Setec Astronomy
November 28, 2007 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Trevor Paglen, the "underground geographer," documents the Black World, offering brief glimpses into the most secret programs and installations of the US military. He has uncovered the ominous and geeky patches used by classified projects, taken long-range photos of secret military installations, traced the mysterious Janet flights of unmarked aircraft that shuttle workers to hidden bases, as well as documenting many other fascinating and hidden things such as the secret rendition programs of the CIA, as discussed previously.
posted by blahblahblah (37 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Patches used by classified projects? Is that oxymoronic or...oh, the US military. Nevermind.
posted by DU at 12:31 PM on November 28, 2007

My friend worked on teh Simpsons film - they had secret shirts with the name Yellow Harvest emblazoned on 'em.
posted by Mister_A at 12:35 PM on November 28, 2007

That B2 patch is awesome. Tastes like chicken, indeed!
posted by Mister_A at 12:37 PM on November 28, 2007

The Black World kindly requests that you return to watching reality television and debating gay marriage. There is nothing to see here.
posted by well_balanced at 12:44 PM on November 28, 2007

Will my clickstream data be transmitted to the DHS if I click on any of these links?
posted by psmealey at 12:44 PM on November 28, 2007

Don't worry my brother works for DHS. Mwahaahaahaa!
posted by Mister_A at 12:49 PM on November 28, 2007

Oops! i probably should not have spelled out the evil laugh.
posted by Mister_A at 12:49 PM on November 28, 2007

Awesome indeed.
posted by boo_radley at 12:50 PM on November 28, 2007

That Phillips Laboratory Military Spaceplane Technology patch is just begging for a Cease and Desist from george Lucas, when he gets done counting this month's pile of money.
posted by yerfatma at 12:54 PM on November 28, 2007

yerfatma: read the description.
posted by tylermoody at 12:56 PM on November 28, 2007

[Brief Interlude] Thanks, guys! I just hit 2,000 favorites. Yippee!
posted by blahblahblah at 1:02 PM on November 28, 2007

When he was investigating these things, did he stop every few minutes so the camera crew could get shots of him walking the same 3 steps from a different angle, looking all determined?

I love the underground show, don't get me wrong, but they could do a whole lot less with the pseudo-drama and make it infinitely more interesting.
posted by thanotopsis at 1:06 PM on November 28, 2007

I posted in this thread, but it was classified.
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:09 PM on November 28, 2007

The investigation that goes on beyond this work is impressive (like tracking the ownership history of a particular plane).
posted by drezdn at 1:13 PM on November 28, 2007

So, how does all of this work for a Janet flight from Las Vegas to Groom Lake? The answer is a makeshift system of “nudges and winks” and “cover stories” between the Janets and the regional control centers. A routine Janet flight will take off from LAS with a flight plan filed for TNX (Tonopah Test Range) using the callsign “Janet.” Once in the air, the plane is handed off to the regional control center, which is Nellis Center. Again, the callsign remains “Janet.” What happens next depends on whether the Janet is actually flying to the Tonopah Test Range, or whether its destination is actually Groom Lake. If the real destination is TNX, then the plane will operate under the control of Nellis until it’s handed off to the local air traffic controller at TNX, who will clear the plane to land at the air base, again using the callsign “Janet.” Interestingly, however, when this hand-off from Nellis to TNX occurs, the Nellis controller will not issue the Janet a specific frequency for the TNX approach, as is the custom with other destinations. But, if the actual destination is Area 51, something else happens. Once the Janet enters military airspace near Groom Lake, Nellis Center will simply clear the Janet for handoff to something called simply “control.” Nellis center approves a frequency change to the new controller, but doesn’t issue a frequency – with a nudge and a wink, the Nellis Control says in effect “I know where you’re going, and you know that I know where you’re going, and you already have the frequencies you need.”
posted by jason's_planet at 1:26 PM on November 28, 2007

Metafilter: clear the Janet for handoff.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:39 PM on November 28, 2007

Nice page title.

That's amazing that he was able to find a couple of the other secret prisons. I remember hearing several years ago that there were quite a few of them, and some much closer to Iraq. I got really excited when NPR picked up the story, and expected outrage to fuel discussion of these other prisons as it had with Guantanamo. Instead, the story seems largely forgotten...

