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US Scraps Virtual Fence Along Mexican Border

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-that-money's-so-stimulatng dept.

Government 437

Pickens writes "The Arizona Republic reports that the federal government has officially cancelled its multibillion-dollar plan to build a virtual fence along the border with Mexico as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano disclosed in a congressional briefing that the program known as SBInet was costing too much and achieving too little. 'SBInet cannot meet its original objective of providing a single, integrated border-security technology solution,' says Napolitano. Boeing was hired in 2006 to develop the system under a three-year federal contract with cost projections for full build-out as high as $8 billion but efforts were plagued by delays, glitches, budget increases and congressional criticism. Napolitano has ordered Customs and Border Protection to launch a more modest and geographically tailored effort using SBInet funds and existing technology such as mobile-surveillance systems, unmanned aircraft, thermal-imaging devices and remote-video surveillance with proven elements of SBInet including stationary radar and infrared-sensor towers. SBInet cost nearly $1 billion for development along 53 miles of Arizona border."

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Nebs! Nebs! (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890056)

This is what you get for taking ideas from a comedy movie based on a bunch of TV skits.

More Boeing cancellations (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890060)

I wonder if, given the rash of cancellations and scalebacks lately, this isn't about the programs so much as it is about Boeing?

Or is Boeing just that big and pervasive?

Re:More Boeing cancellations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890074)

Boeing is that big and pervasive.

Re:More Boeing cancellations (3, Informative)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890120)

It's not just Boeing. You've got Lockheed-Martin getting these kinds of technology contracts too. They (and Northrop-Grumman) are giant, generalized technology behemoths now, with no real identity. NG owns shipyards too now. I liked them all so much better when they were airplane companies.

Re:More Boeing cancellations (3, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890528)

Boeing is, as their own executives describe themselves, an 'honest broker' of engineering and management services. Aside from a very few core competencies (airframes, etc.) they subcontract or acquire the skills needed to complete a contract. So, they aren't as big as they seem. I mean, where was Boeing's e-fence division prior to this contract?

A couple of observations:

  • I wouldn't buy a used car from a dealer that had 'honest' in its name.
  • Brokering is a valuable service when there's a poor match between suppliers and customers knowledge. But in this case, DHS probably knows as much, if not more, about securing borders and facilities than Boeing does. So, as with many DoD contracts, the brokering service essentially boils down to Boeing telling the actual contractors,
    <chicago_mob_accent>
    "If you want to do work in my territory, you've got to give me a piece of the action"
    </chicago_mob_accent>.

Re:More Boeing cancellations (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890616)

More broadly, this is arguably about the toxic mixture of the revolving door between government and its contractors, along with a certain amount of nigh-religious belief in any wiz-bang tech toy for which a sufficiently stupifying powerpoint and sufficiently invigorating 3D-rendered demo video can be produced.

"Well, lets see here: we could either hire some more guards and equip them with the sort of modestly-upgraded-versions-of-proven-technology that we know are up to the task of detecting people in a desert environment or we could throw gigantic bales of cash at some contractor to provide a 'comprehensive integrated technology solution'."

"Gosh, I sure do love solutions! Plus, everybody knows that reducing payroll costs is always efficient, no matter how high the capital and long-term-contracting costs of doing so may be."

The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (1)

NaCh0 (6124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890062)

Maybe it would be good at counting illegals crossing but it does nothing to stop them.

When hundreds of thousands (literally) cross every year, we don't need sensors on the border. Just stand there and some are sure to cross your path.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (4, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890092)

You're right. The e-fence was no fence at all.
    - What we need is some kind of wall to keep out non-citizens. I think the Chinese invented the idea 2500 years ago, when they wanted to stop immigrants from the north, so let's go negotiate with them to build it for us.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890230)

You're right. The e-fence was no fence at all. - What we need is some kind of wall to keep out non-citizens. I think the Chinese invented the idea 2500 years ago, when they wanted to stop immigrants from the north, so let's go negotiate with them to build it for us.

Made a pretty good tourist attraction though. Gotta think ahead!

