Area 51 is a military base, and a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base. It is located in the southern portion of Nevada in the western United States.
The Significance of Area 51 Imagery
Apart from the simple voyeuristic thrill of gazing upon secret things, which cannot be denied, there is a larger public policy interest in overhead imagery of Area 51. The end of the Cold War has occasioned only modest reforms in the grotesquely hypertrophied security and classification system that insensibly developed as the bodyguard of lies against the Soviet Union. These security measures were not entirely without foundation, as they were implemented to protect American weapons systems from being copied or countered by the Soviet adversary.
But they were not without price, as over time the secret government within the security enclave became increasingly unaccountable to an increasingly distrustful public. With the end of the Cold War, and in the absence of a worthy adversary with the potential to copy or counter American weapons, it was presumed that there would be an adjustment in the security and classification system, towards greater transparency and public accountability.
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With some notable exceptions, however, the security enclave remains remarkably unchanged from its Cold War configuration. Indeed, in recent years a backlash has emerged, tending to reverse even the modest gains in public accountability of the 1990s.
Humor is one of the few tools available for public efforts to shift the boundaries of the security enclave. Declining to take “secrets” seriously constitutes a fundamental epistemological critique of a security and classification edifice that does far more to protect bureaucratic interests than to protect the national interest.
Highlighting the discrepancy between what the public knows, and what the government will acknowledge, is a key instrument in teasing out the absurdities of the security enclave. There is no better opportunity for such mirth than Area 51. The US Government has only recently acknowledged the “fact of the existence” of this facility, despite ample publicity and super-abundant speculation over the past decades.
The Good Book says “the guilty flee where none pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion” [Proverbs 28:1]. Over time the profound secrecy surrounding Area 51 has engendered an elaborate edifice of popular culture, rehearsed most famously in the movie “Independence Day.” Sceptical observers may perhaps be forgiven for suspecting that Area 51 is the repository for captured Alien technology, since it would otherwise be difficult to imagine any other secret so awful as to require the level of secrecy surrounding this facility.
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Made under Hitler