A relationship that the CIA wants us to believe that, should it become public, could seriously harm national security and put all of our lives at risk. Or did Google see the acquisition as a convenient way of getting into the military contracting business? I'm trying to pinpoint as best I can the moment when Google began transitioning from being a consumer-oriented Internet search company into the hybrid military-intelligence contractor that it is today. Recorded Future strips from web pages the people, places and activities they mention. Surveillance Valley Between 1973 and 1980, these satellites imaged every square foot of the Earth in 29,000 pictures, much of it better quality than LANDSAT, a rival satellite mapping program. Desk. Keyhole Inc also had one major client base: US military and intelligence agencies. Phone: (212) 889 3337 Fax: (212) 889 3341 There's just one problem: Apart from a few basic details, the public knows very little about Google's purchase of Keyhole Inc. Therefore, your request is denied pursuant to FOIA exemptions (b)(1) and (b)(3). What we do know is that the US has been researching high-altitude reconnaissance technology since about 1946 when the RAND project, precursor to Rand Corp., began campaigning for its development. With a focal length of 175.6 inches, a 6.3 km wide coverage area, and 3-foot resolution, the KH-8 was ideal for gathering high-resolution images of Soviet sites. Later missions continued to halve the resolution until researchers were able to resolve one-foot wide objects, realized that that was way too close to be of any strategic use and backed off to a more manageable 3-foot resolution. The first such program was the Corona project, a codeword itself code named "Discoverer" for the public explanation of why the government was firing a rocket into space (a rare event in the late 1950s that would have attracted a curious public and international scrutiny). As such, the US invested vast sums of money into high-altitude research—from early "weather balloons" to the SR-71 Blackbird and U2 Dragon Lady to orbital telescopes—and established not one but three Federal agencies—the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)—all in an effort to glean any speck of information that could give us an advantage. It came in response to a FOIA request I put in regarding a decade-old business transaction between the CIA and Google. By 1954, the USAF accepted RAND's assertion that the technology was of "vital strategic interest to the United States" and officially established the US satellite program. The program began in 1959 at the Onizuka Air Force Station, ran until 1972, and was declassified in 1995 by President Clinton. Even now, information on the early satellites is sparse and anything after 1972 is non-existent save for a few photos taken by the KH-11 satellite which were leaked to Jane's Defence Weekly in 1985. The acquisition would have gone unnoticed, had it not been for one not-so-tiny detail: Keyhole Inc was part-owned by the CIA and the "National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency" (NGA), a sister agency to the NSA. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prevents threats to national security by collecting and analyzing intelligence data that is used in coordinating covert operations overseas. They are typically used to take overhead photos for military missions. We were doing things we didn't need to do. The first such program was the Corona project, a codeword itself code named "Discoverer" for the public explanation of why the government was firing a rocket into space (a rare event in the late 1950s that would have attracted a curious public and international scrutiny). [Raytheon - NRO - FAS 1, 2 - Wiki 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - Oneonta - Images: NRO, CIA, NASA]. Once the camera had run through its full complement of film, it would eject the roll via a reentry capsule designed by General Electric. The KH-5 ARGON ran in conjunction with Corona from 1961 to 1964, though never with the same degree of success. Keyhole Inc also had one major client base: US military and intelligence agencies. When the Army and Navy couldn't agree on who would have control over the orbital technology, it was assigned to the newly-formed USAF in 1947. a keyhole is the shaped channel into which the key slides to open a locked door. If it was picked up in time, the film would be transported to Rochester, New York, for processing at Eastman Kodak's Hawkeye facility. Start the first week of 2021 with the Awesome Games Done Quick speedrunning marathon; Marvel’s The Eternals director, Chloé Zhao, confirms she’s also the film’s writer The The CIA poured an unknown amount of money into Keyhole. It lasted two years. By Dr Nafeez Ahmed – Insurge Intelligence: As our governments push to increase their powers, INSURGE INTELLIGENCE can now reveal the vast extent to which the US intelligence community is implicated in nurturing the web platforms we know today, for … Was there any internal discussion in the company about the benefits and pitfalls of absorbing a startup so closely tied with the CIA and the Pentagon? The In-Q-Tel alliance has put the Agency back at the leading edge of technology”. Heck, the NRO was established in 1961 and operated for three decades before the government even ever acknowledged its existence. For instance: In 2010, Google clinched a no-bid contract to supply the NGA with “geospatial visualization services.” The NGA argued that it couldn’t open up the contract to competitors like Microsoft because it had no choice: The US government had invested so much effort and resources into Google’s mapping and geospatial technology, tailoring it to its specific needs, that the Pentagon and Intelligence Community could at this point only use Google products. 