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (5, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890344)

Chinese invented the idea 2500 years ago

And, coincidentally, the patent is due to expire later this year!

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890522)

We in the west are working hard copying their virtual equivalent at least.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890670)

2500 years is a bit of a long time, might want to expand to those with more recent experience. So lets let Germany, South Korea, and Isreal put in their bids too. Apparently all of them are better at building walls that actually work than we are.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (3, Insightful)

redemtionboy (890616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890118)

The idea is to give border patrol better information as to where to catch them. I of course think there are better things we can do to curb illegal immigration, like helping make Mexico a better place by legalizing many drugs, which would ultimately cut off a significant amount of funds to the mexican drug cartels, but a virtual fence isn't the worst idea ever. We should have secure borders, especially in times where there are people who want to do far more than just work and live here.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (4, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890268)

One of the problems with the Mexican drug lords and gangs (they're not really cartels), is that they're heavily armed. Armed by US citizens who (legally) buy guns and (illegally) sell them to Mexicans for a profit.
I read some statistics showing that almost all illegal guns in Mexico could be traced back to legally bought guns in the US, and we're not talking hunting rifles here.

My suggestion: Make it a felony to not be able to present any and all legally bought guns within 24 hours of the police requesting it, or to not report a lost gun in a timely manner, or to file a false report. Get the fuckers who arm the drug lords.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890458)

I wanna get the fuckers who arm the government! This is their gig..

FYI... much of the heavy stuff enters through Acapulco and Mazatlan and many other ports along the Pacific.. from... guess who?

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (2)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890466)

So if I'm on vacation two states over and a policeman demands to see my AK-47, what do I do if I left it at home?

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (3, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890592)

Don't leave it at home?
Or ensure that whoever you left it in the care of (family member, gun club...) can present it for you?

If you are unwilling to assume responsibility for a device intended solely to kill human beings, you shouldn't have one.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890694)

If you are unwilling to assume responsibility for a device intended solely to kill human beings, you shouldn't have one.

Hunting.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890526)

Account for and own are probably better than present and bought - if you sold the gun on legally, there should be no expectation of being able to produce it. Also for a number of folks their guns are stored at secondary homes that are used during hunting season and/or to store guns that are illegal in their home state i.e. the northeast. I'd also extend the reporting period to 72 hours with an exception for out of state weapons if you were to go this route - 24 hours is a rather short time frame to get something and take it to the police station/courtroom (ignoring the inherent issue of bringing weapons into either). There is also the 2nd Amendment logic of not wanting to register weapons as then a tyrannical government knows where to go to seize them.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890132)

If a portion of the money ($1 billion for 53 miles) was used to create jobs in Mexico, it would likely do far more to stop the tide.

But this isn't about logic, it's about feelings, and reactionaries who would rather spend money preventing and punishing illegal immigrants than giving anything to said aliens.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (2)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890164)

Err no, it's about giving lots and lots and lots of money to giant corporations so those said corporations will hire the people who secured them said money.

Mod parent up. (3, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890298)

Although I'd expand that a bit more. It's not just about hiring the politicians who got you the money (get $1 billion for our company and we'll hire you at $1 million a year for every year of that contract or subsequent contracts).

It's also about hiring the FAMILIES of those politicians. Look around and you'll see an amazing number of wives and children of those politicians SOMEHOW working for the very corporations that benefit from the government contracts that those politicians push through based on fear of the (illegals | terrorists | pedophiles).

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (3, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890178)

This, exactly.

The people making a stink about "onoz illegals!" IMO don't know what they're talking about. I live near the border (Tucson, AZ), and all these horrible problems created by the dirty Mexicans just ... aren't there.

Yes, there is some crime associated with drug smuggling; yes, there is a higher crime rate among the poor. But it's better among the Hispanic community here than in many other populations of non-immigrants.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (2)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890198)

Really? Your hospitals are having no problems whatsoever in getting paid from illegal immigrants?

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890276)

Not specifically because they're illegal, no.

