Skip to comments.Team 7 Investigation Exposes Border Security Threats (i.e., border security = joke)
Posted on 02/17/2003 4:21:18 PM PST by hoosierskypilot
Our nation is on high alert for deadly terrorism attacks. But if our KIRO Team 7 Investigation into weak border security is any indication, there is reason to be concerned.
An exclusive KIRO Team 7 Investigation already sent the Justice Department scrambling to repair faulty border surveillance equipment.
Now, there are new problems.
Our expose into the breakdown of a new multimillion-dollar, high-tech camera system along the Washington-Canadian border recently sparked a Congressional inquiry and a federal audit.
But as KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne discovered, that's just the beginning of problems plaguing the Border Patrol.
The vast network of video cameras and computers supposedly protect our borders from terrorists, drug runners, and illegal immigrants.
We've already documented how the electronics of RVS, or Remote Video Surveillance, often fails. Now, we'll take you undercover to prove how the problem of porous borders goes way beyond that.
From the raspberry fields of British Columbia to the wind-swept deserts of New Mexico, Remote Video Cameras stand as a beacon of warning to those daring to illegally enter the United States.
"Crossing in that area is probably not the best thing to do because the chances are extremely great that you'll be spotted by a camera and there will be a response," said Paul Beeson of the Border Patrol.
The lenses can extend the eyes of Border Patrol agents for miles, but an undercover KIRO Team 7 Investigation discovered that doesn't mean RVS works to protect our borders.
"This is a blank spot. The next camera is beyond west and it can't see into here blocked from the hill over there," said John Lanning, a rancher.
Lanning owns a ranch along the Mexican-US line. Lanning says illegal immigrants cross so easily, so frequently, he has taken to patrolling the area himself.
Halsne: "You don't think the cameras have been a great deterrent?" Lanning: "No, no. Ever since the day they put those in, all they did was simple walk around them or walk underneath them."
That's certainly true for one smuggler, named "Abraham." Our undercover team caught him along a desert road illegally running a truckload of diesel engines between Mexico and the US. Abraham told me crossing the border with drugs or people or weapons would be just as easy.
"It doesn't matter how may cameras or barricades they put it, if they don't have an officer presence there, they got nothing."
KIRO Team 7 Investigators spent a day with Lanning as a guide, testing Border Patrol responses. We didn't see an agent for three hours while we traversed between Mexico and the US.
He showed us road after road where illegal immigrants sneak into America to stay for good.
"No reason to crawl through the fence if you can drive through the gate," he said.
Our undercover team also watched smugglers called "coyotes" running people past cameras and agents alike. Tire tracks and footprints created their own roads every several hundred yards.
One of the things we noticed is that cameras along the southern border are placed near metropolitan areas. They're not placed in rural areas where they're really needed, like along a well-known smugglers highway we visited.
Near Minques, Mexico, we could see places where anyone could walk or drive between the two counties. There were spots with no Border Patrol agents, no post commands, and no cameras.
Justice Department documents obtained by KIRO Team 7 Investigators show sand and hot temperatures down South, and wet, cold conditions in Washington cause significant electronics glitches on a daily basis.
"It has worked well. There have been, uh, with any new piece of technology, there are going to be issues that need to be worked out and we have encountered issues that need to be worked out with the system."
Despite the breakdowns, the Justice Department has ordered $350 million worth of new cameras nationwide while trimming the budget for additional ground agents.
Border Patrol says with beefed up "maintenance" the camera system will be super-effective.
That may be, but our undercover investigation found that without working cameras on every stretch of our borders and agents to respond to activity on the monitors, it's truly easy to illegally enter this country.
What you are hearing is the sound of a "team player" handling communications with the public. Remember the name Paul Beeson, known liar.
If you meet him, your duty is to spit on him. Remember. Remember forever. If enough Paul Beesons are run out of town, the government will someday run short of willing liars.
Monday, November 25, 2002
Border Security Breakdown Captures Attention of Congress
KIRO 7 EYEWITNESS NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER
You're paying millions more than you should for a high-tech security system along the Washington-British Columbia border that doesn't work very well.
Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne reveals what the federal government wants to keep a secret.
We've discovered a series of computers and cameras that are supposed to stop terrorists, drug smugglers, and other illegals from entering the US malfunction on a regular basis.
What we've uncovered has grabbed the attention of both Congress and the Department of Justice.
In theory, the lenses aimed at a rural stretch of the U.S.-Canadian border, create an impenetrable shield. 32 cameras that see miles in the dark aren't suppose to miss any movement.
However, an exclusive six-month KIRO Team 7 Investigation discovered massive deficiencies in the system.
"It's a threat to national security if this information isn't made available," says Retired Border Patrol Chief Carey James.
James says Remote Video Surveillance (or RVS) was a great idea in the beginning, but bureaucratic meddling from Washington, D.C. ruined its chances of succeeding.
"I will have a little trouble sleeping at night and I think all of us should be a little worried," James says.
We obtained documents, which reveal hundreds of specific daily breakdowns with RVS near Blaine.
"All cameras: Controls not working 95 percent of the time."
The system was suppose to be a $5 million pilot project, but it's already ballooned to $8 million, and counting.
"We continually pour money into these systems and people are not held accountable or responsible."
A 100 page report, filed deep inside INS headquarters in Washington DC, says it will take millions more tax money to fix equipment.
KIRO Team 7 Investigators were denied the report under a new Homeland Security law. We were told release "would cause the government harm," even though camera failure rates are considered "sensitive, but unclassified papers."
"We've requested a copy of this report that you've brought to our attention," says U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell.
Cantwell has been a big supporter of funding more agents and more technology along Washington's border.
"We need accountability by the INS and we need accountability by the individual contractor of the technology. We need to give the border agents the tools to do their job," Cantwell says.
Our investigation discovered that the main contractor on the camera project is a company called International Microwave Corporation. The company's Vice President is the daughter of Texas Congressman Silvester Reyes.
IMC recently received a $200 million no-bid contract from the Department of Justice to install security systems along all US borders.
Congressman Reyes says he did not exert influence on behalf of his daughters company.
In the thread is an update article printed Nov. 29, 2002.