Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fake Bomb Detector? No Harm In That, So Far As I Can See

For the ADE-651, the test can cost $40,000 to $60,000

Apparently a news outfit in Beirut is only now finding out that those 'bomb detectors' with the swiveling antennas - the ones that are in use all over Lebanon and beyond, the ones that have been exposed as bogus again and again, the ones the Iraqi Ministry of Interior got (some) of its money back from, the ones whose British manufacturer and salesmen have been convicted and sentenced for fraud, those ones? - are fake.

Better late than never, I suppose, but really, how many times does that fraud have to be debunked before the reality sinks in? Folks, the 'bomb detector' known as the ADE-651, among other names, consists of an antenna and an empty box. Let me repeat that last part .. an .. empty .. box. How hard can it be to figure out that it couldn't possibly detect anything?

Al-Akhbar English, from Lebanon, has not-so-breaking news today about the The Great Explosives Detector Hoax:
After the recent car bombs that killed dozens in Beirut and Tripoli, Lebanon’s public and private security forces armed themselves with a simple device that allegedly can detect explosives in a car. Al-Akhbar put the detectors to the test. Here are the results.

All over Beirut, you inevitably come across security guards carrying a plastic device, with what looks like an antenna extending from it, much like an old radio. You are asked to stop your car, and they run the scanner from front to back. If the metallic rod turns in the direction of the car, then it has sniffed a trace of explosives.

But is this kind of detector genuine? Does it in fact protect thousands of lives by finding explosive material? How does it actually work, and how effective is it? Do all the security outfits use the same product or are there a number of different models available?

I'll skip ahead a bit. Al-Akhbar's correspondent next describes loading explosives into his car and driving up to several Lebanese Army and Hezbollah security checkpoints in Beirut where they screened him with the ADE-651 explosives detector, and then  ///  SPOILER ALERT  ///  SPOILER ALERT  ///  SPOILER ALERT ///  pulled him out of his car and busted a cap in his dumb ass. No, just kidding! Actually, nothing happened, because the ADE-651 is only an empty box.

The story concludes:

Given the possibility that there are more effective models being used elsewhere, we decided to consult a security officer who is an expert in explosives. When we asked him about the detector, he laughed, saying it was a big hoax. He told us that the army had tested one machine, and upon opening it, found nothing more than what you might find inside a child’s toy.

It is worth noting that the BBC aired an investigation into this type of “antenna” detector, enlisting the help of experts from Cambridge University and specialized laboratories. The results revealed, according to the report, that the device is completely ineffective, and the cost of the materials it contains is worth no more than a few dollars.

Why have government agencies all over the world bought the ADE-651, and why do most of them continue to use it? It has no favorable test results, or successful track record, or credible theory of operation, or technology, or even any components other than the box and antenna.

That whole credulity thing keeps bothering me. I think the sales genius behind the ADE-651 must be Irwin Mainway, the deliciously sleazy late night TV hustler portrayed by Dan Aykroyd in those SNL skits back in the 70s.

"Johnny Fake Bomb Detector" sounds like it would fit right in with the other great Mainway toys, like the Invisible Pedestrian Halloween Costume, the Bag O' Glass, the General Tron Secret Police Confession Kit, Doggy Dentist, and the rest.

Mainway said he was only packaging what people wanted, and he always had reasonable-sounding excuses for his dangerous toys. Even warnings right there on the label. If people buy them, hey, you can't fix stupid, I mean, so far as I can see, you know?


James said...

Oh I see, using some of the GOOD SNL stuff now are we? This is raising the bar TSB. I must mull my riposte!

Anonymous said...

Me too TSB! After the Seahawks game I need a breather before tackling all that contemporary (for me) humor. As I recall the 1st post on this amazing product almost everyone fell for it... especially the upgrades. Since over half the casualties of the last 10 years are from IED's have there been any real tech breakthroughs, when did they happen and how much have we spent on them? Those car bombs are timely menace. Thanks! gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Re shooting at Navy Yard. I'm listening to a 'security expert' from a big DC consulting firm say that it's not really like Ft. Hood where most people on base are soldiers. What a crock! Half the people on Ft. Hood are civ employees or contractors. Nobody is searched to get on base. DC looks like a great place to start a 'complicated' terror attack inspired by the Boston Brothers.
(At this rate NSA IS HOME FREE!)

Anonymous said...

TSB: What a post idea. Why foreign security is so much easier to design than domestic government security. (and maybe why no one wants to deal with it) gwb

Anonymous said...

must have been Vlad's week? gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: The exceptional nation that invented road rage seem to be producing contractors with road rage at an indifferent massive bureaucracy that can screw you over re travel expenses and can fire you for any complaints. I wonder if this guy had combat experience? 13 dead = Ft. Hood gwb

Anonymous said...

Oopps Here it is: gunslinger from texas navy reserve with record of taking care of business by threatening to kill people. Since that is our foreign policy probably no changes will be needed. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: We all know this guy! He has been around the block.. I mean the country 'having issues' since 9/11!
(where he supposedly helped with the rescue attempts) DiFi will have a field day with this one but some will ask why those greedy contractors don't spend a little $$ screening people. Also Snow will probably reveal everything NSA knew about this guy but did nothing.gwb

Anonymous said...

I told you TSB! Stasi DiFi wants all these military types who have been claimed or been suspected of any 'issues' to turn in their guns or face life on her marijuana farm in California. We also need to double the NSA budget so we can keep a closer eye on contractors! gwb

TSB said...

GWB: The shooting today might make military base security the next big thing, I agree. I don't think TSA-type access comtrol is warranted. It's the insider threat that's the problem here, and that is really a personnel / medical / security clearance problem. Sadly, we have so many disturbed insiders.

Anonymous said...

Yes TSB! and let's not forget the poor disturbed and paranoid outsiders! Like me and my cat. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Re yesterday's hearing timeline:
4:40 Haffetz establishes that the best practices report was withheld from committee (by State) until yesterday.
5:51 Charles Woods describes how he learned from Jason Haffetz that Gen. Ham told Haffetz he was fired on the spot for ordering forces to the rescue. (If this gets out it's Haffetz for VP in 2016) gwb