Actually, I'd wager that the burden on the health care system from indigent ER abuse from inner-city black populations in Atlanta or Los Angeles is worse than the burden on our ER's from Mexicans.

And, if you'd offer these folks a path to citizenship, they'd be more able to participate in the economy and pay for health care like everyone else.

There's an excellent hospital near where I live (the place that they're treating Gabrielle Giffords, actually), and the last time I was there (in the ER at night) it was mostly drunk fraternity/sorority members, not Mexicans.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (-1, Flamebait)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890394)

Actually, I'd wager that the burden on the health care system from indigent ER abuse from inner-city black populations

Nice, even when Mexicans are breaking the law and scamming the system, we still have to blame black people for our problems. It's nice to know that rednecks and illegals can come together and hate blacks together!

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890468)

Who said anything about blaming the black?
I blame racial prejudice and lack of compassion for poor blacks and other groups being in their predicament, and having a hard time getting out of it.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890464)

Actually, I'd wager that the burden on the health care system from indigent ER abuse from inner-city black populations in Atlanta or Los Angeles is worse than the burden on our ER's from Mexicans.

And I'd wager that you're wrong. In addition, depending on the nature of the so-called illegals, they're likely NOT paying taxes if they're getting paid under the table, whereas working class poor in black populations do.

Don't even get me started on the schools they've closed in Tucson because of the exodus of illegals. I've lived a good chunk of my life in Tucson, with substantial time in Sierra Vista and Phoenix as well. Illegals are a problem.. full stop.

And, if you'd offer these folks a path to citizenship, they'd be more able to participate in the economy and pay for health care like everyone else.

Why? Seriously. You can't come up with a valid reason. We have insufficient employment for the people who are here legally, and illegals drive down wages (as do legal immigrants and visa holders who will work for peanuts).

People always love to trot out the "who will pick the food" argument. Guess what assholes, the people who work the fields should make a livable wage, have benefits as well as OSHA protection, and should be US citizens. Can't get people to work the fields for three bucks an hour? So sad.. economics applies: raise the wage until you have takers. And no, distorting the economy with illegals (or even legals while the economy is tanking this hard) is not an option. Don't want to pay thirty percent more for fruit and vegetables? Sorry kids, either look at efficiency increases via automation or suck it up.

Ever notice how everybody here in the states likes to bitch about no jobs, or no jobs that pay a decent wage, but they love that cheap food and Chinese electronic gear?

The bottom line is, with respect to illegals you go after the employers. Three strikes and you're out, and the onus is on you to prove that your workers are legal. First strike, 25k per head fine. Second strike, 50k per head fine. Third strike, mandatory dissolution of the entity employing illegals.

Anybody providing aid on either border (yeah, I'm looking north as well) should be held accountable, preferably with a felony charge.

To the parent post: sorry kid, we're not a welfare plan for the third world. We're having trouble holding it together for ourselves at the moment.. you know.. those of us who are citizens. The government, at least in theory, is responsible to us, not the rest of the world.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890284)

Excuse me? The USA should promote and pay for job creation in Mexico, WHY? How about the US government looks after job creation for it's people (more aptly, get out of the way of job creation, but that's another story) and the Mexican government take care of their own people. That should stop the tide too.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890412)

It's US citizens distributing and buying drugs illegally that finance such drug lords, making the Mexico's government job almost impossible.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890632)

I've heard that the pollen from industrial hemp virtually kills the THC content of the abusive varietals in a two mile radius, If that is true then all the feds would have to do is legalize industrial hemp production or even scatter the seeds themselves. Which would only leave Cocaine, heroin and meth as potential income sources. possession of any or those drug are highly vilified in our society anyways.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (-1, Troll)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890384)

But this isn't about logic, it's about feelings, and reactionaries who would rather spend money preventing and punishing illegal immigrants than giving anything to said aliens.

WHAT?! Why the FUCK should we be rewarding criminals invading our country?

