Sunday, June 03, 2012

Satellite images on Syria

Jon sent me this:  "In my field (neuropsychology) there is a well known bias in publishing papers. If you haven't really found much (or want to make a load of rubbish up),  just stick a picture of a brain scan in your results and it will  increase the chances of getting published greatly. It seems this logic has now transferred to the Western media in the form of 'satellite images'.
Yesterday the BBC gave us this;
To me it shows little more than an ordinary map but it is amazing what you can determine from it when you are an expert.
Forbes McKenzie, "a former British Army intelligence officer who now works for the commercial company that analysed the images" gives his assessment.
"These images display a prominent footprint by the Syrian military in the locality of the massacres. We assess that it shows where 122mm artillery rounds were fired from on to the site of the massacre." Wow that is quite specific. 122mm. Impressive stuff.
The article then informs us "There are indications that this was a revenge attack to "teach them a lesson" after Sunni rebels attacked a nearby government checkpoint."  These satellite images really are good. You can even see motives.
We then get this gem, "a home was attacked at 34 degrees 51'N 36 degrees 31E."  I'm pretty sure this is an exclusive. It really helps.
Finally, "Location F is a Syrian government vehicle checkpoint on the main supply road coming up from Homs. A close-up reveals white vehicles, suspected of belonging to the shabiha." White vehicles? I thought shabiha preferred metallic blue?
Today both Sky and the Guardian produced this story from an unnamed 'State Department-operated website'.This time it is a before and after picture of a 'probable mass grave' in Tall Daww. Again I can see little but to help a picture of people being buried in a mass grave is placed in the middle (I assume from last Friday's murders). The picture caption reads 'probable mass burial in Tall Daww 26 May 12'. Probable? Perhaps they need a bigger satellite. And in case you were wondering, this wasn't American spying, pictures were from passing 'commercial satellites - not high resolution military spy spacecraft'. 
Hmm now where did I leave those brain scans..."