Tag Archives: Boeing

Border Residents Fight Back Against Surreal Border Fence Boondoggle

Two fine articles in Truthout this morning.

Cusack’s War, Inc.

Border Communities Sue

and one cool Youtube story (TYT) on the border fence

Border Fence story

In the first article, Jeremy Scahill writes abut John Cusack’s latest film War inc., a MASH-like social satire on the corporatization of the Iraq war.  The second article is about Peter Schey seeking a preliminary injunction at the border for border towns suing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Bush Administration over construction of the border fence, which is being built in an illegal, arrogant and stupid way. 

The border spectacle connects both articles because Cusack’s War, Inc., could easily have a sequel called, The Border, Inc. Same patterns, different locale.

The Texas lawsuit argues that Bush is making unconstitutional use of eminent domain by building the fence on the property of dozens of border residents, some of whom have had the land in their families for more than 250 years since receiving a land grant from the spanish viceroy.  DHS is forcing people off their land without consultation, providing just compensation or fair process.

Not only is Michael Chertoff and Bushco cavalierly disregarding the constitution, they are doing so to advance the interests of Boeing, its subsdiary– Power Contracting, and Republican donors Sundt Construction, and Kiewit Brothers.  Sundt is known for having built the secretive Los Alamos, and Kiewit built the secretive NSA facility at Fort Gordon.  Since the Army Corps of Engineer contracts with these companies could be revoked upon the inauguration of a new president, the administration is in a  mad rush to finish doling out contracts and sinking financial,  administrative infrastructure costs before the end of the year, personal and public property be damned. 

Consider this. Bushco is not even eviscerating the constitution for its own misguided principles: unitary executive or other wacko, unconstitutional neocon stuff, but rather, it is using its unitary powers thesis to advance the cause of its corporate cronies, buds, donors, and friends.  Payola and Payback on the most grotesque scale.

And once again, livelihoods and human lives are disregarded along the way.



Immigrant Marches & Border Walls

Perhaps in no other issue in American politics is the Bush Administration’s contempt for the rule of law and the decency of people more evident than when it comes to immigrants and immigration.

All the more reason that this May Day is important for everyone to support pro immigrant marches to show that Americans still believe in the rule of law and spirit of the constitution even if the Administration does not.

On May Day 2006, the undocumented immigrant community startled the governing class by marching en-masse in the millions across America’s cities. Got things so stirred up that local governments have been trying ever since to outlaw immigrants almost any way they can. Although it is still playing out in the courts, the local anti-immigrant movement still rests on the shifting sands of hate, fear and uncertainty.

The Bush crowd knows their days are numbered and they are taking it out on immigrant workers and their supporters.

For example, DHS Secretary Chertoff has brushed off dozens of federal laws as he endeavors to leave a seven hundred mile trail of broken fence segments along the Mexico border. This corporate boondoggle for Boeing has already proven itself a failure and yet the attack on Latino and Native American border communities continue.

Chertoff and Boeing are in the process of dividing the Tohono Oodham Territory nears Sells Arizona, dividing families, persons from employment and destroying sacred lands. They are also in the process of condemning personal property of land grant families in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. This is land that has been in these families for more than 200 years and is now in the process of being destroyed for a fence that will not work.

Bush Co cares as much for effective border control as about respecting the rule of law. In the meantime its time is spent whipping up nativist fears which benefit its corporate partners.

By marching and speaking out this May Day, the immigrant community could send the message of “Basta ya.” It is time to go.

Bush Scraps Anti-Immigrant Border Fence, but Boondoggle to Continue

It was announced yesterday that Bushco is going to scrap the $20 million dollar Project 28 along the Southern arizona border with Mexico because, as the GAO concluded almost two months ago, it “did not fully meet user needs and the project’s design will not be used as the basis for future” developments.

Problem is, future developments likely are going to be more of the same.  The corporatist logic here is obvious. The government is scrapping the project, not the contract.  Bushco no longer care (as if they ever did) about the effectiveness of border enforcement. All they do care about is continuing the neoliberal plan of outsourcing government programs and services related to immigration control, in this case to Boeing.  Boeing’s indefinite use contract with the government allows it to continue creating failed prototypes at taxpayer expense, on and on, and on.

