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The next step in U.S. air defense

For a while, one of the more entertaining conspiracies in wingnuttery was the black helicopters. Supposedly, these sinister black helicopters were used by the U.N., the New World Order or some rogue government agency to spy on Americans in the pursuit of some nefarious plot.

The black-helicopter crowd may not have been that far off. The Washington Post reports that the government is readying two giant white blimps to be tethered over Washington, D.C., to conduct surveillance and protect against attack.

The name of the program seems designed to obscure its actual purpose, whatever that is: the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.

The two 243-foot-long blimps – JLENS for short – are to arrive in the capital by Sept. 30 and from the end of 10,000-foot tethers, where they would keep watch out for all manner of threats, being designed – paranoia alert – “to defend against tactical ballistic missiles, large-caliber rockets and surface vehicles that could be used for attacks, including boats, cars and trucks.”

Somehow the bulbous white blimps do not convey the sense of menace of black helicopters. It’s like the city will be protected by Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

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