With two wars ending, the “defense” industry sets its sights on its next chance to hit pay dirt: The U.S. border

Joshua Holland, “An ‘ungodly stupid’ get-rich scheme: The real border security story“, Salon, Jul 6 2013

Last week, John McCain gleefully announced that the Senate immigration bill would result in the “most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall.” Indeed, an amendment authored by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., authorizes a massive increase in border security dollars — including $30 billion for hiring and training 19,000 new border patrol officers over the next 10 years, and over $13 billion for a “comprehensive Southern border strategy” (including 700 miles of high-tech fencing).

What the senators didn’t tout was that the wall is both functionally useless – and will enrich some of the largest military contractors in the world. …

Reached by phone in Chihuahua, Mexico, Tom Barry, a senior analyst at the Center for International Policy and author of “Border Wars,” told Salon that the effort is simply “absurd.” “Border patrol agents are tripping over themselves now,” he said. “They have nothing to do. They’re reading magazines in their trucks. If they increase the force by the levels they’re talking about now, you’ll have measures of boredom and waste that are almost inconceivable.”

He added that the Border Patrol finds itself “trapped” in its increasingly military rhetoric. “Any measure of border security short of shutting the whole thing down leaves room for people to demand more money. And if you’re looking at the high-tech end of it, the cost-benefit ratio hasn’t been proven,” he said. “It’s a big waste of money – from drones to these high-tech virtual fences, they just haven’t shown to be effective.”

But despite that, Lipton reports that military contractors like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics “are preparing for an unusual desert showdown” this summer, when they will gather in the desert to show off their high-tech gizmos to Homeland Security officials.

KBR — a firm that gained infamy by allegedly exposing soldiers in Iraq to toxic substances, giving them ice tainted by “bodily fluids and putrefied remains,” turning a blind eye to sexual assault (and then suing a woman who claimed to have been imprisoned by the company after reporting that she had been raped), and avoiding paying “hundreds of millions of dollars” in taxes by hiring workers through shell companies located in tropical tax havens — bills itself as “a major provider of border security and protection” that has “been deemed a proven supplier of command and control solutions.”

Read the full article here.