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Iraqis say bomb sniffer wands worthless

BAGHDAD, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- British-made bomb sniffing wands being used by police in Iraq are useless, the Iraqi Interior Ministry inspector general says.

The ADE-651 devices, which cost as much as $60,000 each, were first ordered from the firm ATSC beginning in 2007 in no-bid contracts worth at least $85 million, The Washington Post said Tuesday.

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The devices were supposed to detect explosives inside vehicles, which would then undergo full inspections. But for years front-line military and police officers have deemed them worthless and the British government this year convicted the manufacturer of fraud. ATSC was barred from exporting more of the devices.

However, the Post said Iraqi officials have failed to remove the wards from street checkpoints and quietly granted immunity to the official who signed the no-bid contracts.

"We all know they're a failure," Iraqi police officer Mohammed Shaker told a Post reporter in Baghdad. "They don't achieve anything. It's all a show for the public."

The U.S. special inspector general for Iraqi reconstruction said in a report to Congress last week that

Iraqi Interior Ministry Inspector General Aqeel Al Turaihi "reports that many lives have been lost due to the wands' utter ineffectiveness."

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