In 1976, Scotti, who is a licensed electrical engineer with experience at Raytheon, and a former Air Force communications officer (stationed in Phalsbourg, France, from 1960 to 1962 and trained in “basic counterinsurgency when a confrontation over the Berlin Wall seemed imminent”), opened his Executive Protection school. In addition to courses he still attends through the International Association of Chiefs of Police, he supplemented his Air Force intelligence training with modern corporate-security practices learned from Steve Van Cleave of Inter-American Consultants, an Atlanta-based firm that specializes in coping with international terrorism. According to the simple mimeographed brochure that Scotti began sending to those who inquired, Executive Protection stresses “the dramatic need to protect individuals in industry and government against acts of violence,” almost always committed in transit, “when the risk to the attacker is least and the vulnerability of the victim is the greatest.”
By late 1977, Executive Protection had become the mainstay of Scotti’s business, the most time-consuming of the four courses he offers and his biggest moneymaker. “I’d say the anti-terrorism course has the brightest future of them all,” he said in an interview recently, pausing somberly to add, “but it’s a sad thing when that’s the brightest, you understand.” Scotti’s sentiments not-withstanding, the phenomenal growth of his school can be taken as an indication that the anti-terrorism business is booming. Since January he has traveled to six countries; he estimates that he will conduct 15 Executive Protection courses in Connecticut alone. He will visit Venezuela again in June and expects to reap more than $10,000 from a July trip to Iran. Do foreign governments ever object to his presence; does he take any special security precautions when he’s abroad. “No one knows I’m there when I am,” he says. “And when I cross a border I simply say I’m a consultant, a teacher, of driving. It never gets any further than that.”
As growing numbers of Americans seek the services of high-priced security consultants such as Scotti, one wonders if this burgeoning industry can really deliver what it promises. It operates under the cloak of confidentiality, very little is made public about courses or the students who take them, and rumor and innuendo rule the marketplace. Indeed, as Newsweek reported in November, “most firms are so close-mouthed that a task force on terrorism set up by the Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration found it impossible to put together a report last year on how business was handling the problem. ‘Private industry was playing its cards so close to the vest that we had to scrap the project,’ said former District of Columbia police chief Jerry Wilson, who headed the project.”
Despite his casual explanation that he has trained a 40-man army for a sugar plantation executive in Venezuela or that a corporation for which he was working flew an entire class to the fair shores of the Spanish Mediterranean when snow ruined driving conditions in England (all in a day’s work, his shrugged shoulders seem to say), Scotti is the first to admit that he is no expert on terrorism.