All the while, DHS Secretary Chertoff has fast tracked the construction of the physical fence along the border, part of the same larger Boeing project.  This project will also fast track moneys into boeing coffers regardless of the idiocy of these plans.  At least the virtual fence didn’t imprison Tohono O’odham indians to a netherland between Mexico and the continental United States. This is what the fence is going to do within a 75 mile stretch also along the Arizona border. It will divide Tohono O’odham territory leaving about 1,400 tribespersons south of the fence and separated from 14,000 others as as from medical and health services and jobs.  It will also dive the University of Texas-Brownsville campus that leaves several buildings and agencies in a no man’s land separated from the continental united states.

The physical fence also promises to cut right through 265 year old land grant tracts of land owned by families which received original land grants from Spain and Mexico.  In addition to the symbolic violence of DHS’s decisions to move forward with the physical fence given the resistance of land grant families, it is also doing so in violation of international law, and federal and state statutes related to the the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and about 34 other federal environment protection laws.

Again, the cynicism of the government’s behavior here really cannot be over-emphasized. They know full well tat these projects will fail, and they know full well that people of color along the border are being bulldozed by this extra-legal process of DHS decision making.  And once again, they just don’t care.


The Bush-Chertoff Coup at the Mexican Border

When Congress enacted the Real ID Act in 2005, few people appreciated just how radical a piece of legislation this was. Yes, it introduced a drivers’ license data base that many folks astutely compare to a national ID card.  It also threatens to create havoc on the roadways by denying undocumented immigrant drivers a chance to get a drivers license and insurance which comes in handy in case of a car wreck.  Real ID also incongruously included provisions that would strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over immigration matters, which creates a damning tilt toward unfettered executive powers over immigrants.  

I thought all this qualified Real ID as one whopping, dangerous piece of law.  But just today,  additional horrors of Real ID were revealed: a coup at the border.

It was announced that section 102 of the Real ID Act provides the justification DHS Secry Chertoff says he needs for DHS to waive about 36 existing (mostly environmental and land management) laws enacted by Congress that pertain to DHS efforts to construct a border fence (18 foot steel and concrete) along the US-Mexico border from California to Texas.

As of today, the rule of law, and separation of powers no longer apply to the DHS’s SBInet efforts to construct a border industrial complex.  The rule of law would take too long, Chertoff suggested today,  and would slow efforts to stop “illegal immigration,” an occurrence ongoing since the 1848 Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo, and regulated since the 1924 creation of the US border patrol.  According to Chertoff, “Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation.”

As reported in the Earth Times, Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife laments:

“Thanks to this action by the Bush administration, the border is in a sense more lawless now than when Americans first started moving west….”Laws ensuring clean water for us and our children — dismissed. Laws protecting wildlife, land, rivers, streams and places of cultural significance — just a bother to the Bush administration. Laws giving American citizens a voice in the process — gone. Clearly this is out of control.” 

How to make sense of the border coup?  I suggest considering the following: 1) the clock is ticking on an Administration whose border control policies have sucked as much as its other failed neo-con policies . 2) Abiding the rule of law is time consuming.  3) Bush’s unitary executive power theory suggests he need not so limit himself to the rule of law;  4) Bush business cronies at Boeing, the recipient of the $67 million contract to build the failure of a virtual fence project, also provides the steel for the physical fence, and along with several other SBInet firms, Boeing manages, oversees (itself a shameless contradiction) and consults on the construction of the physical border fence and other SBInet activities.  Getting the fence in the ground before the next Administration takes over is the surest way to avoid cancellation of this projected $49 billion fence boondoggle.

Who wins?   Boeing and other Bush corporate cronies (SBInet firms) and remaining neo-cons who still wrongly insist 9/11 hijackers crossed the border. 

Who loses?  all law abiding citizens; all people who believe in the constitution; all border residents, particularly land owners of mostly modest means; all immigrants

In addition to all adherents of the rule of law, the most immediate losers here include all the American people who collectively are proprietors of the national and state park lands, and wildlife preserves (including the San Pedro River in Arizona) that are going to be destroyed by the fence. In addition,  DHS is forcibly removing individual middle class and poor families who own property along the targeted path of the coming fence.  The govt. has already sued more than 50 property owners in South Texas to gain access to the land.  Now, DHS no longer need wait out such nuisances as damage assessments, court hearings and other due process entanglements.  

Testing Obama on Boeing’s Border Folly

How quick will it take the next administration to undo the doctrinaire free market ideology of Bush & Co.?
Under a McCain administration, it is likely to take 100 years, at least.

Under Obama? A good question. During last week’s debate in Austin, his responses (along with Clinton’s) to the immigration questions seemed unsettlingly sympathetic to using technology as a palliative for border control woes.