Those patches are fantastic!!
posted by zebra3 at 1:42 PM on November 28, 2007

Yeah, that B2 patch is fucking great.
posted by dead_ at 1:42 PM on November 28, 2007 what we do in space that is not what it seems
posted by Postroad at 1:50 PM on November 28, 2007

We need a metafilter patch with one of those "Metafilter:..." slogans. I have no idea what the picture would be.

And Trevor Paglen is doing excellent and important work.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:52 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've got a good Latin motto:

Nemo solus satis sapit.
posted by Mister_A at 1:56 PM on November 28, 2007

MetaFilter: Nemo solus satis sapit
posted by Mister_A at 1:56 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

That B2 patch is so clearly To Serve Man... with a side salad.
posted by rokusan at 1:58 PM on November 28, 2007

At 7:15, I'll be catching the LaToya* to the soundstage where they faked the moonwalk.

That NOYFB patch is intriguing. What ever might that be for, I wonder?

So blahblahblah, I guess now we know where we can find you after the guys in spacesuits come smashing through your venetian blinds, huh?

* super top secret classified special code for the bus.
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:10 PM on November 28, 2007

I heart the title of this page.
posted by bluishorange at 2:13 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

That B2 patch is so clearly To Serve Man... with a side salad.

You treasonous cur! Vegetables are poison to the reptilians!
posted by loquacious at 2:23 PM on November 28, 2007

Thirding the appreciation for the title.

I want peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
posted by splice at 3:22 PM on November 28, 2007

Mysterious indeed.
posted by tellurian at 3:25 PM on November 28, 2007

What the post title means.

Not that I didn't know, of course.
posted by Kibbutz at 4:25 PM on November 28, 2007

You treasonous cur! Vegetables are poison to the reptilians!

But the Greys like strawberry ice cream, apparently.
posted by scalefree at 4:32 PM on November 28, 2007

I'm not understanding the patches, or the concept of the secret military groups...or something. Why would a secretive group even make a patch to begin with? I imagine the truly secret groups don't have a patch, so why would any of them? They all seem to be cryptic with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge try-and-figure-me-out quality to them, but doesn't that in itself draw more attention to the group trying hard to be invisible?

Unless...these aren't the real secret groups to begin with. Or...they're deliberately putting out an open secret so no one will believe they're up to no good...

*slowly, carefully puts tinfoil hat back on*
posted by zardoz at 4:38 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

In an updated version of the patch, “Classified Flight Test” has been replaced with the words “To Serve Man,” referencing a classic episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
Or a classic short story by Damon Knight, but who's counting?
posted by hattifattener at 6:10 PM on November 28, 2007

I find this very inspiring.

Popular Intelligence Agency

Where do I sign up?
posted by Anything at 7:00 PM on November 28, 2007

I heard Trevor Paglen speak last month. He was fascinating and did a great job of connecting the dots between his various projects. I highly recommend checking out one of his lectures.
posted by Drab_Parts at 7:51 PM on November 28, 2007

Why would a secretive group even make a patch to begin with?

I know if I spent years in the military and had patches for everything I did...

If I later was involved in some super duper awesomely top secret classified black operation, I would damn well want a patch for it.
posted by zebra3 at 6:45 AM on November 29, 2007

Major respect for Trevor Paglen. The guy has cojones for doing what he's doing. It's hilarious and disturbing simultaneously. Any exposure of the weirdness going on with the CIA is welcome in my thinking.

Just today's news: CIA Venezuela Destabilization Memo Surfaces


US plans to attempt another coup d'etat against the democratically elected government of Venezuela on the eve of a historic constitutional referendum that will democratize political power to the grassroots of the majority more thoroughly than anything we have seen in this hemisphere

causes me to be grateful for outing CIA craziness of any kind. The US government corrupting a democratic election, hmmm, guess now they're experienced at that in the US it's just too tempting not to do it elsewhere.
posted by nickyskye at 6:42 PM on November 29, 2007

Oh sure, you say that now. But when Robert Novak does it it's treason. Flip-flopper!
posted by ryanrs at 1:17 AM on November 30, 2007

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