Widely Used Bomb Detectors Deemed Useless

If you think the pictures in a promotional video are dramatic, just look at the claims made for the device it promotes.

The "ADE-651" is a metal antenna on a plastic handle, sold as a bomb detector that uses no batteries or electronics, reports CBS News correspondent Richard Roth. According to its British distributor, it can point to hidden drugs, guns or explosives and it'll work underwater, underground or in the air.

According to the U.S. military, it's completely useless.

"I can think of no practical application for this beyond party entertainment," said Air Force Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack.

Yet the Iraqi government has spent at least $85 million for about 2,000 of the so-called bomb detectors, and a training program that teaches troops to shuffle their feet to generate static electricity to make the things work.

Now Britain has just banned export of the devices - and arrested the businessman who's made a fortune selling them.

Jim McCormick, a former policeman, is accused of fraud.

But the "ADE-651s" are defended by Iraqi officials who backed their purchase. And they're still in use.

"They're fine for fooling a 4-year-old at a birthday party, but they're immoral if they're trying to save lives at a checkpoint," said Lt. Col. Bidlack.

They're also at checkpoints in Beirut and Amman, Jordan - where the bomb detectors guards are using at one five-star hotel may provide no more security than a magic wand.


  • Richard Roth

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