Friday, October 29, 2010

Evolution of Border Security in Texas

Leaders of Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition, Zapata Sheriff
Sigi Gonzalez & Hudspeth County Arvin West (r)/Tom Barry

(Part of a Border Lines series on outsourcing border security in Texas.)

“There can be no homeland security without border security.” That’s dogma in Texas, and repeated constantly by Governor Rick Perry and DPS Director Steve McCraw.

But it hasn’t always been the official line about homeland security in Texas.

Before Steve McCraw joined the governor’s staff in August 2004 as homeland security chief and head of the Governor’s Department of Emergency Management (TDEM), homeland security strategy in Texas wasn’t much different than other states that developed first responder and counterterrorism strategies in concert with the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

Gov. Perry open the first Texas Homeland Security Strategy Plan (January 2004) noting that “Texas has used the national strategy as a model for developing a statewide plan,” explaining that President Bush (who preceded Perry as Texas governor) had called on states and local governments to “implement compatible security strategies.”

The 2004 homeland security strategy of Texas had a clear focus on working with the federal government to prevent foreign terrorism and to respond to homeland disasters.

There is no mention of immigrants or criminal aliens, no talk of the threat of narcoterrorism, drug cartels, or transnational gangs, and no discussion of border crime, spillover violence, or narcotics flows.

The collaborative, we’re-all-in-it-together tone of the 2004 homeland strategy plan is startling in retrospect, now that the governor and McCraw have come to favor a go-it-alone, blame-Washington posture.

It’s worth quoting from Gov. Perry’s introduction to the security plan to observe the contrast in focus and tone between then and now. Since then there has also been less talk of the need to cooperation and a new confrontational posture.

Since 2004 Texas has set out to develop its own homeland security strategies, particularly in intelligence and border security, that run parallel to similar federal operations, albeit tapping federal grants to underwrite these Lone Star border security initiatives.

 The governor wrote that “recognizing that state and local governments play important roles in these efforts, the national plan challenges us ‘to develop interconnected and complementary systems that are reinforcing rather than duplicative.’”

“Our first goal must be to do everything within our power to prevent a terrorist attack,” wrote Perry. “That is why our effort to coordinate communication among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies is so vital.”

The first homeland security strategy plan did have sections on intelligence and border security. Yet, like the entire document, both sections focused on foreign terrorism.

The objective of local and state intelligence, as set out in the “Intelligence and Warning” section, was to help prevent a terrorist attack by providing alerts based mainly on the “receipt, analysis, and dissemination of criminal intelligence.” There was no mention of fusion centers, joint intelligence centers, border crime mapping, or ambitious data mining projects.

Border fence west of El Paso/Tom Barry

The central focus of the border security section was increased monitoring traffic through sea and land ports-of-entry, regarded then as the most likely entry points for

The page-long section on border security – compared with the five pages devoted to protecting critical infrastructure and four pages to emergency response – includes discussion of response to disasters or terrorist attacks on Texas sea ports.

With respect to the vast international border with Mexico, the strategy plan makes no mention of “sealing the border,” as is the current commitment, but instead addresses the connection between homeland security and border security through training plans to secure border petroleum installations. The plan also mentions that the governor’s office launched a $1.5 million Border Security Intelligence Network.

The 2004 strategy plan concludes with mention of the state’s cosponsoring of a Border Terrorism Conference. In marked contrast to the deeply anti-Mexican tone current border security strategizing by the governor’s office, this conference brought together U.S. and Mexican officials.

The first homeland security strategy plan in Texas may be said to represent one of the last times that homeland security and border security policies in Texas weren’t manifestly politicized issues.

It was also before the governor’s office began outsourcing the new border security, intelligence, and data-exchange operations launched from his office. It was prior, too, to the appointment of Steve McCraw as chief of the governor’s homeland security office.

In 2004-2005 the national attention began to turn from foreign to domestic issues. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan no longer dominated the national news, and public and policymaker alarm about the foreign terrorist threat was fading. The previously widespread consensual support for President Bush’s “Global War Against Terrorism” was also eroding.

At the same time, immigration and immigrant-rights advocates were starting to mobilize in support of a comprehensive immigration reform. But the grassroots backlash against illegal immigration was deepening, and immigration restrictionist institutes in Washington began seeing widening support for their “enforcement-first” and immigration-crackdown positions.