2017. Keyhole (now Google Earth) is a staple of the targeting cells in military-intelligence units. It explains that (b)(1) can be used to restrict access to the documents only if “the unauthorized disclosure of the information reasonably could be expected to result in damage to the national security.” Some of the information that currently falls under this provision includes: military plans and weapons systems; intelligence activities and methods; technology that impacts national security; and vulnerabilities and capabilities of systems relating to national security. It wasn't until the early 1990's that any information on these devices was declassified, after the fall of the Soviet Union brought an end to the Cold War. Image Credit: Central Intelligence Agency, By Yasha Levine Great documentary by ColdFusion channel on YouTube on the Silicon Valley to Government connections that wind their way from the founders of Google at start up being financed by the CIA. This ability came in handy in 1973. This accident terminated the D-21 project as far as the A-12 (M-21) was concerned. In 2004, Keyhole EarthViewer was acquired by another little startup that you may have heard of — Google. Press reports made limited references to the agency as far back as 1971, but it wasn't until the Deputy Secretary of Defense revealed the NRO in 1992, was it ever formally discussed by the DoD. Electronic Briefing Book Secrecy and U.S. Satellite Reconnaissance, 1958-1976 Edited by Jeffrey Richelson. Initially launched as a spin-off of Intrinsic Graphics, first round funding came from a Sony venture capital fund and others, additional capital came from an NVIDIA bundling deal, from the CIA (via its We were harboring fears we didn't need to harbor. The (b)(3) statutes upon which the CIA relies include, but are not limited to, the CIA Act of 1949…. Forgotten in all this is the hepatitis outbreak in 2017. Why Google? In other words: What deal did Google -- now the biggest private surveillance operation on planet earth -- make with the CIA and the NSA, which run the largest government surveillance operations? Caution: Before entering your uNID or password, verify that the address in the URL bar of your browser is directing you to a University of Utah web site. Satellite imagery was first used in 1991 during Desert Shield and again in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan (above). In essence, the CIA’s (b)(3) is what's known as a GLOMAR response, named after the agency's refusal, in the mid-1970s, to confirm or deny the existence of a secret boat called the Glomar Explorer built to retrieve a sunken Soviet nuclear submarine. And it all started with their acquisition of CIA-backed Keyhole. This one will be a little more involved, and take a little bit of time and planning so Im going to give it a shot. These 1150 - 1500 kg satellites manufactured by Lockheed Martin and operated by the NR used a single 76 mm focal length camera with a 140 meter resolution were operated primarily for map-making—they were the first to image Antarctica from space—and took less than a week to produce. Satellite technology is, by far, the most expensive ISR method at the US's disposal but also the most effective, its results well worth the billions of dollars spent. Gary Powers' U2 was shot down over Soviet airspace. In addition to keeping tabs on Soviet air capabilities, Gambit was also designed to photograph the spacecraft around it. Think beyond moderation. Ethics aside, espionage is an indispensable part of statecraft. It is likely that they have since been replaced by another system. The KH-9 HEXAGON was, by all accounts, an unmitigated success with 19 of its 20 launches reaching orbit between 1971 and 1986. Some notable portfolio companies include Palantir, whose data mining software is used across public and private sector institutions, and Keyhole, a mapping firm acquired by Google[4]. And nowhere is this more evident than in the development of the US spy satellite fleet during the Cold War. twin body after the fuselage and cargo door? Did it impose conditions on Google? I purchased a Century Arms built AK-74 off an INGO member as a project rifle. Launched aboard a Thor booster rocket and Agena spacecraft, these satellites relied on a pair of five foot long stereoscopic Itek cameras using 12-inch, f/5 triplet lenses and a 24-inch focal length (later models also incorporated a third "index" camera for reference). Google had developed the software behind Google Earth by purchasing Keyhole from the CIA venture firm In-Q-Tel. The first generation of HEXAGON employed a pair of f/3.0 folded Wright Camera cameras with a 60-inch focal length able to resolve objects down to 2 feet and carried four re-entry vehicles. During the Cold War, accurately ascertaining the USSR's military capabilities was a top US priority—as well it should have been given that we had as many as 21,000 nuclear warheads pointed at each other during that time. In 1999, the CIA chartered In-Q-Tel, a prestigious VC firm established to invest in technologies with national security applications[3]. Did the Agency have any concerns? The KH-6 Lanyard program was the NRO's first attempt at high definition photography but lasted just six months and three launches in 1963, two of which failed to produce images. The company was named after the old “eye-in-the-sky” military satellites. This Salt Lake City data center marks