Homeland Security May Disable its Virtual Fence

Nov 30th, 2010 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Immigration, Politics
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This is a story I produced for the Fronteras Project that aired this morning on Arizona Public Media.

Please bookmark and visit our web site, FronterasDesk.org, for stories from all along the border region, from San Diego to San Antonio.

I interviewed Linda Thomas, a former program manager working within Dept. of Homeland Security's Strategic Border Initiative, or SBInet. It's the first time someone with an insider's understanding of the project has emerged to discuss their experiences. TUCSON, ARIZ. – The federal government’s electronic border fence has been plagued with problems from the beginning. Now, the program is nearly in tatters, and some security experts believe last week’s short renewal of the fence contract is the government buying itself time before backing out of the ambitious project. KJZZ’s Michel Marizco reports. The Homeland Security Department has renewed the Boeing Corporation’s contract to build a virtual border fence for another month. The agency has been tentatively extending the nearly one billion dollar contract one month at a time. It’s a hesitation that is widely expected to be the agency’s last act before either dumping the project altogether or keeping the technology but getting rid of the project. The project is called the Strategic Border Initiative or SBInet. And for more than four years, Boeing’s been unable to complete it. Linda Thomas was a high level manager working for a subcontractor Boeing hired to help build the project’s towers and ground sensors. She walked away from the project in disgust after seven months and says now that the federal government wasn’t keeping track of Boeing’s failures. She describes a field test she conducted in Playas, New Mexico. “We went out there and did a test of the microwave system and a colleague and I drove around in circles – for hours – so that the microwave could try and lock in on us and it just wasn’t successful,” Thomas said. She says she felt that Homeland Security has invested so much money into this program that it can’t back away now, or it stands to lose the last four years of work. “Then I attended various meetings with Boeing and – I guess – straw that broke the camel’s back was pretty much a meeting at the end that I went to with very high level people and everybody was, at least in the Boeing family, to me, was just sitting around joking about how we weren’t making progress and I just couldn’t handle it anymore and that’s when I resigned,” Thomas said. The system, once predicted to cover the entire Mexican border, now is only set up in two small stretches of southern Arizona. The idea of a border-to-border electronic wall appears to be over. Jim Carafano is a homeland security analyst with the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “What they’re trying to do is keep the technology without keeping SBInet because the word SBInet says, ‘Oh, that’s that wasteful evil program that Bush had,’ right? They don’t want that,” Carafano said. “So they want to figure out how they can fund this thing, at a lower level, more modest, and they’re trying to square that circle.” Homeland Security officials declined to be interviewed on the air for this story. In an email, they said that they are currently reviewing the: “independent, quantitative, science-based reassessment of the SBInet program.” In the meantime, Homeland is investing in other technologies, both new and old. Next year, its bringing in three more Predator B unmanned aircraft to fly the borders, creating a fleet of ten UAVs. Last month, the agency began another recruitment drive to hire 2,000 more agents for the southern border. Homeland Security has until December 18 to decide what it’s going to do with the program.

Leave a comment »

  1. se calento caborca…ya se desicieron los acuerdos o ke pedo?segun esto todos andaban juntos pa darle en la mother a los beltranes? o el gilo se les pelo de cerro prieto y anda aciendo cagadero?


  2. Tambien en Nayarit


  3. I just became ill.

    At this point I’ll take my chances on Cyberdyne Systems and their SkyNet program to finish the job, at least they won’t waste more money on 2000 MORE blowhards robbing a paycheck with the other Union-ites.

    drift Reply:

    LMAO!!!! calm down Conner!

    Tantos Reply:

    Yeah, great idea, Mr. Hanna! Next step will be to get rid of unions altogether. Then maybe we can eliminate the American middle class. Why don’t we pay our law enforcement officers poverty wages just like Mexico, so they will have to take the plata to feed their children?

    move Reply:

    Didn’t you read AP’s latest article. 5000 arrest on cartel crack downs as a result of a 5 year investigations and even DEA says it won’t even do much. They themselves admit their existance is bullshit, they can’t stop the cartels from getting their money. You see the only way you could stop most of the drug traffic would be if this country turns into a dictatorship, but see in this country you have rights and courts. While the DEA investigates and brings in enough evidence, which could take months or years, the cartels have been making their money while the DEA or any other agency watches. When they do those raids take to account that the cartels have been moving those same amounts of drugs and money for some time already.

    Tantos just admit you are a cop already. Wait are you a woman? That would explain you always hagging off the nutsack of cops.

    Vincent Hanna Reply:

    I knew that comment would bring you out, and the answer is you bet your ass I do. Time to read “Atlas Shrugged” again pal, your time will come.

    Tantos Reply:

    Yeah, you brought me out, and look, it’s the Purse Snatcher too!!! I missed you guys.

    You wanna fook on MEEEE???

    So long, gay boy!

    az billy Reply:

    Not gonna attack you, you cops got you minds fooked up.

    Tantos Reply:

    Maybe Hanna and Move will let you join their wolfpack, and then you guys will be the bestest friends there ever was!

  4. como es mitotera la gente se confundieron de carro el gilo ni las narices asoma de cerro prieto aya esta haciendo su agosto robando casas fueron achichintles del nini y del negro

  5. The guys that put in trail sensors used to make a bunch of money during hunting season by marking the locations on a hand held GPS unit and dropping the unit off in A.P.on the way to the whore house.(comp visit)

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