(Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD) – Hamstrung by revelations of in-depth spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on both foreign and domestic citizens in the name of post-September 11th security, the military is flexing its muscle in another way. And this may be even more controversial than collecting “metadata” from telephone calls.
The Army has announced it will start flying aerostats – blimps that are tethered at 10,000 feet to the ground – north of Washington, DC, as part of the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) operation, in order to alert military officials about incoming missiles and enemy aircraft. The presence of the aerostats, however, has many citizens more concerned, not less concerned, about their surroundings.
“We don’t want off-shore windmills spoiling our view, and we don’t want blimps spoiling our view, either!” said a local resident, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The view may not be the main issue with the planned aerostats. Defense contractor Raytheon fitted aerostats in Iraq and Afghanistan with powerful cameras, and there’s no reason why the military wouldn’t – or couldn’t – do the same thing to domestically-based aerostats. The cameras could monitor air traffic from 340 miles away, and train, boat, and car traffic from 140 miles away.
“It would be very simple for anyone to monitor the Metro,” said a WMATA spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, referring to the Washington region’s subway system. “The trains are broken down and not moving more often than actually travelling through the system.”
“The fact is that no decision has been made about the cameras,” said a Department of Defense spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But since America doesn’t like us listening to their phone calls, we have to take more drastic measures. And, quite frankly, we’re the military, so we can do whatever we want. The American people – or, should I say, the American sheeple – are are just waiting to be led. Oh, wait, did I say that last part out loud? Inside voice! INSIDE VOICE!!!“