In the summer of 1849, Austrian Field Marshall Joseph Radetzky did something no one had done before: He bombed a city from the air.
His target was Venice, then in rebellion against the Habsburg crown. During the siege, he launched a fleet of unmanned linen balloons, carrying bombs made from canister shot and gunpowder, timed to drop over the besieged city.
Radetzky told Emperor Franz Joseph that the effect on the people of Venice was “frightful.” Indeed, Radetzky’s balloons had done little physical damage, but had a substantial effect on the morale of the city’s defenders. As the 19th century wore on, fear of attack by airships became a constant theme in popular literature. By World War I, the mere mention of the word “Zeppelin” was enough to cause panic in the streets of London.
A prevailing theme in the literature of the era and the minds of the people was that these aerial monsters would always be deployed by one’s enemies. So it says a lot about the current atmosphere in the U.S. that the overwhelming public reaction to the deployment of massive Army blimps over Interstate 95 in Maryland has been fear and rejection…
Government Surveillance: From Zeppelin to JLENS
The blimps launched just outside Baltimore in December — known as Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor Systems (JLENS) — are the largest ever sent aloft. At 80 yards long with a total volume of around 600,000 cubic feet, they’re the size of three Goodyear blimps. They will float at 10,000 feet, about one-third as high as an airliner. They’re also expensive. The two prototype airships have cost almost $3 billion so far.
Officially, the blimps will deploy a sophisticated radar system that can spot and track aircraft, missiles, ships or even ground vehicles in a circular area, ranging from New York to North Carolina and from halfway to Bermuda to the Ohio Valley. They are meant to replace the Air Force radar planes currently used for this purpose.
But JLENS isn’t technically limited to radar. If equipped with high-resolution cameras, they can see and record everything for miles, in extraordinary detail. In Kabul, for example, residents are used to seeing the U.S. military’s tethered blimp — called the Persistent Ground Surveillance system — hovering above the city, capturing video of daily life below.
Blimps are ideal platforms for mass surveillance. As Ginger McCall, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), says, “There’s something inherently suspect for the public to look up in the sky and see this surveillance device hanging there. It’s the definition of persistent surveillance.” Not only can the blimps potentially see everything you’re doing — they can be seen seeing you. That speaks volumes.
Like Radetzky’s balloons and Count von Zeppelin’s dirigibles, the main effect of the big blimps will be psychological. As Ed Herlik, a former Air Force officer and technology analyst, explains: “If you put a camera in a sky over an area where you expect a lot of unrest, the area will calm down.”
Stay Calm, but Get Ready to Go
Does the U.S. government expect unrest in an area the size of Texas centered on Washington, D.C.? If our rulers are smart, they should.
They incur debt on our behalf at a terrific rate. They use those borrowings to increase their capacity to monitor and control us, and to undertake ruinous foreign wars. They indulge in wholesale corruption, sanitized as “campaign finance.” And they resolutely refuse to listen to the wishes of the majority of Americans, who don’t want any of these things.
As we advise our Freedom Alliance members, you can expect a lower level of public service and amenities in countries that aren’t as rich as the U.S. The upside is that the governments of those countries also can’t afford to spend $3 billion on massive surveillance blimps parked atop their capital cities, even if they wanted to.
From where I stand, our slide towards a corrupt, oligarchic U.S. society, held in check by mass technological surveillance and unaccountable bureaucracy, is well under way. It’s not a theoretical issue anymore — and neither is the need to do something about it.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Begin making steps to establish second residency in another country, and start preparing for a life elsewhere … where there aren’t any blimps hovering overhead.
Offshore and Asset Protection Editor