back to article Eye-O-Sauron™ spy towers still buggy

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s plan to build hundreds of all-seeing networked surveillance towers along American borders has run into further problems. The project in question is the technology portion of the Secure Borders Initiative (SBI). Under SBI, contractor Boeing would erect perhaps 1800 towers, each 98 …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Typical US overkill - the Russians did perfectly well with concrete, barbed wire, landmines and machine guns. Much cheaper, but less opportunity for noses in the trough I suppose.

    Now all the system needs is a link to some of those nice automated armed drones they talk about and we have perfect security. America cut off from the world - at last!

  2. Morely Dotes

    What did they really expect?

    When the primary job qualification is loyalty to a particular political group, it's difficult to find competent network engineers. Apparently Boeing has discovered that suckupism is not equivalent to a knowledge of COS.

    An expensive lesson, which will be forgotten the next time the American Schutzstaffel contracts a job, of course.

  3. Colin Millar

    We should sneak over one night.....

    ...and turn all the towers around

  4. Andy Bright

    re: We should sneak over...

    Awesomely funny idea - hats off to you sir. But we'll need some paper mache Nazgul and lots of string to hang them from the towers.

  5. Chris Taylor


    Don't be too proud of this technological terror you have created, this is nothing compared to the power of the ......Spade.

    some sort of short tunnel then would seem to be in order

  6. Daniel

    As much fun as this is to laugh at...

    I find it really sad from a country that cheered at the fall of the Berlin wall. I know, it's not the same, but I still find the notion of 700 mile long barbed wire fences and 98 foot tall high tech patrol sensor towers to just be sad. How far we have fallen.


  7. Graham Marsden


    > I find it really sad from a country that cheered at the fall of the Berlin wall. I know, it's not the same

    Isn't it?

    To quote from the DHS site: "US-VISIT is part of a continuum of security measures that begins overseas and continues through a visitor’s arrival in and departure from the United States. It incorporates eligibility determinations made by both the Departments of Homeland Security and State"

    In other words, they want to check when a visitor leaves as well. Of course they can't just check the visitors (nor assume that someone holding a US Passport holder isn't a terrorist and hasn't stolen or otherwise obtained fraudulent documents) so they'd have to check *everyone*.

    The potential for abuse (compare it with the effect of the "No Fly" list) is awesome. The Stasi would have *loved* this power!

  8. Jeremy

    Wot? No machine gun?

    They missed a trick there...

  9. Tam Lin

    I hope next month's test is ...

    ... catching Chertoff at the border and sending the religious psychopath back where his ancestors came from. He's the biggest non-fictional terrorist I know of.

  10. Grant Mitchell

    Version 2

    Version 2 should have the ability to shoot gps tracer tags from a blow-gun.... or perhaps squirt some radio-active dye to track these people ;)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Daniel, but don't you know it is all those Illegal Mexican Immigrants wrecking the US economy and those darned Canucks will just hop over their border any time they feel like it and buy up all the beer, seeing that their dollar goes a lot farther south of the border now.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    With all due disrespect to the Department of Homefried Absurdity, I'm not sure I want to hear from Brits about American surveillance. The few strolls I have taken through London, I have been amazed at the number of CCTVs covering every possible angle.

  13. Richard Scratcher

    All along the watchtowers...

    Cuña: ¿pero esas torres?

    Lukas: ¡Te preocupas del policía, yo atenderé a las torres!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The surveillance things seems to come up quite a lot. Americans use phrases like 'police state' when talking about our cctv cameras. What I think they might not realise is that an awful lot of the cameras are privately owned. Also, cameras run by local councils are rarely tied to the police. Combined with the fact that many of them still are literally closed-circuit, plus the general incompetence of security people and local councils, plus the shit quality of the footage (as demonstrated regularly on Crime Stoppers) I find the thought of automated border checks far scarier than any amount of cctv installations. Saying that, I've recently signed up to Gatwick's iris recognition programme - it's worth it to dodge the queues.

  15. Jeremy

    Re: Surveillance

    What the other person said.

