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Tag: Customs and Border Patrol

$600,000 Homes Built for CBP Personnel in Small Arizona Town

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A cluster of yellow, blue and salmon-colored homes was built for CBP employees in a small former mining community in Ajo, Ariz. at a cost of roughly $600,000 apiece, The Arizona Republic reports.

The price tag includes the cost to plan and build each of 21 two- and three-bedroom houses that are intended to attract CBP employees to the town.

Similar-sized homes in Ajo are selling for less than $100,000, the Republic reported.

The rental homes are about 11 miles from a Border Patrol station in Why, Ariz.

It’s unclear how much the federal government is charging for rent, but officials said rent is at market rates, the Republic wrote.

Commentary: Frightening Questions Raised Over Drones Patrolling Border

 

istock photo

Glenn Garvin
The Columbus Dispatch

Last month, when the Senate passed an amendment to its immigration-reform bill that included $46 billion to beef up border security, Sen. John McCain declared: “We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall!” He didn’t know the half of it.

Since then, documents released as part of a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation have revealed that the Department of Homeland Security has been preparing to fly armed drones along the border.

A long-term-planning document prepared by the department’s Customs and Border Patrol service, which is using Predator drones for surveillance along the border, would authorize the use of “ nonlethal weapons designed to immobilize” targets of interest.

That gets scarier when you thumb through some of the other newly released documents, which reveal that the Border Patrol plans to more than double its drone fleet over the next three years, to 24, and make them more easily available to other government agencies.

To read more click here.

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Border Patrol Seeks Weaponizing Domestic Drones Amid Serious Questions

istock photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol officials are hoping to soon use “non-lethal weapons designed to immobilize” people on surveillance drones, the Atlantic reports.

The discovery comes from documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“This is the first we’ve heard of any federal agency proposing using weapons on drones flown domestically,” the EFF wrote. “The CBP has, without broader public discussion, considered this stop – combined with the fact that he agency is planning to sharply increase the number of drones it flies – should cause some serious concern for Americans.”

Attorney General Eric Holder has previously said that the president doesn’t have the authority to use weapons on drones to kill Americans not engaged in combat on American soil, the Atlantic wrote.

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Homeland Security Has Spent $430 Million on Radios Its Employees Don’t Know How to Use

 
By Theodoric Meyer
ProPublica

Getting the agencies responsible for national security to communicate better was one of the main reasons the Department of Homeland Security was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But according to a recent report from the department’s inspector general, one aspect of this mission remains far from accomplished.

DHS has spent $430 million over the past nine years to provide radios tuned to a common, secure channel to 123,000 employees across the country. Problem is, no one seems to know how to use them.

Only one of 479 DHS employees surveyed by the inspector general’s office was actually able to use the common channel, according to the report. Most of those surveyed — 72 percent — didn’t even know the common channel existed. Another 25 percent knew the channel existed but weren’t able to find it; 3 percent were able to find an older common channel, but not the current one.

The investigators also found that more than half of the radios did not have the settings for the common channel programmed into them. Only 20 percent of radios tested had all the correct settings.

The radios are supposed to help employees of Customs and Border Patrol, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Secret Service, and other agencies with DHS communicate during crises, as well as normal operations.

DHS officials did not immediately respond to questions from ProPublica about what effect the radio problems could have on how the agency handles an emergency.

The $430 million paid for radio infrastructure and maintenance as well as the actual radios.

In a response letter to the report, Jim H. Crumpacker, the Department of Homeland Security’s liaison between the Government Accountability Office and the inspector general, wrote that DHS had made “significant strides” in improving emergency communications since 2003. But he acknowledged that DHS “has had some challenges in achieving Department-wide interoperable communications goals.”

The recent inspector general’s report is the latest in a string of critical assessments DHS has received on its efforts to improve communication between federal, state and local agencies. The Government Accountability Office reported in 2007 that the Department of Homeland Security had “generally not achieved” this goal.

DHS has assigned a blizzard of offices and committees to oversee its radio effort since 2003, which the inspector general’s report claimed had “hindered DHS’ ability to provide effective oversight.”

Also, none of the entities “had the authority to implement and enforce their recommendations,” the report concluded. Tanya Callender, a spokeswoman for the inspector general, said the current office overseeing the effort hadn’t been given the authority to force agencies to use the common channel or even to provide instructions for programming the radios.

The inspector general recommended DHS standardize its policies regarding radios, which DHS agreed to do. But it rejected a second recommendation that it overhaul the office overseeing the radios to give it more authority.

“DHS believes that it has already established a structure with the necessary authority to ensure” that its various agencies can communicate, Crumpacker wrote in his response letter.

ProPublica is a non-profit investigative journalism website.

CBP Officer Sentenced to Probation in Gun-Buying Scheme

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A CBP officer who bought guns at local sporting goods stores for other people and then lied about it was sentenced Monday to fives years on probation, the Associated Press reports.

Manuel Eduardo Pena had faced up to five years in prison after prosecutors say he bought hunting rifles for other people and lied to authorities when asked about it, the AP reported.

A federal jury convicted Pena in August of two counts of making a false statement on a firearms record and one count of making a false statement to a federal authority.

The AP wrote that Pena is on unpaid leave.

Border Patrol Pilot in Hot Water After Flying Helicopter Over Football Field for Son

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 A father who flew a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol helicopter over a high school football field in northern Virginia has some explaining to do, the Washington Times reports.

From the low-flying helicopter, the border patrol pilot dropped a stuffed animal that carried an invitation to the homecoming dance from his son to a girl on Sept. 12.

It may have won over the 17-year-old student, but the federal government wasn’t as tickled, the Times reported.

“CBP management is looking into the matter and the pilot in command of the aircraft has been relieved and reassigned to administrative duties pending completion of the review of the incident,” Michael Friel, a spokesman for customs and Border Protection, said in a statement.

The pilot’s identity wasn’t released.

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