Nov 15 2010
‘Naked scanners’: Lobbyists join the war on terror
By: Timothy P. Carney, Senior Columnist, Washington Examiner
The degradations of passing through full-body scanners that provide naked pictures of you to Transportation Security Administration agents may not mean that the terrorists have won — but they do mark victories for a few politically connected high-tech companies and their revolving-door lobbyists.
Many experts and critics suspect that the full-body “naked scanners” recently deployed at U.S. airports do little to make us more secure, and a lot to make us angry, embarrassed and late. For instance, the scanners can’t see through skin, and so weapons or explosives can be hidden safely in body cavities.
But this is government we’re talking about. A program or product doesn’t need to be effective, it only needs to have a good lobby. And the naked-scanner lobby is small but well-connected.
If you’ve seen one of these scanners at an airport, there’s a good chance it was made by L-3 Communications, a major contractor with the Department of Homeland Security. L-3 employs three different lobbying firms including Park Strategies, where former Sen. Al D’Amato, R-N.Y., plumps on the company’s behalf. Back in 1989, President George H.W. Bush appointed D’Amato to the President’s Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism following the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Also on Park’s L-3 account is former Appropriations staffer Kraig Siracuse.
The scanner contract, issued four days after the Christmas Day bomb attempt last year, is worth $165 million to L-3.
Rapiscan got the other naked-scanner contract from the TSA, worth $173 million. Rapiscan’s lobbyists include Susan Carr, a former senior legislative aide to Rep. David Price, D-N.C., chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee. When Defense Daily reported on Price’s appropriations bill last winter, the publication noted “Price likes the budget for its emphasis on filling gaps in aviation security, in particular the whole body imaging systems.” full article