Blimp flies over NSA center in Bluffdale in aerial protest

2014-06-27T13:48:00Z 2014-07-01T15:20:19Z Blimp flies over NSA center in Bluffdale in aerial protestBilly Hesterman Daily Herald Daily Herald
June 27, 2014 1:48 pm  • 

BLUFFDALE -- If you thought you saw a blimp hovering over the massive NSA data center Friday morning, your eyes weren't deceiving you. 

Residents in the northern end of Utah County were surprised to witness a blimp navigating back and forth over the NSA facility in an apparent protest of the government agency. 

"I just saw it and thought that was very surprising," said Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, who saw the blimp on his morning commute. "It wasn't as big as the Goodyear Blimp, it was probably three-fourths the size of that one." 

Lifferth snapped a few pictures of the blimp and posted them to his Twitter account: @Davidlifferth. He said the blimp had banners on both sides of it, but the only thing he could make out on it was the letters NSA. 

The blimp was staffed by three organizations that are fighting for "digital rights" and an end to "massive spying." It contained a banner on it that said, "NSA, illegal spying below" with an arrow pointing downward to the center that opened in 2013. 

The Electronic Frontier Foundation posted on its Twitter account during the flight that Greenpeace and the Tenth Amendment Center were joining up with the organization to protest the U.S. federal government's mass spying programs. 

The foundation also announced it was kicking off a new program to grade members in Congress for their efforts to reform surveillance programs in the United States. 

Following the airship's excursion, the three groups issued a written statement on their flight. 

"The public needs to be brought into the Congressional debate around surveillance reform happening right now," said Rainey Reitman, EFF Activism Director. "We're flying an airship over the Utah data center, which has come to symbolize the NSA's collect-it-all approach to surveillance, and demanding an end to the mass spying. It's time for bold action in defense of our privacy." 

Tom Boldin, executive director and founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, added in the statement that privacy issues are non-partisan. He noted that the coalition of the three organizations shows that people across the political spectrum are united on this issue. 

A helicopter was spotted near the blimp while it hovered over the center. There was speculation that it was a government helicopter attempting to force the airship to land, but the group explained on Twitter that the helicopter was hired to take pictures of the blimp while it was in flight. 

Daily Herald reporter Billy Hesterman can be reached at bhesterman@heraldextra.com or (801) 344-2559 or on Twitter @billyhesterman.

Copyright 2015 Daily Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow the Daily Herald