secure

Note that Google Maps shows the view of the White House with the roof of the White House and two flanking buildings are blanked out. Similarly the view of Congress and nearby buildings is also obscured.

The cartoon is a joke, but the silliness as a security measure is real. Doubtless this notion looked good in a memo, but makes no sense in the real world. Pretending we’re the “bad guys”, let’s hit this point by point.

  • By blanking out the roofs of some buildings but not others, you have told us where to look for interesting stuff.
  • We could arrange a flight over the Washington area on a (rare) clear day and take pictures (there are restrictions, so this may be difficult). There are other possibilities.
  • We might be able to obtain satellite photos from non-US sources.
  • We might not even care. Anywhere near enough in the city with a small nuke or other sort of dirty bomb, is good enough.

Now let’s pretend we are the “good guys”.

  • First - the best security measure might be to not obscure any defensive equipment located rooftops. Seeing what’s up there might discourage the “bad guys”, such that they don’t even make an attempt. An attack once attempted always has some chance of success, and almost certainly will cause some collateral damage.
  • Second - if we really want to obscure whatever equipment is up there, all we have to do is camouflage the important bits, and put up a few fake bits. Even with high resolution images the “bad guys” would be unable to discern anything useful.

Between the two, there is no added security in obscuring satellite images.

At the top of my list while still playing the “good guys” is concern that so much of the government is located within the radius of destruction of a single small nuclear bomb. My first priority would be to get as much as possible of the government distributed away from one single location. Why is this single overwhelmingly obvious concern ignored?