Saturday, December 7, 2013

And on a slow Saturday Morning: fighting a Troll. . .

It's a cold, rainy Saturday in December.  A big winter storm is about to hit, and is already roaring through the Midwest: a friend of mine down in Arkansas is remarking how 4 cars have spun out on the ice at the bottom of the hill on which she lives.

Basically, a boring Saturday.  And then, a spark of something fun.  A Troll has appeared.  Nothing to do but don my armor of fact, and pick up my rapier wit, and go to battle. . .

The Troll has got himself into a pants-wetting fit over. . . this logo. . .

This requires a bit of explanation both over the logo AND the fit.

First, the logo.   This is the Mission Patch of Satellite "NROL-39".  Not much is publicly known about it, but that it launched on an Atlas V booster on December 5th, 2013, and is classified in purpose and capabilities, but it is widely believed to be the third member of the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) constellation of radar-reconnaissance satellites, located in circular, 680-mile-high (1,100-km) orbits.

In other words, it's a reconnaissance satellite, with world-wide coverage.  So, yes, if it's visible to the sensors, nothing on Earth is beyond their reach, and they can view it.  It's the sort of thing our Aerospace industry does routinely and quietly, and they're damned good at it.

The Satellites are all controlled by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), one of the Intelligence Agencies of the Department of Defense.   These are the people who design, acquire, launch, and use the Strategic Reconnaissance Assets of the United States.  Remember way back when, before DESERT STORM, when Colon Powell was showing images of Iraqi buildups and suspected chemical facilities ?   NRO.  Remember reading about the Cuban Missile Crisis and those photos of under-construction missile launch farms in Cuba,   NRO.

Anyway, their engineers and programs tend to have images and logos for each bird.  You can trace THAT back to the Mission Patches of the manned Space Program, and before that, all the way back to Nose Art on airplanes in World War Two.

I PARTICULARLY like this patch, from an unknown NRO Program:

For those of you who DON'T read Latin, it translates as:   "If I could tell you. . . I'd have to kill you. "  Needless to say, Mission Patches/Logos are generally humorous, and tend towards dark humor.  I have a few from my old days flying the B-52:

The first was an unofficial patch from my old outfit, the 69th Bomb Squadron, the other came from a fellow crewdog at Minot AFB, from the 5th Bomb Wing: it's an unofficial patch of the wing logo. . . and "Death From Above".

So much for Logos, and now onto the Troll.

Said Troll was obsessing  about that logo, and the NSA gathering network and phone data on all of us.  How he got from A to B is a bit of tortured logic, but I **THINK** it went like this:   NRO has a satellite that "Nothing Is Beyond Their Reach".   NRO is an Intelligence Agency.  Intelligence Agencies share Information. NSA is an Intelligence Agency.  NSA intercepts, stores, and analyzed internet and phone net data on American Citizens.  Therefore:

"OMFG !  This satellite is here to steal our Interwebs, and they're being brazen about it !!!!"

And the conversation went a little like this:

Me to Pathetic Idiot Troll (known hereafter as "PIT"): you speak of mission patches in the same way virgins speak of sex: with enthusiasm and utter ignorance. . .

To wit: You obviously haven't been in the Military. . . My old B-52 squadron had an unofficial patch which featured a winged skull dripping blood over the world. With the motto:

"Low and out of the Dark: We make Nightmares"

And the second one is an UNOFFICIAL Patch of the 5th Bomb Wing: that motto, translated from the Latin, is "Death from Above".

Your pants-wetting at NRO mission patches, which, BTW, are used for OVERHEAD imagery, not domestic internet intercept and data-mining, is, frankly, embarrassing.

Here's a dollar, go out and buy a clue. . .

PIT: When a mission patch is used for an Organization that shares DATA on American citizens and the patch is directed at spying on those citizens instead of at the enemy For instance using the Motto "Better the Devil You Know". Then I get concerned. I may not have served but I worked for the military for many many years and have several commendations for service in maintaining operational readiness and a secret clearance.  The person that brought the patches to my attention and was concerned with the motto as well was an ex army officer.

Me:  And again, you display your ignorance. NRO specializes in OVERHEAD RECON. NRO is ENTIRELY SEPARATE from NSA. Just like CIA, DIA, the various service and Federal Department Intel sections. The only thing they have in common, is that all report to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

And, since you obviously haven't been paying attention, more than "OMG, the Feds SPY on us!", allow me to inform you: the ubiquitous surveillance placed on American Citizens was done by the National Security Agency (NSA), and was done with the full cooperation of the major telecoms and ISP, who not only allowed access, but generally bent over, spread their cheeks, and applied fruit-flavored lube* to make it easy for No Such Agency to have done so. . .