In Texas, conservative politicians, like Sen. John Cornyn together with an array of white, non-border Texas Republican representatives, became national voices for get-tough policies on immigration and the border. The creation of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition in the spring of 2005 also signaled the emergence of immigration enforcement and border security as popular political issues.

Facing a reelection vote in November 2006, Perry in 2005 began to bolster his border security credentials.

Starting in 2005 homeland security and border security for the state of Texas were no longer issues considered mostly in the implementation of Department of Homeland Security grants.

Newly identified homeland security threats as illegal immigrants, illegal drugs, and border crime became central to political campaign strategies.

Led by the governor’s office, these issues also drove an array of multimillion dollar intelligence, data-sharing, and border security projects, mostly outsourced to private firms such as Northrop Grumman, APPRISS, and Abrams Learning and Information Systems. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Intelligence and Muscle in Texas Border Security

Gov. Perry and Steve McCraw with Texas Border Sheriffs

Intelligence and muscle. Texas border security has both.

Tough talk about crime, drugs, immigrants, and the border comes naturally in Texas -- and often in football analogies.  Operation Linebacker, the 2005 initiative of Texas border sheriffs and sponsored by Governor Rick Perry, set the muscular, take down all line-breakers Texas commitment to border security.

That macho stance on holding the line in Texas has popular appeal, which Perry has exploited with his series of campaign ads each election season featuring him and the most outspoken and ideological of the rural border sheriffs, usually Zapata County Sheriff Sigi Gonzalez and Hudspeth County Arvin West.

The governor’s office since 2006 has channeled tens of millions of dollars to Operation Linebacker, despite a dearth of impact indicators.

But most of the federal and state funds flowing from the governor’s office and the Department of Public Safety, under the directorship of Steve McCraw (who also serves as the governor’s homeland security director), have gone to intelligence-driven projects. In a “guidance” statement for Texas border security, Perry says:

“Using intelligence, available state assets, and a new command and control structure, we are going to take back the border from those who exploit it.”

But after almost five years of intelligence-drive border security initiatives, supported largely by federal grants to the governor’s office, neither Perry nor McCraw have been able to produce the data demonstrating the worth of these border intelligence projects.

Despite the continual stream of pronouncement about border security coming from the governor’s office and DPS, there is little hard information and even less understanding about how Perry and McCraw are putting state assets – and the even more extensive federal assets under their control – to work in, what McCraw calls, “operations-focused intelligence” for border security.

The same is true for the state’s overall commitment to ensuring that intelligence and information-sharing are at the core of public safety and homeland security in Texas.

Steve McCraw and Gov. Rick Perry

Overview of Intelligence-Driven Public Safety
and Homeland Security in Texas

The impetus and the funding to create the Border Security Operations Center (BSOC) and the associated Joint Operations Intelligence Centers (JOICs) came mainly from the federal government’s post Sept. 11, 2001 commitment to homeland security. The same is true for the creation of the state’s fusion centers and data-exchange and crime-mapping projects.

All of the above draw heavily not only on the federal information- and intelligence sharing initiatives precipitated by 9/11, but also on the increasing emphasis on intelligence in policing and in U.S. military operations, particularly as relates to narcotics trafficking and transborder crime.

“Intelligence-led policing” or “intelligence-driven policing” arose in Great Britain in the 1990s and took hold in the United States in the aftermath of 9/11. It wasn’t as if there wasn’t information and intelligence sharing among police agencies. But “intelligence-led policing” has become a driving force in shaping the form of police work and in funding new policing projects. At the federal level, the creation of the National Intelligence Sharing Plan and the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative by the Department of Justice underscored the prominence of this new emphasis in public safety operations.

The military influence in the surge of intelligence operations in Texas is seen, for example, in the creation of the border JOICs, which mirror the DOD’s Joint Intelligence Operations Centers (JIOCs). According to DOD, a JIOC is “an independent, operational intelligence organization…that is integrated with national intelligence centers, and capable of accessing all sources of intelligence impacting military-operations planning, execution, and assessment.”

In Texas, the incubator of intelligence and high-tech information sharing in homeland security, border security, and public safety was situated in the governor’s office until 2009. Steve McCraw, who since August 2004 served simultaneously as the chief of the newly created Office of Homeland Security and governor's overseer of the Governor’s Department of Emergency Management (GDEM), whose director was Jack Colley.

