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

Chertoff: Scan-tech will be 'every place on border'

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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 during a roundup speech covering a range of border-control measures.

"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.

Project 28 is an initial row of 100-foot-tall scanner towers topped by telescopic multispectral cameras and hi-res moving-target-indicator radar. The idea is that the radar can sweep large areas of ground and pick up anything man-sized which is moving. Radar blips will cue the all-seeing nightsight cameras to swivel round for a closer look, producing images for control-room operators who can then classify each blip as innocuous - a large tumbleweed, say, perhaps a cow, or whatever - or a threat such as a huddled mass of would-be Americans/terrorists.

The various icons are then plotted in real time on a networked map which border-patrol officers can view in their cars, allowing them to ignore the tumbleweeds, cows, locals etc, and snap the bracelets on unwelcome miscreants. The tech is officially named "SBInet", meaning the network portion of the DHS Secure Borders Initiative, but we'd personally have gone with Eye-o-Sauron™.

Project 28 was supposed to have been accepted months ago, but software snags delayed it. Some US politicians see the radar-fence as a solution for all the thousands of miles of US border, avoiding the cost and unpopularity of a physical barrier. (An actual fence would often be a serious problem for border landowners, and in some areas locals are firmly against any such idea.)

Apart from fixed scan-towers, the DHS plans to massively increase its use of mobile huddled-mass-spotting radar vehicles, and to purchase more unmanned drone aircraft equipped with similar technology. Chertoff seemed to suggest that soon no part of the US borders will be unswept by man-tracking radar, infrared, distributed sensors, or whatever.

"In some form or fashion, technology is going to be virtually every place on the border, but it's not necessarily going to be in the configuration of [SBInet/Eye-o-Sauron™]," he said.

The Reuters report is here. ®

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