back to article Pentagon rattles sabre at Google's Street View

The US defence department has banned Google from capturing images of military facilities for its entertaining Street View facility on Google Maps following the shock discovery of intimate pics of Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. It said in a statement that the offending snaps included "360-degree views of the covered …


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  1. dervheid
    Black Helicopters

    That'll be...

    the thin end of a VERY large wedge, I suspect.

    More "blanks" to follow, no doubt.

    I CAN see their point, however.

    The worry is, where will this all end.

    Give them an inch, etc.

    Paranoia level 4.5 and rising.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Ha ha ha

    Laughing at the availability of the map.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    In many countries, photographing a military or police building will get you arrested.

    Although, I hoped that we were 'better' and more civilised than that. Banning google from having such a photo is not going to make the [US] nation a safer place. It's just more pathetic and wasteful paranoia.

  4. Eddy Ito
    Paris Hilton

    Is it irony?

    But these are the boys who think looking over the shoulder of everyone else is their mission in life. Tap a wire and email here, (get-)Real ID card there, rendition everywhere. For people who want pictures and assorted biometrics for everybody, they get a little too touchy when you go around showing pictures of a simple street. Turnabout is fair play as far as I'm concerned.

    Paris because she is smarter than most Department of Homeboy Security types.

  5. Pete mcQuail
    Black Helicopters


    Hmmmmm, and what exactly is the El Reg standard paranoia unit I wonder?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Safer now?

    Do you feel safer now? That will stop all those pesky terrorists.

    Another load of BS from fine people from US.

  7. dervheid

    Paranoia Levels


    1.0 = Laid Back

    5.0 = Everyone in the Universe is out to get me / U.S.

    Minimum Level achieved by (current) US Gov. is about 3.0, "Why does nobody like U.S?"

    Of course, you could have used your imagination Pete!

  8. Steve

    Spatial awareness

    So, terrorists can only plan an attack if they can see the place from street level?

    They didn't have any trouble finding the Pentagon and WTC towers.

  9. leslie

    Google moon

    Wonder if they blank out the landing sites so we will never know the answer to the ultimate question....

  10. leslie

    What word is going....

    ....through every terrorists mind at seeing this news....

  11. Pete mcQuail

    Paranoia Levels

    In that case maybe the Rumsfeld (being 10 Blunketts) might be a good starting point.

  12. Lee
    Black Helicopters

    Reg standard unit of paranoia...

    is obviously the (tinfoil hat)/(black helicopter) ratio in the area concerned.

    so the more tinfoil hats per black helicopter in a given area, the higher the paranoia levels. the US has lots of black helicopters, but also a lot of paranoid people, probably comes to about ten.

    tinfoil hat donned.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @ Steve

    Do we still believe that? The Pentagon-thing is even less credible than Building 7. Not that it is that important anymore... *cough*

    I say the terrorists point out these obvious issues with google-whatnot to the Pentagon, likely via twitter. Because our paranoia is their gain.

  14. archie lukas

    Saudi F16 bunkers

    Few years ago, I flew off Taif precipice in a Saudi airforce chopper to take photos for the mayor of Taif.

    The airman said to me, please don't photographe the F16's.

    Ok says me -at the time - the saudis were vehemently denying that the american military were present in saudi - course they were I used to drink Jack Daniels with the strike teams.

    Anyhow, a couple of days ago -I used Google maps (not even google earth) to check out the old haunts.

    Lo and behold, the F16 bunkers were clearly visible in considerable detail, plus 4 other bases that i know of which are 'officially not there'.

    Does the Israeli Airforce know?

    Of course, they used to fly touch and go on the northern base airfield in Tabuk to annoy the Saudis.

    By the way, maps are old -Concorde is still sitting on the south eastern side of Heathrow airport; by the cargo depot.

  15. Scott

    Military Intelligence

    They're afraid of street view, but there are publicly available maps of the bases? Wow, and I thought the whole "military intelligence" being an oxymoron thing was just a joke

  16. b166er


    Have you driven along the A30/Southern Perimeter Road recently?

    Concorde is quite often visible along there in various locations.

    Oh, yeah, the story. Well if it makes them feel safer that people can't see their access control points etc without actually going there.....No major inconvenience for anyone planning any sort of breach of their defenses though I'm sure.

