November 22, 2017
Michelle Malkin -- National Review -- November 22, 2017
Dumb Sensors, Deadly Consequences on the Arizona Border
Outdated, malfunctioning detection equipment can be worse than useless for the Border Patrol.
The circumstances of U.S. Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez's death this week remain murkier than the Rio Grande. Agent Martinez succumbed to critical head injuries early Sunday morning. An unnamed partner, who came to Martinez's aid after he radioed for help from a remote area of the Big Bend sector in Texas, also suffered serious wounds. Whether by deliberate ambush or accident, one of our border enforcers is dead and another hospitalized.
This much is clear: Dumb sensors + depleted forces = deadly border disorder. Agent Martinez had ventured out alone to check on a ground sensor to determine who or what had set it off. He confirmed to his colleagues that human activity had activated the alarm before he died.
Here's the scandal: Our federal government has been squandering billions of dollars on inferior border technology for years. It's a monumental waste of taxpayer funds and a dangerous redistribution of wealth to crony contractors, whose ineffective pet projects are putting our men and women on the front lines at risk. [...]
On a trip to the Sierra Vista, Ariz., region earlier this summer for my CRTV.com show, “Michelle Malkin Investigates," I talked to ranchers who pointed out fancy new towers with fatal blind spots, out of reach of deep washes and heavy forests where illegal immigrants and drug smugglers travel. “We have $50 million of infrastructure on this ranch now,” fourth-generation Arizona rancher John Ladd told me during a tour of his property, "and none of it has worked. Camera towers, radar, fence, roads, street lights." All the technology in the world is useless, he has long pointed out to politicians and bureaucrats, without boots on the ground. And Border Patrol agents parked in air-conditioned cubicles hours from the border don't count. [...]
Longtime illegal-immigration activist and systems engineer Glenn Spencer, whom I first met in California in the 1990s, has lived and worked on the Arizona border for more than decade. He patented and tested a pilot system of seismic detection and ranging on 1.5 miles of his friend John Ladd's property, calling it Seidarm and pairing it with a drone, dubbed Hermes, which automatically launches when border activity is detected within 500 feet of the smart sensors. It can be manufactured and built at a fraction of the cost of the big defense contractors' systems. Unlike much of the government's gold-plated technology, Ladd said: "It worked."
"If they had Seidarm/Hermes installed, they could have checked out the ground sensor without putting the agent in jeopardy," Spencer told me after Agent Martinez's death hit the news this week