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Airport scanners funded by stimulus bill sit in mothballs at Transportation Security Administration

February 23, 2010 |  9:47 am

Airport scanner at DeGaulle Airport in Paris Feb. 22, 2010
One year ago, President Obama signed a $787-billion spending bill meant to stimulate the nation's economy. As Ticket reported Monday, the White House says it's working, that things would have been worse without it.

But even the administration acknowledges that much of the $787 billion is still in the pipelines of government bureaucracy.

Now Politico is reporting that, in just one example, the bill's $25 million for airport screening machines -- the kind that could detect explosives worn by wannabe Christmas Day bombers -- are sitting in mothballs.

Apparently, it took the Homeland Security Department seven months to order 150 of the scanners. Their California-based manufacturer, Rapiscan, says it has delivered more than 100 of the machines to the Transportation Security Administration, where they sit waiting.

Maybe the delay is good news for privacy advocates, who still don't like those scanners.

Meanwhile, with 15 million Americans out of work, the argument that the economy would have been worse off without the stimulus bill is small comfort for what demographers call "the new poor" and a tough sell for politicians.

Still, the pols are doing their best. Embattled Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, facing a Tea Party revolt in the Republican primary for Senate, said this week that he has no regrets over backing Obama and his bill -- even though the photo of their embrace is one of the key weapons in Marco Rubio's arsenal against him.

"I don't apologize for it at all. We needed the money," Crist said in front of the White House after a governors' meeting with Obama on Monday.



Fresh from Washington, California's lame-duck Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also praised the bill, saying the cash-strapped Golden State has added millions of dollars in highway funding and thousands of new jobs.

"You may have heard critics say that the Recovery Act spending was a waste," he said in remarks Tuesday. "Just tell this to the 150,000 people in California who would be unemployed without it. Tell this to the teachers who would be unemployed, or to the police officers. Tell that to the construction workers who were hired, to the crane operators building our bridges and the bulldozer operators paving our highways. Tell that to them."

Your vote?

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: A security official prepares to scan a man during a test of a full-body scanner at Charles-de-Gaulle Airport in Paris on Monday. Credit: Reuters

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