Border Cameras Too Close for Some 

  Border Cameras Too Close for Some 

Posted by CN Staff on May 29, 2002 at 13:09:41 PT
By Kari Thorene Shaw, The Bellingham Herald  
Source: Bellingham Herald  

Larry DeHaan doesn't have drapes on his home's sliding glass door or bedroom windows; there's only green grass and cows for miles. But lately, he's had a creepy feeling that Big Brother is watching. The culprit is hard to miss: a 59-foot-tall metal pole a football field's length from his house with color and infrared cameras perched on top. It tapes 24 hours a day and is aimed, well, in the general direction of his house. 
DeHaan lives smack in between a brand new U.S. Border Patrol surveillance camera and the U.S.-Canada border. "Just because I live here, I have to be on camera all the time," said DeHaan, whose road connects Canada's Zero Avenue with Whatcom County. The cameras were planted as a handy new way to keep an eye on border trouble spots for an understaffed patrolling force. In the six months since the cameras were switched on, the Border Patrol has caught a handful of would-be illegal immigrants and a person trying to smuggle 75 pounds of marijuana. The cameras are an integral part of defending the border, federal officials say - even in places like the DeHaan farm, where the biggest busts have more to do with illegal fireworks than terrorists. Border officials point to the 1997 case of Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, 24 who was shot by New York police in an apartment where he had built pipe bombs intended for the busy subway system. Abu Mezer was stopped three times in Whatcom County, the last time six months before his arrest in New York. "It's this or sitting a Border Patrol agent everywhere," said John Bates, Border Patrol deputy chief. "Not only is that not practical, it would be more of an invasion of privacy. It would be, 'Hey, there's this car parked out in front of my house.'" Strategic viewpoints A little information about the cameras: There are 32 positioned strategically between the coast and Eastern Washington's Columbia Valley. They've been in the works for two years, long before the post-Sept. 11 nationwide focus on border security. They can pan the landscape or zoom in to capture an image of a person or car from three miles away. They are part of a new $50 million surveillance system. For the most part, the cameras are aimed at sweeping pasture or empty stretches of road, with fences and roofs only incidentally in the picture. Cottonwood trees almost completely obscure the view of the DeHaan house. The cameras tape in 48-hour loops and then retape again. They can tape in color or with an infrared lens at night, which makes people glow white in the dark. They cannot penetrate walls. "I had an individual in Blaine who thought we could see into his shower. No, we cannot see through walls," Bates said. The cameras work in conjunction with motion and weight sensors in rural roads and fields where drug smugglers have been known to drop their booty and where would-be illegal immigrants try to creep across. When the sensors go off, an alarm sounds in the U.S. Border Patrol sector headquarters on H Street in Blaine. Then a guy in jeans and sneakers, working in a room filled with 32-plus 13-inch monitors, zeroes in on the offending spot with what looks like a Sony Playstation controller on steroids. He either dismisses it (if it is, say, a farmer mowing his lawn) or determines it's a threat to national security and dispatches Border Patrol agents. Before the cameras, the sneaker guy would have called in the troops regardless of the circumstances. "This could mean fewer encounters with Border Patrol for when you're walking the dog or working on your fence," Bates said. 'People have concerns'  DeHaan has no problem with the Border Patrol securing the border. He and his wife have reported people sneaking across their property before. He just doesn't like the idea of the blue-jeaned guy with the ability to zero in on his living room window. DeHaan said he's seen the cameras aimed at his front yard more than a few times in the morning, probably tripped by the early-morning cow milking. Others complained they can't take a walk around their property without feeling like the camera has a lock on them. "Nine times out of 10, they're not going to be doing anything wrong. But who's to say they don't get some perverted imbecile in there ... who starts playing with the camera?" asked Cheryl DeHaan, his wife. Another long-time area resident asked simply how others would feel in his place. "We are all for security, but this is not what we are thinking about when we talk about security," he said, asking not to be named because he gives information to the Border Patrol regularly. "How would you feel if you had a camera on you, 24-7?" Bates said the risk of the person behind the monitors taking a peek in people's homes really is minimal. That employee has to undergo background checks and security clearances and spends the majority of his or her time dispatching officers for Blaine, Sumas and Lynden police departments. That person is too busy to sneak a look in a window and too professional to do it, Bates said. Besides, trees and brush obscure most of the cameras' views of homes. Bates has taken one family on a tour of the place; they saw the roof of their house from the monitors. "I didn't totally alleviate their concerns. I'm not going to fool myself," Bates said. "People are going to have concerns. Our job is to alleviate those concerns." But that's cold comfort for the DeHaans and some of their neighbors, who have seen little more than a few fireworks busts and a rare illegal immigrant crossing near their property in three decades. Now they feel they're under a microscope. "It really gets your dander up ... It wasn't a neighborly thing at all," said Cheryl DeHaan. "They can position it on you and watch you if they want to." Community: Folks living in the line of sight aren't happy. Source: Bellingham Herald (WA)Author: Kari Thorene Shaw, The Bellingham HeraldPublished: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 Copyright: 2002 Bellingham HeraldContact: newsroom bellingh.gannett.comWebsite: Articles:Zeroing in on Border Pot Smugglers a Very Porous Northern Border at US Border Posts To Be Armed

