The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it will begin periodically flying a large helicopter at extremely low altitudes over Baltimore for years to come to detect background radiation in preparation for a nuclear attack.
Beginning this week, the federal agency will use a “massive helicopter” from the National Nuclear Security Administration to test for naturally occurring radiation by flying at an altitude of just 150 feet.
“That is low. That’s like ten stories on a normal building so that’s not very high at all,” Captain Jeff Long told CBS Baltimore, adding that the chopper is much larger and louder than normal helicopters.
The DHS says it is conducting the tests so authorities can respond more quickly in the event of a dirty bomb or a nuclear attack.
“If sometime in the future you have a reason to be looking for something radiological, it’s very necessary to have the original background,” said Joseph Krol of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The tests begin today but will continue “for the next few years,” according to the report.
Given that static atmospheric radiation detectors which are far cheaper and less labor intensive than flying large helicopters are already being used in major cities, some will question whether the low flying choppers are being used for a dual purpose.
Is the low flying chopper part of preparations for a potential worsening of the Fukushima crisis? Similar questions were asked after the Department of Health and Human Services ordered 14 million doses of potassium iodide, the compound that protects the body from radioactive poisoning in the aftermath of severe nuclear accidents, although an official denied any link to a potential meltdown at the Daiichi nuclear plant.
Yesterday it was also announced that 19 different government and academic bodies would begin testing sea kelp forests across California in an effort to detect radiation from Fukushima.
Libertarians wary of big government will also see low-flying DHS helicopters as another visceral reminder of the federal agency’s increasingly onerous growth, sending a message to the public that Big Brother is watching more closely than ever before.
The increasing use of low flying helicopters in unannounced law enforcement and military exercises has prompted warnings that Americans are being psychologically indoctrinated to accept a militarized police state. In 2012, Miami residents were shocked to be awoken by a military exercise in the middle of the night which involved helicopters, fighter jets, along with simulated gunfire and grenades.
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