What Are Black Operations?

광주흥신소 Black operations are activities that are highly clandestine and often outside of standard military/intelligence protocol, even against the law. They are often designed to allow for plausible deniability.


Artist and experimental geographer Trevor Paglen is interested in these secret worlds, creating totemic visual language to represent them. He joins us to discuss the nuances of his work.


The term black ops refers to covert operations carried out by a government, a government agency, or a military organization. These activities are secret and may have negative overtones. They are also not attributable to the organization that is carrying them out. A black operation may also involve a degree of deception.

The first known black ops operation took place in Soviet Russia when Dr. Dmitri Blaschlaskovich trained his monkey to break into a biscuit factory. This monkey was arrested before it could break into the factory though.

Despite the fact that it is well-known that the CIA assassinates terrorists using drone strikes, it is still very much a secret how many of these killings are accomplished by their elite commando units such as the Navy SEALs and the Army’s Delta Force. The CIA is also said to operate a number of secret prisons around the world. Artist Trevor Paglen is attempting to make this secret world more visible by documenting the’symbology’ of these operations, collecting the patches and insignia of their members. He also collects the photos and videos of their missions.


In most cases assassination is the killing of a person for political reasons such as to draw attention to a cause, to exact revenge or to bring down a regime. Assassinations are among the oldest tools of power politics.

Whether an assassination is carried out in the form of a targeted attack or a coup d’etat, the assassin must be careful to limit his contact with other people. He must also be sure that his instructions are understood and obeyed correctly. He must also be able to make a quick exit.

When the CIA was looking for sites to interrogate terrorists after 9/11, they settled on a clandestine site in Poland. It was one of three black sites that were opened in Europe, but this is where they held Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-declared mastermind of 9/11. Adam Goldman joins us to explain how this “black site” was created and what it meant for the CIA.


Sabotage is the act of damaging something for a purpose, such as by obstruction, disruption or destruction. It can also refer to the action of ruining someone’s reputation, for example by libelling or doxxing them on the internet. The word comes from the French verb saboter, which means to bungle or spoil things. For example, if you accidentally loosen the blades on your competitor’s ice skates, this could be considered sabotage.

Another form of sabotage is an attack on industrial systems, such as the Stuxnet computer virus that damaged Iranian nuclear equipment. These attacks can be highly effective, but are difficult to detect and defend against.

Artist Trevor Paglen works to gather data about these types of black operations, including their codenames and locations. He then creates totemic visual languages to represent them. This helps him to question the validity of these covert activities. He is particularly interested in the epistemological problems they raise. Paglen is also researching the symbolism of military culture, collecting patches and insignias from different military units. This is part of his ongoing research into what he calls “the nexus between war and aesthetics.”


A criminal tries to get money or something else of value by using force, intimidation and/or the abuse of authority. For example, a mobster might walk into a profitable liquor store and offer to protect it from harm in exchange for a weekly fee. The shopkeeper agrees to the protection, thereby becoming the victim of extortion.

Extortion also happens in the form of blackmail. For instance, a man might threaten to release private nude photos of another person unless they give him money. This is a form of blackmail and can cause great damage to someone’s reputation.

Cyber extortion is a growing problem as well. A hacker can take control of a computer system and demand money to regain access. This crime is called ransomware and it is reported to be the most common online felony in 20% of states.


In today’s information-based world, intelligence is a vital tool for achieving a strategic advantage. But in this new era, intelligence operations can no longer rely on the cloak-and-dagger tactics and secret sources often associated with Black ops. Instead, it requires a clear understanding of open source intelligence (OSINT).

The concept of OSINT involves the ability to collect, analyze and synthesize information in order to make decisions that are accurate and informed. It is often used in conjunction with PSYOP and propaganda to influence foreign populations towards a certain point of view. This method of collecting and analyzing data is also relatively unconstrained by geography, bureaucracy and budget. This makes it easier to maintain a high level of integrity and avoid crossing any legal or ethical lines.