National Security Virtual Fence, Real Disaster

The project was supposed to be stone-simple: “basically cameras on a pole,” in the words of one congressman. Boeing would tweak some off-the-shelf surveillance gear to create a so-called “virtual fence” along the U.S.-Mexican border. The whole thing would be done by early 2009.

Well, that date has come and gone for SBINet, the cameras-on-a-pole project. The new deadline is 2016. When it’s all done, Boeing hopes, the revised system will be able to have an detection rate of 70 percent. But that assumes SBINet can overcome its issues seeing in the wind and rain.

Defense News documents the latest SBINet atrocities. Perhaps the most maddening thing is that the project’s plain ol’ fencing isn’t working much better than its virtual one. Along the 630 miles of old-school barriers meant to stop cars and pedestrians, “there have been about 3,300 breaches in the fence, and it costs us about $1,300 every time that we have to repair them.”


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