After spending more than $4.5 billion on screening devices to monitor ports, borders, airports, mail, and air, the federal government is moving to replace or alter much of the equipment, concluding that it is ineffective, unreliable, or too expensive to operate, the New York Times reports. Many tools intended to detect guns, explosives, and nuclear and biological weapons – were bought during blitz in security spending after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In an effort to create a virtual shield around America, the Department of Homeland Security now plans to spend billions of dollars more. Although some changes are being made because of new technology, many are planned because devices currently in use have done little to improve the nation’s security, the Times says. “Everyone was standing in line with their silver bullets to make us more secure after Sept. 11,” said Randall J. Larsen, a retired Air Force colonel and former government adviser on scientific issues. “We bought a lot of stuff off the shelf that wasn’t effective.” Among the items being looked at: airport passenger-screening equipment that auditors have found is no more likely than before federal screeners took over to detect whether someone is trying to carry a weapon or a bomb aboard a plane.