Follow the money - who really benefits?

Posted By: admin

Published to Political Influences on Sep 30, 2010

Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have been particularly vocal on the subject, but are their reasons motivated purely by security or something else?

Within days of the failed attack Michael Chertoff, the former head of US Homeland Security, spoke out strongly to the mainstream media for the introduction and use of full body scanning equipment at airports. In an interview with the Washington Post Chertoff is quoted as saying, "You've got to find some way of detecting things in parts of the body that aren't easy to get at. It's either pat downs or imaging, or otherwise hoping that bad guys haven't figured it out, and I guess bad guys have figured it out." Another quote from an interview with the New York Times has Chertoff stating, in reference to the body scanners, that, "If they'd been deployed this would pick up this kind of device."

Body scans may seem less intrusive compared to a hands on pat down search but Chertoff fails to mention that his security consulting agency, Chertoff Group, is employed by Rapiscan one of the manufacturers of the airport body scanners. When confronted during a CNN interview with Campbell Brown Chertoff admits that he represents clients who manufacture the scanning equipment. An admission that he didn't seem to want to voluntarily divulge until pressed on the issue.

Do the words conflict of interest spring to mind here?

That old revolving door

Some of the former Washington politicians and staff members who now lobby on behalf of the body scanner manufacturers are listed below:

  • Former TSA deputy administrator Tom Blank, former member of the US House of Representatives Robert Cramer and former assistant director for transportation issues at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Timothy F. Hannegan all lobby on behalf of K Street firm Wexler & Walker. Wexler & Walker have, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, been retained by scanner manufacturer American Science & Engineering Inc. to lobby for "federal deployment of security technology by DHS and DOD."
  • Former TSA assistant policy administrator Chad Wolf is also lobbying on behalf of scanner manufacturer American Science & Engineering Inc.
  • Lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates is employed by scanner manufacturer Smiths Detection. Kevin Patrick Kelly, a former top staffer to senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md, who sits on the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee and former congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md are both retained by Smith Detection.
  • L3 Systems is represented by Former Sen. Al D'Amato R-N.Y. who lobbied on their behalf in the 3rd quarter of 2009.

So what conclusions can we draw from the above?

When media time is given to former political representatives and staff who lobby on behalf of the scanner manufacturers what room is their for impartial, unbiased commentary? How can their statements be trusted when their financial interests are closely aligned with these companies? When the Chertoff's of the world are vocal in their support for these devices but fail to disclose their alliance with manufacturers, until pressed, can anything they say be taken seriously?

When in doubt always follow the money trail.


Tags: Abdulmutallab, airportsecurity, Chertoff, Rapiscan, Schiphol

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