High-tech cable sensor proposed for U.S.- Canada border

Canada/US Border, Glacier National Park, Mont., and Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta. Hikers on the 10 mile trail from Waterton in Canada to the Goat Hunt Ranger station in the US cross the border here; but must go another few miles to the Goat Haunt Ranger station for Customs/Immigration. Photo: Cohen.Canada, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Canada/US Border, Glacier National Park, Mont., and Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta. Hikers on the 10 mile trail from Waterton in Canada to the Goat Hunt Ranger station in the US cross the border here; but must go another few miles to the Goat Haunt Ranger station for Customs/Immigration. Photo: Cohen.Canada, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Like it or not, efforts to tighten border security seem to be the new reality – at least for the foreseeable future.

And on that note, here’s more about one proposal: a cable sensor system. According to  this July 12th item from the CBC:

“Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester, who will chair a special field meeting of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee today focusing on the northern border, said cutting-edge technology, private partnerships and bilateral collaboration are key to closing potentially critical gaps — especially at expansive unmanned stretches.”

A quick Internet search on the ‘what’ part of that story turns up some info on the technology being discussed, the Blue Rose perimeter defense and security system.

The ‘why’ part sounds fairly straightforward: “‘I think there’s some real opportunity to save money and get better border security,’ Tester told CBC News. ‘I’m not talking drones here, I’m talking low-level radar. I’m talking things like Blue Rose technology, where you can lay a cable in the ground and determine whether a gopher runs over it, or a human being, or a horse.'”

For what it’s worth, Senator Tester has gone on record as being concerned with what some see as government overreach. This is from an Havre Daily News article posted on Senator Tester’s website with his thoughts on recent scandals (i.e., IRS targeting Tea Party organizations and the NSA surveillance issue):

I think there has to be some questions answered by the administration on Capitol Hill as to why what happened happened, and I will also tell you this: I was here in 2007 when it was the previous administration and a different party, and it was the same stuff, so this goes beyond party lines.

This is about people’s civil liberties, and I think it is outrageous, and we need some answers, and we need them soon.

What do you think about a cable detection system?  Great idea for saving tax dollars? Paranoid overkill that feeds the military-industrial complex? Or something in between?

Is a smart cable to detect movement less intrusive than drone surveillance?

Or would both end up getting used together?

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29 Comments on “High-tech cable sensor proposed for U.S.- Canada border”

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  1. Pete Klein says:

    You never know when those Canadians might attack and take over poor, little, scared to death USA.

  2. julia says:

    Are you people nuts ? You’re worried about Canadians ? We in Canada find your paranoia truly insane !!!

  3. Peter Hahn says:

    Fair is fair. Why should the southern border states get all that money?

  4. mervel says:

    What about detentions centers to imprison undocumented people, we will get those? Maybe we can put one in Ogdensburg if they get rid of the Prisons.

    Peter is right this is about to be a major spending boom on border security, it is the price they are going to pay for getting a true immigration reform bill. We should be making case that we need all of this, why should Texas get all of the spending?

  5. mervel says:

    From a job creation standpoint, no this is not that great of an idea. We need drones which are labor intensive compared to a cable, and very expensive. We also should push for the huge increases in border security people that the southern border is getting. The key is jobs.

  6. Peter Hahn says:

    I was in Southern Arizona on vacation this spring. The area is already swarming with Border Patrol agents. You feel like you are in a police state. It is genuinely creepy. We dont really want that. But the money would be nice

  7. Peter Hahn says:

    Imagine what it would be like if there were border patrol cars every 100 yards and they were pulling over anyone who looked Canadian

  8. tootightmike says:

    Seems like a lot of sarcasm, and fretful but pointless hand wringing going on, but no one seems alarmed about the tremendous cost of programs like this. We whine and complain about the taxes we pay, but allow this sort of craziness to go on as though the two aren’t related.

  9. Ben Bernake says:

    How easily would this cable be chopped? How deep is it underground?

  10. myown says:

    After more than 200 years, what exactly is the problem with the Canadian border all of a sudden? Our government (controlled by corporate lobbyists and campaign contributions) uses fear to manufacture issues which are then used as an excuse to hand out billions of dollars to corporations. This “cable” is just another scam to transfer tax dollars to the pockets of corporations.

    Take a look at the immigration reform bill Congress is fighting over. It is loaded with requirements for purchasing all kinds of expensive unnecessary equipment from specific companies for “border security.”