The problem is that border control technologies– such as the virtual fence–are a product of military contractors who are privatizing the border just as they have privatized war in iraq.

Further, a post by Jeremy Scahill in the Nation suggests Obama is not opposed to continuing the sort of private security force that Blackwater is angling to provide at the border, perhaps headquartered near San Diego.

And, today’s headline in the Washington Post about delaying the border’s “virtual fence,” provides an opportunity for Obama to think more about border contol issues.

The virtual fence folly is a prime example of free market ideology run amuck.

Today’s Washington Post reports that the “virtual fence” will be delayed 3 years because it “did not work as planned.” WaPo reports that DHS cites technical problems for its decision to remove control over Project 28 from Boeing, which requires the project to be redesigned.

Keeping in mind the corruption and fraud that has seeped into many privatized DHS projects lately, things must really be bad down there with Project 28, just south of Tucson, for DHS to reassert its control over Boeing.

For some background, consider a Wall Street Journal report last August:

Boeing Co. has changed the management of an electronic-surveillance project along the U.S.-Mexican border after falling more than two months behind schedule, marking the complications involved in setting up a new generation of border security.

The project, part of a larger Department of Homeland Security program called SBInet, is a critical link in the plan to use technology to monitor the borders for illegal immigrants, drug smugglers and possible terrorists. Towers set up along a stretch of the border near Nogales, Ariz., are supposed to use motion sensors, cameras and radar to keep track of wide areas. According to the government, Boeing has had trouble getting the different components to work together without glitches.

The government’s plans for monitoring as much as 6,000 miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders hinge on towers such as these working properly. If they prove ineffective, officials could be forced to spend billions of dollars for more traditional security measures, such as fences and more officers. The Homeland Security Department currently estimates that the virtual fence will cost about $8 billion through 2013, although the agency’s inspector general wrote last November that the cost could balloon to $30 billion.

This is the second delay for a relatively new project (the first was announced last June), launched after Boeing was awarded the government contract, September 2006. To et the contract, Boeing was supposed to have answered questions about the very real problems it has faced since the day after the ontract was awarded.

Project 28 (the pilot project), now delayed 3 years, was initially supposed to have been completed by mid June ’07. A spring ’07 GAO report on the virtual fence predicted the delays, reporting both expected and unexpected problems with implementing the virtual fence. According to the GAO, “virtual fence” cameras can’t tell the difference between immigrants and the rain, and couldn’t detect anything more than 5 kms away, which violates the Boeing contract.

Problems for border security and the taxpayer, nonetheless amount to a boondoggle for Boeing, particularly given Boeing’s “indefinite delivery” contract. Tax revenues fuel an over-bloated DHS budget, which then outsources its government responsibilities for homeland security, to such military contractors as Boeing. Delays and (temporary) loss of control over Project 28 don’t interfere with the Boeing award.

No such thing as failure in this privatized system. Consider the following investigation by Joseph Richey of the Nation Institute,

Since Boeing won the contract last year, the estimated cost of securing the southwest border has gone from $2.5 billion to an estimated $8 billion just a few months later. When Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter asked SBInet Director Giddens for the real costs at a February 2007 hearing of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, Giddens replied: “I wish I could answer that with greater clarity.”

At the same Congressional hearings, Boeing vice president and SBInet program manager, Jerry McElwee, took heat from Congressman William Lacy Clay who demanded information about the ballooning costs and the extension of the contract period. “You bid on these contracts and then you come back and say, ‘Oh we need more time. It costs more than twice as much.’ Are you gaming the taxpayers here? Or gaming DHS?” the Missouri Democrat asked.

DHS’s own inspector general, Richard Skinner, says that the Boeing contract is in the “high-risk” category for waste and abuse because of its scope, its dollar value, and “the vulnerabilities stemming from the lack of acquisition management capacity.”

Indeed, nothing could be better for business at Boeing than a 3 year delay. More government revenues and profits, rather than more oversight and accountability. And as Richey, shows, Congress, sadly, was aware of and did nothing about the fleecing, which goes to show how privatization ideologies are shared by Democrats as well as Republicans.

So, the question for Obama, assuming he becomes the nominee, regarding his commitment to deprivatize America, is whether he would terminate the Boeing contract, and other similar ones that now frame immigration control policy. Further, as president, would he overhaul the hollowed out DHS that seems to favor tis way of conducting business?

“Yes We Can” presumes the unprivatizing of America, which ought to start at our borders with the virtual fence.

Washington Post, “Virtual Fence’ Along Border To Be Delayed”