back to article Eye-o-Sauron™ man-tracker masts now fully online, says DHS

US security overlord Michael Chertoff has announced that the troubled, delayed "virtual fence" pilot project developed in Arizona for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has finally been accepted into government service. Reuters reports that Chertoff revealed formal acceptance of the "Project 28" pilot scheme on Friday …


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  1. dervheid
    Black Helicopters

    Not so much...

    an Iron Curtain, as a multi-spectrum, omni-fence! Yet again the "Land of the Free" surpasses it's previous paranoia level.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Bunch of cows

    Looks like it's going to be very easy to exploit - think trojans (not the malware variant). Or just let loose a bunch of cows and then sneak in while the cameras keep moving and zooming in on each cow.

  3. Chris Walker
    Black Helicopters

    Man sized?

    I hereby call upon all South American children, midgets and dwarves to flock en masse towards the border. Take only what you can carry.

    Further, I encourage the Mexican Scarecrow Operators Assoc. to deploy hundreds of their finest straw men across the area.

  4. James StewartNewman

    so they fly .. Canada and then walk south instead.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what if...

    What if the person moves really slowly? Will the radar spot that they've moved?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    I'm sure I saw this on Lost... if you go between the fence, you get hit with some sort of sonic weapon.

    Let's hope the US Govt haven't been watching too much TV again.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    I can see it now.....

  8. John Imrie

    Cameras to check if it's a man or a cow?

    I think I'll start a pantomime cow franchise down by the border

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Steve Button Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    ... or you could just dress up as a cow?

    This might fool the American operators while they munch on their donuts and sip on their cool aid and other stereotypical delights.

  11. John A Blackley

    Wonderful points of view

    So let's say you have a few thousand miles of land border and let's say your citizenry expects you to control immigration/emigration along that border. What might your options be?

    Well, you might deploy the technology described in the article but then you'd be subjected to all the naysayers and you'd be accused of being paranoid (instead of accused of doing what your citizenry expects.)

    On the other hand, you could always take advice from a small island nation, perhaps because of having no land borders with its neighbours, does such an absolutely spiffing, bang-up job of controlling its immigration and emigration.

  12. cor
    Black Helicopters

    As is written on the Statue of Liberty..:

    "Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

    With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

    Your *huddled masses* yearning to breathe free,

    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    Bunch of Arse (TM)

  13. Steve Evans

    @Peter Leech

    Actually yes... And you can do it!

    The trick is to move very very smoothly (and slowly of course).

    The big question is, have they thought about below ground? Those pesky migrant workers might have experience with shovels... eeeck!

  14. dervheid

    Raw nerve...

    Mr Blackley?

  15. Wayland Sothcott

    Fit guns

    The camera is automatically trained on the man sized object. With a gun fitted the terorist could be shot, manually or automatically. I expect it will be popular on many borders once it works on the Max border.

    Have a look at this thing you can get from Samsung. I wonder if LG do one?

    Skull and crossbones because you are defending against boarders.

  16. Glenn Amspaugh

    What's the big deal with immigration?

    I really don't get the scare over brown people crossing our boarders to work crappy jobs no one else will do. Besides, my family crossed over the Rio Grande and no one minds us being here. 'Course, we did come over back before Shakespeare set pen to paper but still, the point remains, the U.S. is a land of immigrants.

    /refuses to live a life of fear

  17. Geoff Spick

    surely that should be iSauron?

    Every nation will have then soon enough.

  18. /\/\j17

    What about...

    ...those darn dirty immigrant cows. Coming over here from Mexico, eating out grass, drinking our water.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Just drive a load of cows towards the border. While the US' highly trained operatives are busy identifying each one of these targets as a cow or non-cow, sneak over the border slightly further away... or just hide in a herd of cows...

    If that fails then I have a design for a tin foil hat will allow you to cross the border without being detected and some "magic magnets" that will deflect the harmful radiation to protect your aura.

