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Tuesday, 24 July 2007

The Whir Before the War

The recent Answer Man columns about helicopters in the Washington area prompted a phone call from Ray Lustig, a retired Washington Post photographer who lives in the Palisades section of Northwest Washington.

Ray has lived in that neighborhood for 39 years. He's had a lot of time to make some detailed observations of its various rhythms. One thing he's noticed is that every major U.S. military action was preceded by increased helicopter traffic over his house, as choppers shuttled people back and forth between the Pentagon and CIA headquarters, which is across the Potomac River from where he lives.

Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom -- Ray said they all came after weeks and weeks of helicopters big and small traveling the well-worn air route above his house.

I had a hunch where this was going. Uh, Ray, have you noticed anything, say, recently?

"The movement in June was truly extraordinary," he said, a near-constant chatter from 6:30 in the morning till 2 in the morning. More...