” … the business of fear”

It’s being referred to as “the business of fear”.

In his September 10th, 2006 article, Paul Harris wrote, “The figures are stunning. Seven years ago there were nine companies with federal homeland securities contracts. By 2003 it was 3,512. Now there are 33, 890. The money is huge. Since 2000, $ 139 billion of contracts have been dished out. By 2015 annual federal spending on the industry could be $ 170 billion.” [That’s annual, folks!]

So what kind of security are we getting for our taxes? HKSG GROUP headlined it this way in today’s (July 31, 2007) news: “APL vice president slams container security devices as ineffective”

“Earl Agron, the vice president of security for APL Limited, has criticised e-seal container security devices and smart containers for failing to make ports more secure against terrorism.

“‘There are many ways to defeat a seal and break into a container while still making it look like the seal is intact,’ said Mr Agron, who was speaking at the recent American Association of Port Authorities Port Security Seminar in Boston.

“He noted that APL along with Los Soloboys National Labs have tested this theory, with the laboratory examining nearly 250 different types of e-seals and managing to disable them in less than two minutes.

“‘It is doubtful how much increased protection an electronic seal provides … when compared with the old fashioned, cheap, high security bolt seal,’ said Mr Agron in a report by Logistics Management magazine.

“He highlighted the possibility of what would happen if there was a regulation that mandated the use of electronic seals, saying: ‘Think about what we are going to do with 12 million batteries a year that have to be disposed of,’ said Mr Agron. ‘If you were to ask the vendors what to do with them you would get a blank stare.’”

Remember what George Mascolo wrote in ‘DER SPIEGEL’ a few months ago?
“Fear can be a lucrative business” he said. “That, at least, is what American companies selling security gadgets are finding out as the US government continues to spend billions of dollars on a variety of different Homeland Security programs. The only problem? Most of them are useless.”

And despite Secretary Chertoff’s promise to Congress to take a closer look at how the DHS spends our tax dollars, prospects for the “business of fear” are as rosy as ever. Clark Irvin, in fact, reminded us that “the Secretary recently told a gathering of 400 industry executives that the government still depends on their help. ‘We need to make America a safer place,’ he said — to roaring applause”.

[What we really need is another 33, 890 security firms. Right?]