Well, here’s at least a little bit of good news. Jim McCormick, the managing director of the company that makes the ADE-651 “bomb detectors,” has been arrested in the United Kingdom on suspicion of fraud. Perhaps more importantly, the devices have been banned from export to Iraq or Afghanistan.
A few months back, I posted about the worthless dowsing rods produced by UK companies and marketed as bomb detectors to developing countries looking for ways to prevent terrorist attacks. The ADE-651, produced by ATSC, Ltd., and the GT-200, produced by Global Technical, are the most frequently sold of these magic bomb wands, and they are responsible for bombings in Iraq and Thailand that have killed hundreds of people.
After complaints by the British Embassy in Baghdad, and a recent slew of negative press attention, McCormick was finally arrested. And I very sincerely hope McCormick’s arrest will be shortly be followed by the arrest of Gary Bolton, the director of Global Technical.
And although the UK is to be commended for finally taking action against the ADE-651, in many ways, it comes as too little, too late. To hear the British authorities tell it, the arrest of McCormick was the result of swift and decisive action on the part of the the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills:
It added: “As soon as it was brought to the attention of the Export Control Organisation and (business secretary) Lord (Peter) Mandelson we acted urgently to put in place export restrictions which will come into force next week.”
This is, quite frankly, a load of rubbish.
Bomb sniffing devices are not a new scam. ATSC, Ltd. has been operating over in the UK for a decade, and Global Technical had been falsely claiming since 1999 that the bomb detectors were given the approval of the British Military. Early last year, the UK government told Global Technical to stop claiming the GT200 had been given the Ministry of Defense’s approval– but other than requesting that their name not be used to endorse the product, they took no action.
Unfortunately, not only is the UK’s “prohibition” on exports of the ADE-651 device not particularly timely, it is not particularly comprehensive either:
“We will be making an order, under the Export Control Act 2002, banning the export of this type of device to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The reason the ban is limited to these two countries is that our legal power to control these goods is based on the risk that they could cause harm to UK and other friendly forces.”
So essentially they are only banning the ADE-651 in places where it might kill NATO forces. But as for the citizens of Thailand, civilian and police alike, that have been killed as a result of reliance on the GT200? Well, they can just go on continuing to be killed by the fake bomb detectors, that’s just too bad for them.
According to the UK bureaucracy, “[a]s non-military technology, [the ADE-651] does not need an export licence,” and therefore the UK cannot place a blanket ban on exports. I’m not extremely familiar with UK export law, but this explanation seems pretty blatantly inadequate. No matter how the statute happens to be phrased, I have to imagine that any device that is marketed as a way to detect car bombs and IEDs could be classified as a ‘military technology’ under it.