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Area 51 Hackers Map Buried Surveillance Network 876

Posted by timothy
from the damned-if-you-do dept.
advair writes "There's a story on SecurityFocus about a pair of Area 51 'hackers' who discovered a buried network of wireless motion sensors on the public land surrounding the "operating location near Groom Lake, Nevada." Using a frequency counter and a GPS receiver, they tracked down and logged 30 - 40 of the sensors, before the FBI and Air Force raided one of them, and questioned the other. Now one of the guys has been charged with a federal crime for allegedly removing one of the devices that was protecting a base that doesn't officially exist."
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Area 51 Hackers Map Buried Surveillance Network

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  • by mpost4 (115369) * on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:47AM (#9257742) Homepage Journal
    My bet is area 51 is just a deco, think about you set up a "base" you plant a few "good" stories for the conspiracy theorist to love, you play the whole thing up. you have a real base some where else. Every one will flock to area 51, then you do your real work at area 52 (or what ever they might call it) I also doubt there are any extra terrestrial research going on in the government, think about it you need the best of the best to even think of starting it, and the government well its the government what other insult do I need to lob at it.

    Area 51 is probably just a few buildings there to keep the amount of people to perpetuate the image that area 51 is real.

    This people probably have fallen for it, and the government might have just planted the motion sensors to keep them busy, they the person steal one I don't know, but either way the government sorta unofficial clams it, and the conspiracy theorists will go wild.
    • Lob all you want, but dont forget that that same inept government developed the internet or at least what became the internet, and without it, you would still be posting comments like yours on dial up BBS's...

      Oh those were the days!
      • Lob all you want, but dont forget that that same inept government developed the internet or at least what became the internet, and without it, you would still be posting comments like yours on dial up BBS's...

        Wait, this is the same U.S. government that gave us Amtrak and the USPS?

        That said, my personal theory is the same as mentioned in the article (yes, I RTFA) - that Area 51 is a testing ground for new, experimental aircraft. As a result, they don't like visitors.

        -jh

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:12AM (#9257947)

          Wait, this is the same U.S. government that gave us Amtrak and the USPS?

          Don't go blaming the government because Americans prefer travelling cross-country in their own personal conveyances rather than using more efficient means of transportation.

          As for the USPS it works just fine. I'd like to hear how much you'd charge to pick-up, transport and deliver a letter from one coast to the other, let alone millions of letters and packages on a daily basis.

        • by jedrek (79264) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:13AM (#9257959) Homepage
          I live in Warsaw, Poland.

          My friend sent me a letter from Germany on friday morning, via DHL (private company), paid 38euro (about 45-50US) for it. I got it on tuesday morning.

          Another friend sent me a package on thursday afternoon from Missouri, via USPS. It was a Muvo2 MP3 player in its original box, with all the manuals, power supplies, etc. He paid $20US for it, and I got it on... tuesday morning.

          Don't knock the USPS.
          • by JDevers (83155) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:29AM (#9258112)
            I couldn't agree more...most of the problems with the USPS can be tracked down to individual depots. Specifically, I've noticed that anything which goes through Memphis, TN basically gets an extra 2-3 DAYS added to its journey. This is obviously anecdotal, but it has happened consistantly numerous times. Mail to my location goes through one of three nearby cities before reaching me, stuff through the other two is much faster even if it is a longer distance. Typically once I track something to Memphis with their online tracking, it doesn't even move for at least two days, sometimes three.

            I imagine all other shipping companies have the same problems, the Dallas-Fort Worth depot of FedEx for instance. Most other depots are VERY fast, turnaround times of several HOURS...things almost invariably sit overnight at DFW, sometimes not leaving for nearly 48 hours.
            • by mekkab (133181) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:37AM (#9258181) Homepage Journal
              Totally OT but very good info, thanks! I believe what you say about there being specific depots that are the problem. In His book of Essays [amazon.com], Jonathan Franzen does a good job of exposing all the serious problems that Chicago post office had (mail not delivered for years, carriers drinking in their cars until 7 pm and getting overtime, managers "hiding" from irate customers)
        • by Artifakt (700173) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @09:03AM (#9258412)
          Amtrak's total subsidies have run about 10% of the subsidies provided for the airlines, and yet the public outcry over railroad subsidies has been greater. If you took away all the federal subsidies for air travel, the industry would have made a net profit of almost exactly zero dollars overall, since its inception. Either Amtrak isn't really all that inept, or the airline industry situation is severe enough to justify open rebellion against government by the three stooges.
          Granted, the USPS seems to have become a much better service since it was privatized. It also faced some fair free market competition, e.g. from UPS and Fedex, to help that process along. The rail system's competitors are the heavily susidized airlines, commercial buses (which are also a struggling, some would even say floundering industry) and the interstate trucking system, and these impact different areas (passengers and cargo are effectively very different matters, finacially, and Amtrak's performance in one area is best judged seperately fron the other).
        • by MarkedMan (523274) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @09:56AM (#9258803)
          The truism that the USPS is an awful service is baloney. Whenever I hear about faster services it turns out to be in a much smaller country like England or Switzerland. Who, by the way, charge more to post a letter. Most mail I send in a few hundred mile radius gets delivered the next day. And I can send a letter several thousand miles away for 37 cents. And the USPS has to deliver to everyone (everyone!) in the US for the same price. Tell Fedex you want to deliver to Hawaii for 37 cents and see what they tell you. The USPS technology borders on the surreal. Forget Mr. Chaney sorting mail in the back of the general store. Try a half mile conveyor with mail moving so fast you literally only see a solid blur of white, with unbelievable high speed character recognition and Aunt Mabel's handwritten scrawl put into a 10 second holding pattern while the next available human sorter anywhere in the US gets a snapshot beamed by satelite to their monitor.

