March 26, 2008, - 11:58 am
Another Brilliant Post-9/11 Bush Move: Passport Printing Outsourced to Foreign Countries, Including Target of Chi-Com Espionage
By Debbie Schlussel
More than 6.5 years since 9/11, I’m wondering just what President Bush has done . . . other than create a giant bloated bureaucracy (DHS), a disgusting national policy of sycophancy to Islam, and making us less safe.
Well, Washington Times investigative reporter Bill Gertz, gives us yet another example of what President Bush has “done for us” to “make us safer.”
Printing U.S. passports–yet another “job Americans just won’t do”:
The United States has outsourced the manufacturing of its electronic passports to overseas companies – including one in Thailand that was victimized by Chinese espionage – raising concerns that cost savings are being put ahead of national security.
The Government Printing Office’s [GPO] decision to export the work has proved lucrative, allowing the agency to book more than $100 million in recent profits by charging the State Department more money for blank passports than it actually costs to make them, according to interviews with federal officials and documents obtained by The Times.
The profits have raised questions both inside the agency and in Congress because the law that created GPO as the federal government’s official printer explicitly requires the agency to break even by charging only enough to recover its costs.
Lawmakers said they were alarmed by The Times’ findings and plan to investigate why U.S. companies weren’t used to produce the state-of-the-art passports, one of the crown jewels of American border security. [DS: "Crown jewel"? More like, Cubic Zirconium.] . . .
But GPO Inspector General J. Anthony Ogden, the agency’s internal watchdog, doesn’t share that confidence. He warned in an internal Oct. 12 report that there are “significant deficiencies with the manufacturing of blank passports, security of components, and the internal controls for the process.”
The inspector general’s report said GPO claimed it could not improve its security because of “monetary constraints.” But the inspector general recently told congressional investigators he was unaware that the agency had booked tens of millions of dollars in profits through passport sales that could have been used to improve security, congressional aides told The Times. . . .
According to interviews and documents, GPO managers rejected limiting the contracts to U.S.-made computer chip makers and instead sought suppliers from several countries, including Israel, Germany and the Netherlands. [DS: The Islamo-dominated Netherlands. Yup, that's where we want our passport chips made. Same for Germany. Remember the "Hamburg Cell" of which Mohammed Atta was a proud member? As for Israel, their chipmakers probably have better security than we do here. Probably.]
Mr. Somerset, the GPO spokesman, said foreign suppliers were picked because “no domestic company produced those parts” when the e-passport production began a few years ago.
After the computer chips are inserted into the back cover of the passports in Europe, the blank covers are shipped to a factory in Ayutthaya, Thailand, north of Bangkok, to be fitted with a wire Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, antenna. The blank passports eventually are transported to Washington for final binding, according to the documents and interviews.
The stop in Thailand raises its own security concerns. The Southeast Asian country has battled social instability and terror threats. Anti-government groups backed by Islamists, including al Qaeda, have carried out attacks in southern Thailand and the Thai military took over in a coup in September 2006. [DS: And not mentioned here, the leader of the government--who took over in that coup--is a devout Muslim.]
The Netherlands-based company that assembles the U.S. e-passport covers in Thailand, Smartrac Technology Ltd., warned in its latest annual report that, in a worst-case scenario, social unrest in Thailand could lead to a halt in production.
Smartrac divulged in an October 2007 court filing in The Hague that China had stolen its patented technology for e-passport chips, raising additional questions about the security of America’s e-passports.
A 2005 document obtained by The Times states that GPO was using unsecure FedEx courier services to send blank passports to State Department offices until security concerns were raised and forced GPO to use an armored car company. Even then, the agency proposed using a foreign armored car vendor before State Department diplomatic security officials objected.
These are just excerpts of a much longer and more in-depth article. And it’s the first of three parts in a series on passport security, er . . . insecurity, by Bill Gertz.
What else will he report. Fear the worst. President Bush’s gladhanding of extremist Muslims and setting up giant law enforcement bureaucracies who do way too much of the same and way too little of national security, will be the legacy of his Administration. As will this.
Thanks a gazillion (in fake and compromised passports), Georgie.
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