Congress, Other, Pentagon

Next steps in export control

Last month the Defense Department released the final version of the so-called “Section 1248″ report describing the national security implications of moving satellites and related components off the US Munitions List (USML) and thus out of the restrictive jurisdiction of ITAR. The report found that most items can, in fact, be moved off the USML to the less restrictive Commerce Control List (CCL), with the exception of purely military and intelligence satellites and component unique to them as well as remote sensing satellites with “high performance parameters”.

The report, named after the section of the 2010 defense authorization bill that called for it, was due two years ago; administration officials said at a briefing about the report at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs that the effort got caught up in broader export control reform efforts, although an interim report was provided by the Pentagon to Congress a year ago. The final report, officials hope, will help efforts in Congress to move the identified space-related items off the USML, something that can only be done through legislation since those items were added to the USML by law in the late 1990s.

The prospect for such reform is the subject of a couple of events this week in Washington. On Wednesday the AIAA and the American Bar Association are cohosting a “Conversation on Export Controls” on Capitol Hill, featuring a number of executives and government officials to discuss the Section 1248 report and its implications for export control reform. Thursday afternoon the Export Control Working Group of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) will meet to discuss the Section 1248 report and related issues. That event features Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), ranking member of the Select Committee on Intelligence.

11 comments to Next steps in export control

  • vulture4

    ITAR is based on the theory that America is smarter than any other country, and they can never discover things unless they steal them from us. It’s also based on the idea that these secrets are what keeps our country strong. In reality secrets can always be rediscovered and exports keep us strong.

    ITAR is a stupid law that should be repealed.

  • amightywind

    ITAR is based on the fact that the US enjoys an advantage over the rest of the world in military technology that is worth preserving. Other countries are engaged in intense espionage to close the gap.

    How the US came to harbor flagellants like the fellow above, I’ll never understand.

  • E.P. Grondine

    I won’t comment on the origins of ITAR.

    The US enjoys a good patent system that benefits its industries.

    Why AW omits technologies other than military ones, technologies that are worth preserving for our industries, is something I’ll never understand.

    Maybe its the work of flagellants.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “ITAR is based on the fact that the US enjoys an advantage over the rest of the world in military technology that is worth preserving.”

    None of which is used in common comsats or LVs.

  • K. Greene

    Vulture4′s comments were well taken. ITAR has become a self-destructive folly for this nation. We are surrendering market share to foreign competitors for many items of technology, and sacrificing the chances for productive shared ventures too.
    The knee-jerk fearful response is often the stupid one.

    By all means, protect the secrets that need protecting. The overly wide scope of the current ITAR regime, enacted in a spasm of Congressional panic, is long overdue for a cleanup.

    That sneering comment above is not worth refuting, otherwise.

  • Space Cadet

    ITAR protects information that is so secret and crucial to the safety of the United States that it can only be shared with 312 million people.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ May 10th, 2012 at 8:13 am

    US enjoys an advantage over the rest of the world in military technology that is worth preserving”

    That is at least an interesting statement worthy of some debate. At best it comes at an enormous price; the MIC today is consuming near WW2 levels of funding in constant dollars…and essentially we are not fighting anyone particularly if the notion is matching military units of similar technology.

    On the other hand experience in Iraq and Afland has been that 1) the technology bogs down easily and 2 has not at all been determinative in the conflict.

    The US is spending nearly 50 percent of the worlds “resources” that are spent on defense…hence it is reasonable to suspect that the US should be able to “best” in combat one or two or three of the “other countries” who are spending in total the other 50 percent.

    The question is could the US beat a near equal with its “technology”? Or put it another way, are we so now in love with technology that we are starting as a country to negate certain other military basics at our peril?

    Iraq and Afland suggest so RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Space Cadet wrote @ May 11th, 2012 at 2:39 am

    ITAR protects information that is so secret and crucial to the safety of the United States that it can only be shared with 312 million people.>>

    Really fine. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ May 10th, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    None of which is used in common comsats or LVs.”

    I agree with your response and its well done. However I would add this.

    If I was worried in the future about what kind of technologies are going to be “marketable” on the espionage market and that might in the future be used against us; the ones that would really scare me are the technologies that go into common comsats and LV’s…

    that in no measure convinces me that nutty things like ITAR are valuable…but I do not worry about folks stealing the secrets of the ANPS 48 radar (the Israelis have already given them to the Chinese)…I do worry about lessor things RGO

  • vulture4

    “ITAR is based on the fact that the US enjoys an advantage over the rest of the world in military technology that is worth preserving.”

    LOL. Most of the “ITAR-restricted” technology we have readily available elseewhere. And as my Chinese friend says, “Why would China even bother to steal American technology? HP. GE, GM, Apple, and even Walmart are falling over themselves giving it to us. In fact many of them are evolving into Chinese companies.” There are some American companies like Intel and Caterpillar that realize that there are limits to reverse engineering and it’s perfectly feasible to export high-tech products while keeping manufacturingjobs , corporate knowledge and proprietary capabilities in the US, and that doing so may be worth more than the short-term profits to be realized by shipping jobs overseas, But they are in a minority; most US industries do not look beyond the next quarter. For America to compete, those manufacturers that can keep their factories here and stay ahead of the competition must have the capability to compete in exports, because otherwise they won’t have the money to stay ahead.

    As for military power, as Athens demonstrated in ancient Greece, as the North demonstrated in the Civil War, as the US demonstrated in the World Wars, military power grows out of economic power. The US is deeply in debt and cannot afford its high-tech military, at least in part because we have so few manufacturing exports. China is forging more steel and aluminum, building more high-speed trains, PCs and cell phones, buring more fuel, using more internet connections, and graduating more scientists and engineers than we are. Think military aircraft are the only ones that count? China is putting more into R&D for its civil aerospace industry than we are, and they plan to take a significant part of the export market. Wait a minute- that’s why we created NACA- in 1915.

  • Coastal Ron

    vulture4 wrote @ May 12th, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    There are some American companies like Intel and Caterpillar that realize that there are limits to reverse engineering and it’s perfectly feasible to export high-tech products…

    To your point – an article in Wired magazine today:

    Intel Feeds China’s Supercomputers With New Xeon Chip

    This is a good example of why the U.S. needs to keep investing in education and research, because if we don’t invent the future (and make boatloads selling it to the world), our overseas competitors will.

    Artificial technology barriers that are quickly replaced are not the answer. I’m OK with limiting certain technology that is unique to things like nuclear bombs or other things that truly rogue nations shouldn’t have, but that’s not going to be a big list.

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