Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/10/eye_o_sauron_blinks_out/

Eye-o-Sauron™ poked out by Great Wall of America

Presumably to be built from southern side

By Lewis Page

Posted in Government, 10th September 2008 15:56 GMT

American plans to erect a chain of all-seeing eyes atop tall towers to guard the Mexican border have been put on hold in favour of a more conventional fence or wall, according to reports.

"The highest priority is to put out a system of physical fences and barriers that will keep people and vehicles from illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border," said US Customs & Border Protection honcho Jayson Ahern, quoted in the Wall Street Journal.

The paper's ubiquitous "persons familiar" added that the push to sidetrack the "virtual fence" of networked man-tracking scan towers was the result of budget overruns in physical-walls projects.

The so-called Secure Borders Initiative tower network from Boeing, aka SBInet - we would be willing to accept any reasonable fee for our suggested alternate brand-name, Eye-o-Sauron™ - was supposed to work by constantly scanning large areas of borderland using the moving-target-indicator radars which are now all the rage for military recce aircraft. Any moving human-sized object would cause long-ranging thermal nightsight camera eyes to swivel round for a good stare, hopefully distinguishing huddled masses, troublemaking hobbits etc from among the trundling tumbleweeds, mustangs, loose cattle, bona-fide Americans out for a stroll and so forth.

Those radar blips confirmed as intruders would then appear as such on networked maps viewable by command posts and border patrols in their vehicles, allowing them to bracelet the miscreants and send them homeward to think again.

However, the Eye-o-Sauron kit was dogged by delays and tech snags, and reportedly was still riddled with bugs when the initial nine-tower pilot sector was accepted by Homeland Security overlord Michael Chertoff. Its final demise has been rumoured for some time.

If the WSJ report is correct, that time is now imminent and the US will concentrate instead on more basic walls. Presumably to be built by relatively low-paid labour... ®