    TBH, I'd rather have some pokey CCTV on the street corner than couldn't identify me properly if I stuck my passport three inches from the lens than have to go through the now intimately familiar "Left index finger, right index finger, hold for a photo please" rigmarole every time I pass through PHL, "'cos I is one of 'em foreigners."

    And FWIW, next time you're at Walmart, look up and count the number of cameras pointing at you. I'll bet you can count at least nine covering the car park alone. And then try and find out the name and contact address of the people who operate the cameras. At least with CCTV in Blighty, you know *who* is looking at you...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You assume that these

    will ever be fully implemented or work at all and if they are and do the US will cease to function I assure you it will grind to a halt in no time the whole system in this country is predicated on those workers being there to work for less than the going wage these towers are just another case of another white elephant we here are going to have to pay for why because were stupid thats why now shut up and watch your cctv someone might do something.

  17. Martin Maloney

    I'm SO ashamed (yeah, right)

    This SBInet project suggests that Chertoff is a borderline psychopath!

    (Well, SOMEBODY had to say it.)


  18. Steve Roper

    Eye-O-Sauron indeed...

    ...which, I believe, makes the USA the land of Mordor, its denizens the Orcs, its administration the Nazgul, and no cigar for guessing who Sauron himself is!

    But where is Frodo Baggins when we need him?

  19. Andy Bright


    Actually they've always done this - check up to make sure you leave.

    Any tourist should remember not only filling in the "are you a criminal" card on the way in, but also the "I'm leaving, honest" card on the way out. The cards are matched, and no doubt hotel rooms sacked if inconsistencies are found. Or not.

    One of the funniest immigration conundrums happens here in cheery Alaska.

    We have no immigration courts, no prisons large enough to hold those awaiting deportation hearings (that's right, the benevolent US government has always stuck asylum seekers and those with questionable immigration status directly into the nearest maximum security prison - sometimes for years, with no trial or charges ever presented).

    So they round up the usual group of suspects every couple years, give them their court dates and ask them to promise to show up in Seattle. They're then released until a few years later, when they'll go through the whole inconvenient process again.

    As a legal immigrant I'm often quite disgusted with the behaviour of the immigrant Nazis.

    The latest piece of genius legislation is making the rounds in the Alaska State Legislature as we speak.

    They propose including immigration status on all driving licenses, so the police can arrest illegals.

    Of course the reason I say genius is because you can't actually get a driving license without a valid Social Security card and some tamper proof ID to back it up. You can't get a Social Security card without proof you're in the country legally, and finally the only people allowed to demand to see the already mandatory-to-carry-at-all-times biometric Alien Registration Card are the DHS.

    So effectively a piece of legislation to create a second, less difficult to forge, piece of ID as well as the lawsuit enabling addition of allowing hillbilly cops to detain you if they don't like the word immigrant.

    Money well spent I say.

    Wonder where these guys grand parents came from.. oh that's right, they were immigrants..

  20. yeah, right.

    Happy days?

    I think this is a great idea! Just think - anything meant to keep people out can also be used to keep people in! This is just a step in the direction of preventing Americans from going anywhere their all-seeing, all-knowing government doesn't want them to go. Maybe they're just setting the stage for a life-action prequel to Heinlein's "Revolt in 2100"?

  21. gollux

    And will be just as effective as 10,000 British cameras are at preventing crime...

    It's just that BoingBoing will probably spend us into a hole far quicker. They've got to get the flying laser pointer working first to help extra terrestrials find earth. If its capable of shooting down missiles, that will be an added perk.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Star Wars...

    Why not set up some orbiting lasers, burn anything thta goes within 10 yards of the US border. Or even better, build a dirty great big wall, cap it with used sneakers and keep them all in/out !

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could be a new Hollywood Blockbuster coming...

    ...Escape From America

  24. Alex

    nobody expects the...

    pantomine horse named troy?

