Futures Made of Virtual Insanity

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Businessweek checks in with the much-hyped virtual fence:

Homeland Security Dept. officials have decided that an experimental 28-mile "virtual fence" meant to extend the U.S. Border Patrol's eyes and ears along the U.S.-Mexico border—a web of radar, infrared cameras, ground sensors, and airborne drones—won't be copied anywhere else in its entirety. The project was plagued with design, software, and other glitches; had fallen months behind schedule; and sometimes proved inoperable.

The government agreed to pay Boeing almost the full $20 million for successful completion of the prototype endeavor just south of Tucson, known as Project 28. But in choosing not to expand the project, Homeland Security officials are dashing expectations and causing embarrassment from Capitol Hill to the campaign trail. 

Homeland Security officials say they are not mothballing every aspect of Project 28, nor will they abandon their quest for a fully operational virtual fence along other parts of the border someday. Homeland Security spokesman Laura Keehner said on Feb. 25: "We'll be using the same idea, the same concept, and some of the same technology."

Hooray for change! Businessweek has a more detailed, more damning report on the same subject here. Fewer miles of virtual fencing likely mean more miles of steel and wider use of eminent domain, prospects reviewed here. Both Obama and Clinton have voted in favor of physical fencing, but, as Clinton explained during their February 21st debate in Texas:

I think when both of us voted for this we were voting for the possibility that where it was appropriate and made sense, it would be considered. Bust as with so much, the Bush Administration has gone off the deep end.

How could they possibly have predicted this?

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  1. The government agreed to pay Boeing almost the full $20 million for successful completion of the prototype endeavor just south of Tucson, known as Project 28.

    I?m very torn here.

    I hate to see a corporation getting paid for delivering something that doesn?t work.

    OTOH, I?m glad it doesn?t work.

  2. These congresspeople are geniuses. They vote to appease one constituency, and then later say that they meant to vote for something else to appease some other constituency.

  3. Jamiroquai appreciate the plug.

  4. Homeland Security officials say they are not mothballing every aspect of Project 28, nor will they abandon their quest for a fully operational virtual fence along other parts of the border someday.

    If you accept the premise that the southern border is securable, this is not that bad. Every new weapon system goes through growing pains (remember, the MI Abrams tank was almost universally decreed a disaster) so 20 megabucks in R&D with some field testing isn’t that unreasonable as defense contractor things go.

    I don’t accept the premise that securing the Mexican border as feasible, but if you do, this is not outrageous or unexpected.

  5. Well, it fits well with the US virtual immigration policy.

  6. Exactly, shecky.

    Not enough to actually stop illegal immigration, but enough capacity to allow the feds to screw with just enough people that the rest will keep their heads down.

  7. I’m still wondering if someone will propose emulating Marquis Philippe de la Mer’s pioneering, 19th-century research into disintegrating force fields.

    (reference explained here)

  8. In other news, William F. Buckley passed away today.

    link here.

  9. As soon as the disintegrator ray is perfected, the system will be ready for implementation.

    *Disclosure: As a Boeing shareholder, I am decidedly less outraged than I would be if General Dynamics was the company getting paid for a lot of malfunctioning whizbangs.

  10. If you want to stop illegals from crossing the border all you have to do is machine gun them as they cross.

    Simple. No muss, no fuss, no fence, no big payments to Boeing for shit that don’t work.

    Best part: you don’t even have to bury the bodies. It’s the desert, the coyotes and buzzards will take care of the scut work.

  11. EJM

    If that?s an explanation, I take Scientology instead.

  12. Buckley — announced dead 40 mins. ago — thread?

  13. From several years of reading National Review in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I got the distinct impression that Mr. Buckley was considered the doddering uncle by the new guard at National Review, always respected for the pedigree of the magazine but misunderstood by people who didn’t share his values.

    Today’s National Review is a far cry from the one the advocated drug legalization in 1990, and light years from the one created by Buckley in 1955.

    RIP, Mr. Buckley.

  14. Fences are for pussies. No society can be truly free without landmines on the border.

  15. What a useless twisting of our new technology

  16. HRC apprently is from the “vote first, ask questions later” camp.

  17. HRC apprently is from the “vote first, ask questions later” camp.

    Does Congress have another camp?

  18. Out of idle curiosity: how is taking some steps to, well, build a fence in response to Congress’ instruction to, um, build a fence “going off the deep end?” There are plenty of genuine reasons to disparage this administration, but this seems an odd one. If you don’t like current immigration policy, that’s a separate issue. But pretending that pretty straightforward, even muted, efforts to execute that which Congress has legislated is somehow raving abuse of power just makes for a dumb argument.

  19. I had a guaranteed military sale with Project 28! Renovation program! Spare parts for 25 years! Who cares if it worked or not!

  20. I heard BusinessWeek has links to the BusinessCommunity.

  21. Beat me to my Jamiroquai comment

    “Michael | February 27, 2008, 12:16pm | #

    Jamiroquai appreciate the plug.”

  22. “This one time, in Grabass Camp…”

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