Spying on the NSA

Have you ever played with Google Earth? It is an impressive synthesis of geographic information of all types superimposed on aerial photography with 3D terrain mapping thrown in for good measure. In urban areas like Seattle, the detail in the photographic images is stunning. You can nearly make out brands of cars that happened to be captured in the aerial images.

I have only been playing with Google Earth for a week—mostly doing silly stuff like touring the crater of Mount St. Helens—and already I have found practical uses for it. With lots of out-of-town family at my house, I’ve used Google Earth with the tilt at nearly eye level to show how to navigate tricky driving situations like the I405 exit on the way home from Seatac Airport. You can navigate the route seemingly as a helicopter pilot would see it from about 100 feet off the ground. Try it—it’s awesome!

Google Earth has lots of miscellaneous information with geographic coordinate that can be indicated on the picture. Roads are an obvious bit of information, but school districts, airports, parks, postal codes, golf courses, coffee shops, shopping malls, dining by selected cuisine, earthquake epicenters, etc. can all be displayed. In large cities, 3D outlines of buildings have even been added to the database.

This morning, a post at Washington State Political Report pointed to a Hard 7 post that mentioned that there was a major NSA spying station near Yakima. After a little additional web searching, I learned that the monitoring facility was called the Yakima Echelon Station.

“Hmmm…” I thought, “I wonder if I can find it on Google Earth?” Sure enough, after a few minutes of work, I found the station at 46°40′57.14″N 120°21′20.72″W. I had the general location from a web search, but then I expanded the Google Earth Community “layer” and selected “Military Sites.” A previous NSA enthusiast had shared the specific location for all to see.

It was fun beginning my morning with some senseless spying on the NSA (and over a hot cup of coffee).

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2 Responses to “Spying on the NSA”

  1. John Says:


    Placemarker please? Typing in longitude and latitude is so eighties.

    Just kidding. I’ve been having a ball with GE myself.

  2. Hominid Views » Blog Archive » Liberty Snatching Says:

    [...] The mistrust hit a little closer to home the other day. I posted a (mostly silly) blog entry about spying on the NSA on December 27th. A few days later, my telephone quit working. I had a fleeting thought: “hmmmm…I wonder if the NSA was offended by my post, and the jackass who bugged my phone screwed up?” [...]

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