First I would like to wish everyone happiness and good luck in 2010, especially our government because it seems they will need it. Let's take a step back to 2003 when the government was feverishly searching for ways to protect us from another 9/11. This was a good thing, right? In theory yes but in practice not so much. Programmer Dennis Montgomery understood that the government was basically throwing money at anyone making claims to have a solution or the ability to develop a solution that would help the government combat terrorism.
So being the concerned, patriotic citizen he is, he informed a CIA employee at the agencies Directorate of Science and Technology of software that his company eTreppid developed. He claimed that his software was able to detect hidden bar codes in Al Jazeera videos that contained latitudes and longitudes of targets and flight numbers for potential terror targets. Consequently, this was passed up the chain of command to the White House. This ultimately prompted DHS secretary Tom Ridge to announce a terror alert that grounded several international "flights of interest" and raised the nations terror alert level. Surprise, surprise, the information was not credible as previously stated by Tom. Montgomery had faked approximately 40 demonstrations in order to entice the government into funneling them your hard earned money.
From 2003 to 2004 the fake intelligence found its way all through the White House and it took French intelligence to convince the government that they had been had. You think they would be upset about being deceived and swindled out of millions. Francis Townsend, a national security advisor at the time said, "It didn't seem beyond the realm of possibility. We were relying on technical people to tell us whether or not it was feasible. I don't regret having acted on it." All of this did not stop his company from getting a 30 Million no bid contract from the Air Force based on claims that his software could detect weapons in the footage taken by their unmanned predator drones. Montgomery left his company in 2006 and while still under investigation by the FBI was able to procure another 3 Million from the Air Force to further develop his software. Two million of which was received in 2009 before the project was deemed "inconclusive."
I understand the government is in a catch 22 situation. If they do nothing, there would be public outrage and if they make an effort to protect us and lose about 40 Million of our taxpayer money doing so, there would be public outrage. I am glad they are at least trying to do their jobs but obviously they need to get a better grip on technology. What is most amusing about this story is that someone was able to commit fraud against a government agency and have them be fine with it. Then while under investigation by another government agency they were able to rip off a different government agency while the the first news source to break this story was Playboy. It seems to me that everybody dropped the ball.