The U.S. Border Patrol and an Israeli military contractor are putting a Native American reservation under ‘persistent surveillance’

ARIVACA, AZ - NOVEMBER 15:  A U.S. Border Patrol surveillance camera overlooks a remote area of the U.S.-Mexico border on November 15, 2016 near Arivaca, Arizona. Nearby, armed civilian paramilitaries with Arizona Border Recon, made up mostly of former U.S. military servicemen and women, staged a reconnaissance and surveillance operation against drug and human smugglers. The group, which claims up to 200 volunteers, does not consider itself a militia, but rather a group of citizens supplementing U.S. Border Patrol efforts to control illegal border activity. With the election of Donald Trump as President, border security issues are a top national issue for the incoming Administration.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
A Border Patrol surveillance camera overlooks a remote area of the U.S.-Mexico border on Nov. 15, 2016, near Arivaca, Ariz. (photo: John Moore / Getty Images)
Israel’s leading technology and surveillance systems are being brought to U.S. borderlands for enforcement and control that may go far beyond border security.

By Will Parrish |  The Intercept |  Aug 25, 2019

‘…technologies that are sold for one purpose, such as protecting the border or stopping terrorists…often get repurposed for other reasons, such as targeting protesters.’
— Jay Stanley, ACLU

ON THE SOUTHWESTERN END of the Tohono O’odham Nation’s reservation, roughly 1 mile from a barbed-wire barricade marking Arizona’s border with the Mexican state of Sonora, Ofelia Rivas leads me to the base of a hill overlooking her home. A U.S. Border Patrol truck is parked roughly 200 yards upslope. A small black mast mounted with cameras and sensors is positioned on a trailer hitched to the truck. For Rivas, the Border Patrol’s monitoring of the reservation has been a grim aspect of everyday life. And that surveillance is about to become far more intrusive.

The vehicle is parked where U.S. Customs and Border Protection will soon construct a 160-foot surveillance tower capable of continuously monitoring every person and vehicle within a radius of up to 7.5 miles. The tower will be outfitted with high-definition cameras with night vision, thermal sensors, and ground-sweeping radar, all of which will feed real-time data to Border Patrol agents at a central operating station in Ajo, Arizona. The system will store an archive with the ability to rewind and track individuals’ movements across time — an ability known as “wide-area persistent surveillance.”

CBP plans 10 of these towers across the Tohono O’odham reservation, which spans an area roughly the size of Connecticut. Two will be located near residential areas, including Rivas’s neighborhood, which is home to about 50 people. To build them, CBP has entered a $26 million contract with the U.S. division of Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company.

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