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Protesters Launch a 135-Foot Blimp Over the NSA's Utah Data Center 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
Dega704 sends this news from Wired: Plenty of nightmare surveillance theories surround the million-square-foot NSA facility opened last year in Bluffdale, Utah. Any locals driving by the massive complex Friday morning saw something that may inspire new ones: A massive blimp hovering over the center, with the letters NSA printed on its side.

Activist groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Greenpeace launched the 135-foot thermal airship early Friday morning to protest the agency's mass surveillance programs and to announce the launch of Stand Against Spying, a website that rates members of Congress on their support or opposition to NSA reform. The full message on the blimp reads 'NSA: Illegal Spying Below' along with an arrow pointing downward and the Stand Against Spying URL."
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Protesters Launch a 135-Foot Blimp Over the NSA's Utah Data Center

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  • Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2014 @03:39PM (#47335549)

    So Fucking Awesome!

    That is all.

    • A fairly complete description of this complex, its occupants, methods, and procedures was already published in 1961:
      Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, by Stanislaw Lem
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]
      All hail the Building, set in opposition to the Anti-Building!

    • You do realize the NSA is monitoring this thread, logging IPs and tracking and...

      And a bunch of better guys it couldn't be, go get those EFF and Greenpeace terrorist lovers. Take the frist psot while you're at it. (Note I didn't use "ur"! Yey America!)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2014 @03:43PM (#47335589)

    If they are caught off guard by A BLIMP

    • by Deadstick (535032)

      What do you mean by "caught off guard?" Are you assuming that if they saw it coming, they'd shoot it down? Or would they maybe pull it over with a police blimp?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why bother stopping it? They possibly slipped in and added spyware and hardware to make use of themselves, including some security cameras for an "eye in the sky" that isn't all the way up to geosynchronous orbit.

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        So you are saying that anyone can just park a largish airborne platform over top of important important government facilities but I still have to get pat down at the airport to fly commercial.

        That just shows to go you how pointless all this security theater really is! I mean fill the cockpit with potassium perchlorate and just let the balloon go once you are over the target.

        It can't really still be that easy can it? Not that we have exactly solved the truck bomb problem, but you can't get an unauthorized

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          It can't really still be that easy can it?

          What do you mean? Why not?

          Not that we have exactly solved the truck bomb problem, but you can't get an unauthorized vehicle especially close to most sensitive targets anymore.

          You're not getting close to anything important, no. If you blew up something like that, there would be martial law and all kinds of fun toys to play with, they wouldn't miss those guys. You didn't believe any of that hoohaa about the sanctity of life or whatever, did you? Because I might lol for that, if not rofl.

          Anything actually important can't just be driven right up to trivially. It's not too hard to get on a base and kill some people, we've seen that demonstrated in fact, but

        • by GuB-42 (2483988)

          If you have a light aircraft you can pretty much bomb anyplace you want. Areas directly over sensitive facilities are usually prohibited zones, which means that if you penetrate them you may be "pulled over" by a fighter jet and face big trouble after you land. They won't shoot if they can avoid it.

          Trouble is, these zones are usually pretty small compared to the speed of even a small plane. For example, if you have zone with a 10 NM radius and you are flying at 120 kts, it only takes 5 minutes to reach the

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          So you are saying that anyone can just park a largish airborne platform over top of important important government facilities but I still have to get pat down at the airport to fly commercial.

          That just shows to go you how pointless all this security theater really is! I mean fill the cockpit with potassium perchlorate and just let the balloon go once you are over the target.

          It can't really still be that easy can it? Not that we have exactly solved the truck bomb problem, but you can't get an unauthorized ve

      • by Krishnoid (984597)

        Or perhaps in an even more sinister vein, that it's not their blimp?

  • by pjh3000 (583652) *
    So how exactly does the blimp impede the NSA?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2014 @03:49PM (#47335643)

    Too bad they are so utterly tone-deaf that they put up a website that requires not just your zipcode but also your street address in order to look up your congressional representative's record on the NSA. Stupid web2.0 fuckheads couldn't at least include a link to a list of reps to pick from in case we didn't want to hand out our home address to god knows what data brokers? Even when I disabled noscript and disabled requestpolicy that damn lookup still wouldn't work either. Epic fucking fail.

    • by nelk (923574)

      Too bad they are so utterly tone-deaf that they put up a website that requires not just your zipcode but also your street address in order to look up your congressional representative's record on the NSA. Stupid web2.0 fuckheads couldn't at least include a link to a list of reps to pick from in case we didn't want to hand out our home address to god knows what data brokers? Even when I disabled noscript and disabled requestpolicy that damn lookup still wouldn't work either. Epic fucking fail.