Home    Comment    Email    Register    Recent Comments    Help

Comment #7 posted by 2Spooky on May 30, 2002 at 07:42:58 PT
plant trees
Plant a whole bunch of trees on private property in such a way as to block the cameras as much as possible. use poplars for fast screening, and some evergreens to fill in eventually =).
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by b4daylight on May 29, 2002 at 21:27:18 PT
i spy
here is my suggestion put on a bin laden costume or bush
and moon them every day till they take the camera awaywell cameras are every where now in NYC they have a million privaite and public they use them in the airports too.
we need a movement against this.
whenever the goverment makes something easier.
they tend to make it look like a police state.
just because you have rights does not mean the goverment will make them hard to use.
here is a few hard pressed issues i have.
one the police pull over for cars.
Most of the traffic stops will be occured cause they are trying to snoop!
they never tell you what specific item they are searching for , but rather ask to search your car. they have (checkpoints)road blocks enough said. They use dogs when you dont want them to search. :two i have the right to bear arms so i can rise up and defeat my over bearin tryanny or goverment. 
but the goverment says i have to use semi automatics with 10 round clips. i have to have a permit to carry a gun on me (in some states very hard to obtain) i have to go to through a background check (which goes into their centeral computer for info on me just a thought) then i have to registor my gun. ARMS does not that mean bombs too well we know they are not legal:3even if you knew all your rights you still have to hire a lawyer to explain them too you. The laws which we follow are hidden from public veiw. Meaning even if i did know all the laws i could not read them, or what is the point of having these rights.
They reside in a made up language
you need a lawyer 
The rights only work if there is a movement (lotso people). 
and every right leads to a viloation or a arresting offense
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by xxdr_zombiexx on May 29, 2002 at 16:40:23 PT
The End of Canada
These stupid cameras will merely increase the sophistication of smuggling efforts....or propmt a revolution in US-grown killer weed distribution. I suggest that people steal them, not break them, and sell them to finance more weed smuggling.And yes, the weed at the Canadian border is perhaps 5% of what gets smuggled in to us... This is all being trumped up beyond any reason, except....the issue is further militarization of Canada's borders as a smokesceen to the larger reality that canada's borders are about to be meaningless....just another absorbed cell in the Bilderberger Empire. Cascadia I think is what they call Canada...I bet Walters and those people would love to shoot a missle at Marc Emery.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #2 posted by SpaceCat on May 29, 2002 at 13:53:05 PT

Integrate, don't eradicate
Eliminate the camera and they will just put it back up. Identify the locations of the cameras and sensors and they will help you in your smuggling. You can also send false alarm after false alarm, tying up resources and personnel, while you slip across at another location. People often perceive technology as a magic bullet and wind up shooting themselves in the foot- That will happen here. As Darwin says, it will simply breed a better smuggler- only the stupid ones will get caught. When that new-found sophistication is used to carry a bomb instead of harmless weed or hapless immigrants, we will all pay the price for this "protection".
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #1 posted by darwin on May 29, 2002 at 13:37:33 PT

Yeah! catch those hapless runners
More wasted money.If the camera's actually catch a few people, those that send the "runners" will hire hunters/snipers with high powered rifles to take out the cameras. Bang! problem solved. Or they will use remote control hobby planes, boats, etc. At this point, they hand teenagers a big bag, a location, and a "good luck". Cameras will only accomplish a rise in the sophistication of transit. Just like the tunneling at the mexican border.
[ Post Comment ]

  Post Comment