  20. RichardB

    So these cameras

    Not eyePods then?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Well said Mr. Blackly

    Now as to if it is right or wrong to try to protect the border is a whole different story. Seems to me for years most country's in Europe tried to protect their border and it was not until recently (the EU) that the protection in Europe has died down. Of course some of the borders in the EU are still protected such as when they connect outside of the EU. But its no big deal.

  22. b shubin

    Trench digging

    it's going to make a comeback, as zigzag trenches (dug through the less-driveable stretches of border country - it's too big a place for DHS agents to walk) will allow the intruders to pass literally below the radar, much like the tunnels do now.

    i think the Mexicans are familiar with shovel technology, and have no shortage of labor.

    oddly enough, the US economy runs on labor arbitrage, so cheap labor is a very necessary component. you would think immigrants are more welcome in a place like this, but Americans are very sentimental people (rational thinking too much like work), and their feelings are very important to them. when someone makes them feel safe and secure, they get all warm-fuzzy.

    they could achieve about 80% of the control for about 20% of the expense (as in, "reasonable efforts to secure borders and control immigration"), but it is custom here to buy silver bullets, THE absolutely perfect, infallible solutions (as described by the salespeople, that is). reality and rational thinking have no place here.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Peter Leech

    It isn't too hard to walk slowly enough to evade a PIR sensor without tripping the alarm/light, once you know that it's there. Of course, if you have to walk at 0.01mph for more than a few yards you might not get too close to the border before sunrise!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Surely if you just wore a decent ghillie suit you'd be fine if you crawled across it...

  25. Niall Campbell

    Spike MIlligan...

    Once sang..."I'm walking backwards for Christmas, across the Irish Sea."

    So if these would-be citizens of the US of States walk backwards across the border, surely it will fool the guards into thinking they are returning home rather entering the country.

    Perhaps they'd get a bonus for reducing the total population of wetbacks. But then again, the US economy would crumble even further because of all the lowly paid jobs these people do would have to be done by USanians and they certainly would stand for the pay and conditions.

    Mine's the fireman's jacket cos I expect to get burnt!!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Hmmm... that name....

    Say it aloud and the B sounds like a P: SBInet is no different from SpyNet. This is a clear indication that the radar towers will be reading Mexican state secrets.

    Alternatively, change "B" to "K", and what do you get? Skinet. Skynet.

    God -- and John Connor -- help us all.

  27. Martin Usher

    Not too many cows in the desert

    Its not really cattle country where these people cross. Its desert.

    The basic problem that Chertoff et al have not come to grips with is that there's a lot more illegals than there are Border Patrol agents. Its the same mindset that provides unlimited budgets for CCTV systems in English town centers (some that even shout at you) but can't seem to get the budget together for a couple of extra plods to patrol the place.

  28. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Plonkers 'r' Us .... 33rd Degree Chapter

    You couldn't make it up, could you? .

    Ooops, is that giving away States secrets? Sorry?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    I have personally

    "I have personally witnessed the value of this system, and I have spoken directly to the Border Patrol agents... who have seen it produce actual results, in terms of identifying and allowing the apprehension of people," the DHS chief said."

    I can just imagine the run-up...

    OIC: "OK you morons, the BIG GUY is coming and I want a working demo with no effing problems! I don't care if the system is crap I don't want any embarrassing problems so get it right while he's here or your asses are mine!!! And if he does a folksy walk around and asks you anything you piss yourselves saying how good it is and you've seen it 'actually' work. No Fred, I don't care if the only time we've seen it work is when you went out and stood in front of the tower and waved to your mom!!!!!"

    Looking forward to the future...

  30. Eugene Goodrich

    Immigration, paranoia, etc..

    Part of the "paranoid" issue here is that there's a fine place for people to come into the country: the border crossings. These are where border agents would have the opportunity to check things like whether the person crossing has a trunk full of explosive or has been in the country previously and killed someone with a spork.

    It is my understanding, also, that these crossing points can be found on maps.

    So any sort of a fence and rounding-up of people crossing at nonstandard locations can be seen as encouragement for people who want to cross to do so at the proper, manned, marked locations - the border crossings.

    If the border crossings are unsatisfactory for the people who would like to visit or take up residence in the United States, that is not a fence problem.