      'Full Scorecard' link at the top of the site: https://standagainstspying.org... [standagainstspying.org]

    • by colfer (619105)

      Click "Full Scorecard." It's an interesting mix of D's and R's.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just enter a fake address. Or, if there is validation, enter the address of your town hall. :)

    • Honeypot? False flag? Maybe the NSA is ignoring the blimp because they know it's perfectly safe, because THEY put it there?
  • (1) Does the NSA really care?
    (2) How much helium are they wasting with this stunt?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Thermal airship

      they are not using helium at all.

      • Re:Two thoughts (Score:5, Informative)

        by gweilo8888 (921799) on Friday June 27, 2014 @05:47PM (#47336775)
        Correct. The blimp in question is a four-seater GEFA-FLUG AS 105 GD/4 with a 41-meter Hyperlast envelope that inflates using two Cameron Shadow burners. It's powered by a Rotax 582 UL engine putting out 65 horsepower, mounted in pusher configuration with a four-bladed, fixed-pitch Helix H50F prop. (That's an ultralight engine and a lightweight glass / carbon-fiber prop, incidentally. Dy weight is under 1,100 pounds, and maximum takeoff weight is under 2,000 pounds.)

        http://www.gefa-flug.de/index.... [gefa-flug.de]
  • Fantastic. Way to go guys. Really, bravo.

  • Politics makes for strange bedfellows, indeed.
    • We're talking those idjits at Greenpeace, here. Anybody that was on the fence on this just went with the NSA.
      They should have done a promo showing all the LOLCATS the NSA's put in GITMO, people'd burn the place down then.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday June 27, 2014 @04:00PM (#47335755) Homepage
    Bluffdale Utah has a population of approximately 8000 residents who could at any time have seen the blimp, but the location of the site is so far to the outskirts of the city as to make it pointless. the only person who would see it immediately would be perhaps NSA employees entering and egressing, but its unlikely that theyd care.

    protesting over congress and capitol hill would make more sense, but thats illegal incursion into a longstanding no fly zone.
    • by kirkc99 (2882627) on Friday June 27, 2014 @04:27PM (#47335965)
      Salt Lake area resident here. The data center is easily visible from I-15, on a busy commute from Salt Lake County to Utah County. I am sure the blimp would have been visible to tens of thousands of people on their commutes to work.
    • Bluffdale Utah has a population of approximately 8000 residents who could at any time have seen the blimp, but the location of the site is so far to the outskirts of the city as to make it pointless.

      If only someone had invented a tele-seeing apparatus— then people from all over the world could witness and converse about their protest.

      Alas, such a thing does not exist, so no one even knows it happened.

      Pity.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      The NSA facility sits on a hill directly to the west of I-15, it's visible to every driver traversing I-15 along with the entire population of Lehi, American Fork, Saratoga Springs, Orem and probably Provo as well.

    • by anagama (611277)

      the only person who would see it immediately would be perhaps NSA employees entering and egressing

      You seem to have forgotten that as modern Americans we have:

      1) Cameras.
      2) The ability to transmit photos worldwide.
      3) Access to the work of reporters who can add textual context to those photos.

      Even if the protest was seen by 50k people, what actually matters, is if it gets play on the internet, news papers, and/or television.

    • by kuhnto (1904624)
      Yeah, no one would see this except you, me, and all the people on slashdot, and every person who reads a news story about it.
    • by mu51c10rd (187182)

      Not really. Check the local news and plenty of residents saw it. In fact, the data center is easily visible by most in the Salt Lake and Utah Valleys.

    • Score you -1 "Clueless". The purpose of the protest wasn't to be seen by people nearby - it was to generate articles and blog posts and tweets that will be seen by tens of millions.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I drove due west straight toward the NSA center and never saw it this morning. Not very effective in that regard.

  • I'm surprised that it wasn't shot down and labeled a terrerist act.
  • by nblender (741424) on Friday June 27, 2014 @04:18PM (#47335877)

    I can't help but think the people you really want to antagonize are the employees and contractors... A Blimp that says something like "amoral and unethical people work here and spy on you" might do more to create unrest... The people who work there probably live in the community or surrounding community... If you can make someone uneasy about their employer, that's probably better...

     

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [hmryobemag]> on Friday June 27, 2014 @04:20PM (#47335901) Journal

    "See? Nobody cares."

  • Better that it should read "U.S. commerce R.I.P. No one will use our products again."

    But that would mean one of those scrolly signs and a big-ass battery.

  • You can learn more about the NSA data center here [gov1.info].
  • NSA will blimp you from behind.

  • "Nice blimp ya got there. Sure would be a shame if something happened to it."
  • NRO listening post. Except there is no one around to see it.

    46.682162, -120.356564

    • by Nethead (1563)

      Never mind, upon further Googling it seems that they are shutting down the Yakima Research Facility. (Or as the locals called it, the ball bearing plant.)

      http://q13fox.com/2013/04/04/n... [q13fox.com]

      In a 2002 interview with the Newhouse News Service, Bamford said the Yakima facility obtained about 2 million intercepts per hour at that time.

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre

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