You know what would really fix the issue AND not involve the US paying Mexicans to not break our laws? Mexico spending time and effort improving their shit country instead of the government handing out pamphlets on how to illegally get into the US.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890518)

WHAT?! Why the FUCK should we be rewarding criminals invading our country?

Because it would get us fewer illegal immigrant criminals for a less amount of money than we spend on ineffectual border control and punishment?

That it also would be the compassionate thing to do is a plus for me, but apparently a negative for you.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890422)

Or we could just shoot the invaders.

Cheaper, and much more effective.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (2)

Max_W (812974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890510)

I worked at the border. Borders do not stop people, but jobs and co-development do.

A lot of people try to cross border illegally to get a new status. If there was not visa requirement and people could move freely, many immigrants would actually part from the USA. The market would start to work.

Such thing happened in China when they canceled permits for living in a city. Many people sat tight in cities, only because they had invested in permits.

Ironically it was the USA who called the former USSR to "tear down this wall" and for a world without walls. Also ironically much more people were shot near on this wall, than at the Berlin wall.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890652)

We should have hired Mexicans to build the fence. Oh the irony.

But think about how much money that would have saved. At $3500/ft, that's one expensive fence.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890260)

Or perhaps bigots could focus on solving the actual problem and go after the companies that hire them.

Re:The Virtual Fence was always a dumb idea (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890392)

When hundreds of thousands (literally) cross every year, we don't need sensors on the border. Just stand there and some are sure to cross your path.

Yeah.... any sensor network needs to be augmented with physical methods, such as Nethack-style sleeping gas traps, Foothold traps, and fluidizing solid mantraps.

Like leaving the front door open (1, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890064)

Come on in.
Get free food, and my wallet is over there for you to raid.
Take it all, and leave behind a mess in my home, paleskin stranger.

Re:Like leaving the front door open (1)

capo_dei_capi (1794030) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890152)

Like leaving the front door open

No, it's like relying on conventional border protection like any other country, instead of on a technically flawed system that turned out too expensive.

Re:Like leaving the front door open (4, Insightful)

mikeabbott420 (744514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890182)

An inaccurate comparison as closing a door is easy and hermetically sealing thousand of miles of border is impossible.

Look at the problems the Israelis have securing their Gaza border against tunneling.
Consider that they are a highly motivated and technically sophisticated people with a much,much shorter border to guard.

Border sealing is distraction and noise, either fines and enforcement make employing illegals an economically bad decision or the status quo continues no matter how much money is wasted at the border or how many hispanics are harassed in the streets.

Re:Like leaving the front door open (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890278)

>>>thousand of miles of border is impossible.

1300 to be precise. That's tiny compared to the Wall of China (4000) and just slightly longer than the West German Wall (800).

BTW I consider the US to be overpopulated.
i.e. We don't need any more people.

Re:Like leaving the front door open (1)

mikeabbott420 (744514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890368)

sneaking across the great wall of china at whatever point in that 4000 mile stretch is the least defended would be easy, blending in as successfully as a mexican in california can would be less so.
getting a job that pays far more than a similar one in you home country and doesn't have chinese nationals lining up for it would be another real challenge.

Re:Like leaving the front door open (3, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890376)

We don't need any more people.

Maybe that were the exact thoughts of the Indians about your grand-parents.

Re:Like leaving the front door open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890428)

GWoC is 8850km [bbc.co.uk], 4/5k estimates were based off a number that is meant to be translated to mean infinity but was incorrectly translated to mean something else.

This is what I never understood, china was able to do it so long ago with stone yet we can't do it with electric wire.

Re:Like leaving the front door open (1)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890492)

When you have an emperor of the USA instead of a president, it will be easy to pull off.

Re:Like leaving the front door open (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890494)

That's tiny compared to the Wall of China (4000) and just slightly longer than the West German Wall (800).

The Great Wall of China was designed to protect against organized horseback raids, not individuals sneaking in. It took centuries to build, cost about 1 million lives of construction workers, and it wasn't even all that effective.

The German wall was not impenetrable, and the effectiveness it had was the result of East Germany's willingness to gun down hundreds of unarmed civilians in cold blood. Since few Americans and even fewer people in other countries would find that strategy to be ethical, that option would not be politically tenable.

