WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --- The Justice Department and several partner agencies today launched a national initiative that will harness the counter-proliferation assets of U.S. law enforcement, licensing, and intelligence agencies to combat the growing national security threat posed by illegal exports of restricted U.S. military and dual-use technology to foreign nations and terrorist organizations.
The export enforcement initiative was announced by Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Julie L. Myers, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Timothy D. Bereznay, Assistant Director, FBI Counterintelligence Division; Darryl W. Jackson , Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement; Charles W. Beardall, Director of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS); and Stephen D. Mull, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs.
The threat posed by illegal foreign acquisition of restricted U.S. technology is substantial and growing. In the past week, there have been federal cases involving the illegal export of items with nuclear and missile applications to Pakistan and the illegal export of U.S. fighter jet components sought by Iran . A 2006 Defense Department report noted a 43 percent increase in the number of suspicious foreign contacts with U.S. defense firms, and an Intelligence Community report issued last year asserted that entities from a record 108 nations were engaged in efforts to obtain controlled U.S. technology.
China and Iran pose particular U.S. export control concerns. The majority of U.S. criminal export prosecutions in recent years have involved restricted U.S. technology bound for these nations as opposed to others. Recent prosecutions have highlighted illegal exports of stealth missile technology, military aircraft components, Naval warship data, night vision equipment, and other restricted technology destined for China or Iran .
"Foreign states and terrorist organizations are actively seeking to acquire U.S. data, technological knowledge and equipment that will advance their military capacity, their weapons systems and even their weapons of mass destruction programs. Many have targeted our government, industries and universities as sources of these materials," said Assistant Attorney General Wainstein. "This initiative is a coordinated campaign to keep sensitive U.S. technology from falling into the wrong hands and from being used against our allies, against our troops overseas or against Americans at home."
New Counter-Proliferation Task Forces and Training
A critical part of this new initiative will be the formation of Counter-Proliferation Task Forces in appropriate U.S. Attorney's offices around the country. These multi-agency task forces will take many of the concepts used in combating terrorism - namely, prevention, cooperation and coordination -- and apply them to the counter-proliferation effort. The task forces will be designed to enhance cooperation among all agencies involved in export control, forge relationships with affected industries, and facilitate information sharing to prevent illegal foreign acquisition of U.S. technology.
The Department's National Security Division is in discussions with districts with large concentrations of high-tech businesses and research facilities -- all of which are potential targets for illegal foreign acquisition efforts -- as potential venues for new task forces. Some task forces may be modeled after efforts that exist in the Southern District of New York, District of Connecticut and District of Maryland, where agents from ICE, FBI, Commerce Department, DCIS and other agencies pool data and coordinate cases. Other approaches may be taken in different districts, depending on the needs of the U.S. Attorney and agencies in that district.