Past Features

July 20, 2017

How did the Integrated
Fixed Towers Happen?

Spotlight on acting commissioner Vitiello

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Glenn Spencer -- July 20, 2017
Chief Vitiello and the Flat Earth Society
    In 2012, a contract to award a contract for new Integrated Fixed Towers was delayed following a GAO report critical of DHS management.
    (Note: ABP had criticized this concept in early January, 2011, for failure to use the term operational control.)
    On September 10, 2015, Elbit Systems of America issued a press release announcing that its Integrated Fixed Towers near Nogales, Arizona, had “met milestones for system acceptance and testing....” adding that these performance requirements included “...the ability to detect, track, identify, and classify movement on the border."
    On September 13, 2015, American Border Patrol published a report raising serious questions about line-of-site of these cameras.
    On March 22, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a press release announcing the certification of Integrated Fixed Towers near Nogales, Arizona.
    It was signed by Ronald Vitiello, Acting Chief U.S. Border Patrol, who said: “The U. S. Border Patrol certifies that the Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) program meets its operational requirements.” Vitiello also said, “Test results and agent feedback confirm that the IFT system adds surveillance capability, increasing situational awareness and officer safety.”
    On May 24, 2016, Chief Vitiello testified (in joint testimony with others) before a House committee and said
"Fixed systems provide line-of-sight surveillance coverage to efficiently detect incursions in flat terrain."
    One year later, May 23, 2017, Chief Vitiello told a Senate Committee:
"For example, fixed systems provide line-of-sight surveillance coverage to efficiently detect incursions in flat terrain. The USBP integrates mobile and portable systems to address areas where rugged terrain and dense ground cover may allow adversaries to penetrate through blind spots or avoid the coverage areas of fixed systems."
    To describe the areas where the IFTS were installed as flat terrain borders on insanity. And, ABP is unaware of the use of any mobile or portable systems in these areas.
   On June 12, the DHS OIG issued a special report (OIG-70-SR) that reminded us that these Integrated Fixed Towers were never properly tested.
    (Page 9)
    "In March 2014, GAO reported that CBP's Test and Evaluation Master Plan only described testing to determine the Integrated Fixed Towers mission contribution but did not include testing operational effectiveness and suitability, which specifically identifies how effective and reliable a system is in meeting its operational requirements in its intended environment.”
    Can CBP's new camera towers help secure the border?
    American Border Patrol --- the non-profit --- takes a close look at three new camera towers installed near the border in Arizona. It asks the question - are these towers any good for securing our border? Watch this and maybe you'll understand President Trump's problems a little better.
    Then Chief Vitiello told us that the IFTs work great in flat terrain, however --- not belonging to Flat Earth societies --- the American people need scientific evidence of their real value.