Re:Like leaving the front door open (1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890598)

From Wolphramalpha:

United States: 87.3 people per square mile
Mexico : 147 people per square mile
United Kingdom: 663 people per square mile
Germany: 610 people per square mile

(2008 estimate)

In other words, what you believe about the US population can't be taken seriously given your monumental ignorance on this matter.

Re:Like leaving the front door open (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890660)

Read and learn young grasshopper: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_German_border [wikipedia.org]

ALSO: When oil skyrockets to $500/barrel aka $20/gallon, the US will have more mouths than it can feed. There will be no way to move the food from the center to the eastern cities, and the system will collapse on itself. Better to downsize now, rather than downsize circa 2030 via starvation. (in my humble opinion)

Re:Like leaving the front door open (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890302)

Or, as somebody once put it somewhat more artfully:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

...only there's not as much left to take as there was then. All the land and water is owned and fenced off and the rapid growth is done. Let them come and help prop up the market for $400/sf real estate in California and Arizona.

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So... why did it fail? (3, Interesting)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890086)

I'm curious as to why the project failed. They claim to have a much cheaper plan that they're going to try now; why didn't they try that in the first place? Is it going to be substantially less effective? So ineffective that it's not worth spending money on that, either?

The article mentions "glitches and delays". Is that because Boeing is just bad at its job? Or is it a fundamentally difficult thing?

I'm not asking about the political implications, which are substantial. I just want to know: America is supposed to be good at tech, but this is hardly the first time that a Big Government Project has failed. Is there a lesson we can learn here? Or is it endemic to the fact that the US government does things on a scale no other operation in the world does?

Re:So... why did it fail? (2)

G_REEPER (112154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890136)

The simplest, cheapest and most effective would be two 16 foot high steel fences and a 20 foot section between them full of claymores.

Re:So... why did it fail? (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890196)

1) That's not going to be cheap. Steel is expensive. Claymores are expensive.
2) That's not going to be effective. I can think of ten ways to get around that if you want to cross.

You'll kill a lot of vultures, coyotes, bobcats, deer, and javelina though.

Re:So... why did it fail? (1)

G_REEPER (112154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890340)

It is still A LOT cheaper than the crap they are wanting to do (except for this administration and others in the past which is nothing) , and it only has to work a few times to be a deterrent. At least more of one than we have now. Since the fences would run parallel and the claymore would be the space in between i think it would be interesting experiment. And i have not see a deer , bobcat or any other animal that could jump 16 feet. maybe throw 110 on the second fence just to make them hold on.

Re:So... why did it fail? (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890226)

Killing or maiming people with claymores sounds a little excessive for the crime of illegal immigration to me but I do think we should secure or boarder. I like your two 16 foot high fences idea, but I think we should take a pass on claymores. We could put a rail track between them and have fairly regular patrols done from an electric trolley by ICE agents as well. I bet all of that could happen for the costs of a few days in Afghanistan.

Re:So... why did it fail? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890354)

Killing or maiming people with claymores sounds a little excessive for the crime of illegal immigration to me

No kidding. What gets me is that the very same people who appear to want to shoot or otherwise kill illegal border crossers are largely the same who preach sanctity of life.

Re:So... why did it fail? (1)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890534)

If they want to hazard the clearly marked minefield in order to do something illegal, isn't that their responsibility?

Re:So... why did it fail? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890202)

>>>Big Government Project has failed. Is there a lesson we can learn here?

Corruption.
Avarice and ambition.
"Love of money and love of power.... place before such men a place of Honor, which is also a place of Profit or Power, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it. The vast numbers of such places is what renders the government so tempestuous. The struggle is the true source of all these factions, hurrying the nation into fruitless wars and endeavors." - Ben Franklin.

 

Re:So... why did it fail? (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890318)

Or more likely the GOP wanted the project but wasn't willing to agree to pay the real cost and as such decided to sign the contract and count on future administrations being afraid to cancel it. It's a common strategy used by both parties, it's really hard to cancel projects when a powerful Senator or Representative doesn't want it canceled.