    When the US government says there is a problem and the solution is spending billions of dollars – follow the money. By the time lobbyists are done massaging the legislation you can be sure certain companies will be guaranteed huge payments for services and equipment, whether we actually need it or not.

  11. myown says:

    Oh, and did you know Border Patrol searches are considered exempt from 4th Amendment protections? No warrants are needed to stop and search anyone at the border. And did you know “the border” is considered to be a 100 mile wide strip? And that includes along the coast. So most of the North Country is in the border area as are the entire states of Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

    More info here:


  12. mervel says:

    Maybe a little sarcastic, but honestly this is a perfect government spending program. You can put a bunch of resources (tax dollars) both very high tech and very labor intensive toward the problem, but never really be done never really have success. No border is ever really 100% secure, just like no country is ever 100% secure from terrorism. Thus, the spending never ends because you have defined an endless problem a bottomless pit of government spending and in this case combined with restrictions on our civil rights.

    Lockheed Martin is currently the number one contractor for southern border high tech homeland security. Just think of it hundreds of millions of dollars in engineering time, really cool products; for what?

    We will never stop illegal immigration at the border, you stop illegal immigration when no one wants to come here illegally anymore.

  13. mervel says:

    As far as I am concerned we should have open borders for employment in North America, not open citizenship, but open employment as part of our NAFTA agreements. If I want to go to Canada and work I could with no restrictions, and if Canadians or Mexicans want to come here and find jobs could do that. It would be a great economic boom for all three countries.

  14. The Original Larry says:

    Borders need to be secured against people entering the country for illegal purposes, whether it is drug trafficking, terrorism, human trafficking or illegal immigration. Some people seem to see evil intent in anything related to national security. I thought those abuses went out with Bush & Cheney?

  15. Peter Hahn says:

    Larry – how much money are you willing to spend to get how secure? Thats a serious question.

  16. The Original Larry says:

    A lot more than those who advocate open borders. That’s a serious answer.

  17. Peter Hahn says:

    I dont think anyone advocates open borders. You pleural (not necessarily you personally) seem to be more than happy to cut most money from food for poor children (food stamps), but are willing to spend any amount necessary to keep poor brown people from sneaking into the country to work as farm laborers. What does that say about values?

  18. The Original Larry says:

    Don’t be a simpleton or, worse yet, pretend to be one. You know very well it isn’t about “poor brown people”. It’s about terrorists and traffickers in drugs, human beings and misery in general and you know it. You just can’t resist an opportunity to make the allegation that some of us want to see children starve. What bullshit!

  19. myown says:

    $46 billion in the Senate approved immigration bill for “border security.” Now that is serious bullcrap!!


    It’s all about feeding the military, incarceration and surveillance industries until we have a complete police state to protect our “freedoms.”


  20. Peter Hahn says:

    There arent any terrorists sneaking in through the southern boarder. They come on tourist visas or student visas. There are drug traffickers sneaking in through every direction – including though the Canadian border and have been for years. We have been spending tons of money for years to keep out the drug traffickers.

    This is about brown people, speaking of BS.

  21. julia says:

    @mervel – Reeeeeally bad idea. Canadians already have enough negative influences from your country and we don’t want more. We see your country as a corrupting disease. Canada is unique – more of you here in Canada will drag us down to your level.

    @Larry – get serious. How much drug trafficking etc comes from Canada ? Almost zero.

    I need to rephrase my previous comment. It isn’t paranoia. It’s the U.S. slowly absorbing Canada or preparing for takeover. Now i understand why the rest of the world despises your country.

  22. The Original Larry says:

    Now I understand the way the rest of the world views Canada.

  23. The Original Larry says:

    So, our borders are secure against terrorists and smugglers? Regardless of what you think the response should be, you can’t seriously believe that. Maybe our open borders favor the “poor brown people”, especially the women who fill those massage parlor jobs? Where do you think they come from and how do you think they get here??

  24. Peter Hahn says:

    Larry – I dont know much about the women in the massage parlor business, but my guess is they were mostly born here, and the ones who were born elsewhere did not walk across the southern border. The key that you might think about is that this “border security” story is not part of the “war on drugs” or the “war on terror”. It is part of the “immigration reform” story. From your perspective that might be part of the “war on brown people”. Or as we would have said two hundred years ago – war against the red man.