Appointed by Perry, McCraw came to the governor’s office from the FBI, where he had worked since 1983, including as Assistant Director of the Office of Intelligence and Inspection Division in Washington, DC. McCraw, who grew up in El Paso, served as a narcotics investigator with DPS before joining the FBI.

(More on intelligence in Texas in next installment of this series on outsourcing border security in Texas.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Strategy for Border Control

Early Border Patrol/Arizona Historical Society

(Second part of "Time to Rein in the Border Security Bandwagon" policy report. First installment at:

They say it couldn’t be done.  

In its 1994 Strategy Statement, the Border Patrol acknowledged what could not be stated today without igniting a firestorm of criticism. As part of the strategic planning process, the Border Patrol said it “accepted that absolute sealing of the border is unrealistic.”

While Border Patrol officers and most border observers still share this assessment made more than fifteen years ago, the new wave of border security hardliners, found mostly in Texas and Arizona, dismiss this assessment as typical liberal wish-wash.

Not totally sealed or secured, the border, however, “can be brought under control,” said the Border Patrol in 1994. It would do this, as the strategy statement outlined and subsequently operational priorities revealed, mainly by focusing on the main corridors of illegal border crossing.  Not only did the Border Patrol for the first time commit itself to defined “geographical priorities” along the southwestern border, it also began coupling this with a new strategy of border control that it called “prevention through deterrence.”

The Border Patrol has long attracted former soldiers and military officers. Yet, over the past couple of decades, with its rapid expansion, the Border Patrol has increasingly taken on a distinct military cast with its internal language, chain of command, insularity, and predilection for measuring progress by such body-count indicators as drug seizures and apprehensions.

“Prevention Through Deterrence,” the strategic philosophy of border control adopted in 1994, remains the Border Patrol’s operational philosophy. It didn’t come full blown from within the ranks of the Border Patrol, but was the product of consultancies with the Department of Defense’s Center for Low Intensity Conflict and with Sandia Laboratories, the Department of Energy’s privately managed nuclear weapons development center in Albuquerque.

Simply stated, the new strategy was to prevent the large-scale entry of illegal border crossers through the main entry corridors by concentrated force that not only would arrest most of those who crossed illegally but would also deter crossing attempts by force presence and barriers at the border.  Prior to the implementation of the deterrence strategy, the Border Patrol never had much of a border control strategy.  Since its creation in 1924 the Border Patrol functioned mostly to give the impression of some semblance of border control. 

The border was too vast to effectively control, but the presence of Border Patrol agents did send the message that the U.S. didn’t have open border as it once did. Not only was the border long – stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific – most of it was extremely remote.  

To reach the border in many regions meant taking rough dirt roads, and once at the border there were only rarely roads that paralleled the border. This led to a de facto Border Patrol strategy of patrolling areas that were far removed from the border but must be crossed by illegal crossers if they were successfully to make their way into the country’s interior.  In effect, then, the focus was on catching not stopping entrants.

While the official provenance of “Prevention Through Deterrence” was a strategic planning process initiated by the Border Patrol, the thrust of this strategy emerged at the grassroots from concerns of border residents.  Given the current outcry for increased border security led largely by anti-immigrant forces and Republican politicians, one might assume that these were also the forces that pressured the Border Patrol to overhaul and ramp up their border enforcement operations in the mid-1990s.

At this time, it’s certainly was the case that immigration restrictionists and assorted anti-immigrant grassroots groups, mainly in California, were raising the alarm about the “invasion of illegals” in the early 1990s. Illegal immigration flows from Mexico and other Latin American countries were rising to unprecedented levels – giving rise to an anti-immigrant backlash in California mostly among sectors that saw the white-majority threatened and deepening the conviction among restrictionists that the 1986 immigration reform functioned mostly as a platform for more illegal immigration.  

Grassroots backlash and restrictionist policy came together in the form of Proposition 187, the successful 1994 California referendum to deny public services to unauthorized immigrants, which had key support from the restrictionist Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) but was quickly judged unconstitutional. 

(Next: in series: "Prevention Through Deterrence"Doctrine Emerges.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Consultants as the Commanders of Texas Border Security

(Third in a series on border security outsourcing in Texas.)

Who is Leon “Leo” W. Rios? 

