Monday, May 09, 2005

Spending Billions to Detect Cat Litter

Washington has spent $4.5 billion of your taxes on security devices since 9/11. And a lot of them don't work as promised. So Washington will spend billions more to fix or replace them.

On the fix-it list are devices designed to detect nuclear and biological weapons smuggled into the US. Among the problems reported by the New York Times:

  • Radiation monitors that can't tell the difference between nuclear weapons and cat litter
  • Biological weapons detectors that don't report danger until 36 hours after an attack
  • Postal service devices that check for anthrax -- but only check a fraction of the mail and don't look for other threats

Washington estimates it'll spend $7 billion more on screening equipment in the next few years. Critics are beginning to warn Washington about putting too much faith in machines to protect us.

We got burned before doing that. A reliance on technology like spy satellites and sophisticated eavesdropping didn't tip off the US to 9/11. (NYT)

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