Phony Bomb Detectors Still a Hit With Iraqi Security

Interior Ministry Says Operator Has to Believe for Device to Work Right

by Jason Ditz, April 23, 2013

It’s been over three years since the Iraqi government sued British company ATSC for selling it empty plastic boxes and telling them they were bomb detectors. Everyone knows about it, but those empty boxes remain in regular use across Iraq.

The Iraqi general who bought them is in jail, and ATSC owner Jim McCormick is facing trial for buying $20 close-out novelty electronic golf ball finders (joke gifts that were just an antenna and a case) and rebranding them as $60,000 bomb finders. McCormick claimed slipping plastic cards into the electronics-free cases, in a process that seems more magic than science, would allow them to detect almost anything.

Some of the guards are embarrassed by the whole thing, knowing these do-nothing boxes are still in regular use, and MPs complain that the devices have cost many lives.

The Interior Ministry is still defending the devices though, insisting that the reason the devices seemingly don’t work isn’t because they literally don’t do anything, but because the operator has to really, really believe in its effectiveness to get the full effect.

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