          My friend once got a letter sent from Belize. It was addressed "Tom and Debbie. The Yellow House Next to the Meat Store on Atlantic Ave. Rochester, NY" It took a grand total of 6 days to get there.

          Flame off.
          • by wass (72082) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @11:45AM (#9259847)
            Yeah, USPS is pretty damn cool, and cheap too.

            Once at a bar, my friend went to the bathroom. While she was gone me and another friend talked about sending her some kind of 'souvenir' from the bar. We got the bright idea of sending one of those cardboard beer coasters. So we wrote her name and address on the coaster (we didn't even know her zip code so we left it off), put a stamp on it, and gave it to the bartender to drop in a mailbox. We were doubtful it would ever get to her, bit sure enough she got it in good condition within 1-2 days.

            Since then I've mailed all kinds of fun stuff with addresses written on them, like chewing gum wrappers, tiny post-it notes, etc. I think everything has arrived intact and relatively quickly. And all for a single stamp.

            So in my personal experience, USPS totally rocks.

      • Don't forget that the government also brought us NASA, which has given us all sorts of useful technologies.
      • by Kombat (93720) <kombat@kombat.org> on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:39AM (#9258194) Homepage
        Lob all you want, but dont forget that that same inept government developed the internet or at least what became the internet, and without it, you would still be posting comments like yours on dial up BBS's...

        OK, I don't mean to imply that the US gov't didn't develop the Internet, but I resent the notion that if the US hadn't, nobody else would've thought of it. I'm quite confident that one way or another, we'd still be using the Internet today, even if DARPA hadn't gotten the ball rolling. Someone else would have.
        • by dtrent (448055) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @09:16AM (#9258495)
          OK, I don't mean to imply that the US gov't didn't develop the Internet, but I resent the notion that if the US hadn't, nobody else would've thought of it. I'm quite confident that one way or another, we'd still be using the Internet today, even if DARPA hadn't gotten the ball rolling. Someone else would have.

          Yeah, we'd be on *some* network at some point, like Compuserve or Genie or something. The beauty of what happened with the internet was that it was not controlled by a single entity, otherwise we'd all be reading slashdot (or some Compuserve created likeness) through a Compuserve branded viewer. Furthermore, things like personal servers, static ip's, p2p, wouldn't be options. As it happened, Darpa created a huge development platform for all of us to experiment on. I doubt without Darpa it would have turned out quite like this.
      • by j-turkey (187775) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @09:10AM (#9258456) Homepage
        Lob all you want, but dont forget that that same inept government developed the internet or at least what became the internet, and without it, you would still be posting comments like yours on dial up BBS's...

        No, they didn't develop the Internet. They paid private contractors to develop the Internet. There's quite a difference.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:51AM (#9257771)
      Or alternatively Area 51 is for real and you're just a government agent trying to decoy us.
    • Wrong !! ;( (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:52AM (#9257773)
      The base exists. Clinton signed it into existance when the workers sued for being exposed to pollutants which the goverment didnt want to disclose. As of 2002 all of the John Doe's are now dead and the foverment still didnt explain what materials they were exposed too.
    • by JosKarith (757063) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:53AM (#9257787)
      Area 51, Hanger 18, whatever - even if this stuff had been going on, you can bet that they would have been cleared out the second someone official heard people talking about it.
      Won't we rue the day when the insectiod aliens come to take over our planet, and the secret fleet of defense spaceships aren't ready yet cos' the govt. kept having to move them...
      • by hangareighteen (31788) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:14AM (#9257978) Homepage
        Area 51, Hanger 18, whatver

        GOD DAMNIT, IT'S SPELLED HANGAR. H-A-N-G- A -R. I've had this handle for 6 years, and damned if someone dosen't somehow mispell the thing. Same way every time. If you put yer coat on the thing, you call it a hanger, if you put a fuggin airplane or aliens or whatever else in it, it's a hangar.

