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SBInet ended, DHS to implement new plan; King anxious


The Department of Homeland Security is ending its controversial technologically complex project to install a high-tech fence along the U.S.-Mexican border.

The ranking member, and last chairman, of the House Homeland Security Committee, Bennie Thompson (D-MS) in a statement issued the afternoon of Jan. 14, said DHS will “end SBINet as originally conceived.” The new committee chairman, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) took the Obama Administration to task for not having enough urgency about border security.

“The SBInet program has been a grave and expensive disappointment since its inception,” said Thompson. “Our committee has held 11 hearings on the project, commissioned five critical GAO reports, all while the program cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion for only 53 miles of coverage,” he said. 

“I am glad that DHS and CBP are finally listening to what we have been saying for years – that the sheer size and variations of our borders show us a one-stop solution has never been best.  I applaud them for taking this critical step toward using a more tailored technologically-based approach to securing our Nation’s borders.”

The project, overseen and run by Boeing Co., has cost about $1 billion. The project looked to an advanced technology package, that combined video cameras, radar, sensors and other technologies in a package designed to detect smugglers trying to cross the porous border.

The project has been problematic, however. DHS secretary Janet Napolitano froze funding that would have expanded the project beyond two test areas in Arizona last year. It has since gone nowhere.

House homeland secuirty committee chairman King, issued a statement Jan. 14 noting the DHS decision to end SBInet, but adding he is very concerned about the Obama Administration’s lack of action on border matters. He said he expects the administration to include a plan for action in its 2012 budget.

“While I understand the Department of Homeland Security decision to end the SBInet program, I continue to have very serious concerns about the Obama Administration’s lack of urgency to secure the border,” he said. “Since announcing a moratorium to SBInet, it has taken DHS a full year to make the final decision to cancel the program.  Now today, we learn that DHS will spend all of 2011, and maybe longer, deciding what to do next.  These delays are unacceptable.”

 “The Obama Administration must promptly present the people of this country with a comprehensive plan to secure our borders, incorporating the necessary staffing, fencing, and technology.  I expect the Administration, in its upcoming 2012 budget proposal, to put forward such a plan, including timelines and metrics,” he said.


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