President Dwight Eisenhower tried to warn us about the growth of a "military-industrial complex," but these days we also have to worry about a Homeland Security-industrial complex. September 11th, the creation of the Transportation Security Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security may slow us down when it comes to boarding planes, but it has accelerated passage through the government-lobbying revolving door it appears.
Let's look at those expensive, hi-tech body screeners our congressmen are now thinking about buying.
One manufacturer, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is American Science & Engineering, Inc. AS&E has retained the K Street firm Wexler & Walker to lobby for "federal deployment of security technology by DHS and DOD." Individual lobbyists on this account include former TSA deputy administration Tom Blank, who also worked under House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Chad Wolf -- former assistant administrator for policy at TSA, and a former aide to Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., a top Senate appropriator and the ranking Republican on the transportation committee -- is also lobbying on AS&E's behalf.
Smiths Detection, another screening manufacturer, employs top transportation lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates, including Kevin Patrick Kelly, a former top staffer to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who sits on the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee. Smiths also retains former congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.
L-3 has “developed a more sophisticated system that could prevent smuggling of almost anything on the body,” said Howard Rubel, an analyst at Jefferies & Co., who has a “hold” rating on the stock.
“Speed and privacy issues have slowed its introduction.” Jennifer Barton, a spokeswoman for New York-based L-3, didn’t respond to a phone call seeking comment. L-3 rose $1.17, or 1.4 percent, to $86.80 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading yesterday. That was the highest closing price since October 2008.