        Sorry, but I had to say that.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:23AM (#9258052)
        Seriously. We're talking about people who can't even keep their happy snaps from Iraq secret. The American government hasn't been able to keep a single secret longer than about 15 minutes. They's no aliens at Roswell, or you'd have already seen 500 pictures of them on CNN...
        • by JavaLord (680960) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @09:26AM (#9258565) Journal
          Seriously. We're talking about people who can't even keep their happy snaps from Iraq secret.

          Those are apples and oranges my friend. Keeping pictures secret that were sent out to private citizens over the internet is different than keeping a secret among government employees

          The American government hasn't been able to keep a single secret longer than about 15 minutes.

          How do you know? If they did have a well kept secret, it's well kept so you might not have found out. I'm not trying to be rude, just trying to point out that just because you know some things, doesn't mean you know everything

          They's no aliens at Roswell, or you'd have already seen 500 pictures of them on CNN...

          Why doesn't CNN march into Area 51 and refuse to leave then because the "public wants to know the truth". I have no doubts at it's highest levels, the US government has ways to control the media both subtle and not so subtly.
          • by BenBenBen (249969) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @09:44AM (#9258706)
            How do you know? If they did have a well kept secret, it's well kept so you might not have found out. I'm not trying to be rude, just trying to point out that just because you know some things, doesn't mean you know everything

            See, there's things we know we know. And there's things we know we don't know. Then...
          • by MilenCent (219397) * <johnwh@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @10:14AM (#9258981) Homepage
            Of course there are an unlimited number of things that are true that we don't know. But no one complains about the Zargnoids who continually steal electricity from my power lines and result in me being overcharged for electricity every month.

            More plainly, there's such an abundance of things we don't know that a mere strongly-worded assertion about any one of them can set off the kooks, and the increasingly kook-friendly media. (Mumble mumble Fox mumble.)

            I don't believe government employees are not any more fanatical about keeping secrets than ordinary employees, though on some levels they are much more indoctrinated. But still, the thing about Area 51 rumors that have always bugged me is the number of people who would have to be "in" on it, and not talk. And in these days of near-instant communication, it gets a lot harder to prevent leaks.

            But the thing that bugs me about Area 51 the most is that the culture of secrecy that some sectors of the government enjoy makes possible a rich environment for spurious stories to flourish. Much worse, to me, than the stories is the secrecy itself, especially since it's alegedly *our* government that's so tightlipped about so much, and Bush and company have made it a lot worse.

            So I almost want to wish the conspiracy mongers well on their propaganda efforts -- anything that causes the public to distrust that air of secrecy, and the actions of spooky secret people supposedly in their interest, for there is no force on Earth so horrifying as that of people willing to do wrong things for what they think are right reasons, things like that that work towards increasing that distrust are somewhat positive in my book.
            • by JavaLord (680960) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @10:48AM (#9259313) Journal
              More plainly, there's such an abundance of things we don't know that a mere strongly-worded assertion about any one of them can set off the kooks, and the increasingly kook-friendly media. (Mumble mumble Fox mumble.)

              I don't think fox is any worse than any of the other channels when it comes to this. They are kook friendly because kook friendly = ratings. It's like the history channel, you wouldn't say that the history channel is Hitler friendly because they run so many WW2 shows. It's just that WW2 is what history channel viewers like to watch.

              I don't believe government employees are not any more fanatical about keeping secrets than ordinary employees, though on some levels they are much more indoctrinated.

              I would bet they are. Just for the simple fact that they want to keep their clearance never mind other motavating factors. Loyalty to their country comes to mind.

              But still, the thing about Area 51 rumors that have always bugged me is the number of people who would have to be "in" on it, and not talk. And in these days of near-instant communication, it gets a lot harder to prevent leaks.

              I doubt there are little green men running around in there. It would be hard to keep something like that quiet. It's probably an advanced air force research facility like other people have suggested. Keeping that quiet isn't too hard, you just tell your employees it's for national security. I think people could shut up about the Aurora and it's no big deal. If (Darth Vader, ET, Alf, whichever Alien) were in there, someone would leak it.

              But the thing that bugs me about Area 51 the most is that the culture of secrecy that some sectors of the government enjoy makes possible a rich environment for spurious stories to flourish.

