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Afghans worry U.S. spy blimps are privacy invasion

Friday, May 10, 2013 - 01:13

May 10 - Afghans worry that U.S. military spy blimps that float over their country and monitor insurgent activity are used to peek into their lives. Sarah Sheffer reports.

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Though foreign troops are set to leave Afghanistan by 2014, these U.S. spy blimps will stay hovering behind, patrolling the skies. The blimps are a key piece of technology for U.S. surveillance and intelligence, and can stream video and audio in real time, targeting insurgent activity. But many Afghans see them as an invasion of privacy - and say they must go. (SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) LOCAL RESIDENT, MOHAMMAD LALAI, SAYING: "These security blimps must be removed from the sky, because they are monitoring our homes and invading our privacy. Although the weather is warm, we cannot sleep on the rooftops during the night because of them." U.S. officials reject these concerns, saying the blimps are purely for security purposes. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE FORCE JOINT COMMAND, LIEUTENANT COLONEL RICHARD SPIEGEL, SAYING: "The balloons are tasked in accordance with strict military requirements to look for insurgent activity. That's their purpose. They are looking for insurgent activity. They are not looking into people's private lives." Fear is mounting that Afghanistan could be engulfed in turmoil after the pullout of most NATO combat troops by the end of 2014. NATO and its partners are training Afghanistan's 350,000-strong security forces, though questions remain over how well the Afghans will be able to tackle the insurgency.

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Afghans worry U.S. spy blimps are privacy invasion

Friday, May 10, 2013 - 01:13