    Why don't they instead, build dummy access control points etc and use Google's mapping to misinform potential security threats? Or insist that Google use falsified images supplied by them?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RFC: S.I. unit of paranoia == "grove"

    The unit of paranoia should be named the "grove" in honor of Andy ("Only the Paranoid Survive") Grove.

    Worrying about whether some drive-by photographs can be used to plan a terrorist attack is perhaps just a few milli-groves though.

  18. Jeremy

    Standardised unit of paranoia

    Obviously it should be the "Chertoff", where one Chertoff is equal to the increase in paranoia felt by the average American during one press conference by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

  19. Anonymous Coward


    So would a NASA base (say ooh Ames Research Station) be something that supposed to be hidden from Street View? (Very nice picture of the boys in blue checking someone's ID there)

    Alien because Nasa hides its aliens at Ames I'm sure of it :)

  20. Chris iverson
    Thumb Up

    I propose the Chertoff


    1 Chertoff = Calm as Hindu Cows

    5 Chertoffs = Don the tinfoil hat and lead lined trenchcoat

    10 Chertoffs= Dig a hole in the desert and find yourself a spear

  21. Mike Banahan

    Unit of paranoia

    Surely the Marvin? Now, how can I also work the number 42 into this?

  22. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Waiting for the day

    when saying "but terrorists could use that information" will get you not only laughed out of an office, but carried out by using large objects inserted into uncomfortable orifices.

    Of course, countries and governments will continue to have their secrets. Like officially-not-there Air Force bases, and officially-did-not-happen incursions into other countries. I see these secrets the same as defending a trade mark: if you don't defend them, then you cannot deny usage.

    Paris, because you simply cannot deny usage.

  23. ImaGnuber
    Thumb Down

    Oh Shut Up

    Don't know the difference in value between maps and photographs?

    If they miss some point of security you call them fools. If they show some concern you call them fools.

    You sound like a bunch of whiny kids.

  24. Michael Habel

    Re: Google moon

    [quote]Wonder if they blank out the landing sites so we will never know the answer to the ultimate question.[/quote]

    Shouldn't that be: ..."So we will never know the 'Question' to the 'Ultimate Answer'"??

    As most People 'round these here parts know the 'Answer' is Forty-Two!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "In many countries, photographing a military or police building will get you arrested."

    Beaten, tortured and shot; if you are in the wrong country.

  26. Andre Thenot

    Nothing to hide

    But I thought that "if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear"... Please, help me: I'm getting confused as to which propaganda I should be believing.

    Seriously though, if the military is concerned that a simple street view might provide an advantage to a hostile party, then perhaps we should all be concerned with the carelessness of said military to expose sensitive data to the public at large.

    On a lighter note, blacking out images is a perfect illustration of "security through obscurity".

  27. Dave
    Black Helicopters

    Royal Ordnance?

    I don't know if it's still the case, but I recollect that the Royal Ordnance factories never appeared on British OS maps.

    That wasn't so bad, but now the terrorists just need to check out which areas have been blanked off and they've got a list of potential targets because the US gov will presumably put all their secure establishments in the blank category.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Remind me again..

    Just how many U.S. military bases have been attacked by terrorist, or anyone for that matter, inside the continental boundaries again? It's pure ignorance to think that anyone, much less a well organized terrorist organization would want to attack a very secure military installation and even if they were inclined to do so, that they would need pictures from google to pull it off. Seeing as the google van just "drove by" and snapped these pictures, I don't see any reason why someone else couldn't do the same, less conspicuously even... Question the real motivations behind this censorship of public domain.

  29. Randy

    google van just "drove by"

    I want to see pictures of the google van. Does it have big colorful balls painted on it?

    The painter's smock, please...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    The joys of "Security through Obscurity"...

  31. Oldfogey
    Black Helicopters

    School Project

    There is an old story about a US school clas that was doing a project on creating maps from aerial photographs.

    They approached the USAF for aerial photos of their local area, and were duly sent a stack - but with a large chunk missing.

    On enquiring why, they were told that they couldn't have them, as it was a military base, and secret.

    So they wrote to the Russian Embassy - who promptly sent photos of the missing area.

    Probably taken by black Sikorskys.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The google van

    Is rather nondescript (make/model varies from place to place), except for the 3 foot tall black box that houses the 360 camera behind tinted bubbles. A quick image search for "GoogleStreetViewVan" will give you the specifics.