              I think the government officials have come to the point where the enjoy doing this to the kooks. Look at the whole planet X thing. There was some kind of internet cult that spammed the newsgroup sci.astronomy for a long time that "Planet X/Nibiru" was returning on May 15 2003 [xs4all.nl] to (bring peace, kill everyone, balance my checkbook, whatever else). They contended that there was one world government that was conspiring not to tell the people they were all going to die. Someone in the military obviously caught wind of the kooks, and to drive them batty named one of their operations in Iraq "Operation Planet X" [go.com] and launched it on may 15 2003. [press-world.com] I think the government likes playing with these people, it's got to be fun to mess with their heads.

              Much worse, to me, than the stories is the secrecy itself, especially since it's alegedly *our* government that's so tightlipped about so much, and Bush and company have made it a lot worse.

              That is just kookery in my opinion. I doubt there is that many secrets going around, except in the military where there is a need for them. I really don't think George Bush is holding satanic rituals underground with his nazi armys and the illuminati planning to take over the world and enslave humanity when ET lands. I guess I could be wrong.

              So I almost want to wish the conspiracy mongers well on their propaganda efforts -- anything that causes the public to distrust that air of secrecy, and the actions of spooky secret people supposedly in their interest, for there is no force on Earth so horrifying as that of people willing to do wrong things for what they think are right reasons,

              Do you really think the US government is doing "the wrong things". What exactly do you think they are doing in secret that is so bad for the general population of the US?

              things like that that work towards increasing that distrust are somewhat positive in my book.

              Do you think there are some things you should trust a government to keep secret (ie, new weapons of mass destruction) so they don't fall into the wrong hands?
    • Or maybe they are making sure the only people intelligent and rational enough to expose area 51 have come up with your explanation of things. Or maybe they knew you would know that they would know that you would come up with this theory.
    • by The Meeper (782183) <[luke] [at] [ohagan.com.au]> on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:54AM (#9257806) Homepage
      I believe the military installation commonly known as Area 51 is actually an advanced aircraft development center, where they developed craft ranging from the old U2 spy plane to the F-117 stealth fighter. That would make a lot of the UFO sighting claims make sense.
      • by bourne (539955) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:18AM (#9258001)

        I believe the military installation commonly known as Area 51 is actually an advanced aircraft development center, where they developed craft ranging from the old U2 spy plane to the F-117 stealth fighter.

        Actually, both the U2 and the F-117 were developed at Lockheed's Skunk Works [lmaeronautics.com] plant in Palmdale CA. A lot of information can be found in Skunk Works [amazon.com], a memoir by the guy who ran the place during the F-117 development. He also discusses where some of the testing took place in the book, and if I recall correctly most of it was (for the obvious reasons) well-known radar testing ranges.

        Now, for all we know, Area 51 still could be an advanced aircraft development center. If they retired the SR-71 (also a Skunk Works Project) and allowed the F-117 to become public before it was absolutely neccessary, then what do they have that they aren't talking about?

        • Whoops. A little googling says that Groom Lake is part of Area 51, and IIRC a lot of the testing did take place at Groom Lake. So, the development wasn't there, but some or all of the testing would have been.

      • I recall (Score:3, Informative)

        by gr8_phk (621180)
        An article in Aviation Week back in (I think) the late 80's had and interesting article. Apparently the seismologists in California had tracked a "shock wave" comming in off the coast heading out to the desert at 4000mph. Due to it's shape and speed, they concluded it was not a geologic event and probably a really fast aircraft heading out to 51. Don't underestimate those guys just because they work for the government. Remember, the SR-71 was designed in the 1960's. Of course, I think most cool things we ha
      • by thefirelane (586885) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:51AM (#9258317)
        Depends on how you look at it... I actually heard this conversation once (in an ethics class)

        Student: What about the ethics of things like government cover-ups, and hiding the truth from the public

        Teacher: : Well, I suppose it would depend on the circumstances, and what was involved...

        Student: : Because, back in the 70s, this UFO crashed out in New Mexico... witnesses reported it looking a lot like a giant flying wing. The government sealed the area, and covered it up. They took this UFO technology and studied it to turn it into the B2 Bomber today. That's why they're so advanced

        Teacher: : Couldn't it have just been a prototype B2 bomber built by the government that cashed

        Student: : (Twitch.... The thought never occurred to him) Uh...no.... No, see it was a UFO, and the government covered it up! (think... 6 minute abs)

    • Area 51 is quite real. In fact, it's been declassified that many of our advanced fighter (e.g. SR-71 Blackbird, F-117 Stealth Figher, U-2 Spy Plane, etc.) planes were developed there. More info on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. Sorry, the government hasn't admitted to keeping little green men there.

