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NASA Space

The Skylab-Area 51 Incident 334

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the back-in-time dept.
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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The Skylab-Area 51 Incident

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  • A Closer Look (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:45AM (#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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by metternich (888601) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:47AM (#14435504)
      Many foreign miltaries are complaining that google details their installations just a little too well...

      • Re:A Closer Look (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209)
        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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JasonBee (622390) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:14AM (#14435694) Homepage
        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
        • 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.


          Do they have Dick Cheney's house? Because a friend told me he has really nice roof tiles...and I, uh, can't quite make 'em out in Google Earth.

          (Waves at the NSA.)

          • Do they have Dick Cheney's house? Because a friend told me he has really nice roof tiles...and I, uh, can't quite make 'em out in Google Earth.

            (Waves at the NSA.)

            Hehe, I spent all day Saturday running new phone cable for a co-worker whose DSL wouldn't work. I found cloth wiring that dated to at least the 20s.

            So I'm telling this story to a friend (who is also a telco weenie) and marveling at how the POTS service kept working on those degraded lines. I said "Yeah, you just can't kill POTUS, it's bullet

    • Re:A Closer Look (Score:5, Informative)

      by Short Circuit (52384) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:55AM (#14435568) Homepage Journal
      RTFA. The photo is still classified, even if the fact that it exists is not.
    • 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.
    • actually, you just need to enter 'area 51' in the search entry box.
    • Re:A Closer Look (Score:3, Interesting)

      by srobert (4099)
      You don't even have to know the coordinates. Just type in "Area 51" on the Google Earth Search tool.
      I did this before but now, I think, the images are even more Hi Res than they were a few months ago.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:47AM (#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.)
    • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:52AM (#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.

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

        • 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.
          • It depends on how the aircraft was obtained. We have gotten a number of aircraft from the Israelis that they captured during their wars with their neighbors, others we outright purchased. Many of the aircraft used for Have Doughnut were obtained from the Israelis, they were later returned.

            Of the known programs for testing Migs, Have Doughnut, Have Drill, and Have Ferry only one aircraft was obtained via clandestine methods. At least that we known of. The US still keeps it a secret what nations we obtain t

        • by Fishstick (150821) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:45AM (#14435974) Journal
          >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.
        • 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.

          Sep 6, 1976. Lt. Victor Belenko [wvi.com] defected with a MiG-25 to Japan. We inspected it in depth, and sent it back. In boxes.

      • 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.
    • 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."
      • There are too many problems with your statement.

        For one thing, it's in the form of the classic "friend of a friend" urban myth.

        For another thing, of course that's what a responsible Area 51 staffer would say, whether it was true or not.

        For another thing, it's entirely possible that the alleged staffer was not cleared to know about the non-man-made things that may or may not be there, and so may not actually know what he's talking about.
    • 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 th

    • 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!
    • >Interesting Area 51 facts: "facts" is more like it.

      Area 51 has the longest runways in the world. Well, perhaps, if you count a dry lake bed as a runway. Many other places have longer concrete runways:

      • Vostochny (Russia) 16404 ft
      • Gavia (Bravil) 16295 ft
      • Upington (South Africa) 16076 ft
      • Harare (Zimbabwae) 15502 ft
      • Kinshasha Ndjili (Congo) 15420 ft
      • Mafikeng (South Africa) 15158 ft
      • Hawange National Park (Zimbabwe) 15091 ft
      • Edwards AFB (USA) 15013 ft
      • Denver 16,000 ft (proposed)

      >Area 51 is heavi

      • Crash debris (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WoodstockJeff (568111)
        Also let's assume a crashed plane throws parts as far as 500 feet.

        Bad assumption. I've been involved in two private aircraft crash investigations, including securing the scenes for one of them. Debris from the first was isolated to the hole it dug. The other was spread over a mile, with the key components in explaining the crash being found half a mile from the spot where the majority of the aircraft impacted.

