FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Domestic Surveillance Blimp Goes AWOL

Most Americans living in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic region of the country probably didn’t realize that for the last year or so they’ve been being spied on from the sky by a sophisticated ‘eye-in-the-sky’ blimp tethered to the ground in Maryland’s Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Air Force jets, which notoriously were not scrambled as four jets were commandeered and flown into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, were scrambled quickly in this case to track the wayward blimp as it drifted with the wind into Pennsylvania.

It just goes to show you that the military can do the job when it wants to.

It will be interesting to see what they do if this thing comes down. It’s big enough to do some damage, but my guess is the feds will do a good job of keeping the public from getting too close to it.

As it is, they’re not saying much about what this thing was doing in the first place.

The Army has claimed the purpose of this and a second blimp has been to defend the US against an attack by cruise missile, but that seems strange, given that most of its cameras point groundward. According to a December 2014 report in Intercept magazine, these two blimps, built by Ratheon Corp. have the ability to scan 340 miles in all directions, covering an area the size of Texas, and to see and track vehicles within that range.

Ominously, while one blimp has high definition radar equipment, the other is equipped, according to the Army, to provide detailed “targeting information.”

I’m wondering where spotting and defending against cruise missile attack, which after all would likely come from the ocean, not from a 360-degree radius, comes into any of that.

The Intercept noted a year ago that the Army originally had plans to put as many as 32 of these huge 600,000-cubic-foot monstrosities around the country (all presumably defending against cruise missile attack!), but that grandiose plan was dropped because of cost (each unit costs millions of dollars to build and operate, and the whole project would have cost over $2.8 billion) and also because of a history of product failures and cost overruns. The project was scaled back eventually to the present two unmanned airships.

Nobody, including the corporate media, has paid much attention to these two blimps, floating some 10,000 feet above I-95 outside of Washington, DC, conveniently near NSA headquarters, but now that one of the two has gone AWOL, drifting at a reported 16,000 feet over Pennsylvania, maybe people will start asking questions. One assumes that the military will have to shoot the thing down at some point if it drifts away from the continental US, lest it fall into the hands of our new enemy, the Russians.

Imagine the fun that Edward Snowden would have examining if it it were brought down by Russia.

The incredible monitoring program that the federal government has erected to spy in the American people since 9-11 is a grim thing to contemplate, but it’s nice when something truly laughable happens to the bastards, so if you happen to live in Pennsylvania, and are lucky enough to be in the path of this errant behemoth, officially called a “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System,” take a look up and have yourself a good guffaw. But smile…the cameras might still be on.

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

June 25, 2018
Daniel Falcone
A Reporter’s Reporter: a Conversation With Seymour Hersh
Gerald Sussman
America’s Cold War “Tugboat”
Jonathan Cook
The Defiance that Launched Gaza’s Flaming Kites Cannot be Extinguished
P. Sainath
A Long March of the Dispossessed to Delhi 
Sheldon Richman
What Does Trump Have Against Children?
Lance Olsen
Caught in a Trap of Our Own Making: Climate Change, Blame, and Denial
Seth Sandronsky
A Safe Black Space
Kary Love
Crying Children and Due Process of Law
Gary Leupp
Why It Just Makes Sense for the U.S. to Withdraw from the UNHRC
John Laforge
Kings Bay Plowshares Action Names the Trident with Blood
Mel Gurtov
After Singapore, Is Iran the Next US Target?
Kent D. Shifferd
A Different Perspective on Peace
Uri Avnery
Two Souls
Laura Flanders
National Suicide Point?
Ludwig Watzal
The Death of Felicia Langer
Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail