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FINO alert: Virtual border fence blocked

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By Michelle Malkin  •  August 20, 2008 11:52 AM

It’s your Fence In Name Only alert. Remember all that talk of how the Secure Fence Act allowed DHS to speed up construction with a special waiver process? Well, the waiver process — like the non-existence fence — is full of holes. And it’s another Bush administration agency that’s standing in the way:

Work on “virtual fences” planned for Arizona’s stretch of the U.S.-Mexican border has been brought to a halt.

The Interior Department has not granted the Homeland Security Department permission to use the land for constructing the surveillance towers that form the backbone of the virtual fences, said Barry Morrissey, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington, D.C.
Without authorization to use the land, no work could begin, which prompted agency officials to instruct the lead contractor on the project, Boeing Co., to suspend activities until further notice, Morrissey said.

No date has been set to resume work.

The suspension of work has forced at least one subcontractor, EOD Technology Inc., to lay off 40 security guards who already had been hired and trained, EOD spokesman Bill Pearse said. The company, based in Lenoir City, Tenn., with a small office in Tucson, had plans to hire a total of 100 security guards for the project, Pearse said. The guards were protecting Boeing personnel who were constructing equipment for the virtual fence as part of the SBInet project, he said.

“If Boeing doesn’t have a project, we don’t have a project either,” Pearse said.

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