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Report: Body Scanner Makers Doubled Lobbying Cash Over 5 Years

Diana Sweet

A security official demonstrates a full body scanner during a photocall at Departure Gate 2 at Hamburg Airport in Hamburg September 27, 2010. (REUTERS/Christian Charisius)

Multimillion dollar government contracts don't just happen. Ask the companies with the big government contracts to supply Body-scanning machines to U.S. airports how much more they had to spend on lobbying on the Hill. Not only have they increased their lobbying efforts over the last 5 years, they're doing it with some very familiar names.

USA Today reports that the companies with the biggest government contracts for body-scanners doubled their lobbying cash over the last five years, and advanced their agenda with lobbyists Linda Daschle, a former FAA official and wife of former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

L-3 Communications, and lobbyist Linda Daschle, "reported lobbying on nearly two dozen bills, ranging from homeland security appropriations to military construction. Among the bills targeted by L-3 lobbyists: legislation proposed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, that would limit the use of the scanners at airports as a backup measure only."

After passing in the House in 2009, Chaffetz's legislation languished in the Senate after an alleged failed attempt to ignite an explosive powder during a Christmas-time flight to Detroit.

Chaffetz acknowledges that the attempted bombing contributed to the bill's failure, but added "But I also routinely heard that 'Secretary Chertoff believes this is the right thing to do. Who are you to challenge him?' "

Also amid the tensions over the invasive body scanners, and the TSA 'pat-downs,' Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole warned against boycotting the airport scans. Citing holiday travelers being delayed by protests during such busy, stressful air travel days, and reminding us of bombers past he pleaded for understanding.

A report adds that despite internet rumors of protest, "There was little if any indication of a passenger revolt Monday at many major U.S. airports, with very few people declining the X-ray scan that can peer through their clothes. Those who refuse are subject to a pat-down search that includes the crotch and chest."

"Many travelers said that the scans and the pat-down were not much of an inconvenience, and that the stepped-up measures made them feel safer and were, in any case, unavoidable."

The latest poll of Americans regarding the body-scanners shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans support the new, full-body screening machines, with most adding that they place a "higher priority on combating terrorism than protecting personal privacy, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll."

However, half of all of those polled agreed that those TSA pat-down searches are going just too far.

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