I'd be very surprised if the original estimates were realistic without absolutely everything going as planned.

Re:So... why did it fail? (1)

rollingcalf (605357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890266)

"I'm curious as to why the project failed. They claim to have a much cheaper plan that they're going to try now; why didn't they try that in the first place?"

If they did that in the first place, the campaign contributors who benefit from those big government contracts wouldn't get much benefit.

Re:So... why did it fail? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890300)

Unfortunately, like most technology gizmos, details matter [homelandse...wswire.com].

Stana, who serves as one of Congress’s watchdogs, recently published a Secure Border Initiative (SBI) Report detailing a series of problems with the SBI program, including: issues of camera clarity in bad weather, mechanical problems with the radar, and the radar not being sensitive enough to pick things up.

A brief search with your search engine of choice will lead you to chapter and verse. It looks like the old problem of 'it should work so we will build it'. No clear plan for piloting the program, poor oversight. The usual stuff.

Re:So... why did it fail? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890642)

Very interesting.

I do wonder, though. As you say, "it should work". It doesn't seem completely unreasonable as an idea. Was it actually possible to do? Were there any feasibility studies, and if they said it was feasible, why were they wrong?

(Whether it was necessary or reasonable to do is a political and strategic question that I don't feel qualified to ask, since the answers will always come back with a partisan filter for cherry-picking data.)

Re:So... why did it fail? (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890342)

Projects by big organisations fail all the time but ${BIG BANK}'s failed IT restructuring process doesn't make a good story. The amount of politics, bullshit and people not really knowing what's involved or what they want means that large projects take a great deal of skill to manage. Few managers have that skill.

Why, oh why.. (2, Insightful)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890088)

It seems pretty clear that nobody in Washington is interested in controlling illegal immigration, so why do we continue to waste money on it? If you're going to build a fence, build a real fence that actually keeps people out.

Can't we at least get a better class of pork-barrel projects to funnel money to defense contractors? I'd appreciate getting at least some value for the money.

Re:Why, oh why.. (2, Funny)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890124)

But you are getting value for your money! See there's this thing called trickle down economics, so the more money Boeing is paid to do projects like these the more money you'll end up with!

Re:Why, oh why.. (1, Insightful)

aitikin (909209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890168)

Because planning on doing nothing is political suicide...

It's a lot better for a politician to look like they care than for them to look like they don't care period.

Regardless, a real fence won't keep people out anymore than a lock will keep a thief out, or a password will keep a hacker out. The real problem here is the lack of legal methods of immigration from Mexico, which is not entirely the US's fault, in fact, from my understanding, it's pretty much the Mexican government that makes immigration nearly impossible, while the US government makes it difficult.

Aside from all this, the trek that the illegal Mexican immigrants typically take is a harder path than most anyone on /. could deal with, especially seeing as we all live in our parents' basements, can't speak to a woman, and don't see daylight directly.

What do you mean? (1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890650)

The Mexican Constitution guarantees people free transit across the country, including migrating.

As long as you identify yourself the government can held you against your will inside the country unless they know you have a legal procedure pending that demands you are rooted.

Re:Why, oh why.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890174)

Kinda hard to build a real fence that blocks people, but lets migratory animals through.

Re:Why, oh why.. (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890440)

Not really. Implant an RFID chip in every baby.
Or one better: an implanted GPS SoC.

Yes, I'm joking, but I also fear this will be pushed by politicians within two generation from now, and become reality within the end of the century. Big corporations would be all for it, and the sheeple would say, like they always have, "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

Re:Why, oh why.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890634)

I think the problem is simpler than that. It concerns perception and deliverables. You have problem which people say has to be solved, and solved now. Now both sides probably know that the requirements of the project will involve some fancy, new tech involving lots of risk. However, both sides know that anything less than a 'solution' is unacceptable, so it's quite probable for both sides to plough until it falls apart in ignominy, and the real solution - a phased approach in all probability arises.

