Full Body Scanner Lobby: Michael Chertoff & Rapiscan
Michael Chertoff, Former Department of Homeland Security, is the head of the Chertoff Group, the lead cheerleader for what is being called the Full Body Scanner Lobby, reports the Washington Post and the Washington Examiner.
Ever since the Christmas Day Bomb Scare, Chertoff has been making the rounds championing the Full Body Scanners as a way to detect hidden explosive devices.
Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive
Kate Hanni, FlyersRights
Here is a Chertoff quote from the New York Times on December 29th.“If they’d been deployed, this would pick up this kind of device,” Michael Chertoff, the former homeland security secretary, said in an interview, referring to the packet of chemicals hidden in the underwear of the Nigerian man who federal officials say tried to blow up the Northwest Airlines flight.
A few days later the Washington Post revealed that Chertoff represents Rapiscan – a maker of full body scanners drawing criticism of groups who oppose full body scanners
“Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive,” said Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org, which opposes the use of the scanners.
Rapiscan has already sold 150 full body scanners to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), with a price tag of $25 million. Rapiscan full body scanners, like the Rapiscan WaveScan 200, seem to be the preferred scanner of choice because they obscure the “private parts.”
But the fully body scanner lobby is also littered with a number of companies vying for the $300 million dollars the government has set aside for this type of technology for airports.
The Washington Examiner has a list of other full body scanner lobbyists including another heavy weight, Tom Blank, with the lobby group Wexler & Walker(pdf) – A lobby group that represents American Science and Engineering (AS&E) another full body scanner manufacturer.Blank was the former Deputy Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration – essentially Blank is lobbying the same federal department where he was boss.
Lost in the hysteria surrounding full body scanners are two fundamental questions Are they effective? and are they worth the cost?
They are certainly effective in the same way an x-ray machine is effective but as we all know x-ray machines are good at some things (detecting broken bones) and terrible at detecting other things (soft tissue injuries). That is why we use CT Scans and MRI technology because they are better at detecting other things.
So for example, these fully body scanners may well have detected the Christmas Day Bomber but they would not have detected the Al Queda operative who used an anal body bomb in a September assassination attempt on the Saudi Interior Minister.
It raises the question once we introduce one costly technology the terrorists are already one step ahead so security officials seem to be in a constant and very costly game of catch up.
It is tough to win that sort of game so perhaps it is time to change the strategy? Oh say, focus on intelligence and clear open lines of communication between security agencies to begin with.