Published March 12, 2013
Undercover agents, unmarked cars, hidden cameras… No this isn’t an episode of “Cops,” it’s a new Discovery Channel documentary about the Department of Homeland Security.
“Under Siege: America’s Northern Border,” which airs Wednesday night, is a one-hour special about the northern border of the U.S., the reported crossing point of choice for the likes of the Millennium Bomber and the terrorists behind the first World Trade Center attack.
The special is packed with scenes filmed using black lights and figures moving around in the dark that are pretty much impossible to spot. Computer-edited voices narrate several chase scenes, leaving the viewer with the feeling that they are catching a glimpse of some top-secret security footage they were never meant to see.
And some say, we shouldn't see it.
Retired border patrol agent Zack Taylor said giving viewers an up close look at the security measures being taken may not be wise.
“[It’s] kind of like saying here’s our strengths and everywhere else is a weakness,” he told FOX411.
The special showcases the most-patrolled areas of the northern border and the spots on the water where illegal crossers most frequently make it on to U.S. soil.
But executive producer of “Under Siege” Aengus James said the special doesn’t show anything those looking to cross illegally don’t already know.
“Make no mistake, criminals are already well aware of all the best places and techniques for crossing the border, and I'm sure a simple Google search can show them many more,” he told us. “If anything, our show will probably DECREASE the number of people using the spots highlighted in the show because anyone who sees them on TV will likely realize the [Homeland Security] is well aware of these places.”
At one point during the show, cameras pan the monitor wall of the Operational Integration Center, which the narrator calls “Homeland Security’s newest weapon,” adding “This is the first time cameras have been let inside.”
“9/11 changed everything for us,” Border patrol agent Rick Gordon says during the show. “After that event happened it became glaringly obvious that we needed to take some steps to really secure our border.”
But the task at hand is easier said than done. During the special the narrator states that every day at the northern border "money, guns and drugs pour across."
James said illegal crossers target the northern border because it is such a big area—spanning 5,500 miles—which presents a huge challenge for border patrol agents and the U.S. Coast guard.
“Protecting the northern border is a very different task as it's so much larger and more diverse than the southern border and up there, there is no wall or fence to keep unwanted visitors or traffickers out,” he said.
Taylor said based on his knowledge of the northern border, he is not surprised that patrollers struggle to catch illegal crossers.
“[With] the [vastness] of that border is absolutely impossible to monitor every inch of it,” he explained. “It is much more difficult to monitor, and that’s because of the weather and the elevations and the amount of uninhabited territory that is along the border.”
But while the special may not leave viewers with a warm and fuzzy feeling, James said he hopes its draws attentions to the Department of Homeland Security’s work.
“We hope that our show will help viewers understand the enormity of the task that the DHS is faced with and appreciate what a terrific job they are doing in a situation where the deck is stacked against them," he said.
The Department of Homeland Security declined FOX 411’s request for comment about the show.
“Under Siege: America’s Northern Border” premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST on the Discovery Channel.
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