the third in the western region joining LA and Dalles, Oregon with the goal of providing lower latency compute power across the region. I usually get so wrapped up in a project that I never document anything, as I just want it done. Google Earth originated as EarthViewer 3D from CIA-funded company Keyhole, which Google acquired in 2004. Unlike conventional aperture cameras, the Gambit's slit camera reflected light off of a 48-inch mirror, through a slit aperture, and on to a moving length of Eastman Kodak Type 3404 film. Google (GOOG) has been a partner with the CIA since 2004 when the company bought Keyhole, a mapping technology business that eventually became Google Earth. After the capsule discarded its heat shield at 60,000 feet, it deployed a parachute and could either be nabbed by a passing plane equipped with a claw hook (above) or land safely in the ocean where it would float for two days awaiting pickup. Google fought in court, spent big bucks, no one knows. Worldwide praise. That is, the mere existence nor non-existence of any documents relating to the Agency’s involvement in the sale of Keyhole to Google is itself a secret, and cannot be divulged to the public for reasons of national security. The images the CIA used to find Osama bin Laden's hideout were reportedly supplied by the KENNAN. After Edward Snowden, it funded privacy think tanks, backed anti-NSA protests, made a big show of opposing secret wiretaps, fought secret court orders, and has done everything it can convince the public that it really really cares about privacy and cyber-democracy and is on our side in the fight against today's creeping military-surveillance society. But with ever increasing film payloads, the final iteration of the KH-9 lasted 275 days in space. This 3,000 kg Low Altitude Surveillance Platform developed by Lockheed flew just 75 miles up (Coronas orbited at 100 miles) and operated for nearly two decades from 1964 to 1984. Very little is known about the satellite's hardware though many have speculated that its roughly the same size as the Hubble Space Telescope with a similar 2.4-meter mirror producing a six inch resolution. The Tagboard project became Senior Bowl and continued with a B-52 used as the mothership launch vehicle. And while we had plenty of spies operating in Moscow, the view from overhead provided the President and his cabinet key insights into the extent of Soviet strategic capabilities which influenced defense planning and arms control negotiations. They also a began surviving longer. I've filed an appeal to the FOIA denial and will update this story when I hear the result. I just got a very interesting letter from the Central Intelligence Agency. The early cameras could achieve a 40-foot resolution. However, the image quality was so poor that they were virtually useless. The MDDS abstract published online at the University of Texas confirms that the rationale for the CIA-NSA project was to “provide seed money to … Date range: 1/1/2003 through 12/31/2014.”. The end of the Cold War certainly put a damper on reconnaissance satellite funding, as did the rise of commercial satellite technology, but it remains a staple of our intelligence gathering resources. July 1, 2015, From The They stated that…, (b)(1) exempts from disclosure information currently and properly classified, pursuant to an Executive Order…, (b)(3) exempts from disclosure information that another federal statute protects, provided that the other federal statute either requires that the matters be withheld, or establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld. As long as the intelligence justified the price tag, any cost was acceptable. This was just one of many such deals. They must have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this case alone. Until Feb. 13th, 2019. Important security information: This login uses cookies to provide access to the site you requested and to other protected University of Utah websites. In the course of investigating the book, I've been digging deeper into Google's relationship with US military industrial complex. Luckily, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) gives a rundown of the meaning and intended use of these exemptions in a handy guide. Most spy satellites have very limited life spans—two to three months—and once they're out of film they have no further purpose. Google re-released the product as Google Earth in 2005. As Pando readers might recall, I'm currently writing a book on "Surveillance Valley" -- how tech giants are building the biggest private surveillance network the world has ever known. We help you design a study to answer your business questions and create a final deliverable that is insightful, persuasive AND visually compelling. Google Earth was based off of Keyhole Earth Viewer, a CIA project that Google acquired at a rock-bottom price. And if nothing else had come out of it except the knowledge that we gained from space photography, it would be worth ten times what the whole program has cost. But instead of sending me a stack of highly redacted documents, the Agency sent me a skimpy two page response straight out of a Tom Clancy novel: it "could not confirm or deny” the existence of these records. Its initial budget was a modest $108.2 million ($860 million adjusted to 2013), though that quickly increased follo… And NatSec liabilities -- because it badly needed its 3D mapping technology nine feet and incorporating panoramic Petzval f/3.5.. Went to court to unseal Wikileaks order of these images have been orbiting the Earth for than... 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