(*Intelligence from a source at Google reveals that it was, in fact, Strawberry-flavored Lube.)

Quite frankly, anyone who has been paying attention knows this is not new.   Google the following terms:  ECHELON.   CARNIVORE.   TOTAL INFORMATION AWARENESS.   They've been doing this stuff for DECADES. . .

PIT:   Sorry one insult per person  If you can discuss this without insults I am willing otherwise. I am not.  BTW the wiki article on the NRO states that members of the NSA work for the NRO. I don't take wiki as gospel truth but it is good for somethings.

Note: Gee, Wikipedia as an even VAGUELY authoritative source ?  He didn't even bother to check Wikileaks ?  Not just a tinfoiler, but a not terribly competent one. . . 

 Me: There is nothing TO discuss. If you wish to continue to wet your pants over politically-incorrect mission patches, I merely recommend you stop by your local Wal-Mart and pick up a pack of "Depends". Obviously, invest in the extra-absorbent steaming pantsload type. . .

(I kill myself, sometimes. . .) 

PIT:   Goodbye since you refuse to discuss rationally.

(ooooh !   I've been KILLFILED !!!  Oh, the huge manatee!!!)

Me:  Yes, NRO **IS** a joint Intel operation. But again, you show your ignorance. NSA's major job is SIGNALS intelligence. So they have an interest in Overhead ELINT*. As opposed to DataInt. . . which is NOT what NRO does. . .

(*ELINT: Electronics Intelligence: monitoring the signals and other electronic emissions of a potential opponent. to gain insight into their capabilities and plans.. . )

PIT:   Wait you just said earlier that NRO is entirely separate from NSA and accused me of ignorance. Hmm.   Do you really trust this agency under Obama?

(And there it is: Obama is teh Deebil: not that I disagree, but, geeze, at least use some CREDIBLE tinfoil. . . .) 

Me:  One, I thought I was kill-filed. 

Two, again, you show ignorance of basic organizational structure. Organizations OFTEN second personnel to other organizations. Hell, I was seconded to HQ NATO and to the RAF. . .

Amused By-stander:   Grabbing Popcorn.  . .  


Well that is not what the NSA says about the NRO

"Along with the NRO and the NGA, the National Security Agency (NSA) is a major intelligence agency within the Department of Defense. The NSA is the nation's cryptologic organization charged with protecting the government's information systems and producing foreign signals intelligence information. The NSA works closely with the NRO to accomplish their goals. The NRO is staffed in small part by NSA personnel."

(Note: there are SEVERAL intelligence agency career links here.  And it's what the NSA is saying about the NRO **ON** the NRO site. . . ) 

Me:   Yes, it says they are a SEPARATE organization, and that some NSA people work at NRO. As I already noted. You have not, however, shown ANY connection between NRO and spying on American's private data. And you are offended by some Mission Patches that JUST HAPPENED to be on Drudge in the last 24 hours. Might I, again, suggest you go find some Big Boy Pants, and put them on ??

But, please, DO elucidate on your vast experience with the inner workings of the Intelligence Agencies, gained while running a small vanity press and working as a contract archeologist. . . . which has also given you deep insight into the means and methods of major intelligence organizations, while, somehow, evading detection and prosecution for doing so. I know what I know from general experience in the military and in Federal IT Contracting.

(Note: the PIT blogs, generally on other tinfoil theories, reportedly runs a small vanity press, and worked as a contract archeologist: i.e. a technician at dig sites. . . .)

PIT: It says exactly what I said it says they share information which is my major concern.

Since you refuse to discuss without insults or provide evidence for these thing you know, beyond the fact you say so I think we know that you have a very weak argument.

Me:  You're a SPECIAL kind of stupid, aren't you ?? You do not use OVERHEAD to do NETWORK surveillance: you just plug in to the network. NSA does infosec, cryptosec, and ELINT. You DO use OVERHEAD for ELINT, but not for network surveillance. It would be like using a satellite to look into your neighbor's 14-year-old-daughter's room, when she leaves the curtains and the window wide open. . . . especially as she's SEEN you peeping at her, and occasionally puts on shows. . .

And then, the final bit from PIT:

PIT: Obviously I am stupid because I continue to discuss this with someone whose entire argument is to call names and suggest the person that disagrees has poopy pants.

Quoted from the NRO site...
" The NSA works closely with the NRO to accomplish their goals." obviously one of us is wrong.

Alas, all good Troll stomping sessions must end. . .

Glad to see you admit it. I have provided information and noted relationships: you have provided outrage and claimed connections where there is no good or logical connection, and an astounding ignorance of how things actually work.

And I suggested you're **wetting** your pants, it you also have poopy pants, I suggest Imodium(tm)


And so ended a slow Saturday. .  .

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