  25. Damian Gabriel Moran

    well if i remember all the old world war 2 escape films

    I merely need to throw a stone and the whole thing will start looking in the wrong direction

  26. Gulfie

    SO American...

    I like the idea of the US setting up Eyes of Sauron along its borders... to keep out undesirables - which at the last count appeared to be pretty much everybody not holding a US passort.

    As if the country isn't already insular enough... while they're at it, why not deport all the illegals already resident. The rest of the world can then watch the rapid demise of US society from the other side of the pond, perhaps as a new reality TV show - The Missing 'I' (Immigrant) Factor.

    Immigration is a fact of life, it is bizarre that the US wants to stop the illegal immigration which has provided them with a large, mobile and very low cost work force - instead of legitimising it. Hey, lets treat the symptom rather than cure the disease...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Buying a lemon

    QUOTE: "We are now looking to begin acceptance testing in about a month," Chertoff said. "We will then kick the tires again... like buying a car. We don't want to get stuck with a lemon."

    If kicking the tires/tyres is as much as Mr Chertoff does when deciding on the suitability of a *car*, I suggest that some company offers him a good breakdown package on this escapade. Perhaps Halliburton could come up with "SBI HomeStart" for, say, a couple of billion dollars?

  28. Andy

    I say we nuke the site from orbit

    It's the only way to be sure.

    ...I'll get my spacesuit.

  29. Jason

    Battle Royale

    With so many gangs, so many guns and so much crime, are we sure this isn't a covert way of putting an infrastructure in place in order to pass a Battle Royale Act much like the movies ?

    Keeping people out ? I prefer the thought of keeping 'em in ... and televising it!

  30. andywebsdale

    @Steve Roper

    Cheney is a far better fit for Sauron than Shrub (he's more of a Gollum I think)

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve Roper

    It would also mean the UK is Isengard. Thankfully, Saruman appears to have been defeated. How long before Sauron suffers the same fate?

  32. alistair millington


    Problem is all our cameas are only needed to prevent crime (the bloke watching the camera at the time) or to catch someone after a crime (badly shown on TV or local papers) The information isn't held centrally or passed freely. Police ask nicely or ask a court to ask forcefully.

    In America it is held on record for ever, logged and flagged every time you do anything from travelling outside the border to applying for a job and fourteen departments (Okay, the NSA, DOD, FBI, CIA, Homeland security, ATF are just the main ones but america has one every month for something) responsible for the same thing all getting a copy. Without the person ever once being asked.

    I am still astounded at how stupid it is becoming in America, just the hoops you jump to get a plane ride as a tourist. this is just another in a long line of stupid things that they do to protect themselves, when there are 350 million nutters already in their border, gun toting (it's a national right of course), law breaking, isolationist, anti-democratic (The richest man buys the white house afterall) set of muppets already. I think we should turn the cameras inward, help stop the spread of their tourists.

    I still think the official publication of their tourist guide that helps explain that the world doesn't actually think Americans are all that great is the best thing ever in the world.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Liberty renamed?

    "...Give me your tired, your poor,

    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

    Ah... No... Actually, we're alright for tired, poor, huddled masses now. We don't really need any more. You can keep 'em...

    No, really. No more. Thanks anyway.



  34. Dan Caugherty


    Okey dokey, try this one for welcomed migration..

    "..Give us your tired, well-utilized, overfilled shipping containers from the Far East.. your cheap plastic crap yearning to be bought, by our huddled masses at Wal-Mart, yearning to achieve instant gratification.."

  35. TBushmaker

    US Government Contracts & Lowest Bidders

    After working in OT&E (Operational Test & Evaluation) for 6 years:

    Lessons Learned:

    1. Contracts are awarded to low bidders, not the best qualified or competent.

    2. Requirements are waived.

    3. Testing is not complete.

    4. Contracts are not fulfilled.

  36. Alex

    Taco Suits...

    I can just picture mexicans dressing in coyote suits, crawling up to the border on all fours, crapping on the ground, guy watching screen goes: "yep definitely another coyote - look bill, its taking a crap..."

This topic is closed for new posts.