back to article French spies do a Barbara Streisand over secret nuke radio base

A Wiki page about a French military base has gone viral after Gallic spooks tried to censor it. French internal spies at the Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur called in a volunteer Wiki editor to their Paris office and ordered him to spike an entry about the Station hertzienne militaire de Pierre-sur-Haute, a …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not a radio base...

    ...it's where French government ministers stash their untaxed cash (allegedly).

    Anon to avoid being beaten to death by a baguette-wielding, beret-sporting, garlic-breathed onion-seller. Zut alors!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's not a radio base...

      You forgot the "cheese-eating surrender-monkey" bit...

    2. Dr_N Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: It's not a radio base...

      "Anon to avoid being beaten to death..."

      or being outed as a Daily Express reader?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: It's not a radio base...

        > garlic-breathed onion-seller

        Dude, these are jewish!

    3. JohnG

      Re: It's not a radio base...

      "..it's where French government ministers stash their untaxed cash (allegedly)."

      Surely, that would be banks in Switzerland or other tax havens in the Caribbean, if recent reports are any to go by.

  2. tabman

    Troposcatter

    There was an old NATO troposcatter node there - who knows what is there now?

    That can't be the reason why the article was removed though.

    1. FrankAlphaXII
      Thumb Up

      Re: Troposcatter

      I was going to say exactly that, ACE HIGH, that old NATO system you're speaking of, had a station there. But in and of itsself, that isn't saying much, as there were ACE HIGH transceivers all over the place in every NATO member state from the US to Turkey.

  3. Ross K Silver badge

    It Wasn't That Long Ago...

    ...that Faslane submarine base on the Clyde and the nuke storage area at Coulport were blurred out of Google Earth.

    Anybody wanting a good look inside the base just had to park up at the picnic area on the hill behind.

    1. Colin Miller

      Re: It Wasn't That Long Ago...

      And no doubt there were hidden ANPR cameras in the area...

      1. Ross K Silver badge

        Re: It Wasn't That Long Ago...

        And no doubt there were hidden ANPR cameras in the area...

        Back in the 80's and early 90's?

        1. S4qFBxkFFg

          Re: It Wasn't That Long Ago...

          Drop the 'A' maybe; imagine some poor RN Intelligence Rating fast-forwarding through hours of video tape, pausing and noting reg/model/colour every time he sees a vehicle.

        2. frank ly

          @Ross K Re: It Wasn't That Long Ago...

          I worked on the development team for the first UK civilian ANPR camera installation at the Dartford Tunnel toll lanes in the late '70s. I also occupied an on-site portakabin for a week as we did the setup and initial field tests. Stationary vehicles with IR spotlights shining on them give good images and the location of the numberplate is easy to find.

          You can bet the security services had developed earlier ANPR systems for sensitive areas since military image processing (target acquisition and tracking) was starting to build up in the late '70s.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It Wasn't That Long Ago...

      We here in north west Scotland have to suffer degraded Google satellite imagery allegedly because of the annual NATO sea exercises nearby, but Bing imagery is pretty good ad much more up to date. The reasoning may be an urban myth (well, a rural myth) but it is true that you get a lightened image on which little is visible when you zoom in on Google. And yes, to make things worse, it does hurt to say something positive about Microsoft.

    3. phuzz Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: It Wasn't That Long Ago...

      Getting a low-ranking swabbie to fast-forward through a VHS would be much cheaper than ANPR, but there wouldn't be as much scope for bribes, bungs and incompetence as there would be with a procurement project.

      I guess the central question here is "what's the most back-arsewards way of doing things?".

      1. Ross K Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: It Wasn't That Long Ago...

        Getting a low-ranking swabbie to fast-forward through a VHS would be much cheaper than ANPR

        I guess the central question here is "what's the most back-arsewards way of doing things?"

        Sounds about right.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deliberate misinformation?

    All this attention on an innocuous article would be a good way to distract from the removal of real sensitive information elsewhere.....

    Anyone checked for more subtle edits on other French military/security articles?

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Deliberate misinformation?

      I was thinking along similar lines. Drawing attention to this site would give them more freedom to get up to whatever they want at another installation because this place will now be tinfoil hat central.

  5. Mark McNeill
    Black Helicopters

    This morning's idle thoughts

    USA: Good morning, mes petits singes capitulards, may we count on your vast historical experience in South East Asia, and parts of your secure communications infrastructure, to aid us in our little bagarre with North Korea? Is it that it is that you perhaps maintain a secure worldwide communications network link for NATO operations, which in the event of an attaque nucléaire on any NATO member would be required to assist under Section 5 of the NATO treaty? Would it be deranging you to just make certain that it's still there, in full working order, and most particularly that les geeks et les militaires de la Corée du Nord can be utterly unaware of its existence?

    France: But yes, my old, nothing of more easy. Its secrecy total is assured... Name of a pipe! We must take of the measures incredibly foolish directly!

    1. Jason Hindle

      Re: mes petits singes capitulards

      You owe me a new keyboard.....

