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It took 10 months of review for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to determine that the technological “virtual fence” across our Southwest border was ineffective and too costly. This comes after $1 billion has been spent on the project. Another chapter in the dismal failure of the Obama Administration to secure the border from drug traffickers and terrorists.
Napolitano suspended the project in March and ordered the review, which finally was just completed, The New York Times reported Jan. 14. Expecting criticism, the agency put out documents showing the border patrol was increased from 10,000 in 2004 to 20,500 today. Fewer illegal immigrants are sneaking it, the agency officials also claimed, because 463,000 were detained compared with 724,000 in 2008. No one knows how many weren’t detained. The Secure Border Initiative Network, or SBnet, built by Boeing Corporation, uses cameras, ground sensors and radars so a small number of dispatchers can watch the border on monitors and send Border Patrol agents to the scene. But the rough terrain kept the equipment from functioning 100 percent of the time.
The Government Accountability Office in October found that although Homeland Security had put in place some oversight for reviewing the virtual border installation it “has not effectively implemented other controls” that led to “costly rework” and contributed to SBinet’s …”promised capabilities and benefits on time and within budget,” FoxNews.com reported. In other words Homeland Security bungled the job of keeping Boeing on task.
The contract for the technologically-based fence was signed under the George W, Bush Administration in 2005. The original estimate to cover the 2,000 mile border was $7 billion. Delays and cost overruns have troubled the project. Although the contract with Boeing is expiring, the company noted that Homeland Security officials said they would still use the equipment the company had installed. Napolitano said, in the future, border agents would use less expensive technology already in place for surveillance. It would be fitting for the terrain, she maintained.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the new chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in the House, expressed his “serious concerns” about the Administration’s “lack of urgency to secure the border” and was critical of the delays in ending the Boeing program.
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