US surveillance satellite's logo: Octopus encircling the world

The National Reconnaissance Office launches a satellite with a fascinating logo and the words: "Nothing is beyond our reach."

Scared of us? NRO/Twitter

One of the nicest feelings in the world is reassurance.

If someone wraps their arms tightly around you and tells you everything's going to be all right, you breathe more easily.

So I am, of course, delighted that the US National Reconnaissance Office -- the agency in charge of America's spy satellites -- has sent up a new one to watch over our not-always-fair planet.

To create more good feelings, Friday's launch was even live-tweeted.

I experience a troubling frisson, though, when I look at the logo on the side of the rocket. It features an octopus wrapping its tentacles around the world and looking very, very hungry.

Worse, its right eye is less beady and more reminiscent of a Bond villain's.

If our intentions are noble, why are we being symbolized by a creature that looks as if it wants to devour the world -- and do it for snits and giggles?

Karen Ferguson, a spokeswoman for the NRO, explained to Forbes: "NROL-39 is represented by the octopus, a versatile, adaptable, and highly intelligent creature. Emblematically, enemies of the United States can be reached no matter where they choose to hide."

Well, yes. We are all delighted that our enemies can be reached emblematically. But doesn't this octopus seem a little, well, territorial?

And then there are the words "Nothing is beyond our reach." These appear, perhaps, to emphasize that the octopus isn't going to eat you quite yet, but can and will get a grip on you wherever you are.

Just in case it gets peckish in awhile.

Ferguson elaborated: "'Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach' defines this mission and the value it brings to our nation and the warfighters it supports, who serve valiantly all over the globe, protecting our nation."

Some might imagine that this is merely an extension of the bared teeth that fighter pilots used to have painted on their planes' fuselages.

But there's a certain cartoon-like quality that suggests we have now entered a world that all of us merely read about in comics.

I am sure this is a good thing. Or am I?

 

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