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Secretary Michael Chertoff, BAE Systems and the Whole-Body Scanners affair: $3 billion over the next eight years

Secretary Michael Chertoff Joins BAE Systems, Inc. Board of Directors

The Honorable Michael Chertoff has joined the BAE Systems, Inc. Board of Directors. As a member of the Board, Secretary Chertoff will provide oversight and strategic counsel, further ensuring that BAE Systems, Inc. is well positioned to meet current and future customer requirements in the defense and security markets. BAE is the eighth-largest contractor doing business with Washington, having received $7.1 billion in government contracts in 2009 alone. It also has received more than $200 million from DHS since 2005.

“We are delighted to have Secretary Chertoff join our Board,” said General Tony Zinni (USMC ret.), Chairman of the BAE Systems, Inc. Board of Directors. “Secretary Chertoff is uniquely well positioned to support the Company as it continues to grow in the global security market. His years of experience in the security domain will be of tremendous value to our businesses as we help our government and private sector customers develop cyber security solutions, combat terrorism and organized crime, and strengthen border and transportation security.”

“I am honored to be joining General Zinni and the other outstanding members of the Board in supporting BAE Systems, Inc.’s strategic efforts to address 21st century security challenges,” Secretary Chertoff said.

Michael Chertoff served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, where he led efforts to advance our cyber security and to block would-be terrorists from crossing U.S. borders, working closely with global allies. Previously, Secretary Chertoff served as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District. Secretary Chertoff is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. From 1979-1980, he served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr.

Secretary Chertoff joins a distinguished group of outside directors of BAE Systems, Inc. They are:

  • General Anthony C. Zinni (USMC, ret.) Chairman of the Board Former Commander of U.S. Central Command
  • Chairman Lee H. Hamilton Former Member of Congress, Chairman of the House Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees, and Co-Chair of the 9/11 Commission
  • Richard J. Kerr Former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
  • Lt. General Kenneth A. Minihan (USAF, ret.) Former Director National Security Agency
  • Admiral Robert Natter (USN, ret.) Former Commander of Fleet Forces & Atlantic Command
  • General J.H. Binford Peay, III (USA, ret.) Former Vice Chief of Staff U.S. Army and Commander of U.S. Central Command
  • Dr. William Schneider, Jr. Former Undersecretary of State for Security, Science & Technology

The company’s Inside Directors are:

  • Ian King, Chief Executive, BAE Systems plc
  • George Rose, Group Finance Director, BAE Systems plc

The company’s Officers/Directors are:

  • Linda Hudson, President and CEO, BAE Systems, Inc.
  • Sheila Cheston, Executive Vice President, BAE Systems, Inc.
  • Robert J. Fitch, Senior Vice President Government Relations, BAE Systems, Inc.

Whole-Body Scanners Will Compound the Risk

In the aftermath of the foiled “underwear bomber” attack on Christmas day, there’s a major push to install whole-body x-ray scanning machines at airport screening areas.

The effort is being led by former Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, now a consultant for a manufacturer of these x-ray machines. He’s calling for their “large-scale deployment.” Estimated to cost $3 billion over the next eight years, the Homeland Security department plans to have 1,800 scanners in place at U.S. airports by 2014.

In a Washington Post op-ed on New Year’s Day, Chertoff dismissed objections raised about these devices. “The ’safety’ concern’” he claimed “is particularly specious, because the technologies expose people to no more radiation than is experienced in daily life.” Not quite. Whole body x-ray scanning machines were developed and first used to detect theft at gold and diamond mines on and inside the bodies of workers in Africa. They are fluoroscopic x-ray machines that provide a real time image of a person’s body using “back-scatter” or “soft” X-rays. They emit much less penetrating energy than machines found in a medical setting, such as CAT scanners. However, like all machines, if their design, manufacture, calibration, maintenance are defective, then doses to passengers and security staff could be larger than claimed. The recent reporting of dozens of cases of harm to patients from the misuse of CAT scans should serve as a cautionary warning.

Unfortunately, the doses of radiation experienced in every-day life, especially flying long-distances in jet aircraft, pose risks we should also carefully heed. The earth’s atmosphere is a massive shield protecting life on earth from cosmic radiation. At sea level, this atmospheric radiation shield is roughly equivalent to a wall of water about 33 feet thick. With the rise in altitude, atmospheric shielding decreases and radiation doses increase. At 30,000 feet above sea level, radiation doses increase by 90 times. Solar flares can increase doses by a factor of 100 above that. For this reason, flight crews, are considered by the United Nation’s Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation as radiation workers who, because of exposure to cosmic radiation, are the most highly exposed group in the world.

According to UN data, in 2000, air crews made up about 3% of the radiation workers in the world, but received about 24% of the total collective dose for all exposed workers, which include people employed at uranium mines, nuclear weapons sites, and nuclear power plants. The average estimated annual dose to flight personnel, and frequent international flyers such as professional couriers, is about 2.5 times higher than the combined average for all radiation workers. Aircrew and frequent long-distance passengers are chronically exposed to more biologically damaging forms of radiation, such as neutrons, than the majority of nuclear workers.

Given the economic problems airlines face, this problem is the last thing that they want to surface. But, if crew members and passengers already face largely unreported radiation risks from long-distance flying, we should have the right to know just how whole-body radiation scanning machines are part of this risk

SOURCE: BAE Systems, Noel Brinkerhoff – http://www.allgov.com/Home, Robert Alvarez – Counterpunch

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