    • bleh..

      more probably they just do some research there nowadays that's just labeled secret for some reason or another..

      of course all the ufo crap is just crap, but that doesn't mean they don't have research projects that are 'secret' from public eyes(a lot of this obviously high tech stuff, prototype testing and alike that to some morons might seem like certain proof of ufos).

      what's the point in having a huge decoy, just to feed the tourism in the nearby cities??
    • by meatspray (59961) * on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:38AM (#9258190) Homepage
      Ehh. They maintain an unmarked air service (full size jets) that flies in and out of Las Vegas. They buss hundreds of people in from from the local towns every day. A Little too elaborate for a simple hHoax. If you're gonna go through all that trouble, you might as well do something classified there.

      It's pretty well known that it an aircraft testing facility. Probably some really neat stuff under wraps there but I doubt that any alien testing is going on there.

      It seems to me that the government has gone soft though. I expect that years ago these people would have simply ended up missing. Bodily harm is a wonderful deterrant. These guys are really lucky they're not classifying them as terrorists.

      The stuff that's there is classified. We don't have any viable reason to snoop around there. Our government (all governments) have stuff that they need to do in secret. If we don't like it that's really too bad. There's enough bad stuff going on around us in plain sight that we should be looking in to and raising hell about.
    • by pilgrim23 (716938) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @11:51AM (#9259898)
      Personally I do not think Aliens ever built a US Government. I find such a unlikely place as Washington too far fetched. Why would the all knowing Ga'zur'bk in the Mothership ever create something so silly? "That's one small step for Z'nargh, one giant slither for Z'narghkind!"
  • by Punk Walrus (582794) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:50AM (#9257757) Journal
    Hasn't that base been officially declared as real, and that it has been unused for some time?
    • Yes, Area 51 has always been a "real base", just a military base (secretive like most military bases out there).

      My guess is that they're conducting experiments and tests on areas they don't want the public to see (WMDs, biological/chemical warfare, etc.) Conspiracy theorists take the tight security and wrap it around inplausable stories, which the government probably doesn't mind (better having the crackpots think they know what's going on than important people ACTUALLY knowing what's going on).
    • by div_2n (525075) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:09AM (#9257923)
      I don't know if it is or isn't in use, but if you do some research, you will find that they will probably be guarding it for quite some time.

      There were several civilian employees that worked there and they became ill. They sued the government due to what they said were illnesses resulting from EPA violations (burning toxic chemicals). Apparently all the experimental stuff they have been doing has some nasty bi-products. They were running out of storage room so naturally they just burnt it. Apparently if a base doesn't exist, it is free from abiding by EPA regulations. That is a whole topic for another discussion though.

      To make a long story short, they weren't allowed to sue because officially the base didn't exist. I do not know the final outcome of the case since the base has been acknowledged.

      If they were handling toxic stuff there, it is possible that they will continue to guard it even if it isn't used anymore to prevent hapless curious seekers from exposing themselves to lethal substances.
  • by LookSharp (3864) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:50AM (#9257760)
    a pair ... discovered a buried network of wireless motion sensors on the public land surrounding the "operating location near Groom Lake, Nevada."

    Upon their arrival, hundreds of vents opened up and millions of alien-virus infected bees immediately started swarming around them...

    Oops, wait, sorry... wrong movie. :)
  • Listen (Score:3, Funny)

    by Himring (646324) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:51AM (#9257764) Homepage Journal
    Area 51 is a hoax by the goverment

    Hast thou learned nothing from the x-files?...
  • Agreed. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zenmojodaddy (754377) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:51AM (#9257767)
    If there ever was anything at Groom Lake, it won't be there now. The SECOND anyone knew that UFO nuts had got wind of it, anything interesting would have been moved somewhere else.

    At a tangent - whatever happened to Bob Lazar?
  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Whispers_in_the_dark (560817) * <rich@harkins.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:52AM (#9257775)
    * Large playing area
    * GPS coordinates are mapped
    * Public land (hey, the taxpayers _pay_ for it)
    * Who knows what goodies are at each site to be traded

    Sounds like a good place for some geocaching [geocaching.com] to me! :)
  • So he removed one? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by in7ane (678796) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:54AM (#9257800)
    Nowhere does it mention that one of these things was seized from the guy. What happened to assumed to be innocent until proven guilty? For all they know the thing could have broken, batteries run flat, someone drove over it, etc. Or for the conspiracy nuts - they removed it themselves just to accuse the guy.
    • by barzok (26681) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:14AM (#9257979)
      Innocent until proven guilty disappeared a few years ago. Due process is up next.
    • by pavon (30274) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @09:59AM (#9258827)
      Come on guys, do you have no understanding of due process? All they did was accuse him of being guilty. They didn't detain him without charges, and they didn't detain him for longer than is allowed. They had a warrent to search his house. There is nothing about innocent until proven guilty that says you can't accuse someone of a crime - it is punishment for the crime that has to wait for proof.

