Is the government still lying about Area 51? A reader makes the case.

August 18, 2013

Often Internet comments are terrible, but The Switch is different. We’ve been happy to see a lot of comments from engaged and thoughtful readers. Here are some of our favorites.

Andrea Peterson's Wednesday article arguing that Google's ad for its new tabbed inbox was sexist attracted a lot of comments. "Andrea, do you lay awake at night thinking of things to get upset about?" bethesdaguy asked. But ma_luo_dan replied:

I wonder if the reactions to this article would have been different if it had a byline by Brian or Timothy instead? Would they also have been told that they "lay awake at night thinking about things to get upset about" or that they somehow went "looking for drama" too? The comments on the article are making Andrea's point for her to a certain extent...

IMNSHO, it was a thoughtful, well-written piece that pulled out some of the reasons behind why this type of approach by Google (or by any other tech company) is problematic. If we don't call out prejudice and sexism when we see it - however insignificant it may seem to some - there is no way that we can continue to move forward on combating these issues in the long term.

On Friday I suggested that President Obama might not have known about the scale of privacy violations at the NSA. But Seattle Guy says I'm "prone to exaggeration." He argues that last week's revelations are "simply an example of human error, not some nefarious plot to harm Americans."

The targeting and minimization procedures would be followed if the analyst came across any innocent American in the course of his investigation and that would lead to destroying any content that was found. Read the procedures and get back to us.

NSA critics will stoop pretty low to mischaracterize the NSA's behavior and motivations. Keep your eyes on the courts, when the dust clears, the programs stand with little change. It is effective and necessary. Despite all the rhetoric, it saves American lives.

If you have something better to offer Mr. Lee, show us. You can't and you know it. The NSA's program when executed according to its outline, is about as good as it gets in connecting-the-dots and stopping future terrorist attacks using today's technology.

On Friday Brian Fung wrote about recently-released documents suggesting that the government used Area 51 to test its first drones. Reader laboo isn't buying it.

This smells like the CIA trying to explain away the work done at Area 51. These two cheesy examples of early drones are cobbled together just the way you'd expect from amateurs. Seriously, the bitty one used a chainsaw engine. And the big one was too noisy to be useful on any missions involving targets with ears.

These craft are NOTHING like those reported from Area 51 over the years. They're the CIA's equivalent of Gen. Ramey's Roswell "weather balloon".

AugustusFink-Nottle asks: "Which part of 1960s confuses you. Name an equivalent small scale technology of the time." tidelandermdva suggests an answer: "He means the alien spaceships of course, the ones who have controlled all of our presidents since Ike."

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Timothy B. Lee · August 18, 2013