Who Needs Spy Satellites? Google Earth Pinpoints Where Missile Targeted Taliban

The leader of Pakistan’s Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, may or may not be dead after a CIA missile hits his father-in-law’s home in the remote “Zangarha area” of the country. But now we can see exactly where that missile hit, and we don’t even need access to a spy satellite. Thanks to Google Earth, we get the image above.

Stefan Geens pinpointed the location on his blog Ogle Earth using location information gathered from news accounts. He also figured out where the supposed burial ground was. A decade ago, only a handful of people would have had access to such satellite imagery. Today, anyone can download it for free. CIA and military satellites are still higher resolution, but it makes you wonder how fast the geo-information gap between governments and citizens is closing.

We’ve also seen recently how the Untied States Holocaust Memorial Museum is using Google Earth to graphically document the ongoing genocide in Darfur. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to hide from Google Earth, which makes us all Big Brother in a sense. That’s a good thing (better us than a single government or corporation).

Unfortunately, Google Earth is only retrospective. You can’t see what is happening across the globe right now. Maybe one dayit will be closer to real time.