  31. StopthePropaganda

    for those who's command of the King's English is sorely lacking

    there is a big difference between "legal" immigration and "illegal" immigration. One requires you to a) let us know you're here. B) makes sure you're not just a criminal running from your own laws c) makes sure you have a clue as to what the laws and responsibilities you have in the new land d) makes sure you're not just here to steal benefits from citizens then run back "home", rinse and repeat.

    There's nothing in the Statue's decree that says "sneak in, under the cover of darkness, carrying diseases, drugs and weapons". Nothing says "send me your criminals you kicked out of your jails, your saboteurs and terrorists, who long to kill so that their leaders may control this land".

    The US allows more immigrants in *legally* than anyone else worldwide. Hell, the UK lets in more *legally* than just about anyone in Europe. Entry is very simple to the US and UK compared to say, Japan, or even Australia, with their racial quotas.

    And for the love of Pete, stop the "jobs Americans don't wanna do" agitprop! It's the Big Lie of the decade. Or a lie by omission. Let me correct you: "doing the jobs Americans don't want to do for slave wages, without representation, without safety regulations, without proper equipment, and without human dignity".

    Or, let's look at another bit of reality: If all Americans don't "wanna do" these jobs, and a crop of illegals do them, what happens when they get amnesty? now they're Americans. We've done this for millions in the past already. Should be enough to handle all those "don't wanna" jobs, right? Oh wait, now THEY "don't wanna" either for some reason. So we need more illegals while the previous illegals do what...drain the system? Join in Calle 13? Band as the Nortenos or agitate for Reconquista? Twelve million illegals by estimate now. and that's *after* previous amnesty programs. Which means we have plenty of people doing those jobs now, and we don't need any more.

    Unless those current illegals discover that they're being exploited as a slave class and demand better treatment, and end up as the Americans that all you leftists say "don't wanna" and instead fill up the roster of those on the dole.

    Just another American, working within the "system", seeing every day the truth that liberal folks "don't wanna" believe.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    But But But

    California is land stolen from Mexico by the Americans anyway, surely they should just give it back rather then using technology to prevent it's rightful owners coming to visit, after all it has a higher population of Hispanics then neo-conservatives anyway.

    I guess this is all just part of their "Project for a new American century" after all if they hadn't stolen California's mineral wealth from Mexico then the Mexicans wouldn't be so poor.

  33. andrew mulcock

    ray guns

    I seem to remember the US also having microwave guns to 'deter' crowds, and other such none lethal weapons.

    Tie them into the radar, and that would make an interesting fence, I seem to remember Forbidden Planet having a great fence.

  34. John A Blackley

    A small matter of distance

    To the folks who propose walking at glacial speed or belly-crawling in a ghillie suit: D'you know what the distance 'to safety' is, what the terrain is and what the termperatures are along most of the US/Mexico border?

  35. b shubin

    No camo required

    @ AC and ghillie suit

    not that homemade ghillie suits are that hard to make, but if you have the stamina to crawl that distance, you can sneak right by these towers anyway, no suit required. the monitoring stations are oriented more towards clumps of walkers or runners; a crawling human could go starkers (nasty nettle damage potential), wear a clown suit, or cowboy boots and a tutu, or even prison orange, and no detector would twitch.

    this stuff is usually doppler radar anyway, so one may be able to evade it just by moving parallel to the pulse wavefront, and approaching the desired objective obliquely. perhaps the immigrants will have cheap GPS units, programmed with the tower locations as points of interest, and routes to evade detection (what a business opportunity!...i'm sure the free-market zealots will love this idea).

  36. Olof P

    The solution for would-be immigrants is more than 2000 years old

    See Odysseus' escape from the cyclop, although perhaps change the sheep to cows or whatever else is nearby.

  37. mike


    It's not that the gov is against immigration, they are against undocumented immigration. Why wouldn't you want to have some sort of record of everyone entering and leaving your country. And come on, 'stole' california from mexico?? Every country's borders were changed around in it's formitive stages. Wouldn't Scotland say the same thing about England?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I love it when

    I love it when someone starts the "is land stolen from" routine. I'm sure you're aware that the Mexicans (Spanish) weren't the first on that land? And I'm sure there were a few migration conflicts long before the Spanish got there.

