This story about how Iran is circumventing our efforts to prevent them from obtaining spare F-14 parts at BusinessWeek will blow your mind regardless of your political leanings.
One current investigation, triggered by a search in 2005 of a suspect building in California, casts an even more disturbing light on the Pentagon's permeability. When Defense investigators moved in on their target, they found the expected cache of F-14 parts, apparently bound for Iran. But they were astounded to discover the components were the very ones intercepted during another investigation two years earlier. The parts even had evidence tags still attached to them from the previous case, in which three people were convicted of shipping aircraft and missile parts to Iran. Returned to the Pentagon, the F-14 hardware had been resold and once again was headed for Iran, says Rick Gwin, the Pentagon special agent heading the continuing investigation. "My reaction," he says, "was extreme, to say the least."
It turns out that obtaining spare parts and military surplus items is pretty darn easy. Just go to govliqudation.com and stock up for Armageddon yourself. The General Accounting Office (GAO) did:
In a report published last July, the GAO said its investigators made multiple purchases on Government Liquidation's site that shouldn't have been possible. They acquired body armor enhancements currently used by American troops, test equipment for guided missiles, and electronic components for the F-14. All told, the investigators identified thousands of instances in which restricted items that should have been retained by the military or destroyed had instead been sold to the public online. In other cases, GAO investigators posing as military contractors made purchases in person, walking out of the Defense Dept.'s surplus-property warehouses with metal mounts for shoulder-fired guided missiles and other sensitive equipment.
The GAO points the finger at both the DOD and Government Liquidation:
"Sensitive military equipment items are still being improperly released by the Defense Dept. and sold to the public, thus posing a national security risk," the GAO report concluded. Government Liquidation, the GAO said, fails to verify the classifications of sensitive equipment and has sold items that should have been returned to the military or destroyed. The combined effect is that the government sometimes doesn't know to whom it's selling or what buyers intend to do with military technology.
So before we get too giddy about busting the JFK airport blot let's not forget the words of our fearless commander-in-chief George W Bush:
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
It would appear so.
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