  25. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    As myown noted above, this is nothing but more money into the pockets of the military/industrial/congressional/security complex. After all, we’re slowly turning off the money spigot in the Iraq/Afghanistan debacle and so the complex needs new revenue streams. What better way than to create another layer of the already bloated police state?

    What’s most brazen is it appears to be mostly the so called party of liberty and freedom and hatred of big gov’t that wants less freedom, less liberty, and bigger gov’t!! If such stimulus were spent on schools and bridges we’d call it socialism. But if it’s on security we don’t need it’s called patriotism.

    Lastly, let me add that I’m amazed that we talk of jobs as part of this expansion as if it’s the only consideration. Jobs that pay entry level salaries of nearly 80K with an associates degree to individuals to do mostly nothing of real value. Talk to a border agent and ask them their job duties. Listen to them complain of how bored they are. You see, the big elephant in the room is that illegal immigration is at record lows and the current administration is deporting illegals at record highs. Despite this, we create a problem to line the pockets of those with the greatest access to our elected officials. Yes, it’s the same old gang, Northrup Gruman, General Dynamics, etc., etc…..

    But at the same time, we’ll bitch and moan that a teacher with a Masters degree who attempts to teach our young people actual skills makes 40K a year. Maybe reaching the entry level salary of a border agent after 20 -25 years in the profession! Our priorities are completely backward in this country.

  26. Marlo Stanfield says:

    If you think there’s not a lot of drugs coming over the Canadian border you don’t much about drugs and where they come from. A lot of the marijuana smoked in the U.S. is grown in Canada, Vancouver and B.C. in particular. And other drugs, and people, get smuggled through too. You ever seen Frozen River? It’s a 3,000 mile, largely unsecured, in many places heavily forested gateway into the largest drug market in the world, and drug trafficking organizations know that. I don’t know quite enough about what Tester is proposing to know how I feel about it, but the concerns are legitimate.

  27. al pambuena says:

    I would rather see machine-gun bunkers, fully cocked and loaded along the border, say about every 100 yards…that would make a great field of fire….then you could place flares in between the bunkers in case the illegals try to sneak around at night.

  28. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    There certainly are drugs and people smuggled into the US from Canada. However, for some years now, at least in relation to marijuana, the DEA has acknowledged and stated that far more is now grown and processed here in the United States than is smuggled in either from Canada or Mexico.

    This is mostly due to the fact that it’s easier and far less risky to do in the current environment of decriminalization and changing attitudes by the citizenry of the United States. It’s also extremely profitable for those who dare risk the penalties of getting caught. That profit potential is created by prohibition, much as it was with alcohol in the early part of the 20th century. So instead of making the case for more corporate welfare for those select companies who managed to get a slice of this new border surge (via their connections in Washington and elsewhere), why don’t we try and address the core problem here, that being prohibition of drugs?

    But no, rather than make the obvious choice here, we fight for our slice of the corporate welfare pie. Just in this thread alone there are some comments stating they aren’t sure about the actual need for more Border funds, personnel, equipment, etc., but damn if we shouldn’t try and get some for the sake of jobs here in the North Country. It’s a case study in how the populace has allowed this complex to feed unfettered and entrench itself without question. We accept it simply because it tosses us a few crumbs all the while really enriching the few who actually profit tremendously from its continued unfettered growth.

    Sadly, it’s like a sugar high for a person who needs instant gratification. We get a quick, short term fix but the long term costs are very high. Costs we rarely even consider while we’re railroaded by the same corporate elite. Just as we looked the other way to build prisons here in the North Country years ago, and in some regards do the same with the corporate welfare strewn about on Fort Drum, we’re looking the other way with border security. Meanwhile, the true cost of these decades long “wars for profit” show themselves occasionally when one or more of our bridges collapse, our schools have leaky roofs or failing heating systems, and our hospitals go bankrupt around us.

  29. mervel says:

    Well those things will go bankrupt even faster and would have been long gone; without the economic activity spurred by prisons and yes even this sort of spending.

    I get your argument and in concept partially agree, but this is more than crumbs. You can make your high minded arguments which sound really good to employed relatively well off individuals who happen to live here, but they don’t sound so high minded to the large population of poor and unemployed people who live here. I don’t see any other industries on the table to help create employment on a large scale up here, none. They are all opposed.

    Ok so lets oppose this border security stuff on principle then how about fracking?

    The status quo in the North Country for a large number of people sucks; until that changes I will support all job growth including border security dollars.

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