Past Features

February 17, 2017

New camera towers where
Trump's "wall" is planned

Profound questions raised

Top: Google map of construction site.
Bottom: Drone view.
Glenn Spencer -- Feb. 17
Something is seriously wrong
    Yesterday Chad Knaeble and I went to Montezuma Pass to check on the progress of the CBP tower I had been reporting on recently.
    Upon arrival I flew a drone and confirmed that nothing had changed since our last visit. It looked as if construction had been halted.
    As we were leaving, I asked Chad to pull over so I could talk to a U.S. Border Patrol agent who was just getting out of the mobile camera truck that is stationed at the pass. I asked him if construction had been stopped. He said, "No, they're working on the other sites." "What sites?", I asked. He said they are building seven more towers "down there" pointing at the view of the Coronado National Forest. He told us how to get to the closest construction site.
    (From the looks of our truck --- it has a professional rack --- and the looks of Chad --- he has a pony tail --- the agent probably thought he was looking for work.)
    We went to the site and flew the drone over it. Unfortunately the drone camera ran out of memory shortly after launch, so no video - but I saw enough through the FPV to convince me to return immediately. We got back just as the sun was setting and flew the drone over site again. Here is a short (1:58 min.) video of the site and surrounds.
Deja Vu all over again
    Eleven years ago I criticized a plan to build camera towers as part of the Strategic Border Initiative. I even asked a Boeing rep why they were installing a virtual fence where the Secure Fence Act was to build a real fence. He didn't know.
    Here we have the same government building eight camera towers right where President Trump says he is going to build a "wall". Not only that, these cameras will be placed in the middle of an oak forest and surrounded by deep monsoon washes that run out of the Huachuca Mountains. Has anyone verified that these cameras can see people who do not want to be seen? It is the same problem I saw eleven years ago --- DHS/CBP has no way of knowing if these towers can detect border crossers --- no metric!
    Just as with the Boeing virtual fence, these towers probably won't work, and Trump's "wall" probably won't be built.
    It's deja vu all over again.
Is Sec. Kelly aware of these towers?
    Construction of eight towers near Patagonia had been reported last year, but it was unclear where they would be placed, or what the cost would be.
    Also, the Sierra Vista Herald story that first got me interested in the Montezuma tower, made no mention of them.
    These towers are no doubt part of the Integrated Fixed Tower program that built towers near Nogales, many of which appear to be totally blind.
    We now see that a Special Use Permit for the towers was issued in early December of 2016.
This new construction was begun after General Kelly was confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security. If he was aware of this project and allowed it to proceed, something is seriously wrong.
UPDATE: Glenn Spencer just returned from doing drone survey of two of the construction sites. "It's worse than I thought," he said, "These towers are blind." He said SEIDARM could do a better job of securing the border, while saving about 90% of the cost. -- This map shows the location of the seven towers.