Murphy's Law: The Triumph Of Evil

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August 2, 2016: A vivid example of why Iraq is such a mess occurred in early July 2016 when a public outcry over several ISIL suicide car bomb attacks, that left over a thousand people (mostly Shia civilians) dead or wounded. A thorough investigation was demanded and it was soon found that the bombers got through several police checkpoints because of continued dependence on ADE 651 explosives detectors. These devices were known to be useless but were still in use in part because more effective explosives detectors had been imported but were had been stuck in a warehouse for over a year because the military and police were locked in a dispute over who would get them. In the meantime thousands were killed or wounded because bombs that could have been detected and disabled instead got through to their targets. This was all about the epic level of corruption that have plagued governments in this part of the world (modern Iraq and its neighbors) for thousands of years. The corrupt behavior seems capable of surviving just about anything. It may even survive the ADE 651 scam.

The classic example of why corruption survives can be seen in the misbehavior surrounding the purchase of the useless ADE 651 explosives detector and the inability of the Iraqi government to admit the devices were useless and replace them with ones that worked. Explosives detectors are a $4 billion a year (and rapidly growing) market that provides dozens of explosives detectors that have been proven to work and many are used by neighbors of Iraq. But chronic greed and tolerance of corruption kept the ADE 651 in service throughout Iraq while discouraging replacing the ADE 651 with effective explosives detectors.

Many in the West through the ADE 651 scandal was over back in 2013 when after three years of effort, the man behind the phony ADE 651 explosives detector (Jim McCormick) was convicted of fraud in Britain and sentenced to ten years in jail. An Iraqi general, accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes to buy $85 million worth of ADE 651s in 2009 was also in jail on corruption charges.

Yet in 2010 Iraqi police were still using the ADE, despite having been told by British authorities that the bomb detector was a scam and simply did not work. Iraqi officials bought thousands of these hand held devices in 2009, for up to $60,000 each. At that time the manufacturer was already being investigated in Britain for fraud. In Britain it was obvious that the ADE 651 was a fake. The ADE 651 contained useless components and repeated tests showed that it could not detect anything. Early on it was believed that a large chunk of the money Iraq paid for the ADE 651 was kicked back to the Iraqi officials who approved the sale. The ADE 651 was very cheap to make, and the manufacturer made a huge profit even after paying the bribes. The “design” of the ADE was actually based on a $22 novelty (meant as a joke) “lost golf ball detector.”

No one in Iraq tested the ADE 651, they just took the government's word that the device worked and it was still being used over a year after it was officially known to be a fake. But many Iraqi police had already discovered that the ADE-651 was useless. When they complained they were told by some government officials that only some of the ADE-651s did not work. None of them worked, ever, and many Iraqis demanded part of Mr. McCormick’s $11 million fortune as compensation for the fraud and those killed because of bombs that went off after escaping detection by ADE 651s.

The ADE was not the only fake bomb detector out there. Two weeks after the Iraqi ADE-651 scandal became public, the Thailand government ordered the Thai Army to stop buying (for about $30,000 each) GT200 bomb detectors. Scientific tests of the devices (similar to the equally ineffective ADE 651) showed that they were useless. But apparently much of the sales price was kicked back to military procurement officials, as the devices cost less than $10 to manufacture. Procurement officers insisted they are innocent. The GT200 was sold to many other countries (Mexico, the Philippines, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Lebanon, Jordan, China, and the UN) under similar circumstances. The GT200 was created by a different gang of crooks, led by Gary Bolton, and they were also prosecuted in Britain. Gary Bolton pled guilty in 2012. Despite that, some GT200s are still being used. The British men who created these phony devices spent millions of dollars of their ill-gotten gains to try and avoid prosecution and conviction. That’s one reason why it took over three years to convict all of them. Some of the buyers, who took large bribes to buy the fake bomb detectors, are still using their millions in bribes to avoid prosecution. And because of all this thousands continue to die each year from terrorist attacks that could have been stopped.

 


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