When I think the federal government has already done the dumbest possible thing it could do, something pops up that tops the list. When I learned that a U.S. government agency uses foreign firms to make new e-passports I almost fell out of my desk chair. On top of that the firm is apparently overcharging for them. The Washington Times reported that the Government Printing Office outsourced the manufacturing of U.S. passports to foreign firms which charged the U.S. State Department nearly twice what it would have cost the GPO to have them made. The law that established the printing agency states that it can only charge what it needs to recover its costs. Security agencies and the GPO said it has protective measures in place to keep blank passports out of the hands of U.S. enemies but the agency’s inspector general, J. Anthony Ogden, said in October that there are “significant deficiencies” in the security of the manufacturing process. Ogden’s report said the GPO stated it couldn’t overcome the “significant deficiencies” because of “monetary constraints,” according to the Times.
The Times investigation and subsequent report indicates the blank passports travel to Europe where a microchip is inserted in the back cover and then on to Thailand where they are fitted with a radio antenna. The Netherlands company that makes the covers for the passport said in October that China stole the technology for the microchips. Surely the possibility of blank passports getting into criminal hands has been considered by our national leaders as at least a possibility. If that were to happen, all sorts of problems would be in store for American citizens.
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