Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon's Secret World
Welcome to a top-level clearance world that doesn't exist...Now with updated material for the paperback edition.
This is the adventurous, insightful, and often chilling story of a road trip through a shadow nation of state secrets, clandestine military bases, black sites, hidden laboratories, and top-secret agencies that make up what insiders call the "black world."
Here, geographer and provocateur Trevor Paglen knocks on the doors of CIA prisons, stakes out a covert air base in Nevada from a mountaintop 30 miles away, dissects the Defense Department's multibillion dollar "black" budget, and interviews those who live on the edges of these blank spots.
Whether Paglen reports from a hotel room in Vegas, a secret prison in Kabul, or a trailer in Shoshone Indian territory, he is impassioned, rigorous, relentless-and delivers eye-opening details.
There was a man who wasn't there.
By Retired Reader - March 15, 2009
The U.S. National Security Act of 1947 established a national security structure which was felt to be necessary to protect the U.S. from what was perceived as serious threats from foreign and domestic enemies. Almost immediately a parallel structure, invisible to public, was created as a compliment to the public national security establishment. This parallel structure is what this absolutely fascinating book refers to as the "black world."
According to Trevor Paglen, a geographer by trade, this black world can bounded by adroit compilation of blank areas on official maps, deleted passages from official documents, and acute observations of restricted areas and activities. Well he has certainly done a very thorough job of it. He begins with the secret and unacknowledged government test sites scattered throughout the country, but especially in the South Western U.S. that actually employ an astonishingly large number military and civilian workers yet still are literarily off... read more
Overstated, biased, a bit sloppy, but interesting
By Victor A. Vyssotsky "mandvav" - March 30, 2010
This book espouses the viewpoint that the large amount of money expended on "black" programs and activities, because it is not detailed in the budget, undermines the foundations of American democracy. That viewpoint is worth considering, whether one agrees with it or not, and Mr. Paglen offers much information to support his case. However, he overstates his case in various ways, distorts the interpretation of certain facts, and pastes together a collection of unrelated information and anecdotes. This leaves the book less convincing to a knowledgeable reader than it should be. None the less, it's worth reading.
As an example of the problems of the book I'll touch on the work at Groom Lake (Area 51), on the Nevada Test Range, operated as part of Nellis Air Force Base. Mr. Paglen asserts that the work at Groom Lake is so secret that not even the name "Groom Lake" can be used in publio. That may have been true many years ago, but isn't now. Indeed, a large amount of information... read more
Wheels within Wheels
By Robert C. Olson - February 16, 2009
Wheels within Wheels An interesting historical review of the "Black" world of American intelligence operations. The title is a little misleading but considering the subject matter that seems rather appropriate. Mr. Paglen does an adequate job of historical documentation on all aspects of the secret and above secret "Black" world of alphabet soup intelligence agencies. At times he is rather pedantic in certain aspects of the intelligence world, like super secret intelligence satellites, while quickly glossing over more interesting operations like Iran-Contra and Groom Lake. His chapter on Federal Law and the evolution of today's massive intelligence gathering machine is very interesting and worthy of more examination. One of the most interesting little nuggets that Mr. Paglen highlighted was, "At this moment approximately four million (his italics) people in the United States hold security clearances to work on classified projects. By way of contrast, the federal... read more
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