Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Airport Defense, Beltway Offense

Washington, D.C. - At a crowded congressional hearing on aviation security two weeks ago, the temperature in the room was uncomfortably high. So too, with the London Underground bombings still fresh in the headlines, was the frustration voiced by some of the members of the Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection and Cybersecurity.

"The Transportation Security Administration spends approximately $4 billion a year to screen passengers and baggage," said Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.), "I fear that this country is not getting nearly the return it would hope on such an investment." Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) grumbled that "we’ve had plenty of meetings with many technology companies who tell us they have a solution to everything."

One witness feeling the heat that day was Deepak Chopra, chief executive of OSI Systems. His company pulled in half its $247 million in 2004 revenues from its security division, Rapiscan Systems, which makes X-ray and gamma-ray inspection systems, as well as devices to detect dangerous materials (explosives, drugs and so on) using bursts of subatomic particles. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration spent heavily on Rapiscan machines. TSA remains Rapiscan’s biggest customer.

Full story at Forbes.com