Wired's Danger Room is running an article about the fake bomb-sniffing devices currently being used by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). My unit saw these things in-person: they were in use at a number of checkpoints in Kirkuk.
We always knew the devices were fake, but were unable to convince the Iraqis of the fallacy of relying on these things to detect explosives. At some point during the tour, we received a report that Americans had taken X-rays and taken apart one of the devices to reveal that there was no power source inside the device, and that none of the "detecting" components connected to anything.
My patrol stopped at a checkpoint in the northern part of the city initially to chastise the Iraqi Police (IPs) for not wearing their bulletproof vests ("It's too hot and the vests are too heavy" was the Iraqi response to our line of questioning).
Among the IPs manning the checkpoint was a commissioner (IP equivalent to a senior NCO in the U.S. military) who was so obese that his vest could not be closed. I asked him what his procedures were for checking vehicles for explosives. He waved an IP over with a small black pelican case. The IP opened the case and the commissioner rather triumphantly pulled out the fake bomb-sniffing device.
We proceeded to explain to him that the machines were fake and had zero ability to detect anything, much less explosives. The IP commissioner was adamant that the machines worked.
"How many vehicles have you stopped and detected explosives inside using this machine?" I asked, pointing at the flimsy piece of black plastic.
"None," he answered. Still, he insisted that the device worked.
"How does it work?" I asked. "Explain to me exactly how this thing detects bombs."
The commissioner pulls out these little things that looked like calling cards. "Each card detects a different chemical: RMX, TNT, etc.," he said. "Insert the desired card into the machine, and if there are explosives, the antenna will move."
By this point, we were all fairly incredulous that this Iraqi Police officer had fully placed the safety of himself as well as those of his men in the hands of a piece of plastic with a car antenna sticking out of it.
Further pleas with the IPs to stop using the machines and go back to old school police work -- random vehicle stops, getting the driver out of the vehicle, methodical vehicle, search, etc. -- were unsuccessful.
"I am telling you -- I'm not guessing, I am telling you -- that this shit doesn't work. If you guys want to get yourself killed, go ahead. I'm not going to be anywhere near you guys when you use this garbage." Disgusted, we mounted back up and got the hell out of there.