Thursday, 18 November 2010

Getting Rich from the TSA Naked-Body Scanners

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With all the commotion over the invasiveness of the naked-body scanners used by the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA), one question that has been ignored is who is profiting from TSA’s use of the body scanners? Mark Hemingway and Tim Carney at The Examiner discovered the shameful answer: George Soros, Michael Chertoff, and a number of lobbyists.

Both Soros and Chertoff are profiting from the naked-body scanners by way of the company Rapiscan, whose contract is worth $173 million. Lobbyists for this company include Susan Carr, a former senior legislative aide to Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) who is coincidentally chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee.

Former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff was “flacking for Rapiscan,” writes Tim Carney of The Examiner:

After the undie-bomber attempt on Christmas 2009, Chertoff went on a media tour promoting the use of these scanners, without disclosing that he was getting paid by Rapiscan, one of the two companies currently contracted by TSA to take a nude picture of you at the airport.

Just days after the attempted Christmas attack, the New York Times explained:

Screening technologies with names like millimeter-wave and backscatter X-ray can show the contours of the body and reveal foreign objects. Such machines, properly used, are a leap ahead of the metal detectors used in most airports, and supporters say they are necessary to keep up with the plans of potential terrorists. "If they’d been deployed, this would pick up this kind of device," Michael Chertoff, the former homeland security secretary, said in an interview….

Another notable connection to Rapiscan is leftist billionaire George Soros, who owned 11,300 shares of OSI Systems, Inc., the company that owns Rapiscan. Nova Tea Party Patriots writes, “OSI’s stock has appreciated considerably over the course of the year.”

In response to The Examiner’s report of George Soros’ share in Rapiscan, Media Matters (another of Soros’ funded projects) seized on the report and mocked the writer. The Blaze reports that Media Matters argued that “11,300 shares are only ‘six one-hundredths of one percent’ of the company’s total stock.

However, once The Examiner reported that George Soros owned the shares of the OSI Systems, Soros coincidentally sold all 11,300 shares of the company.

The Blaze writes, “A funny thing happened between Tuesday and Wednesday: the site detailing Soros’ OSIS investments now shows that Soros owns zero shares of the company.”

Hemingway responded to Soros’ abrupt decision to sell the shares:

It would be nice if he did this as a response to public pressure, but it seems equally likely that as an investor he simply realized the political tide was turning against the company and the stock may drop as a result.

To be fair, the sale of George Soros’ stocks is said to have taken place between July 1 and September 30:

The Blaze spoke with a representative from gurufocus.com, the site referenced by Hemingway and Media Matters. According to the representative, Soros owned the OSIS stock at the end of the second quarter and sold it under the third quarter. That puts the sale sometime between July 1 and September 30. The representative said the site first updated the information yesterday, which explains the change in the amount of stock owned.

Perhaps Soros’ connections at the very least encouraged the website to update the information immediately following The Examiner’s report.

Meanwhile, Rapiscan reportedly knows how to “play ball in Washington to increase its profits.” Facing obstacles related to dealing with homeland security, Rapiscan opened an office in Washington and hired a number of outside lobbyists and agency-specific federal marketing and sales staff, reports The Examiner. As a result, the company made $40 million in sales to the United States government, compared to $8 million in 2004.

In addition to Rapiscan, a number of other companies are profiting from the TSA body scanners.

Of those companies is L-3 Communications, a major contractor with the Department of Homeland Security.

Carney explains, “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 Examiner writes, “When Defense Daily reported on Price’s appropriations bill last winter, the publication noted ‘Price likes the budget for its emphasis on filing gaps in aviation security, in particular the whole body imaging systems.’ ”

Another full-body scanner contractor was the American Science and Engineering company. Lobbying for this company includes Tom Blank, a former deputy for the TSA, Chad Wolf, an assistant administrator at TSA and an aide to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Hutchison is on the Transportation and Defense subcommittees of Appropriations. Likewise, another lobbyist for the American Science and Engineering company is former Democratic Rep. Bud Cramer.

However, the reign of the intrusive body scanners may come to a timely end soon enough, as Cong. Ron Paul introduces the “American Traveler Dignity Act.” As reported by The New American’s Gary Benoit, the bill would “establish that the security screeners who grope travelers and gawk at their nude pictures be subject to the same laws as anyone else.”

In other words, “If an individual can be arrested for groping another individual [or staring at their nude photos], why wouldn’t a TSA agent also be subject to arrest when he does exactly the same thing?”

Will lobbyists and big corporations sit by idly while their means of profit are under attack? We shall soon find out.

Related articles:

Our Homeland Security and TSA Rulers Demand Gratitude for Groping Us

Ron Paul on TSA Abuse: "Enough Is Enough"

Trashing Tyner

Object to Sexual Assault? Boycott the Airlines!

Photo: George Soros speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, in New York, Sept. 7, 2010: AP Images