Anti-Terrorism Gizmos That Don’t Work

By Deane Barker on May 11, 2005

U.S. to Spend Billions More to Alter Security Systems: Well, this is nice.

After spending more than $4.5 billion on screening devices to monitor the nation’s ports, borders, airports, mail and air, the federal government is moving to replace or alter much of the antiterrorism equipment, concluding that it is ineffective, unreliable or too expensive to operate.

Many of the monitoring tools — intended to detect guns, explosives, and nuclear and biological weapons — were bought during the blitz in security spending after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

After 9/11, everyone ran forward with the latest gizmo to protect us all from the Bad Men. Apparently, little of it worked well, but we were in a frenzy back then, so it didn’t matter.

An example of the problem:

Radiation monitors at ports and borders […] cannot differentiate between radiation emitted by a nuclear bomb and naturally occurring radiation from everyday material like cat litter or ceramic tile.

Good to know illicit shipments of Tidy Cats will be kept out of the country.



  1. I remember listening to an interview with the head of security for El Al Airlines soon after 9-11; he said the problem with US airport security is that we were looking for weapons, not terrorists. Hmmm.

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