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“ a natural, obvious connection between the Arctic and outer space"
December 2, 2013 6:42 PM   Subscribe

Declassified Spy Outpost Lurks on the Dark Side of the Earth
Canadian Forces Station Alert is "the most northerly, permanently inhabited location in the world, located only 817 kilometres from the geographic North Pole."
On Assignment At CFS Alert. CFS Alert (Part 1).

The Soniferous Æther
Into The Æther And Beyond

Communications Security Establishment Canada - Centre de la sécurité des télécommunications Canada
CSEC: What do we know about Canada's eavesdropping agency?
How CSEC became an electronic spying giant
posted by the man of twists and turns (14 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, some of those shots are so beautiful it's almost scary.
posted by nevercalm at 7:02 PM on December 2, 2013


I love the shit out of stuff like this. I've always wanted to figure out a way to get clearance to visit COBRA DANE as a journalist, but ... well, it's been 13 years and I haven't cracked that nut yet.
posted by mykescipark at 7:13 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


My old boss was stationed there for long stretches. He learned fluent Russian in the Canadian Forces and listened to chatter all the cold-war long day. I am assuming from his age that this was in the seventies or eighties. He spoke fondly of his time in Alert.

On a side note, when I was reading about the Establishment the other day I then asked a bunch of well-read/well-informed people about it and NO ONE had ever heard of them or their predecessor the Examination Unit. Just the names alone are taken direct from an Orwellian world-view. They have the most expensive federal building in Canada, I would love to tour it. They don't advertise for Librarians as often as CSIS does, I'm going to keep my eye out for postings - just for curiosities sake of course.
posted by saucysault at 7:33 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anyone know why the Canadian name of CSEC has "communications", not "telecommunications" in it? (Or vice versa for francais?). I don't understand why Federal Agencies can't figure out acronyms that work in both official languages.
posted by saucysault at 7:37 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the utter Canadian-ness of the "Curling Club" label, alongside the other status lights on the control panel about 2/3 of the way through the first video linked.
posted by Alterscape at 9:21 PM on December 2, 2013


Excellent post about a riveting topic. Thank you Man of Twists and Turns.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:43 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fascinating post!
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold intel...
posted by islander at 10:09 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The first operational use of Skyhook happened in May 1962, when it proved critical in extracting CIA officers and materials from an abandoned Soviet ice station that was suspected to have monitored American submarines. That mission, known as Operation Coldfeet, helped gather valuable intelligence on the USSR’s Arctic activities.
posted by timsteil at 10:15 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought the creepiest part was about that person who was making a list and checking it twice.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:06 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Rule number one: no digging up alien artifacts.
posted by SkinnerSan at 7:32 AM on December 3, 2013


A couple of friends have worked the meteo side of Alert. Static is a major problem; with absolutely dry air, charge doesn't dissipate. The station apparently had terrible grounding problems, so it was possible to reboot distant computers just by waving your hand near a light switch in another part of the building.

One had a nightmare scenario in a sno-cat; the control stick broke right at the edge of the vehicle's range. Only creative use of a pair of vise grips got him back. He now won't travel anywhere in any vehicle without a pair.
posted by scruss at 8:46 AM on December 3, 2013


He now won't travel anywhere in any vehicle without a pair.

Working somewhere like that, I'd hang a Leatherman around my neck every morning before I even put my underwear on.
posted by mrbill at 8:58 AM on December 3, 2013


pfft. antarctica's got metallica.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:35 AM on December 3, 2013


mrbill: He now won't travel anywhere in any vehicle without a pair.

Working somewhere like that, I'd hang a Leatherman around my neck every morning before I even put my underwear on.
I'm assuming you mean the multi-tool... Either way, ... follow your dreams!
posted by IAmBroom at 9:45 AM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


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