Iraq, Scam Victim

Joel Wing's head hits the desk as he recounts the story of Iraq's fake bomb detectors:

According to ATSC [the British company that sold the wands], the devices could find guns, ammunition, drugs, truffles, human bodies, and contraband ivory through walls, water, the earth, and even in planes flying overhead. The wands had no batteries, and were supposed to be powered by static electricity generated by the operator walking in place for a short period of time. Once a person had moved around enough, they were to point the ADE-651 at a vehicle or package and it would point at any contraband. It would seem that any legitimate government agency would be skeptical of such lavish claims, but the Interior Ministry went ahead and bought several hundred from 2007-2009 for an average price of around $40,000-$60,000 a piece. 

The lesson he draws:

The whole episode smacks of the institutionalized corruption and incompetence that is found throughout the Iraqi government. No one should have believed that the ADE-651s worked. The claims about the device’s abilities were too good to be true. More to the point, after the Americans repeatedly told the Iraqis about their ineffectiveness, and various studies had come out that proved they did not work, the Interior Ministry should’ve stopped their use. Instead officials again and again said they believed in them. The Ministry even made a bogus report to absolve itself, and then the Interior Minister blocked his own Inspector General from investigating the purchase of the wands. The Inspector General noted that the cost of this fiasco was the deaths of hundreds of people, and yet they were still deployed across Iraq. It seems to protect themselves the leadership of the Interior Ministry are willing to allow their own people to be killed rather than admit their mistake, and recall the wands.