GPO outsourced "secure" passports to foreign countries; Chinese espionage
Posted Sun, Mar 30, 2008 at 12:22 pm
From the first of a three part series on this issue:
The United States has outsourced the manufacturing of its electronic passports to overseas companies — including one in Thailand that was victimized by Chinese espionage — raising concerns that cost savings are being put ahead of national security, an investigation by The Washington Times has found.Needless to say, the GPO, the DHS, and the State Department are following the usual protocol by claiming there were no risks. They also say they had no choice because the foreign chips were the only ones that met their standards. However:
The Government Printing Office's decision to export the work has proved lucrative, allowing the agency to book more than $100 million in recent profits by charging the State Department more money for blank passports than it actually costs to make them, according to interviews with federal officials and documents obtained by The Times.
...GPO Inspector General J. Anthony Ogden, the agency's internal watchdog, doesn't share that confidence. He warned in an internal Oct. 12 report that there are "significant deficiencies with the manufacturing of blank passports, security of components, and the internal controls for the process."Note also that unsecured FedEx shipments were used for some of the "secure" passports (link).