Gen. John Abrams at Germany reunion
News reports along the Texas border about the “border surges” of the governor’s Operation Border Star variously identity Rios as an official with the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM), a senior DPS analyst, or a manager of the Border Security Operations Center.

Rios speaks to the media as if he were a Texas government official. But his current official position is senior vice president for border and port security at Abrams Learning and Information Systems (ALIS), a Washington Beltway homeland-security consulting firm.  ALIS asserts that Rios’s work in Texas for the Governor Rick Perry and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) has “facilitated development and coordination of interagency border security concepts, plans, and operations to improve U.S.-Mexico border security—resulting in a significant reduction of border-related crime.

Rios comes to the homeland security and border security consulting business by way of the U.S. Army, along with his boss Ret. Gen. John N. Abrams, who founded ALIS in August 2004.

Former Col. Rios served in command positions with Abrams in Germany in the late 1980s in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, which Abrams commanded and was charged with protecting the German inner-border. At a recent reunion in Germany that brought business colleagues Abrams and Rios together, Abrams and other former army officers spoke of their role guarding the line between East and West and on “the separation between freedom and oppression, good and evil…,” according an account of the reunion by the Blackhorse veterans group.

While an army officer, Rios published a couple of military strategy studies, at least one of which has bearing on his role in shaping border security in Texas. While stationed at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff at Ft. Leavenworth’s School of Advanced Military Studies. Rios in 1985 authored, “Will, Technology, and Tactical Command and Control.” 

According to the report’s abstract, the army “is becoming increasingly dependent on technical communications systems for command and control although the systems are vulnerable to failure, interception, or interference. The technical complexity of communications systems present new sets of problems rather than facilitating and sustaining command and control.” (That conclusion is just as pertinent 25 years later, given the disarray, confusion, and ineffectiveness of the technology-driven information and intelligence operations under ALIS control.)

In the 1990s Rios served as director of Policy and Strategy at the U.S. Southern Command, the U.S. military’s “unified command” for Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

Steeped in military practice and thinking, the ALIS senior leadership have brought this military tradition to the challenges of homeland security and border control in Texas. This can be readily seen in its work for the governor’s office and DPS through its favoring the military terminology and structures -- “unified commands,” “operations ,”  “”ranger recons,” intelligence centers,” “forward deployment,” and “surges”  Like the military, the military-styled Operation Border Star has little transparency or accountability, and the battles are always being declared victories despite the absence of measurable indicators.

Depiction of Operation Wrangler (a 2007 Border Star surge) by DPS/Border Security Operation Center

Consultants as Managers, Strategists, and Evaluators

Abrams and Rios are no longer in command.  They are hired guns, consultants for Operation Border Star -- the border security campaign launched by Governor Rick Perry and DPS director Steve McCraw.

Contracted to “refine plans and strategies for seamless integration of border security operations,” ALIS has been charged with directing, coordinating, operating, and staffing the state’s border security infrastructure – the Border Security Operation Center and the six Joint Operations Intelligence Centers (JOICS). DPS has contracted ALIS to “sustain continuous border security operations” for the state and to manage BSOC.

Among the main goals of ALIS’ Border Security Management and Operations contract are:

·         * Develop and refine “plans and strategies that will support continuous operations in all sectors to ensure a secure border region by countering the threats of organized crime, terrorism, and the flow of contraband.”

·         * “Implement procedures to create an effective interagency unified command structure that provides unity of effort among local, county, state, and federal entities participating in border-related law enforcement activities.”

·         * “Coordinate operations, exercises, and other readiness activities by establishing centralized operational planning and oversight  [emphasis added] as well as continual support to steady-state and enhanced-state operations along the border.”

·         * “”Orient senior governmental leaders on border security issues.”

·         * “Oversee the implementation of the state-selected technology for the web-based Texas Border Neighborhood Watch Surveillance Program [which is part of the Texas Sheriffs Border Coalition] to include sensor technology as well as other available technical support of both fixed and mobile law enforcement operations.”

·         * “Identify and document ‘best practices” throughout all border security operations and implement a process whereby these ‘best practices’ are codified and implemented as a measure of incremental organization and operational improvement.”

·         * “Assess organizational and operational efficiency/effectiveness and provide a method for achieving continuous improvement throughout all sectors of border operations.”

