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[flagged] President Trump Tweets Sensitive Surveillance Image of Iran (npr.org)
61 points by onychomys 48 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 56 comments

> Either way, Panda notes that a small redaction in the upper left-hand corner suggests the intelligence community had cleared the image for release by the president.

Worth noting the image was cleared for release.

You skipped over the "suggests" part of that quote and just take it as fact.

Either way, that isn't really the story here since the President could declassify it anyway. The main story is the potential security and diplomatic repercussions from releasing this information in this manner.

That's a wild ass guess. That info could have been proactively redacted before sending to the whitehouse briefing, a standard process for things that are truly sensitive (since not everyone at the whitehouse who might end up seeing it is need-to-know). That doesn't mean it was cleared for public release.

Not really..since the president can retroactively declassify material ( as can the secretary of state see : Hillary emails )

Technically any member of congress can declassify information. If they talk about classified information while they have the floor (I think that's the term), then it becomes part of the public record. They probably won't get much access to classified information afterwards though.

Classified information in the public record is still classified, just compromised.

Yet NPR is fine using "Sensitive" in the headline, because they know it gets more eyeballs and outrage. The image is redacted, doesn't that mean it has been approved declassified?

No, you can use redaction to reduce classification level also.

I haven't editorialized the title. The interesting part is the resolution capabilities of the spy satellite compared to what's commercially available.

Totally. That is far beyond anything we previously believed possible if it was indeed one.

I was under the impression that they could identify faces and that was years ago.


Drones I suspect could find a dime dropped in the street and read the date off it.

Or it was just a drone. The angle of the photo suggests so.

Satellites can take photos from many angles too, you could maybe figure it out from some very sensitive foreshortening analysis to try and work out how far away it was.

I actually wondered at first if it was a falsely liveried (or IFF’d) airliner at altitude that has optical/sigint equipment on it.

From the angle it wouldn’t be feasible, but it was an interesting idea.

May not be satellite. There are so many types of drones now.

Doesn't matter. It's not a drone flying low enough to violate airspace, which means it is so far into the upper atmosphere that it might as well be from space, and the same arguments about maximum resolution apply.

I highly suspect adaptive optics being used. Locheed is one big employer in the speciality, but nobody knows for what they employ so many people for, and no foreigners requirement screams of a military project

Not the first time. Remember when he gave away secrets to the Russians in the oval office meeting with them?


The words, "The Product of National Empowerment" written next to the smoking hole in the ground.

What are the security implications of this action? For example, when the Valerie Plame was outed by Karl Rove/Scooter Libby, it was clear that a group of companies/networks were immediately compromised.

Does this current action have immediate repercussions?


The main thing is not wanted to show potential adversaries the extent of your capabilities. It also allows them to glean information on how to counter the newly disclosed capability as well.

For example: If this was a satellite, the specific one is almost certainly outed. Satellites are tracked constantly and by the angle of the photo and approximate time you should be able to figure out where in the sky it was and what satellites were in orbit. With that you now know to not do anything when those are present.

If Iran isn’t capable of doing that sort of analysis, certainly every other major power in the world is.

Frankly, I’m betting it was the X-37B or a previously unknown spy satellite hiding in plain sight as a commercial satellite.

With so many satellites up there, I'd be surprised if you could find any moment, anywhere on Earth, long enough that you could do something remotely important without several satellites being able to see you at the same time. They might be focusing on something else, or you might be hiding under a roof, but other than that if they want to see you, they'll see you.

All spy satellites are revealed by their orbit, and x37 doesn't seem to be one as it flies way to high up

The president is ultimate authority to declassify anything he so chooses: https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/may...

Sure. But just because it wasn't illegal doesn't mean it wasn't stupid.

Agree this was not appropriate for the specific post it was in reply to.

But notice how much of the discussion here does involve terms like "classified" or "cleared for public release".

Classification / clearing has two parts: the technical classification status, and the social process of what gets classified/declassified, how, and why.

If I delete a production VM at my job, zero part of the postmortem will involve figuring out why I had access to do so. I have root on all our hypervisors, of course I have access to do so. That doesn't answer the question of why I did so, whether I knew it was a production VM, whether our standard tools should have safety checks (even if I can muck around with ssh and virsh), etc.

Why is this downvoted? It is factual.

Just because you dont like the president ?

Because it doesn't answer the question. "What are the implications of running rm -rf as root" is not answered by "root is allowed to run rm -rf".

rm -rf is not actually bad.

rm -rf / as root ( to what you refer) will run until it runs into the proc file system but it too is not bad if that is what you want to do ... and as root you have the ability to make that choice.

As president you have the ability to make the choice to declassify anything.

As president you have the ability to choose to murder people via the military for 60 days without congressional approval

Perhaps the better question is "Why does the president have so much power ? "

Much like root, the president has the power of making split second decissions in extreme situations... and that's all right. But even dictators need to somehow explain their decisions or they risk getting kicked out.

