US Southern Border: Camera Folly, Extortion and Deceit

I’ve been researching the ineffective, broken, and purposefully turned-off cameras and other surveillance techniques along our southern border. In 2010, the Washington Post (link below) referred to the Government Accountability Office auditing arm, stating that “the government rushed to use off-the-shelf equipment without adequate testing . . . police dispatching software that was not able to process the vast flow of information streaming from the desert, and other technical problems plagued cameras and radar.”

Boeing's Camera, Sensor, Surveillance Folly (Cartoon by Khalil Bendib)

Boeing’s Camera, Sensor, Surveillance Folly (Cartoon by Khalil Bendib)

Snippets from Arizona and New Mexico ranchers via Arizona Daily Independent, April 2, 2014 (read the entire article here.) Both men say they “do not fault individual agents. The problem is “no discipline, no accountability,” and union control.” Agents have been pulled back about 25 miles from the border.”

John Ladd, Arizona:

● His ranch is “completely surrounded by Border Patrol infrastructure: a steel wall, “the whole ranch has permanent cameras, 300 ground sensors on my ranch,…” The government has spent $40 million on his ranch and, “nothing changed since 23 years ago.”

● Reporter Loretta Hunnicutt: In the last 25 months, 46 truckloads of drugs have come through ravaging his land . . . The cartels simply cut through the steel mesh fence. So far, only one truck has been stopped on his [Ladd’s] land.

Read the story of a cartel driver who drove through Ladd’s property, after a his crew constructed his own rock road, “right under a Border Patrol camera that wasn’t working . . . No one believes that the broken camera was a coincidence.”

● On Ladd’s property, he saw a migrant: “It took me about five minutes to decide whether to call Border Patrol. There’s a camera over there, and one over there, there’s one right here, and a primary camera over there.”

● “It’s a deliberate strategy to let Mexicans get here.”

● Religious leaders gathered to pray for the migrants. Reporter Loretta Hunnicutt: “Other than gain publicity, the “holy men” ignored the fence full of holes and the people on both sides being ravaged by the cartels. The holy men didn’t condemn the cartels or the corrupt governments on both sides of the fence.”

● Ladd has locked Border Patrol out of certain sections of his land.

● “With certain sadness Ladd said, You know your ranch. You’re not going to let somebody tear it up. The Border Patrol expects you to know ‘we’re here and we’re going to tear it up. .  .'”

● Ladd blames a former Border Patrol chief, David Aguilar (refers to him as an “extremist,” for most of the problems that have “infiltrated the system.”

● Ladd noted the reduced “hiring requirements” for Border Agents, after 9/11/01, saying training was cut and concentration was put on Spanish speakers. “They are the problem.”

Ed Ashurst, New Mexico:

● Allows agents to enter his land on foot, but keeps them off of certain portions, due to damage to his property.

The Border Patrol, which run through the gates, back over them, they are like a junior in high school with a hot rod car, an extremely hight dose of testosterone, and $50,000 pickup full of government gas. There just after hot roddin’ and don’t care. It’s like a bunch of kids.

● Ashurst on former Border Chief (mentioned above in Ladd’s comments) “David Aguilar . . .”basically . . . and this isn’t word for word, but he said the borders are not a line. The border is an area 25 to 50 miles north; an undefined area. You cannot say that the border is a line.”

● We’re not really Americans anymore because we live in this place that Obama and Napolitano have defined as an undefinable gray area and we need all that area to do whatever they do.”

The following covers the so-called ‘environmental protection’ angle of the administration (and likely many administrations before him). The Department of Interior has “asserted that the Wilderness Act of 1964 trumps border security.”  Source is the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources:

Some of the most dangerous areas along the southern border are the 20.7 million acres of Department of the Interior (DOI) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land. This includes 4.3 million acres of “Wilderness areas” where activities such as the use of motorized vehicles and construction of roads and structures are prohibited.

Documents show that the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service have consistently and actively taken steps that prevent the Border Patrol from securing our nation’s borders on federal lands. According to internal memos, DOI officials have asserted that the Wilderness Act of 1964 trumps border security legislation passed by Congress.

The Department of the Interior is hindering border security efforts on federal lands by preventing the use of motorized vehicles, requiring DHS to complete lengthy and expensive environmental analysis, and at times literally locking out Border Patrol agents to prevent their access to some areas.

Virtually all of the lands managed by Department of The Interior (DOI) along the Arizona/Mexico border are sparsely populated with easy access into the United States from Mexico. Terrorist wishing to smuggle nuclear – biological – or chemical (NBC) weapons into the United States from Mexico could use well-established smuggling routes over DOI managed lands.”

…The security risks are so great that the National Park Service even warns visitors about them on its website for Big Bend National Park.

