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Sen. Nelson Opposes Military Surveillance Balloons

Unlike most of the Republican Party, Senator Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) is speaking up for our human rights. Specifically, he’s saying the military (in which he proudly served) has no business floating snooping on us civilians with surveillance balloons:

Stace Nelson is a state senator and served as a Marine and NCIS agent for over 23 years. Nelson says he winced when he saw reports of the military doing a test launch of solar powered high-altitude balloons from South Dakota.

“There’s been nothing that’s been indicated by the information that’s been released that this spying is based off of probable cause or reasonable suspicion,” Nelson says. “This is the government going on a fishing expedition, snooping around in people’s back yards, from 5,000-10,000 feet. The technology we have today, the video technology, I mean it’s literally like you’ve got someone standing outside the back of your house looking inside” [Lee Strubinger, “State Senator, Marine Vet Responds to Military Surveillance Balloons,” SDPB, 2019.08.23].

Senator Nelson seems unassuaged by the Pentagon’s assurance that the military spy balloons, built by South Dakota’s Raven Aerostar and launched earlier this summer from Baltic, aren’t spying on anyone. As far as we know, the spy balloons (except for one?) remain aloft, heading for a landing in central Illinois next month.


  1. grudznick 2019-08-24 11:17

    Mr. Nelson himself is a large, gas-filled, floating military balloon.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-08-24 11:30

    But of greater importance than Grudz’s cheapshot is the fact that Stace Nelson is not being used to spy on American citizens.

  3. Old Spec.5 2019-08-24 12:45

    Hey Stace just wrap your body in foil and they will never see ya

  4. Roger Cornelius 2019-08-24 12:53

    I rarely if ever agree with Stace Nelson on anything, but these cheap shots directed at him on this matter are uncalled for.

  5. Robert McTaggart 2019-08-24 13:14

    They can be used for communication and surveys. Say for example a derecho knocks out all the cell phone towers and power lines, and the national guard needs to operate.

    And if we don’t have access to satellites for one reason or another, high altitude balloons like these would be an option.

  6. cibvet 2019-08-24 13:54

    And yet mr.nelson would be perfectly fine with the balloons if he was privy to the info of others and could exempt himself.

  7. jerry 2019-08-24 14:40

    So far, Nelson is the only trumpian that has complained about the surveillance on each one of us. The GOP used to be against stuff like that and used that kind of intrusion for fundraisers claiming Democrats would do that.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-08-24 21:12

    Robert, those were not the purposes for which the military said it was testing this technology. Senator Nelson is right: deploying military balloons for surveillance over American soil is bad.

    cibvet, I see no evidence that Nelson takes that self-excepting position.

  9. Debbo 2019-08-24 23:41

    Well Stace, that makes one GOPer. Good for you.

    Jerry is right. Those surveillance balloons are the kind of thing the GOP would have railed against just a couple decades ago. The party has completely crumbled into a complete mockery.

    When you’ve got a complete lunatic at the top and Moscow Mitch right behind him, there’s no standing whatsoever. I never thought I’d see the GOP disintegrate like this in my lifetime. Of course the SDGOP leadership is no better.

  10. cibvet 2019-08-25 00:28

    Cory–you’re such a trusting soul.Wishing you luck

  11. Robert McTaggart 2019-08-25 11:59


    That may be true. However, sometimes the military or the government does research, and commercial interests pick it up from there (see SpaceX).

    The potential exists for making lemonade out of the current bag of lemons.

  12. Donald Pay 2019-08-25 12:12

    I don’t get too worked up about this stuff. Hey, if you’re outside, you have very limited privacy rights. I don’t think the military should be doing anything, though. He’s right about that.

    If you go to many cities now and you are being recorded by various security cameras. Your own mobile phone could be used against you. We’ve had photogrammetry experts in the military and civilian agencies for almost as long as their has been aviation.

    I know that my daughter has talked about lower altitude balloons with monitoring devises as a cheap way for farmers to monitor how their crops are doing. She wanted to test this out in China.

    When we were trying to determine what was going on with some of the mines, eg., what permit conditions were being violated, we had a few pilots willing to fly reconnoissance. When I was looking for relic prairie in Minnehaha County I used old Soil Conservation Service photos. A lot of that would have been easier and cheaper with drones or balloons.

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