Law enforcement agencies recently expressed disapproval of armed militia groups helping police the southern border, but one thing they do want is invasive surveillance blimp technology.
Militias assemble on the Texas-Mexico Border
Picking up the federal government’s slack, various militia groups have assembled along the banks of the Rio Bravo River in deep south Texas in an effort to supplement border security.
Prompted to action by reports that illegals are overrunning the country, and by fears that the influx in its current form will further destroy the country’s infrastructure and, indeed, aid in the dismantling of national sovereignty, militia groups ultimately desire people entering the country illegally to follow the proper channels to gain citizenship.
To this end, they have lent their assistance, free of charge, to federal and state agencies that evidently have their hands full.
But those supposedly in charge of securing the border say militia members, who lack the traditional law enforcement attire, are confusing police officers and border agents.
“Sometimes it can be dangerous, because you have all these (non-law enforcement) people out there running around the border,” said Kevin Oaks, the Border Patrol’s chief in the Rio Grande Valley in an Associated Press report entitled, “Border Patrol: Leave law enforcement to the pros.” “There are cartel members that carry assault weapons and camouflage, and then there’s others that may be under the auspices of whatever group, may look very similar, and we have no idea who those people are. My fear is that these things clash and eventually there will be a very bad outcome.”
One such “bad outcome” manifested last month when a border agent accidentally opened fire on a man who later turned out to be a militia member.
“We really don’t need the militia here,” Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said following the shooting. “It just creates a problem from my point of view, because we don’t know who they are.”
“How do they identify themselves? Do they have badges? How do we know who they are?” Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Deputy J.P. Rodriguez also questioned in August. “If they’re all just dressed in camos, it’s kind of hard to distinguish whether they’re law enforcement or not… There’s a lot of potential for stuff to go wrong.”
We need blimps, not boots
While making it clear that additional help is not needed, law enforcement is nevertheless enthusiastic over the launch of surveillance balloons over several cities in South Texas.
The tethered blimps, known as aerostats, were transferred to the Border Patrol from the Defense Department after being used by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan. They hover around 3,500 feet in the air, and come equipped with military-grade radar and 360-degree camera equipment which can zoom in on license plates from miles away, enabling agents to keep a close eye on border activity 24 hours a day. There are currently eight aerostats floating in Texas, with five of them surveilling the Rio Grande Valley, up from three initial trial balloons.
“They have been extremely successful,” Border Patrol agent Joe Gutierrez Jr. told The Monitor. “It’s opened our eyes to the amount of traffic. As soon as the aerostat went up, we saw more apprehensions.”
Justifying their need for the spy apparatuses, law enforcement agents claim smugglers often take advantage of the few times in the day the aerostats are pulled for maintenance.
“They probably do monitor the aerostat, smugglers do,” stated Penitas Police Chief Roel Bermea. “When they put it down for any reason, I’m pretty sure they take the risk in crossing as many illegals as they can.”
“The more eyes we have on what’s going on around us the better,” Rio Grande City Assistant Police Chief Noe Castillo told CBS affiliate ValleyCentral.com in May after Starr County received a blimp. “I think any jurisdiction would love to have that in their area.”
But privacy concerns have arisen over the undisclosed scope of the aerostats’ surveillance capabilities. Tom Hargis, the Director of Communications for the ACLU of Texas, for one, believes the balloons could potentially infringe on American citizens’ privacy rights.
“For border residents, more mass surveillance gadgets in the sky simply add to the sense of being under siege,” Hargis told The Monitor.
“The extraordinary authority that government possesses on this border continues to spill over the lives of regular Americans. Instead of a targeted effort to stop crime, what we’ve been seeing is an approach such as dragnet surveillance that turns us all into suspects,” Hargis stated.
The Border Patrol insists it would never use the blimps to spy on citizens, however, it is reluctant to disclose details about the blimps’ capabilities “so smugglers would not learn of any limitations,” writes The Monitor’s Fernando Del Valle.
“The specific purpose is not to infringe on people’s privacy,” said Border Patrol agent Shevannah Wray. “We use it to secure the border.”
The agency’s reassurances are lukewarm, given that the federal government considers areas up to 100 miles inland from the border “Constitution-free zones.”
In his 2005 documentary film, Martial Law 9-11: The Rise of the Police State, Alex Jones predicted that blimps, such as the aerostats patrolling the border, would soon be surveilling major cities.
“This is only the beginning. In the future, every major city will have a high-altitude blimp tethered to a cable with ground-penetrating radar that looks right through your walls and gives the government a black and white image of the inside of your home,” Jones predicted.
Scroll to approximately 10 minutes to hear Jones’ comments.
In the film, Jones captured a blimp spying on American citizens ahead of the high-security 2005 Republican National Convention in New York City, loaned out to the NYPD by Fuji Film.
The blimps have already been tested in several cities throughout the country, including Washington DC, and one is scheduled to make an appearance in San Diego by the end of the month. Analysts project the Aerostat Systems Market to reach $9.96 billion by 2020.
Orchestrated Border Crisis Used to Give Big Brother Bigger Eyes
Given the Obama administration’s role in facilitating and orchestrating the border crisis, the move to launch more surveillance blimps is likely another classic example of how a manufactured crisis can never go to waste.
Back in June, a McAllen, Texas city official exclusively told Infowars that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol was purchasing bus tickets and vouchers for illegal immigrants in order to ship them deeper into the country at taxpayers’ expense.
Since then it has emerged that the federal government is playing a key role in helping immigrants by stemming deportations, providing lavish accommodations and setting them up with immigration court hearings that rarely get attended.
The practice of catching and releasing illegals into the country has led some agents to label the influx a contrived debacle, which the Obama administration is purposefully neglecting to act on.
“This is not a humanitarian crisis,” National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers Zack Taylor said in a press release earlier this year. “It is a predictable, orchestrated and contrived assault on the compassionate side of Americans by her political leaders that knowingly puts minor Illegal Alien children at risk for purely political purposes. Certainly, we are not gullible enough to believe that thousands of unaccompanied minor Central American children came to America without the encouragement, aid and assistance of the United States Government.”
Taylor has gone further by calling the government’s inaction “asymmetrical warfare” which will work to defeat the nation “from within.”
Moreover, AmericanBorderPatrol.com‘s Glenn Spencer outlined to Infowars in July how he had developed technology which would detect illegal immigrants by counting “everybody who crosses the border and alert where they are, and how many” by utilizing a seismic “sonic barrier,” similar to devices previously used by oil exploration companies.
The fact that the technology was praised by a U.S. Defense Department contractor, but never implemented, illustrates how the federal government is actively ignoring solutions which would stem the tide of illegal immigrants, in favor of surveillance technologies replete with privacy-infringing implications.