      Lastly they never even charged him with stealing a device. They charged him with interfering with the devices, and if that would have gone to court he would have most definately been found guilty because he documented the whole process. However, the government promised to let those charges go if he promised to return or pay for the one that they thought he stole. It was his choice to agree to that plea bargain, or face charges in court, and he made it out of his own free will.

      There is an argument to be made as to whether the government should be allowed to have these devices on public land, and whether interfering with these devices should be federal offense of this magnitude, but to say that due process was violated is just plain ignorant.
  • by CodeHog (666724) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .rekcals.eoj.> on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:55AM (#9257807) Homepage
    Oh wait, it was just /. ed ...
    • Article Text (Score:3, Informative)

      by chendo (678767)
      Site slow, freecache doesn't work on files less than 5mb (and I am not letting my webserver feel the wrath of slashdot), so here's article text:

      Area 51 hackers dig up trouble

      By Kevin Poulsen, SecurityFocus May 25 2004 1:03PM

      To the Area 51 buffs who travel to the Nevada desert in the hopes of catching a glimpse of unexplained lights in the sky or to bask in the mythic allure of the region, 58-year-old Chuck Clark is almost as much a part of the local color as the Black Mailbox.

      A resident of tiny Rachel,
  • by LokiSteve (557281) <primate_s@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:57AM (#9257829)
    During the Clinton era it was acknowledged that Area 51 (Dreamland, Groom Lake, etc) existed. This was about the same time that Area 51 buffs reported a dramatic decrease in activity at and around the base. It was acknowledged in a very generic manner, but was acknowledged none the less.

    Supposedly, the reason for the abandoning of the base was because the radiation from atomic tests wasn't going the "China Syndrome" way, back into the earth, but coming back up (area 51 was the 51st grid on a map used for nuke testing).

    I haven't followed it for a while, but last I heard, the experts were pointing at Arizona and New Mexico as the new locations for many, mini, Area 51s.
    • by blair1q (305137) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @11:50AM (#9259895) Journal
      Actually, the government curtailed activity at Groom Lake because the Cold War was over and we weren't spending money to refurbish a Cold-War facility unless we needed one, and certainly not one that wasn't much of a secret any more.

      P.S. As for the "maps and photos" people are googling up, well, l-o-l, but the DoD knows how to make a deal with anyone in the satellite geometrology biz to crock the data for certain coordinates to alter or erase things. I personally know of two other actual places where you can walk up to the fence and see the vast array of constructed objects of clearly governmental design that have (a) never shown up on a map on paper or electronically and, (b) don't show up on any satellite photo, either. Neither facility is likely to be a total secret, given the light perimeter security (one has a public highway splitting it in two), but they're clearly not advertising them for obviosly good reason (so I won't, either). Now Area 51 is a good distraction. Keep the nutbars chasing what they can "uncover with enough effort" and away from active facilities.
  • by Paulrothrock (685079) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @07:59AM (#9257848) Homepage Journal
    From the article
    "If you or I accidentally kick one of these hidden transmitters, should the feds be able to seize our Macintosh and photos of Aunt Betty?"

    They took his Macintosh?!? Those bastards!

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:00AM (#9257854)
    Lot's of military bases have perimeter security and sensors. Try getting into Camp Peary in Virginia. Or any one of a number of other places.

    oooo....But it's Area51! Obviously they are hiding something behind those sensors.
    Ha. If there ever was anything alien there (highly doubtful), it's long since been moved. Hangar 18, maybe?
    • by Liquid-Gecka (319494) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:31AM (#9258120)

      oooo....But it's Area51! Obviously they are hiding something behind those sensors. Ha. If there ever was anything alien there (highly doubtful), it's long since been moved. Hangar 18, maybe?

      They use sensors almost exactly like those on the US/Mexico border. I guess we are hiding something behind those sensors =) I bet there is aliens on the other side!

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @09:14AM (#9258484) Homepage Journal
      From the story submission:

      "There's a story on SecurityFocus about a pair of Area 51 'hackers' who discovered a buried network of wireless motion sensors on the public land surrounding the "operating location near Groom Lake, Nevada."

      At least according to the story submission (we all know what THAT is worth around here, roughly jack, but I can't load TFA) they were not trying to get onto the base. They were on public lands surrounding the base.

  • Television Special (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wls (95790) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:01AM (#9257862) Homepage
    There was a television special recently about this. What I found even more interesting was a different security compromise.

    A private investigator was hired to watch the airport in Las Vegas and he observed which cars came and went on a frequent basis. He was eventually able to deduce which cars' owner were spending the day at Area 51.

