Dowsing Bomb Detectors Fail (and US bugged Greek telecoms)

A Lebanese newspaper did a field test of the “dowsing bomb detectors” — loading a few sticks of dynamite, some hand grenades, and IED components into the glove compartment of their car and then driving around Beirut!

Evidently the “dowsing bomb detectors” are very popular in the city, so it wasn’t long before they found one in use… and duly snuck their explosives-laden car past it. By the end of the day, they’d eluded not just rent-a-cops waving the gadget but penetrated two army checkpoints and a dozen Hezbollah inspection points.

This would seem to reinforce my theory that, to the extent these gadgets work, they go off the gadget-user’s intuition about the people driving the car… in other words, sensing that “that guy’s sketchy” rather than “those well-intentioned reporters happen to have a glove compartment full of explosives.”

In other words, they’re a poor substitute for training people to read people. And not good at all at finding bombers who know how to not give off a dodgy vibe.

Also — what kind of newspaper has a couple sticks of dynamite, some hand grenades, and IED components “just laying around the office” for reporters to “check out” when they go reporting?

It was the US that hacked Greek telephone systems:

Unrelated graph:

All over Beirut, you inevitably come across security guards carrying a plastic device, with what looks like an antenna extending from it, much like an old radio. You are asked to stop your car, and they run the scanner from front to back. If the metallic rod turns in the direction of the car, then it has sniffed a trace of explosives.

But is this kind of detector genuine? Does it in fact protect thousands of lives by finding explosive material? How does it actually work, and how effective is it? Do all the security outfits use the same product or are there a number of different models available?[…]

To put the device to the test on the streets of Beirut, Al-Akhbar placed several sticks of dynamite, some hand grenades, and material used to rig explosives in the glove compartment of a car to see just how effective these detectors really are.

We first proceeded to test the many security-conscious malls in and around Beirut, where explosives detectors are widely used. The car was easily able to get through security checkpoints without even a twitch from the device’s “antenna.”

Then we tried to up the ante by testing the heavy security measures in place around Dahiyeh, which was recently targeted by two car bombs. We succeeded in passing through two Lebanese army checkpoints at the entrance of the district and then managed to cross more than a dozen Hezbollah inspection points inside.

Those times when the car was searched, the security guards tended to look in the trunk, overlooking the glove compartment or the front area of the car, where in one recent case, security services discovered explosives hidden in a secret compartment underneath one of the seats.

Our journey did not end here. We parked the car in Dahiyeh overnight and returned in the morning to find a security guard running an explosives detector alongside the vehicle. The device was larger than others we had seen, suggesting that it may actually work this time, but to no avail.”

%d bloggers like this: