Surveillance fraud

Add together a climate of fear, a trust in surveillance and security technology and a massively profitable industry, you get a perfect climate for fraud. Now, one of the most outrageous frauds in the area of surveillance and security has just been exposed courtesy of ex-magician and sceptic James Randi, and the BBC’s Newsnight team. A British manufacturer owned by Jim McCormick, based in Somerset, UK, has sold around $85 million US worth of their ADE-651 ‘explosives detector’ to the Iraqi government, and it is now in common use throughout the Middle East at checkpoints and borders. Yet the ADE-651 has no technical capabilities to detect anything. It is just a lump of plastic with a hinged metal rod sticking out of it, and contains only a basic commercial anti-theft tag – and is very similar to several previous fake bomb detectors.

The ADE-651 'working' in Iraq (BBC)

Mr McCormick has stated that the device is based on ‘dowsing’ principles (which have no known scientific basis). This device may have resulted already in many needless deaths, and yet some people still seem to put their trust in it, including a senior Iraqi military commander, Major General Jehad al-Jabiri, who is quoted as saying “whether it’s magic or scientific, what I care about is it detects bombs.” Or perhaps he cares more about his kick-back…

Author: David

I'm David Murakami Wood. I live on Wolfe Island, in Ontario, and am Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies and an Associate Professor at Queen's University, Kingston.

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