For eight years, the US Border Patrol has been using military Predator drones to keep an eye on the US-Mexico border — but a new report from the Department of Homeland security suggests it may not have been worth the trouble. The report, first dug up by Cyrus Farivar at Ars Technica, takes a skeptical look at the cost of flying the drone missions, and finds no plausible metric to justify the expense. The Border Patrol had been hoping for an additional $443 million to expand the program, but the report puts that request in serious jeopardy. "We see no evidence that the drones contribute to a more secure border," said DHS Inspector General John Roth in a statement, "and there is no reason to invest additional taxpayer funds at this time."
The true cost of the program also seems to have been underestimated. Customs and Border Patrol had pegged the cost of keeping a drone in the air at $2,468 per hour, but Homeland Security's Inspector General found the full expense to be more than five times that. The program was also only able to cover small sections of the border where it was deployed, severely limiting its overall usefulness. The Border Patrol has come under fire in recent months for widespread corruption and excessive force complaints, including a grisly double murder by a Border Patrol agent detailed in a recent Politico article.