Fast-track the paperwork and get drones up and scanning the Texas-Mexico border. It's a modern way to identify drug-smuggling operations.What a bunch of hokum! The reasons unmanned drones have been effective in Iraq and Afghanistan is that they're armed and can attack terrorists remotely. By contrast, Texas has already tried placing cameras along the border and having law enforcement respond when unauthorized border crossings were reported. The results were abysmal, costing more than $150,000 per arrest while wasting loads of law enforcement time on bad leads.
There seems to be total agreement that drones can be just as successful in providing high-resolution views of ground activities here as they are in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The call here, with bipartisan political support, is for unarmed drones. The holdup is the Federal Aviation Administration, which requires a paperwork process before authorizing operation of unmanned aerial systems.
Drones are now in operation over the Arizona-Mexico border, and to some extent along the New Mexico-Mexico border.
Texas needs drones, too.
Such will inevitably be the case with drones, only with even greater expense, both for the equipment and the staffing to fly the planes and monitor surveillance footage. The biggest irony: Most of the contraband and smuggled immigrants aren't crossing at obscure rural spots on the border, they're mostly crossing at the regular checkpoints thanks to the volume of international traffic and corrupt border enforcers on both sides of the river!
To me, the worst part about pointlessly flying drones out in the middle of nowhere is that it sets a precedent for using them in urban areas for law enforcement purposes, as former Houston police chief Harold Hurtt at one point hoped to do.
The FAA is rightly holding up their deployment, as noted last year in this Grits post:
According to this source, however, it's not just that Collin County is restricted space but the FAA simply does not approve unmanned drones for routine law enforcement use outside of a couple of pilot programs. "Despite pressure from some law enforcement agencies, the FAA is holding firm to its policy against routine use of unmanned aerial vehicles. "There is nothing to our knowledge and no UAS technology at this time that would allow unmanned aircraft to meet the same 'see and avoid' [regulatory technical] standard that manned aircraft have to operate under," FAA spokesman Les Dorr recently told GovTech.com (06/09)In articulating the need to deploy such drones, the El Paso Times editorialized:
It's understood that the FAA has a duty to control air traffic over the U.S. It's a safety issue, and drones are relatively new to all air spaces around the world.Someone, anyone, please explain to me what flying unmanned drones in rural areas on the Texas side of the river will do to stop "cartel drug-war murders" in Juarez? The obvious answer: Not a damn thing! The latter offers no justification whatsoever for the former. It's not like, in any event, American drones could fly into Mexican airspace (I'll guarantee the Mexican nationalists won't go for that). And what will drones contribute to stopping contraband passing through the checkpoints, which is where the biggest problem lies? Finally, why should we suppose reaction by officialdom to camera footage from drones will be any more rapid or effective than it was based on reports from the stationary cameras put up by Governor Perry?
But we have a border crisis here. There have been nearly 5,000 cartel drug-war murders
since January 2008 in Juárez. The Mexican drug gangs are said to have some 100,000 members, more than the Mexican military. And they are better armed. They move from place to place, wherever there is a hole in border security.
Drones, with their supersensitive surveillance equipment, look to be an answer to plugging security gaps.
This is pure security theater: An expensive, do-nothing tactic which confuses activity for achievement while lining the pockets of contractors selling phony security solutions.