Re:Why, oh why.. (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890710)

The problem is that there are some very powerful people who like the status quo. They get a labor force that works for third-world wages, can't unionize, and doesn't complain to OSHA. Amnesty for illegals would destroy all that. Having effective border controls would destroy it too. So you don't get either.

No technical remedies for social problems (4, Insightful)

mseeger (40923) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890112)

I think i have an obsession for technical solutions. I can't walk by any new gadget without thinking "That could solve this problem" and ending up buying most of them. But in the end even i learned, that for social problems, you need social solutions. If you try to solve social problems with technology, you will always fail. It's also true the other way round: you cannot solve technological problems with social measures. Unless one accepts that, failures like this fence will happen again and again.

CU, Martin

Re:No technical remedies for social problems (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890206)

Sure. Unless you are talking cyberware, chemical/gene modification and hard AI, preferably in combination. The key to "technocratic" solutions is to not so much "fix" social issues, as removing the basis of the problems entirely by altering the human condition. Like with condoms and the pill, for example.

Re:No technical remedies for social problems (1)

mseeger (40923) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890310)

Even with the pill there was a change of social norms as well. I strongly believe, that technological innovations happen when the time is ripe for them. The steam engine for example was invented several times. It took a certain evironment for it to prosper.

Re:No technical remedies for social problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890532)

Disruptive technology disagrees with you.

SDI NET !! TALK ABOUT YOUR CUCKOO EGGS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890126)

This makes Reagan's Star Wars Defense Initiative (SDI(Net)) look like a good deal !!

Whatever happened to that Cuckoo guy ?? What was his name ?? The guy who laid the cuckoo egg SDI Net trap on his machine for the commie spy ??

Watch the Republican Response (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890154)

They'll complain that the Democrats/Obama Administration are weak on border security. Smart thing to do would be to point out how weak the Republicans are on fiscal restraint (despite their hypocritical claims to the contrary) by endorsing such boondoggles as this one.

Won't happen tho, Democrats will just knuckle under and not pipe up against the insanity of the Right Wing Fear Mongers.

How about a good 'ole fashioned REAL system? (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890176)

When I think "securing borders" I tend to think of it more than just keeping out illegal immigrants, I tend to think of having every inch of our border secured as a national security issue. So with that in mind, I'd prefer something like massive walls with deep trenches, guard watch towers every now and then and so on. Illegal immigration concerns aside I am amazed that we don't take border security more seriously. We certainly have spent tons more money on more ridiculous ideas (elective wars, etc).

Re:How about a good 'ole fashioned REAL system? (0)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890232)

Because it would be retarded, even by American standards. Any military force that would represent a threat at all would make a fence seem like using a tissue to stop a bullet. Likewise any force that would find a fence difficult to surpass would be much more efficiently taken care of by sending a squadron or whatever.

Re:How about a good 'ole fashioned REAL system? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890350)

Well, there's drugs coming in from Mexico and weapons going out to cartels in Mexico and on to wherever they're going. Illegal immigrants sneaking across the border is really the least of the concerns for most people. In practice they aren't stealing jobs that Americans actually want, it's mostly crap jobs that even during the current recession are going unfilled.

Now, H-1B visas on the other hand...

1bil for 53 miles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890236)

How much would it cost to station 1 guard every mile for 53 miles with a radio? Certainly not 1 billion dollars. Especially if they hire some illegals for the job.

A single sentence can solve this problem. (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890386)

Mandatory 1 year federal prison sentence for each illegal alien employed by anyone for any reason.

That one sentence would solve the problem immediately and better than any fence or wall.

Re:A single sentence can solve this problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890484)

Good idea, but it'll never make it past the American Left, because your plan doesn't penalize the rich businessman who hired that illegal.

They won't give up an angle that might allow them to penalize someone more successful than they.

Re:A single sentence can solve this problem. (2)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890544)

Reading comprehension problems? If you fined people who hired illegals that would be targetting those "rich businessman" that you feel the need to argue for. This idea is a left wing idea, but libertarians and conservatives would never think of doing something to penalize the sacred businessman.