Well, looks like the hearsays of Locheed managing to fit adaptive optics on a recon satellite were true after all.

There could be the one and only possible employer in Sunnyvale for adaptive optics specialists, something that people in such a narrow field all got notice of years ago.

Damn, those are some fine optics.

For once, I can't vouch for this post despite being flagged. That's odd.

I think the flag misses the point about the amazing technical capabilities of the satellite image by considering it as a purely political post.

If Trump wanted to send a message, he could probably do it with hardware above what is commercially available but below the best the US had in space. Without knowing the true extent of US imaging capabilities, accusations that something important has been revealed are somewhat unfounded.

He shared pictures of their damaged space center? I don't think NPR understands what "sensitive surveillance" is or is clickbaiting.

He definitely shared surveillance but it's not as if everybody and their mom didn't know the US had these capabilities.

The specific capabilities of spy satellites are very much classified. It’s for similar reasons we don’t release exact number for fighter aircraft top speeds etc. Countries over or under estimating US capabilities is useful.

Do we know that this image is the full extent of the United States imaging capability?

No. But it is way beyond the best that was previously known.

Right I think it’s been a trope since a while ago (decades) that we could read headlines on newspapers (Daily News type) from satellites... Are they saying it wasn’t true till now so it was a secret?

so, the photo was taken from the screen - we have the flash (and that explains that loss of color and the uniform bluish color palette instead) and even outline/reflection of the head and the top of the shoulders of the person who was doing the photo (the flash is at the level of the person's eye and the person's head outline is right off the flash). I wonder if somebody to do some reverse engineering of the image - who would that person taking the photo happen to be? especially considering that the photo was supposedly taken inside a facility where taking the photos isn't ok until of course it is somebody occupying a government position above those rules :).

I'm not intending to get into a Trump argument here, but releasing what appears to be sensitive information is often done for ulterior motives.

This is either: (1) a major screw up or (2) the US gov't making it clear to Iran they can see more than Iran thought they could.

Maybe we'll know decades later when someone writes a book about the conflict.

Seems consistent with the usual pattern of an incompetent executive letting political operatives run the show.

Except this generation of political operatives grew up believing the misinformation spread by the previous ones. Consequently, they are so arrogant and naive as to believe that literally everyone who works in US National Security (and may be expressing concerns over irreplaceable sources and methods) are just "deep state haters."

More like its consistent with the usual pattern of spreading misinformation by making the public and other nations think he's an incompetent executive, while running strategic circles around his adversaries.

Because we can't just argue that he bumbled his way to being a billionaire.

There's little evidence that he's some kind of financial genius and a lot to suggest the opposite.

What we do know is that he inherited a very large sum of money, has a very long public record of losses and bankruptcies, and overinflating his claimed net worth.

This is what happened the time he started a publicly traded corporation, one subject to actual public accounting requirements:

Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts lost money every single year that Trump ran it as a public company. Net losses of $13 million in 1995 ballooned to $134 million by 1999, and $191 million in 2004. ... In total, from 1995 through 2004, the company booked total losses of $647 million ... Trump had complete control — both as the chairman and as the owner of a special class of stock that carried many more votes than those he sold to the public. He even gave the company his initials, DJT, as its stock ticker symbol.

Its debts mounted, the stock collapsed — and in the end, the creditors had had enough. The courts stepped in, the company had to go through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization... By April 2004, someone who had invested a notional $100 in the IPO was left with about $10.

Over the same period, investors in competitor Harrah’s Entertainment more than doubled their money. Investors in luxury hotel, casino and resort companies like Starwood and MGM earned returns of more than 400%. Even the plain old stock market index more than doubled.


I wonder how much this matters, though. Regardless of whether he actually is a shrewd businessman or not, he's done a good job of at least keeping up the appearance of being a lot more capable and wealthy than he really is. He's definitely managed to at least convert his resources into being one of the most famous and powerful men in the world.

That's not to say that I necessarily think it's all part of some kind of larger master plan, but if you look at it from the point of view of fame and power, Trump has done really well for himself.

So, you're saying he's an incompetent executive. Which is like saying he doesn't know how to follow organizational policy 25 times.

The us has high resolution satellite surveillance, news at 11.

Why are classified images sent to a phone or computer Trump can tweet from?

look closer to the first image in the linked URL. it's printed on paper and photo is taken with a phone. you can see the flare from an overhead room light or maybe camera flash in the middle and printed paper's wave on the upper left corner.

A government that keeps thing from the President is way more problematic than a President arbitrarily declassifying info like this.

Generally, but the lines unfortunately blur when the president might well be a foreign asset

Nobody said that



"Either way, Panda notes that a small redaction in the upper left-hand corner suggests the intelligence community had cleared the image for release by the president."

or they redacted it before they gave it to him, which i'd bet on

Not expecting to ID faces or read license plates, but am I the only one who thought resolution capabilities would be better?

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