The folly and deceit of the Department of the Interior:

Although DOI’s stated goal is to protect the environment, its obstruction of the Border Patrol’s enforcement operations is actually resulting in increased environmental harm because criminal trafficking operations are drawn to areas where border enforcement is hampered.

National parks and forests have been turned into personal landfills for illegal border crossers. Clothes, blankets, backpacks, water bottles, trash bags and empty food cans are frequently found discarded on federal land. This illegal dumping of trash along the border threatens wildlife, destroys habitat and attracts disease carrying insects such as mosquitoes and flies. Human waste is a growing problem that contaminates the drinking water for nearby residents.

Extorting Mitigation Funds:

Not only is DOI blocking efforts to secure the border, but it is even charging DHS money in order to conduct border patrol operations on its land.

DHS has paid DOI over $9 million since 2007 to mitigate the purported “environmental damage” of protecting our border. Per a Memorandum of Agreement signed in 2009, DHS agreed to hand over an additional $50 million for mitigation funds to DOI; however DOI has yet to disclose how exactly these funds will be used.

This extortion is taking valuable money away from border patrol that is needed to safeguard our nation.

More camera folly:

Security infrastructure enhancements, such as SBInet towers with long range cameras and sensors, are prohibited in wilderness areas regardless of the strategic importance of their placement. SBInet (also known as the virtual fence) seeks to provide a “common operating picture” of the border. Barring towers from needed sites in Wilderness areas will leave large sections of the border unmonitored.

March 2010 – Washington Post: Then-Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, announced that plans for the ‘virtual fence’ (cameras, sensors, etc.) was halted to divert $50 million to Obama’s “economic stimulus funds.” Reporter Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post:

…the move signals a likely death knell for a troubled five-year plan to drape a chain of tower-mounted sensors and other surveillance gear across most of the 2,000-mile southern border.

As of March 2010, according to the Washington Post:

DHS has spent $3.4 billion on border fencing in recent years, completing 640 of a planned 652 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers as part of the Secure Border Initiative. Block 1 of SBInet, the technology portion of the plan, was budgeted to spend $700 million to erect about 50 camera and radio towers on a 28-mile segment south of Tucson and a 30-mile stretch near Ajo, Ariz.

It is imperative that, if, and when we have a Republican in the White House, we demand all government agencies be cleansed of the career bureaucrats within the agencies. After decades, they all lean left. Simply appointing a new Republican-leaning Cabinet Secretary, and leaving the bureaucrats shredding documents in the basement, will never get us out of the mess we are in.

Linked at BadBlue, uncensored news 24/7. Read it here.

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  • Guest

    After seeing the hearing in Washington with the victims families who were murdered by would have thought that change would happen.

    When Kate’s law came up for a vote we heard from the usual liberals fighting to keep sanctuary cities and foaming from their mouths to protect all illegals.

    McConnell was said to have blocked this vote for Kate’s law according to Ted Cruz.

    This is the leadership we have in Washington.

    America is screaming at the top of our lungs and nothing changes.

    Very scary times we are living in.

    I want my apple pie and kids lemonade stands back.

    • Guest, it defies comprehension. I’ve reported on so many of the border ranchers, and it is heartbreaking. They can’t sell their land, can’t step outside at night. Are fearful of leaving the house in the day time. I read somewhere that one got stuck with a dirty needle when he was cleaning up trash. And then all the Americans who die, like Kate Steinle. So many of them. I heard a liberal pundit today say she the man didn’t murder her, it was a felony. What do you do with thinking like that? Two precious little girls down the street from me have had a lemonade and sno-cone stand up, off and on all summer. Their mother helped them make the stand, colored stripes, the umbrella, the works. Impressive!

      • Guest

        It boggles the mind the sheer lack of protection for all American citizens. Those poor border ranchers have their backs up against the wall. I pray that the heat stays on this subject and people wake up.

        Your article mentioned the broken camera’s. I do not know if you saw this article from judicial watch regarding drones on the border. After 8 years and 360 million for border drones fail..DHS asks congress for another 443 million.

        Thanks for bringing a smile to my face with the girls and their lemonade stands. That’s the America I love.

  • And we all wonder why or how our government could be so incompetent that it is unable to effectively stop the millions of illegal immigrants coming into America? Your post is a prime example of why that is happening. They are more concerned with the stupid farce that is global warming than they are with the illegals. The government’s priorities are far different than those of us ordinary Americans.

    • Larry, did you miss the fact that global warming is the cause of illegals? Not that illegals are moving due to climate change, but climate change actually spawned them. (just kidding, of course) Our government has one priority, and that’s to keep us safe. They do that by following the rule of law. We haven’t seen that in almost 7 years, and not much of it since Clinton entered the WH.

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