Re:A single sentence can solve this problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890562)

You're doing it wrong, because the poor would probably risk that just for the chance to get a job. A nice federal resort prison may be even better than the hut they currently live in. Oh, you may be meaning the right thing: 1 year of prison for the employer for each illegal alien he employed.

COTS, my pickup, and you (1)

Invisible Now (525401) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890418)

A billion dollars? What if I drove to my local Fry's Electronis, and bought IP cams, all-weather cable, cheap routers and switches, and asked you to watch the border from the screen you're on now?

Oh, and maybe we could have 5,000 iPads or iPhones available for pickup at Apple stores so Border Patrol agents could watch too.

I could load the stuff in my pickup, you could set up the WAN, and I'm guessing we'd still have $990 million dollars left to buy up some little-used, suddenly available high tech IR and radar detector form Government surplus...

Maybe it takes an X-Prize.

JMHO: there is a *much* better solution. (2)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890448)

Most Illegals come to the US for jobs and/or social services. Deny them that, and they will stop coming. This would be *far* less expensive, and more effective. That would take care of about 70% of the problem. We would still need to patrol for the real bad guys. No system is perfect, but this would make a lot of sense.

1. Make e-verify mandatory.
2. Have IDs that are very difficult, if not impossible, to forge. Our money is very difficult to counterfeit, why not do the same with IDs?
3. No ETINs for illegals.
4. No sweeping amnesty, ever. No rewards for breaking our law.
5. As I understand it, in Mexico, you spend, at least, two years in prison for entering the country illegally. That is for the first offense. The US should adopt, and enforce, similar laws.
6. No more anchor-baby loophole.
7. Prison time for anybody who knowing hires an illegal.

See how easy that is? Fixing the illegal immigration problem is not that hard. The problem is corrupt US politicians who do not want to fix the problem, but the corporate owners don't want the problem fixed.

Re:JMHO: there is a *much* better solution. (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890700)

Stricter regulations on illegal immigration should go hand-in-hand with a liberalized immigration policy, making it easier and quicker for potential immigrants to come to the country legally as law-abiding taxpayers. There are millions of illegal immigrants in the US who haven't caused any problems for anyone. If we had a sane legal immigration policy to go along with more tightly controlled borders, we'd be in the same place with regards to the number of recent immigrants, except they'd all be "in the system".

What's the purpose of a border? (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890516)

It's the same as any other prohibition.. To increase the profit margins by creating contraband, to control a market, to create scarcity of resources. Here it's for human trafficking. The slave trade. It's time to rip the fences down and free the slaves.

One Part Technology and Two Parts Extortion Fees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34890538)

The technology part of SBInet, the "Berlin Wall Solution" was always in doubt. However, the bigger part was the level of extortion fees demanded by Neopolitano from Boeing and subcontractors.

The back-up plan is now the "Ho Chi Minh Trail Solution" to keep the guard towers, outfitted with 50 caliber machine gun, morter and lots of China Lakes, with distributed motion-trackers and foot-traps.

This plan too will come under budget pressures.

Given the level of hatred of the Federal Officials for US citizens, they will opt for the "DMZ Solution" and use anti-personel mines including cluster mines along a 6-mile wide swath from the Pacific Ocean in California to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. Since the Federal Officials, including President Obama are duty bound to ignore US Laws and treaties about using mines to kill ones own civilians, they will seek to turn the US into a North Korean-like State whose civilians exist soley for sexual ammusement of the President.

--308

Or they could just prosecute the employers. (4, Insightful)

jbeach (852844) | more than 3 years ago | (#34890646)

And, you know, actually give out jail time, instead of just the occasional fine they'll deduct from their profits. So those jobs for illegals dry up, and they stop trying to come in.

I know, I know. That's crazy talk. Why would either party go after rich and powerful people, when they can just spend the sheeple's hard-earned cash? Otherwise they might have to spend it on health care, education, roads, or something else that might actually be useful.
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