Blind at the Border: Biden Grounds U.S. Surveillance Balloons
Not content with downing Chinese balloons, President Joe Biden has grounded eight U.S. aerostat blimps that provide 24/7 surveillance over the southern border.
Last year, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operated a dozen aerostats, nicknamed “Eyes in the Sky,” in sparsely patrolled areas. Now just four remain, with the administration saying it lacks funding to keep the rest of the fleet aloft.
The poor-mouth spiel doesn’t wash, coming from a regime that spends billions upon billions of dollars on all manner of government programs. When it comes to border security, however, Biden & Co. morph into fiscal conservatives.
Like last year’s decision to decrease U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention beds amid a historic onslaught of illegal entries, shortchanging the aerostat program is yet another reckless move.
According to CBP, while aerostats represent less than 2 percent of the total integrated radars in the agency’s Air and Marine Operations Surveillance System, the balloons account for nearly half of all suspected targets detected each year. From 2014 to 2020, aerostats detected 58 percent of all suspected air smuggling flights approaching the border from Mexico.
When Biden grounded a new aerostat just six months after hoisting it over Nogales, Ariz., it was clear the decision-making process was driven by political currents, not practical reality.
Attempting to provide cover, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., floated some false equivalency. “People are outraged by a Chinese surveillance balloon, but when @DHSgov puts up a surveillance blimp in Arizona border communities without community consultation😶🤫,” he tweeted.
Political windbags notwithstanding, downgrading a proven border surveillance tool is indefensible at any price. The president’s action even flies in the face of some of his partisan allies, who (like Joe Biden himself in bygone days) promote technology as the key to border security. Alas, such double-dealing is standard operating procedure at this White House.