    At that point, it became a simple matter of just following the cars to a plush neighborhood. When he went to knock on the door and asked about Area 51, they said "no comment" and shut the door in his face. One would think that just mentioning Area 51 would be enough to inspire curosity from the non-involved.

    An once-insider agreed to secretly meet with them doing the whole inside-a-hotel with blured-face and altered-voice routine. He examined maps and photos and said they were accurate. He also said that there were no UFOs at Area 51, and that the big secret was the abusive politics and unsafe worker conditions.

    Guess Area 51 scooby gang missed the television special on S4, where the anti-gravity [unmuseum.org] from borrowed UFOs go on.
  • by SquierStrat (42516) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:02AM (#9257864) Homepage
    Several years ago the Sec. of Defense admitted its existence in a press conference. Hell, I can tell you what goes on there: nothing exciting. They test secret missile systems and secret aircraft.
  • by Halo- (175936) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:04AM (#9257886)
    I don't have a lot of sympathy for this guy. Let's review: He finds security sensors around well-known secure area, digs up a bunch of them and opens them, and calls in a TV news crew to watch him do so, and then gets fingered when one of the devices comes up missing. Not suprisingly, the Fed's want to talk to him.

    Now, granted he did rebury the devices, and granted, they were in the public park, not Area 51 itself, but it's not hard for the average person to see why this is a bad idea. There's a lot of stuff in "public" areas you're not allowed to monkey with. If a public park provided restrooms with those annoying motion-sensor faucets, does anyone think they would be within their rights to repeatedly take them apart?

    Sure, there is a worry in this case about the government monitoring private citizens in a public place, but "approach" sensors invade privacy a lot less than swarms of armed guards peering through binoculars from the fenceline 24x7.

    In short, this guy crossed the line. I understand being intrigued, and even outraged by these devices, but making a map is one thing, and once he figured out what the devices were he never should have touched them.

    (Just had a scary thought on preview: what if the odd buried device he found had turned out to be a errant landmine? Of course it's massively criminal for it to be there, but there is a reason you don't got poking unknown military hardware...)

  • by cpghost (719344) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:08AM (#9257912) Homepage

    Area 51 is probably just another detention camp where alien terrorists are being tortured^Wquestioned. Govt. denies the existence of this camp to protect the red cross inspectors from the awful sight of ugly aliens nursing their greenish wounds. Ever seen an alien with sleep deprivation? Uh oh...

  • Idiots... (Score:5, Funny)

    by stienman (51024) <adavis@@@ubasics...com> on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:11AM (#9257944) Homepage Journal
    Now one of the guys has been charged with a federal crime...

    If you absolutely, positively must be raided today - illegally enter a restricted area.

    I mean, come on, you know they're motion sensors - what did you think would happen?

    -Adam
  • by phoxix (161744) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:16AM (#9257990)
    The Federation of American Scientists has a nice description [fas.org] of what is on Area 51, as well as many links to provide more info.

    There is no denying that there is much about the place kept under wraps, but the crazy UFO stories need to come to an end.

    Sunny Dubey
  • Sensor Photos (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lord Zerrr (237123) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:19AM (#9258023)
    Here is the link from the article to the photos of the sensors. Sensor Photos [dreamlandresort.com]
  • by scottennis (225462) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:23AM (#9258053) Homepage
    President Bush gave the area an exemption from EPA regulations on waste disposal in 2002:
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/09/20 020918-9.html [whitehouse.gov]
  • by UM_Maverick (16890) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:28AM (#9258094) Homepage
    In this post [dreamlandresort.com] on the Area 51 site linked to from the article, Joerg Arnu (one of the "hackers" in the article) claims that Poulsen lured him into the interview under false pretenses, then refused his requests not to use the interview, hung up on him, and didn't return any further messages. I haven't read much of Poulsen's stuff, but is this typical of him?
  • by evil0ne (735187) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:30AM (#9258115)
    Area 51 is real and is used everyday. There are planes that take off everyday from McCarran Airport in Las Vegas bringing employees to Groom Lake.

    "Another area of interest is the EG&G terminal on the Northwest corner of McCarran International Airport. Every weekday morning, about 500 people arrive at the guarded terminal with one destination, Groom Lake. When I was in Las Vegas observing the activity of the EG&G terminal, I counted six EG&G owned 737-200s. The aircraft are easily identifiable; they are white with a red strip running the total length of the plane. They fly out to Groom Lake about every half hour in the morning but things slow down in the afternoon with about two to three aircraft always sitting outside. Starting in the late afternoon (I noticed one coming in at 2:30 PM), the 737s start coming back to Las Vegas. At about 6:00, all of the aircraft (6 of which I counted, there could be more) were back to the EG&G facility for the night. Below are the photos that I took when I was out to Groom Lake and observing the EG&G terminal." From sr-71.org [sr-71.org], and a picture here [sr-71.org].

