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The Pentagon has discovered a gap in the defenses of Washington, D.C., and it's about to test a solution.
But depending on your point of view, the solution is either vital for national security or a threat to American privacy.
Starting this fall, two blimps will float at 10,000 feet over the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland in an attempt to develop a defense for the nation's capital against cruise missiles fired from ships offshore.
But those same blimps can also be outfitted with radars capable of tracking vehicles on the ground and with cameras that can watch people, much like blimps already do at U.S. bases in Afghanistan and along the border with Mexico. That would give government the ability to follow American citizens as they go about their daily lives.
Officials insist they have no plans to put cameras on the blimps, but Christopher Calabrese of the ACLU points out there's no law against it.
The blimps carry radars CBS NEWS
"Right now there are no rules," he said. "There's nothing that bars us from having high-powered cameras monitoring our every public movement."
Yuma and Ft Huachuca, Ariz.;
Eagle Pass, Texas;
Rio Grande, Texas;
Morgan City, La.;
Cudjoe Key (2 aerostats operate at Cudjoe Key)
Horseshoe Beach, Fla.;
Lajas, Puerto Rico.
reply to post by JohnnySasaki
Hey, it only takes one missile launch to ruin your day!
And I wonder why I have intermittent thoughts about buying a rocket launcher myself.
They're probably illegal, huh?
Aerostats deployed by the military at U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan typically carried powerful surveillance cameras as well, to track the movements of suspected insurgents and even U.S. soldiers. When Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales murdered 16 civilians in Kandahar in March 2012, an aerostat above his base captured video of him returning from the slaughter in the early-morning darkness with a rifle in his hand and a shawl over his shoulders.
Defense contractor Raytheon last year touted an exercise in which it outfitted the aerostats planned for deployment in suburban Baltimore with one of the company’s most powerful high-altitude surveillance systems, capable of spotting individual people and vehicles from a distance of many miles.
The Army said it has “no current plans” to mount such cameras or infrared sensors on the aerostats or to share information with federal, state or local law enforcement, but it declined to rule out either possibility. The radar system that is planned for the aerostats will be capable of monitoring the movement of trains, boats and cars, the Army said.