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: This morning's idle thoughts

      C'est à dire singes capitulards fromageophages, n'est ce pas?

    3. Peter Simpson 1
      Happy

      Re: This morning's idle thoughts

      New keyboard here also, please.

      "...may we count on your vast historical experience in South East Asia,"

      //why? we ignored their advice the first time it was given...

  6. Ian 62
    Big Brother

    Listen very carefully

    I shall say this only once.

    If theyre making a big issue out of this non-event.. It'll be to bury some other news/issue/censorship or wiki-fiasco thats going on.

    Which wiki-pedian has done something silly? Or which French agency needs to drown out some other bad news?

    1. Matthew 3

      Re: Listen very carefully

      I'll concede that it's possible that there is a Machiavellian agenda behind this action. But bitter experience and a combination of healthy cynicism and scepticism suggest otherwise.

      I can think of plenty of embarrassing governmental revelations that no amount of effort have been able to suppress. A US President couldn't even manage to hide a clandestine BJ from an intern for heaven's sake!

      Documents revealed after thirty (or more) years of being blocked don't generally reveal successful plots either. Think of corruptible civil servants, deliberate leaks and lost laptops. Add in prospective whistleblowers, if the plot is against the public interest, and there's an awful lot working against secrecy.

      1. Madeye
        Coat

        Re: Listen very carefully

        It would have been kind of hard to hide it from her as she was probably wearing most of it

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They're planning something.

    They don't want their adversaries knowing of an impending naval attack. I'd be worried if I was on a Greenpeace ship right now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They're planning something.

      Given the way their policies have changed in recent years, I'd be a bit worried to be on a Greenpeace ship any time.

  8. Colin Miller

    Swiss-French restored it

    IIRC, it was a Swiss wikipedian who undeleted the article in question, as he was beyond the reach of the gallic blue line.

    1. Gordon 11

      Re: Swiss-French restored it

      The volunteer, named ... as Pierre-Carl Langlais

      Suspicious surname, that. Are you sure it wasn't a UKIP supported trying to spread dis-harmony?

  9. Cliff

    It's preprogrammed...

    ... 'we surrender' for in case of emergencies?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: It's preprogrammed...

      This "amurrica fuck year" retardation is actually getting tiresome.

  10. Ross K Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Remember this?

    Dunno why this popped into my head: a clip from 1999 of Mark Thomas at Menwith Hill listening post...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBksQsAZ2hQ

  11. Don Jefe
    Meh

    Probably an Idiot

    With no knowledge of how the web works decided he wanted the page gone so they hired an outside consultant to remove the page. Next thing you know there's a shitstorm because the military guy didn't realize there would be copies of the page out there & pretty much anybody could replace the entry. He broke physical security 101 protocols by calling attention to the place. The exact opposite of what he intended.

    I'm only guessing at this but it seems highly plausible it is just a case of dumbassery. Many years ago I was flown out to meet with a prospective client who wanted us to lead a large project for his firm. I get out there only to discover what he wants more than anything is for us to remove the negative comments about him that other people have on their websites. The whole job hinges on finding someone who can do that. I didn't get the job. He called me a fake because we advertise engineered solutions to any problem but I couldn't even change a few words on a web page. This guy owned a large successful company and still had no knowledge of how the web worked. I see no reason why ignorance wouldn't extend to the military as well.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Probably an Idiot

      Possibly even more worrying that the secret inteligence services of a european nuclear power is staffed by such weapons-grade morons.

      On the other hand it is nice to discover we have something in common with the French

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Probably an Idiot

      "I get out there only to discover what he wants more than anything is for us to remove the negative comments about him that other people have on their websites."

      There are companies which specialise in this kind of bollocks, mainly by gaming search engines.

      Reputation.com is one of them.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Probably an Idiot

        > we advertise engineered solutions to any problem

        Does this involve the use of polonium and/or dioxin?

        1. Don Jefe
          Happy

          Re: Probably an Idiot

          Absolutely no assassinations. We can arrange for a security team to escort individuals who may not have requested the escort, but they won't kill them or harass them physically or verbally.

        2. PhilBuk
          Headmaster

          Re: Probably an Idiot

          Polonium yes, but dioxin? Were you thinking of clubbing someone to death with burnt toast? I think you mean ricin.

          Phil.

          1. A 11

            Re: Probably an Idiot

            Agent Orange was contaminated with burnt toast?

  12. Kubla Cant Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Reading between the lines

    The volunteer ... quickly agreed to their demands even though he did not write the original entry.

    Whereupon the guys at the Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur agreed to remove the electrodes.

  13. Mykilr
    Headmaster

    Random trivial pendantic nonsense

    I'm surprised no one has pointed out that her name is actually spelt "Barbra", and that the effect is usually referred to as merely the "Streisand effect".

  14. bag o' spanners
    Devil

    I'd go with "pas de fumes sans feu" on this one. There's probably been a major security snafu in their intelligence gathering, and this is their chuckling media-friendly way of burying the bad news. "ooh!....a butterfly!"

