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The rise and fall of the wigglestick

Post by Scott Fontaine on Jan. 24, 2010 at 10:56 am |
January 23, 2010 10:56 pm

BAGHDAD – Maybe the Iraqis will finally get the hint.

American troops across the country – including plenty from Fort Lewis – have criticized Iraqi soldiers and policemen for using the ADE-651, a modern-day divining rod whose makers claim can detect pretty much anything deemed illicit, like guns, bombs, counterfeit money and even ivory. Oh, and it works underground, underwater, from an airplane going overhead and through walls.

The Iraqi government has reportedly spent $85 million on the devices, which don’t even use batteries. It’s mockingly called the magic wand and the wigglestick. As one platoon leader ranted to me: “Who the hell would ever think this thing works?”

Apparently the British government doesn’t. It banned the export of the device to Iraq adn Afghanistan, saying the devices are such a crock that they could cause harm to British or friendly forces.

And the director of the company that sells them was arrested Saturday on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation. The BBC decided to purchase one and put it to the test:

Sidney Alford, a leading explosives expert who advises all branches of the military, told Newsnight the sale of the ADE-651 was “absolutely immoral.”

“It could result in people being killed in the dozens, if not hundreds,” he said.

Like another one of these incidents.

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