        A previous incident at the same airport (AF tanker exploded overhead) rained debris over many squ

  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@@@tpno-co...org> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:49AM (#14435521) Homepage
    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
    • by njfuzzy (734116) <ian@ian-[ ]om ['x.c' in gap]> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:54AM (#14435563) Homepage
      Area 51 is the site that publically "doesn't exist". Probably a good way to draw attention away from more classified places.
      • 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.
      • by Rob Carr (780861) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:00AM (#14435593) Homepage Journal
        It works! No one ever talks about Area 50!
    • by Ironsides (739422) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:00AM (#14435588) Homepage Journal
      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.
    • by oscartheduck (866357) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:05AM (#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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 th
  • Move along (Score:4, Funny)

    by AkA lexC (939709) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:49AM (#14435523) Homepage
    Nothing to see here
  • Timely piece (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:52AM (#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?
    • 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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:14AM (#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.
      • Damn straight! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Deagol (323173)
        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 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by murderlegendre (776042) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:47AM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

        by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@@@infamous...net> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:03PM (#14436199) Homepage
        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.

      • 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!
      • Protect and Serve (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tony (765)
        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.

        If what's going on now is protection, count me out. I try to live a moral life. If the government does something in my name, it damned well better be done in a moral fashion, and not the immoral and illegal current activities.

        The "war on terror" is a strawman, to start with. The US was attacked by a single group, with known leaders. It was with them we have iss
        • Re:Protect and Serve (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Alaska Jack (679307)
          Look, I know we people with opposed political views are supposed to ridicule, spew bile, etc., but I don't mean this that way, and I hope you don't take it that way.

          1. You describe Al-Qaeda as "a very well-defined group originally trained up by the US to fight in Afghanistan in the '80s."

          It's difficult to believe that anyone familiar with Al-Qaeda would describe it this way. Al-Qaeda is not IBM; it is not "well-defined" in any sense I am familiar with. It is a loose confederation of individuals and cells wh
  • Government Secrecy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ranton (36917) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:52AM (#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.

    --
    • by stinerman (812158)
      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.
      • "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?
      • by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:30AM (#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.
        • So, what... do we declassify everything every two years just to make sure it's all completely benign by everyone's standards, everywhere?

          I used the number '2' because US Congressional elections are every 2 years. When new people are in the mix, the trust resets and the government has to earn it all over again.

          As for the rest of your response, I don't know what it is in respsonse to, because all I said was trusting your government isn't a good idea. Secrecy in some things is, of course, necessary.
    • "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.
    • 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 t
    • 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.

      • by doublem (118724)
        It's not unpatriotic, it's realistic.

        Where there's power, humans will abuse it, plain and simple. It's human nature.

        Pardon the cliché, but someone needs to be watching the watchers.
    • by Surt (22457) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:12AM (#14435686) Homepage Journal
      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.
    • by bear_phillips (165929) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:13AM (#14435690) Homepage
      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.
      • 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.

        As for your examples, your elected officials did know. Does it surprise you that they are not being completely honest about it? Don't buy into the politicaly motivated lies and contortions. They are at least as bad for freedom as any government secrets.
    • 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
    • Cool.

      Please give me 33% of your income.

      I can't tell you why.

    • 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.

      I like the theory that Area51 is just a decoy. I think that Area 51 needs to offically exist and all the proper paper work for the employees needs to be done. Part of me has a
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:12AM (#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.
  • Piffle (Score:2, Informative)

    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.
  • The US gov't in volved in denials and cover-ups? Uncle Sam wouldn't do that. I believe my gov't when it says there is nothing of interest at area 51. Wanna buy a bridge in NYC?
  • by MECC (8478) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:28PM (#14436553)
    And the map said "We're sorry, but your IP address, 127.0.0.1, has been logged. Please remain seated."

  • by AzraelKans (697974) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @12:57PM (#14436957) Homepage
    The govt is just not very good at keeping secrets, "Area 51" has to be one of the least well kept secrets in the world, how can conspiracy theorist beleve in huge cover ups such as a JFK conspiracy, fake moon landings or "aliens" when these people arent competent enough to hide a damn building!?