    Also for the "new" Area 51, Popular Mechanics had an article a long time ago that is located here [popularmechanics.com].
  • Occam's Razor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by krital (4789) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:30AM (#9258118)
    Ever heard of this concept? The simplest explanation is probably the best one. Let's start out with Area 51 being a "secret military base" that "doesn't officially exist". Area 51 exists, is acknowledged to exist, and is generally known as an Air Force base. So what could their motivation here be?
    Probably that they're tired of a bunch of crazy conspiracy theorists trying to get a photo of the "aliens" on the base. The idea that Area 51 is a government hoax is ridiculous. Anyone who works or has worked for the US Federal Gov't knows the insane levels of bureacracy that you have to deal with on a daily basis, and you don't get thinking anywhere near that creative from the federal government.
    Let's stop making such a hugely asinine deal about this. Get out of your basement and stop wearing your x-files t-shirts around.
  • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:36AM (#9258171)
    Actually, while in an ideal world he probably shouldn't be prosecuted for investigating sensors in a public area, I do find it encouraging that, when he bothered Area 51, he got prosecuted, rather than just disappearing in the middle of the night.
  • Legal Reform (Score:5, Interesting)

    by logicnazi (169418) <logicnaziNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @08:58AM (#9258377) Homepage
    While I know that often plea deals are important in order to garner testimony about organized crime or other criminal activities this sort of case illustrates (or at least might illustrate since I don't actually know who is telling the truth) the potential dangers. Bizarelly I find myself in agreement with Ashcroft, plea bargains should be *only* be offered in return for becoming an informant, it should be banned (legally and not just by the AGs rules) otherwise.

    For instance in this case the government has *every* encouragment to file suit against this guy even if they have no evidence. The threat of prison time is scary enough that any normal person will take a plea agreement accomplishing what the government really wants, stopping them from investigating area 51 (it would not surprise me at all if part of his probhation is not to even passively map the sensors, or even go close to area 51). The plea bargain allows the government to exercise considerable power by the threat of legal action without any real chance of court review.

    Moreover, as far as I'm concerned giving someone a deal for pleading guilty should be a violation of the 5th ammendment. After all a plea bargain is a reduced sentence in return for not insisting on your innocence. Or put another way in the presence of a plea offer there is a penalty for insisting on your innocence. Sure it isn't technically punishing someone for refusing to incriminate themselves but this is certainly within the spirit of the ammendment, if the implicit privacy argument is considered a valid constitutional principle than this sort of broad interpratation of the 5th is perfectly reasonable as well. I really can't see any pragmatic difference between a law which penalizes someone for not testifying to their guilt (which presumably could only apply if the individual was convicted) and a general practice of giving significantly reduced sentences in return for the admisson of guilt.

    Some people will protest that my position would rob the judicial system of discretion. Not at all, judges would still have plenty of discretion to give a light sentence. The change would just stop penalizing individuals for insisting on innocence. I also think it is only because upper class white kids always recieve plea bargains in drug cases (while poor black ones often don't) that the public is willing to stand for things like mandatory minimums and extreme drug sentences. I doubt most of the prosecutors are overtly racist but many people's gut reaction to seeing a well dressed white kid busted for drugs is a good kid who screwed up while a black kid in baggy pants and so forth is far more likely to be thought of as a bad person. Sure, the problem will still exist in sentencing but at least the system will be a little better and more open (it is easier to see that a judge is racially biased in his deciscions because everything is public record while often the surrounding facts to a plea bargain aren't so publicly accesible).
  • Area 51? (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrIrwin (761231) on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @09:16AM (#9258498) Journal
    It's a secret base where /. servers are housed.

    All those people being flown in an out are CmdrTaco's chefs.

    As for President Bush signing an excemption for waste disposal.......well, I'll leave that to your imagination.

  • by dsrtegl (584275) <slashdot@@@hpt...astatic...net> on Wednesday May 26, 2004 @09:39AM (#9258661)
    When I was in the Coast Guard, stationed at a LORAN station (in Nevada), we couldn't put up a fence around the station because it would interfere with the signal. We had a gate across the road, and underground pressure sensors along with beam sensors above ground to detect intruders. Since LORAN isn't sexy, we didn't have many trespassers but I did have to go out and shoo off the free range cattle that wandered in from time to time.

    I would have been pissed if some yahoo started messing with them, too. After all, they are there to ensure that no one vandalizes the equipment or gets fried by the 21,500 volts that exist across the base insulator of the antenna. We were most afraid of some BASE jumper getting killed while trying to climb the tower. In LORAN the whole tower is "hot" instead of a small radiator at the top.

    And if they broke one, I'd have to fix it.

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