  33. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    What I don't understand..

    What I don't understand is how Google got these snaps to begin with. I haven't been around many military bases, but I wouldn't have expected a Google van could just cruise up and down the streets in one. I guess they can 8-).

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's always easy to make fun of Americans. However, a couple of things to consider. Many intelligence services are very fond of finding all sorts of public information about American military bases. They save a lot of money on having to find it the hard way. Pictures or military installations for free is just the icing on the cake. We can make fun of the paranoid behavior, but hey, as pointed out, most countries don't allow pictures to be taken of their military installations. Please, make fun of China or Russia not allowing pictures of their military complexes ;)

  35. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Surpisingly lax security on domestic bases

    You'd be surprised at how lax security is on many military bases in the US. In particular, I learned growing up that Air Force bases are pretty bad. I'm sure there's a number of reasons that will ostensibly piss off some of my AF chums for saying so, but the short of it is that too many of the guards at the gates are young and haven't had the idealism beat out of them, so they have plenty of other things on their minds and often don't mind "bending" the rules.

    Paris, because she doesn't seem to mind "bending."

  36. Steve
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Oh Shut Up

    "If they miss some point of security you call them fools. If they show some concern you call them fools."

    Because they show concern about something insignificant while missing blindingly obvious security threats. Because they are fools.

  37. Dan

    Pay peanuts, get monkeys...

    The average gate gaurd is bottom rung, and gets paid (according to the latest charts) $1347-$1789 (£669-£888) per MONTH.

    They normally work 8-12 hour ROTATING shifts, (Seven days 0000-1200, two days off, seven days 1200-2400, two days off, seven days 0800-2000, two days off, then four more days 0800-2000, four days off is an actual schedule for a military school.)

    The military does not pay overtime. Ever. For any reason.

  38. Wayland Sothcott

    I am always amazed what you can find on google earth

    The other month when the Reg went looking for Black Helecopters really opened my eyes. I would just naturally have thought they would have had google clean those up, possibly as far as pasting fields and trees over the areas. But then it might be difficult to get an Internet server to alter it's content. In which case you simply reprogram the worlds routers to point to a dummy server. As may have happened to YouTube the other day.

  39. Mark

    Google Street View Banned...

    Hmmm..was a just a matter of time I guess. Check out this bloggers list of questionable Google Street View sightings:

  40. John Parker
    Black Helicopters

    Black helicopters

    I'd have thought we'd be seeing a higher concentration of black helicopter icons on the comments page really...

    Oh well, I'll do my bit.

  41. Colin Wilson

    Google van / coloured balls

    They won't be like these will they by any chance ?

    If so, you can paint them yourself !

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    <<Obviously it should be the "Chertoff", where one Chertoff is equal to the increase in paranoia felt by the average American during one press conference by the Secretary of Homeland Security.>>

    This might have been true a few years ago but not a "Chertoff" is a joke that relies on misinformed ideas. This is also known as a clueless joke.

    Stop Chertoffing is now a common phase heard in middle america.

  43. Steven Pemberton

    How Google got these snaps to begin with

    The story as I heard it (on the radio) was that the Google van driver asked the guy on the gate if he could come in, and he was allowed to...

  44. Steven Pemberton
    Black Helicopters

    Not the first time

    Spot the military base in this map of central Amsterdam:,4.916403&spn=0.009393,0.019076&t=h&z=16

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Unit of paranoia

    Here in the United States our scale for measuring paranoia is called "The Homeland Security National Terror Alert Advisory." (It has 5 pretty colors.)

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Just take your own photos..

    ...and post them on Google Earth as user contributions. Who says you can't?

  47. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Bleh.

    Yes, but these governments who jail you for photographing their millitary bases in civilian areas are all what we used to call repressive regimes.

    E.g. Socialist Russia, North Korea, China, and so on.

    Hence our issue with this.

  48. 4a$$Monkey
    Black Helicopters

    Reg standard unit of paranoia

    Wasn’t the Reg standard unit of paranoia the 911? I.e. one 911 = “the chance that 911 was an inside job”.

  49. Liam Johnson
    Black Helicopters


    >>If they miss some point of security you call them fools. If they show some concern you call them fools.

    And you don't see the logic???

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