    Perhaps M. Hollande's freshly tax liable friends in high places are shredding the electronic audit trail to the gnomes in La Shweesh.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Facepalm

      1) It is "pas de fumée sans feu"

      2) If you want to evade the guns and badges of the french tax nazis, what would that have to do with anything about a military place on wikipedia? An article about belgian expats would be more appropriate.

      And then,,,

      "The Foundation takes allegations of national security threats seriously and investigated the matter accordingly."

      Yeah, they are okay with endlessy discussing/censoring/moderating the particular ways cats fall down stairs, but once the real stuff his the HTTP request, they chill the fuck out.

      Fracking peter puffers.

  15. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    They wanted to do a Streisand!

    Let's face it, France lost much of its former importance in the world. Nowadays, lingua franca is English, French industry is nothing but a shadow of its past, they were not very successful in warfare in 20th century etc.

    I bet they wanted the world to know that France is still a nuclear super power. Just a guess.

    1. Ross K Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: They wanted to do a Streisand!

      I bet they wanted the world to know that France is still a nuclear super power. Just a guess.

      They do generate 80% of their electricity by nuclear means and they developed their own nuclear weapons (as opposed to getting the yanks to give them a hand). Sounds like something a nuclear superpower would do...

      French industry is nothing but a shadow of its past

      You could remove 'French' from that sentence, replace it with 'British' and it would still make perfect sense.

      1. Vimes

        Re: They wanted to do a Streisand! @Ross K

        You could remove 'French' from that sentence, replace it with 'British' and it would still make perfect sense.

        Quite.

        Simply pointing at the failures of other countries when we're collectively busy celebrating the actions of a PM that saw British industry decimated with a lot of the rest being eventually sent to India or China doesn't do much good.

        As for the rest...

        French car manufacturers: Citroen, Renault, Purgeot.

        British car manufacturers: Ummm... errr... Give me a minute - I'm sure there's one somewhere...

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: British cars

          Following are British designed & built

          Aston Martin

          Jaguar Land Rover

          Caterham

          Lotus

          Ariel

          Morgan

          McClaren

          not sure on Rolls Royce

          not sure on Bentley

          Mini was

          Most F1 teams

          Following made here

          Honda

          Toyota

          Nissan

          Vauxhall

          Ford

  16. Crisp Silver badge

    Duck Sauce

    I wonder what they will make of this.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A perfect example...

    ...of what is very wrong about the Internet and social media when they cause unjustified harm to entities.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ICBM submarines, LOL

    "According to Wikimedia, "almost all of the information in the article is cited to publicly-available sources", much of it gleaned from a television interview with Major Jeansac, the officer commanding the station, in which he showed a reporter around the base.

    The Pierre-sur-Haute base is thought to be a link in the communications chain for France's nuclear deterrent. France operates a flotilla of four Triomphant-class nuclear ICBM submarines, similar to Blighty's Vanguard class vessels, as well as a force of Mirage M-2000N jets armed with standoff nuclear weapons."

    As this is public info, and the guy in charge of the base is a named sub-officer (major being the last sub-officer rank in the french army, more or less always given to a clueless bloke, who's no way gonna get officer rank ever, this 1 year before his retirement), there is no way this is involved in any way in any sort of french military activity, even shooting blank cartridges at paper target ... Really no <bip> way, and certainly nothing linked to nuclear force.

    And DCRI is civilian only, only coppers there, some of them (the extremely low level) from former "Renseignements Généraux" which has always acted as a (militia) political police.

    No clue about military stuff, thanks God !

    1. Mips
      Childcatcher

      Re: ICBM submarines, LOL

      I can actually understand why they are twitchy. Having been involved in the UK version I know that you need virtually no information to be able to determine what it can do, mostly it is about the size of the mast; the rest can be assumed. So if you know where it is you can see how big the mast is, the rest is simple arithmetic. So now you know all you need to jam it or blow it up. Merde! Absolutely useless.

      And they cost about £1000m each. The location of the UK version? Oh! The Navy found another way of doing it.

  19. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  20. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Mushroom

    VLF tales

    I used to fly gliders above another French naval radio station, near Le Blanc. It has freaking enormous antennae, several miles across or long to transmit VLF signals to submerged submarines. Flying over it is quite legal, as long as you're above a particular height (1000m, from memory) but they pump out a lot of other stuff too, presumably to hide the real Firez-le-Nuke signals. My variometer would stop going beep-beep-beep for up and boop-boop-boop for down and instead start playing military band music. Very cheerful.

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Alert

      Re: VLF tales

      I don't htink you'd want to be any lower...they pump out megawatts at VLF.

      Here in the US, we had (have?) a good part of upper Michigan devoted to VLF antennas...

      //there's a design for one directional antenna array floating around on the web that spanned a valley somewhere

  21. Peter Simpson 1
    Thumb Up

    Le voici

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Creek_Naval_Radio_Station

    //go big or go home!

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