Why Is Michael Chertoff So Excited About Full-Body Scanners?

Heading up the renewed push for those controversial, clothes-penetrating scanners at airports is former homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff. His consulting firm represents companies who make the scanners, but you wouldn't know it from reading the papers.

The Underpants Bomber alerted the world to the possibility of terrorists putting bombs in their underpants. So now everyone is debating whether we should deploy scanners which can see through clothes and show bombs nestled close to terrorists' nekkid bodies. Michael Chertoff, who was Bush's homeland security secretary from 2005-2009, is a huge fan! Yesterday he told NPR:

A couple of years ago we began the process of testing them to see, first of all, if they worked and second, if they could be deployed without unduly restricting the flow of traffic. And the good news is that we were able to demonstrate that they were successful. We could use them without slowing up traffic and we could also protect privacy.

But when Chertoff launched into his pitch for full-body scanners on Campbell Brown tonight, we learned that he is paid by the very companies who make the penetrating devices:

In 2009, Chertoff founded the Chertoff Group, a security consulting agency. The Chertoff Group's client list is unknown—Chertoff refused to talk about it in an interview—but he admits in the clip above that some of his clients manufacture full-body scanners.

Yet when he appears in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and on NPR to advocate for full-body scanning, Chertoff is identified only as a former secretary of homeland security. No mention is made of the Chertoff Group. ("If they'd been deployed, this would pick up this kind of device," he tells the Times.) Did Chertoff 'forget' to tell reporters about his connection to the industry he's pimping in their stories? It didn't look like he was about to volunteer the information on Campbell Brown tonight. (Good catch, though, Campbell. We always knew there had to be some reason you had your own show!)

So, here is a service to all you journalists working on upcoming articles about full-body scanners, which will inevitably feature Chertoff playing the cheerleader. Feel free to copy this sentence and paste it after Chertoff's name:

Chertoff is a former homeland security secretary and the founder of the Chertoff Group, a security consulting firm whose clients include manufacturers of full-body scanners.

You're welcome!