·        * Besides staffing the Border Security Operations Center [with 19 ALIS contract staff including Rios], “field operations staff support will also include the necessary manpower required to support and sustain the JOICs.”

In addition to these functions – from design, management, and implementation to oversight, assessment, and advisory roles – in Texas’ vaunted border security model, ALIS has also been contracted to formulate and manage the information and intelligence systems of Border Star through the TxMap border-crime mapping project, fusion center mergers, and “border- security operations information and data exchange.”

From the beginning of Operation Border Star and the border-targeted “surges” of border sheriffs, state police, and Texas National Guard, Leo Rios has brandished his DPS identity rather than his identity as a Beltway consultant.  During a series of “border surges” in mid-2006, Col. Rios and Col. McCraw visited the targeted security zones in the Rio Grande Valley.  

Exiting their Chinook helicopter, like military commanders inspecting the frontlines, Rios and McCraw met with border sheriffs and other sympathetic law enforcement officials.  Variously identified as a DPS intelligence analyst or a TDEM official, Rios told reporters and assembled troops that Operation Border Star was demonstrating the state’s ability to shut down the border.

"Lo and behold, we started up again,” said Rios.” We hit them again, and we had a sizeable number of seizures and arrests," The bottom line from the operation was that "we're capable of shutting down all transports of illegal drugs and criminals in this area to zero for up to seven days. This was due to be a banner year, and we shut them down," Rios said.

Year after year the consultancies and contracts continue to be renewed by the governor’s office, DPS, and the Public Safety Commission. Although only consultants, the ALIS border security team in Texas act like and are treated as commanders who answer to no one.

(Next: How JOICS and BSOC Work, Or Don't)

Also see Tom Barry, "At War in Texas," Boston Review at:

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Consulting Firm at “Epicenter” of Border Security in Texas

Gen. John Abrams (left) 

(Second in a series on border security outsourcing in Texas.)

John N. Abrams did what many generals do when they retire – parlay his military contacts and experience into media and business.  

Shortly after retiring, the four-star general was hired as a military expert by the Associated Press and founded Abrams Learning & Information Systems (ALIS). As one of the many new homeland security consulting firms formed by former U.S. military officers in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, ALIS aims to secure a piece of the country’s booming homeland security business.

ALIS hasn’t managed to break into the multi-billion contract market at the federal Department of Homeland Security (DPS) – having no DHS contracts in last three years – but it hit a bonanza of homeland security contracting in Texas with its contracts for border security operations.  According to the company’s website:

“ALIS has been commissioned to improve border security along the U.S. – Mexico border through the development of an epicenter for security operations. The objective of the operational center is to plan, coordinate, implement, and evaluate interagency border security operations to counter the threat of organized crime, terrorism, and the flow of contraband and human trafficking to foster a secure border region.”

ALIS boasts that its founder, president, and CEO John Abrams is “an internationally recognized subject-matter expert in border security, public policy, international treaties, operations, training and education, and technology integration.” What is more, Abrams, says ALIS,  “is also a recognized corporate leader in developing sustainable strategies and programs.”

Abrams, whose father was Gen Creighton Abrams (who led the ill-fated Vietnamization campaign and Cambodia invasion during the wars in Southeast Asia), did have several U.S. Army commands – including 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Joint Task Force Kuwait, 2nd Infantry Division, V Corps, and Army Training and Doctrine Command – but his credentials as a U.S.-Mexico border security strategist, technology integration expert, and corporate leader, among other described merits, are questionable.

With no discussion, the Texas Public Safety Commission at its August 12, 2010 meeting in Austin approved an “emergency contract for providing strategies and plans to support the management of the Texas Border Security Operations Center (Abrams Learning & Information Systems).”  The commission also extended another DPS outsourcing contract held by APRISS for another information and technology driven project of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), namely Texas Data Exchange (TDEx).

Border security is a major topic of political debate, public concern, and government spending in Texas. 

Yet neither Governor Perry nor DPS Director Steve McCraw have pointed to the central role of a private consulting firm in Arlington, Virginia in the design and implementation of the state’s border security strategy and operations. No questions are asked by the members of the Public Safety Commission, which oversees DPS budget and activities.  Instead the contracts with ALIS have been renewed three times with little or no discussion, and most recently extended beyond the three-renewal contract limit by an “emergency procurement” measure that the state’s regulatory commission recently approved.