    Or are those events somehow less 'wrong' because less recent (and not involving Amerkins)?

    Let's all go back to Olduvai Gorge or wherever and start again shall we?

  39. Barry Rueger


    1) "So then Fly to Canada and then walk south instead." Actually until recent changes in immigration law the opposite was true and refugees would fly to the US, which has more direct flights from nasty nations, and then cross into Canada as political refugees.

    2) "oddly enough, the US economy runs on labor arbitrage, so cheap labor is a very necessary component." Nothing odd. This is not about any real expectation that low priced illegal workers will be stopped at the border, it's just a great way to a) create an illusion that something is being done and b) reward tech companies that supported the election campaigns of southern politicians.

    3)"The US allows more immigrants in *legally* than anyone else worldwide." That's a rather vague and meaningless claim. First of all, at least according to an admittedly confusing Wikipedia article, Canada tops the world in PER CAPITA immigration. Second, since millions of people are able to move and work throughout the EU at will (kind of what we all were promised with NAFTA?) it's hard to really draw a parallel to North America. And if the UK is so easy to get in to, why do both Germany and France, generally considered fairly xenophobic, have higher numbers of immigrants, at least in 2005?

    4) "Let's all go back to Olduvai Gorge or wherever and start again shall we?"

    Well said. Given a choice between Clinton, Obama, and McCain (who is actually slightly older than the Olduvai Gorge) it does seem to be a good option.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I can see increased demand for 2 man cow costumes

    Busines will be booming

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Physical wall still being built - in some places

    And yet, a physical wall is still being built apparently:

  42. Aitor


    First of all, to put it right, the EU is full of inmigrants, more than 10%. In Spain the numbers are: 15% of the population are legal inmigrants, and at least 7% more illegal. In big cities it is more than 30%.

    Now, how to come across the border: you just need a pickup & a scoped rifle. With your pickup you go near the tower (Mexican side). Just aim with your scoped rifle using a rest to the sensor/electronics (ie:computer), and shoot several times, until the desired effect is achieved (sensors damaged). Simple, inexpensive & secure, as the guards can't pass from the US to Mexico.. If you want to get more cozy, just use a sound supressor (you can make one easily if you have a garage shop and know what you are doing).

    The solution to this, of course, is to put the towers at least 600m (about 2400 ft) inside US soil, or, better, 1200 m (4800ft) just to take care of sharpshooters. But then the would be illegal inmigrants would just crawl into US soil to shoot at posts..

    So a humble rifle can kick in the mouth an expensive array.

    Of course, the mafias that bring illegal workers could just buy some night scopes ,high power rifles & sharpshooters to "clean" the "line" in about a week.

    As for this being irreasonable, in Spain the traffic radars (speed ticket dispensers) are shot on rural areas.. so they now have armor.. but they still get destroyed by hunting rifles aimed at the optics), so the chance of this happening in a place of the world full of weapons...

  43. cor

    @ Stopthepropaganda

    "There's nothing in the Statue's decree that says "sneak in, under the cover of darkness, carrying diseases, drugs and weapons". Nothing says "send me your criminals you kicked out of your jails, your saboteurs and terrorists, who long to kill so that their leaders may control this land"."

    True, this is something the Mexicans should have on their side facing north.


  44. b166er

    Looking for man-sized heat sources

    Just ride in on horseback then

  45. Anonymous Coward

    They will still come....

    ..... all your (lowly paid) jobs are belong to us!

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Niall

    USanians or USers?

  47. Jamie

    Yeah Bush

    I love Americans but hate the government, and this is just another reason why. I have some good friends around the States and I grew up in Canada. One thing I noticed is that the government has to have some sort of enemy that wants to wipe the US off the map, be it Germans, Japanese, Soviets, Cubans, Mexican, Middle Eastern Countries, or Asian Pacific Countries.

    All this paranoia wipes off on the public over time, and then they start believing the garbage they are fed.

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