obvious: an indefinite vacuous talk about diplomacy – which is nothing else than farce at this point – that is increasingly detached from the actual situation and a wishful thinking about sanctions – which only hurt some ordinary Iranians and which are (with the help of some Asian business partners) ignored by the mullahs, in fact they are used to consolidate their power. At some moment, Iran will announce that it's already sufficiently upset by the West so it has changed its mind and it really needs to build a nuclear bomb. This sudden change has of course been a part of their plan from the beginning.

All other powers in the Middle East will work hard to get their own nuclear weapons as well but well before this will become reality, you may be ready for nukes all over the Middle East and beyond that come from undetermined sources and where the Iranian contribution will always be suspected but never proved. It would be a complete mess, an obviously scary world to live in, a world in which you must be afraid of a shock every day. Living in a world with an angry Iran after some of its military and nuclear targets are flattened may also be dangerous but it is significantly less dangerous, I think.

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reader Teno said...

Interesting story! But as I undestood it the satellite was a bit more sophisticated. Instead of crashing the whole satellite near Hawaii the satellite dropped a film recovery capsule (of which there were four in total).
Found a diagramm of the satellite:
I'm also wondering how far intelligence technology has gotten in the last decades.

reader Gordon Wilson said...

Saudi Arabia is just posturing for the Arab world when it makes statements about shooting down Israeli or US fighters on their way to bombing Iran---the Saudis are Wahabi Sunnis and the Iranians are Shiites, ie to the Sunnis, they are heretics, and Saudi Arabia would like Iran to be made impotent in the area. I am usually quite anti-war, but I agree with Lubos about Iran. The mullahs will use every deception possible to delay any action to stop their progress in developing nuclear weapons.
This is called "taqiyya" and is considered a religious obligation when dealing with infidels. Sending in UN inspection teams, or getting promises from Iran to comply are totally useless time-wasting procedures and completely play into Iran's plans. They will lie through their teeth.
I wonder, though, if Israel can conduct effective cyberwarfare instead of conventional airstrikes. I am sure that the nuclear facilities must be offline, but there are ways of infiltrating isolated networks.

reader anna v said...

Well, if you want to start a WWIII no better place than the middle east mess. The prophecies will also be fulfilled, otherwise known as "self fulfilling prophecies ".

reader Luboš Motl said...

Well, the region is explosive and it's easy for a conflict to erupt there but it may also burn out quickly and therefore reduce the potential for a global growth.

It's like if you want to make a big fire with some wet wood. You may use a piece of paper that immediately catches fire but it may lack the ability to transfer the fire to the wood, too.

I see no reason why and no mechanism how the conflict over there could move e.g. to Western and Central Europe or the U.S.

reader anna v said...

2)Israel , if it becomes overwhelmed by sheer fanaticism and numbers then the west will intervene directly.

In contrast to Gordon I think that diplomacy is preferable for all nations involved , to open conflict. And after all Pakistan has nuclear bombs and is in conflict with India but the nuclear conflagration is stayed by the nuclear balance.

reader Michael Gersh said...

You say that you are usually anti-war? I guess that separates you from the less than one percent of humanity that is pro-war. I am anti-war as well, so I agree with our host's idea to EMP Iran to the point where they can no longer start one, so we will not have to kill them all.

reader Gordon Wilson said...

Anna--I am not saying that diplomacy should not happen, but really, look at the results so far with Iraq and with Pakistan. The U.N. efforts have been a poor joke. It is sort of like a game of Prisoner's dilemma where one of the prisoners is always committed to telling the truth and the other is committed to always lying. The U.N. investigating and sending diplomatic missions plays completely into Iran's interests--lie, waste time, make threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, and rely on China and Russia to stymie any effective U.N. resolutions.
In Pakistan, the ISI, the secret service, has been actively supporting the Taliban when it is convenient, and fomenting terrorism in India. They had to have been harboring Bin Laden--he was in an upscale residential area with highly ranked military neighbors, and the doctor who reported his whereabouts to the CIA subsequently arrested for this by the Pakistanis and jailed for 33 years for treason! And this is supposedly a US ally and a country helping to root out Afghan terrorists from its territory, AND receiving scads of foreign aid. I would say that diplomacy has been rather ineffective in his case.

reader Luboš Motl said...

It's great to hope for miraculous solutions that don't hurt anyone but they're not always realistic. Don't exaggerate the anti-war numbers. The percentage of people who support a strike on Iran ASAP is around 50% in Israel which is where it matters most and close to 10% in the U.S. where almost no one cares about their ally. However, most relevant politicians such as Obama say that they won't allow a nuclear Iran so unless they are lying, of course that it means a war.

reader Daniel said...

This feels suspciously like Iraq. Saddam was being a dick about inspections which seemed very suspicious however he had no WMD program but had to seem like he might to Iran.

All I see is American news so it feels like Iran is trying to build a bomb but there are so many conflicting reports even from American intelligence that Iran is years from a bomb and that they would know if they were enriching that much.

The leaders of Iran say some stupid things however they can't seriously think they can nuke Israel. Its MAD all over again. If they used a nuclear bomb... that is the end of Iran.

If they are trying to develop a bomb it can only be for leverage. Its probably better to negotiate. Hell the Saudis hate America as much as anyone but somehow thats ok. On top of that Iranian people are WAY more pro-western.