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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sharks with Frickin' Laser Beams Attached to their Heads

(Keywords: , , , , why not just invade and declare them all american?)

I'm reminded of this exchange from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery:
Dr. Evil: You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! What do we have?
Number Two: Sea Bass.
Dr. Evil: [pause] Right.
Number Two: They're mutated sea bass.
Dr. Evil: Are they ill tempered?
Number Two: Absolutely.
Dr. Evil: Oh well, that's a start.

Thanks again to Huffington Post, which points us to this New York Times article, titled Bush Turns to Big Military Contractors for Border Control, that shows that Bush plans to basically put sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads in the Rio Grande:

WASHINGTON, May 17 — The quick fix may involve sending in the National Guard. But to really patch up the broken border, President Bush is preparing to turn to a familiar administration partner: the nation's giant military contractors.

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, three of the largest, are among the companies that said they would submit bids within two weeks for a multibillion-dollar federal contract to build what the administration calls a "virtual fence" along the nation's land borders.

Using some of the same high-priced, high-tech tools these companies have already put to work in Iraq and Afghanistan — like unmanned aerial vehicles, ground surveillance satellites and motion-detection video equipment — the military contractors are zeroing in on the rivers, deserts, mountains and settled areas that separate Mexico and Canada from the United States.

According to the story, "'Boots on the ground is not really enough,' Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Tuesday at a news conference that followed Mr. Bush's announcement to send as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to the border."

The problem with all of this is that it's all show. The Posse Comitatus Act bars using military as police. So the national guard troops won't be able to apprehend and arrest, they'll only be able to report. Likewise, all unmanned aerial vehicles, ground surveillance satellites, and motion-detection video equipment can do is monitor and report.

Who's all this reporting going to? But, according to the NYT article, "The Bush administration has committed to increasing the force from 11,500 to about 18,500 by the time the president leaves office in 2008. But simply spreading this army of agents out evenly along the border or extending fences in and around urban areas is not sufficient, officials said."

So all of these guard troops and satellites will be reporting border crossers to an agency which doesn't have the immediate manpower to do anything about it.

Like everything the Bush administration does, this is an expensive and ineffective boondoggle. It's important that they seem to be doing something, but not so important that it actually works.