At least publicly, ALIS has not been asked to demonstrate the value of its two interrelated DPS contracts for Border Security Management and Operations and for border crime-mapping through TxMap. Nearly $18 million has been spent thus far on these ALIS projects. Similarly, there is little transparency or accountability with respect to another major DPS contract – with APPRISS, which has a $10 million contract for the similarly enigmatic TDEX crime intelligence project.

Aside from the border security impact of ALIS, there is also the unasked question:  Is it advisable to hand over the responsibility to a private consulting firm – with a minimal track record – for formulating the strategies of border security, homeland security, and public safety in Texas, or anywhere?  ALIS was charged by its contracts to do just that – formulate the Texas Border Security Campaign Plan, 2010-2015 Homeland Security Strategy Plan,  and the TEXDPS Agency Strategy Plan 2010.

(Next: The Outsourced Border Security Operations Center and Joint Operations Intelligence Centers.)

For related material and analysis, see: Tom Barry, "At War in Texas."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Outsourcing Texas Border Security

(First in a BorderLines series on border security outsourcing.)

“Until Washington gets serious, Texas will fight to make our border safe.”  That’s how Governor Rick Perry concludes his “Securing Our Future” campaign ad promoting his border security plan.

But what Perry isn’t saying is that the fundamentals – strategy, planning, coordination, intelligence – of the Texas border security strategy have been outsourced to a Washington Beltway consulting firm. The Arlington, Virginia company, Abrams Learning & Information Systems (ALIS), is responsible not only for formulating the Texas Border Security Campaign Plan but also the state’s Homeland Security Strategy Statement as well as the strategic plan of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Together with his Homeland Security chief and DPS director Steve McCraw, Perry boasts that Texas is constructing a border security “model” and “paradigm” for border security called Border Star that other border states and the federal government itself should adopt.  In his campaign aid, Perry said he “confronted Barack Obama with detailed steps to reduce drug cartel violence along our border.”  Earlier in 2010 Perry wrote to Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), inviting her to visit Texas “to observe Operation Border Star so that you might consider this approach as a national model to increase border security.”

But the federal government hasn’t taken Perry up on his offers. Like his counterpart in Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer, Perry says that President Obama is indifferent to border security. “I don’t think he cares,” Perry told the conservative magazine Human Events. Although apparently he has not withdrawn his February invitation to Napolitano, Perry more recently has said the DHS secretary is “arrogant” and “hypocritical.”

Border security is one of the main issues driving the election debate in Texas as well as in Arizona, New Mexico, and California.  Along the border, the debate usually pits local and state politicians and law enforcement officials against the federal government – with the federal government saying that it is doing more than ever to “secure the border” with regional figures like Perry contending that Washington isn’t doing enough to meet its responsibility, thereby obligating border states to step into the breach.

Clearly, there are many questions about how effective the federal government is to border security, given the continuing flows of illegal immigrants and drugs across the border. But few questions are being asked about just how effective are the border security strategies and operations undertaken by border states and border sheriffs.  Nor do these local border enforcers make clear just where the money is coming from to formulate these strategies and mount these operations.

What is the Texas border security model, where does it come from, and who pays for it?
The key player in the Texas border security model is a name that never appears in the governor’s stream of press releases and campaign ads about border security or in the get-tough pronouncements of Col Steve McCraw.  Just about the only place that the name of the model-builder for Texas border security appears on the public record is in outsourcing contracts that DPS has entered into with ALIS – the Beltway firm established in mid-2004 by General John W. Abrams and which now boasts as being a “recognized leader in homeland security.”

Over the past three years, under the directorship of Steve McCraw, DPS has spent nearly $20 million in state and federal funds in continuing contracts with ALIS to “refine plans and strategies for seamless integration of border security operations in the State of Texas.” Not only does ALIS formulate the state’s border security model, it has also been charged with coordinating and overseeing many of the Border Star operations, including the “Unified Commands.

The centerpiece of the state’s border security operations is intelligence-driven operations that are managed by the Border Security Operations Center (BSOC) in Austin and six Joint Operations Information Centers (JOICS) along the border. ALIS provides the program manager, analysts, technicians, and information specialists for BSOC and JOICs.

(Tomorrow: More on ALIS and its border security responsibilities.)

For related analysis and reporting, see: At War in Texas in Boston Review, at: