Questions and Answers - Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar
Some user comments
"This is great! Fantastic job! You have supplied the enemy with exact coordinates and location of our base. Why? What would motivate you to do something this idiotic? What are you people thinking? I really can't believe that something like this was exposed."
"Outstanding work on the photo exposť of the new US base in Qatar. In fact, Iraq should bookmark your site because you provide all of the information they need to do a pinpoint strike on our soldiers in their barracks or how about the fuel depot. You know there is such thing as a need to know. Is the US public any better off knowing this information?"
"I'm assuming those photos were classified. Isn't publishing classified material a felony? I believe the crime is either espionage or even treason. John Ashcroft and his Justice Department have enough evidence at your website to prosecute you. I hope they do. Are you aware of the penalities for treason in time of war?"
"This is irresponsible reporting, to show satellite photos of U.S. military buildup in Qatar. Why do you feel its necessary to give the enemies of our country the information and satellite photos, something they cannot obtain through their own means, of what our military is doing to prepare itself for war. This is not something the American people should see."
"Do You understand the meaning of TRAITOROUS ??????? ??????????"
"You should all swing for your actions if one serviceman or woman is in anyway harmed by your reckless and treasonable actions. You may think that you are exercising your rights but your rights end when the exercise of them infringes on the lives of others and potentially could cause their death or harm. You sicken me to the core. I find it abhorrent that you sell out the people who protect the very freedoms you hold dear. I hope that your photographs are published on the internet, print media, and on television so that your fellow countrymen can recognize you by sight for the being the 21st century Benedict Arnolds that you truly are."
"As a concerned USA citizen don't you people think that this site shows too much imagery of information that should be "classified" being that I am sure it has some affect on our enemies knowing strategic information of our military locations and the plans that could be unfolding to fight against the enemies of the USA that have been all over the news recently."
"Your publishing of the satellite imagery of the Qatar air base may be responsible for the deaths, injuries, or at the least, greater endangerment of AMERICAN troops/citizens. When the airbase is attacked and lives are lost, I hope you are pleased with yourselves and are arrested, jailed, and executed as SPIES against the United States of America. The fact that you MAY be citizens yourselves simply compounds your sickness. This does not fall under the umbrella of the First Amendment which protects political speech, the freedom to criticize the government...NOT be accomplices to the murder of Americans. Please do us all a favor and move yourselves, families, business, and the rest of your anti-American comrades out of this country."
Why did you post the images?
To inform the public discourse on military operations in the region. This base has been in the news a lot over the past six months, and we thought that folks might want to get a glimpse of what everyone was talking about.
What do you say to critics who say you're offering material which could harm U.S. service members?
While the imagery is commercially available, companies licensed to operate these satellites such as Space Imaging and DigitalGlobe are required to verify the customer identity for each order, with the State Department to ensure they are not selling imagery to Rogue nations, terrorists, or groups fronting for them. The US Government's license with the companies that acquire the imagery allows the government to impose shutter control if they think the imagery would jeopardize national security, which they have not done. So evidently in their judgement it does not jeopardize national security.
It is not clear that Iraq has any missiles that could reach this base [which is one reason it is located so far from Iraq], and no Iraqi pilot would survive a flight on a bombing run. It is pretty clear that Iraq does not have the precision munitions that could target specific aim-points at this facility, and indeed, his missiles are so inaccurate that they would be lucky to land within the base perimeter.
If the base commander's force protection posture is predicated on the base being at an "undisclosed location" or that no one knows that the base exists, the fault is with the force protection plan, not with the satellite imagery. If the base commanders's force protection plan does not include perimeter patrols to keep commandos/terrorists out of mortar range, the problem is with the base commander, not the satellite imagery.
If people serving at that base think they are safe in the rear with the gear, and that no one has any idea where they are, they need to think again. Hopefully, they will pay a bit more attention to their next force protection briefing, and take these matters a bit more seriously.
If the Space Command aggressor squadron has not already gone through this entire exercise of determining the risks involved with commercial satellite imagery and made sure that adequate precautions have already been taken, then they should give us a contract to make sure that everyone has a clear understanding of what can [and cannot] be done with commercial imagery.
Does GlobalSecurity.org have more of such imagery in the works?
We have been doing our "Picture of the Week" for over a year, and anticipate that we will feature some other US facilities before the end of the year, though we will mainly be concentrating on Iraqi targets.
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