    One thing though, if they were unable to "hide" this base, probably newer secret bases have been made underground. They could still be easily located with a satellite thermal scanning (or similar tech). But hey at least they wouldnt appear clear as daylight in satellites.

     
  • They don't care (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 4D6963 (933028)
    They don't care you to see Area 51, but they won't say so. If they really didn't want you to see, you wouldn't have those high resolution shots on Google Earth, which don't show anything "interesting", looks just like any other AFB.

    Btw, why are such areas as that so low-res on Google Map while so good on Google Earth? Also, why are some governmental building edited out in Google Maps, while apparently (didn't check all) not in Google Earth??

  • ...are what's going on at sites 1 through 50.

    I mean, this is site number 51 - what's going on at the first fifty?!
  • by Da3vid (926771) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @01:16PM (#14437188)
    Back in college, another guy and I went out on a road trip across the American southwest. We hit Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, the Painted Desert, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and... Area 51. It was a fun trip.

    We left Las Vegas early in the morning (late at night?) at about 8 am. By about 10 am, we found ourselves in the middle of a very bland highway, not quite large enough to pass a car but there was no need anyways. Nothing but low lying brush, and hills seen far in the distance. It was otherwise completely flat. Then, we hit our turn signal, at the black mailbox. Thats how you know when to turn... there is a mysterious, good sized, and seemingly random black mailbox sitting out there, so we turned. After going through miles of roads (with many intersections, mind you) through the desert, we eventually hit the hills in the distance, and found ourselves approaching a small valley leading into them.

    We pull up to a pair of sign groupings. One on the left, and one on the right. There were orange markers every 5 feet or so to mark a perimeter. We stopped right before the signs, staying safely on our side. As we pull up to the signs, we see about 250 feet away on top of a small hill, a large black truck pulls up and stops on the hill. True story.

    Now, my friend is a bit crazier than I. Mind you, these signs read things like "Use of Deadly Force Authorized" "Military Installation Restricted Access" "Photography Prohibited" and all sorts of other things that make you wary of them. So, he opens up the car door and kneels behind it and starts taking pictures of the signs. After photographing the photography prohibited sign that was right next to the use of deadly force authorized sign, he gets a real good idea. He wants to talk to the man in the truck.

    Mind you, the orange markers that mark the perimeter go about a quarter way up the hill that the truck is on. So, he hikes over there and is yelling up at this guy. Meanwhile, I'm watching the whole thing go down through the camera. I see my friend walking the line, yelling like a madman. I see the guy in the truck talking into his radio, reach into his backseat and pick up a shotgun. I'm thinking, "This is no good. I'm going to have to drive back to this guy's mother and tell her that I watched her son die." and that was the best case scenario I was thinking of, not the "Oh man, if I see them kill him, they'll kill me in the cover up, too" train of thought. Eventually, the man in the truck rolls down his window and yells something sufficiently threatening to make my friend decide its time to go. And we do. We drive away back to Las Vegas. All in all, the trip was long for such a short sight. Not that great of a trip really, but one hell of a story.

    -Da3vid-
  • On a similar note (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Saint Jimmy (943036) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @01:55PM (#14437599)
    Did anyone see the press release from a few months ago where SETI announced that if they ever do recieve contact from extraterrestrials they will inform the US government before the media and allow the government to decide whether to release the information to the general population? What a bunch of bullshit. I expected better of SETI. They just lost privilges to use my computer for computing while I'm not using it...
  • by Eric Smith (4379) * <eric.brouhaha@com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @02:27PM (#14437889) Homepage Journal
    After Area 51 became so well-known, the UFOs and aliens were all moved to Area 52. Now the only purpose of Area 51 is to draw attention away from what's really going on.

    Similarly, once everyone learned about the UN's black helicopters, they repainted them in other colors.

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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