Look Out for the Blimp That Doesn't Blink

I've always wondered: What was the guy who invented bagpipes really trying to make?

Well, at least that wheezing, whining invention turned out to be
merely irritating, not actually dangerous. Leave it to the Dr.
Strangelovian schemers at the Pentagon, however, to come up with an
invention that is both irritating and truly dangerous, as well as being
a galloping rip-off of us taxpayers.

It's a blimp. But not at all like the friendly "Snoopy" dirigible
that MetLife deploys at various sporting events. This thing is 20 times
larger and is designed to be an eye in the sky, floating12 miles above
the Earth, to provide unblinking surveillance of whatever and whomever
the authorities want watched, including you and me.

Unlike spy planes, the Pentagon's unmanned super-snooper can "park"
anywhere in the sky and stay focused on groups or individuals for days,
months or years, capturing every second of their comings, goings and
doings. With its giant antenna and sophisticated, high-definition radar
system, it can monitor tiny details over a vast area, linking this
unrestricted flow of information to government computers that form
digital dossiers on those being watched.

"It is absolutely revolutionary," gushed Werner J.A. Dahm, the Air
Force scientist overseeing the project. "It is constant surveillance,

How joyous.

Forgive me for not sharing the military's enthusiasm, but if you're
among the potential watchees, rather than being one of the watchers,
you too might find this latest piece of 007 technology a tad ominous.

Enthusiasts assure us that the blimp will only be used for good, for
our protection against the bad guys of the world. It's being sold to
Congress as a tool that would be invaluable in the Obama
administration's escalating war in Afghanistan. Imagine, they exclaim,
if we had 24-7 surveillance of Taliban and al-Qaida leaders throughout
the huge swath of mountains on either side of the Afghan-Pakistan

Having the technology to do that, however, is not the same as having the right.

example, does Pakistan - whose friendship our leaders covet - really
cotton to its people being under our military's unrelenting eye? No
doubt our diplomats would assure Pakistani officials that we'll only
watch the evil ones - but, they'd have to have sucker wrappers around
their heads to believe that.

Think about it this way: If China were the one planning to put an
unblinking blimp in the sky, how enthusiastic would we be? And if we do
it, my guess is that China and every other country with technological
prowess and enough helium will soon be up there with us. It could get

Then there's the little matter of other agencies of our government
wanting to take a squint through the sky eye - at us! Homeland Security
will likely find it "necessary" to focus the lens on certain groups in
our country; the FBI will jump at the chance to enhance its coverage of
protestors; and some Nixon-wannabe will pervert the technology to track
political enemies.

Remember TIA, the Total Information Awareness program concocted
early in 2002 to vacuum up vast megabytes of personal data on every
American? When this Big Brother intrusion into our privacy was exposed,
the public exploded in outrage, forcing Congress to kill it. TIA was
created by a secretive Pentagon research unit named Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency - the very group of madcap technologists,
futurists and militarists that has now spawned the Blimp That Doesn't

Freewheeling thinkers and schemers have their place, but it is
dangerously stupid to let them get loose and start implementing ideas
that are untethered to ethics, constitutional rights, the national
interest and common sense. Yet, there they go. The Pentagon is now
putting $400 million into building a prototype of DARPA's dirigible,
intending to launch a fleet of these spy ships during the next several

Such military industrialists as Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin
are already involved, so the lobbying network for this boondoggle is
being put in place before We the People (and most members of Congress)
are even aware of what's coming our way.

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© 2023 Jim Hightower