WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the U.S. Department of Justice:
Good morning everyone.
Joining me on stage are: Julie Myers , Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Timothy D. Bereznay, Assistant Director, FBI Counterintelligence Division; Darryl Jackson , Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement; Charles Beardall , Director of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS); and Ambassador Stephen Mull , Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs.
I am pleased to join my colleagues here today to announce a comprehensive new export enforcement initiative being launched by these agencies, by the Justice Department's National Security Division, and by the U.S. Attorneys offices around the country.
This initiative focuses on the national security threat posed by the illegal export of sensitive American technology -- technology that includes a wide range of controlled U.S. military items, dual-use technology, and other products -- some of which can be used in the development of weapons of mass destruction.
It goes without saying that keeping this technology from falling into the wrong hands has never been more important than it is now in the post 9/11 world. We know that Al Qaeda has been trying to acquire or make weapons of mass destruction for more than a decade. We know that Usama bin Laden issued a fatwa declaring it an obligation of his followers to develop and use such dangerous weapons.
And, we know that foreign states are actively seeking out our technology to advance their own military systems and technical capacity. We know that several countries have established full-fledged procurement networks -- networks that work through front companies, joint ventures, trade delegations and other mechanisms to methodically target our government, our private industries and our universities as sources of this material.
Such countries have no interest in trying to match our technological progress through honest competition. They have no interest in undertaking the effort this country undertook 50 years ago last week when we saw the Soviet Sputnik orbiting the globe for the first time in history. When we saw that, we mobilized all our industrial and human resources and we outpaced the Soviet space program with our brains and determination. The technology-acquiring countries we're dealing with today have no interest in such a competition; they would rather let us develop the technology and then simply steal it from us.
And, that's exactly what they're doing. An Intelligence Community report issued last year noted that as many as 108 different nations have entities that are engaged in efforts to obtain controlled U.S. technology, and a Defense Department report described a 43 percent increase last year in the number of suspicious foreign contacts with U.S. defense firms. In short, the United States has become the world's primary target for technology theft.
The threat of technology theft and proliferation is a subtle, but extremely insidious, threat to our national security. It is a threat that is carried out in the shadows, and it does not raise the same level of alarm as the violence of a terrorist attack or the sword-rattling of a belligerent rogue state. But, it is a very serious threat, nonetheless. It is just as dangerous, and just as potentially deadly.
The severity of this threat has prompted a response on a number of fronts. Congress, for instance, has been considering legislation to strengthen our authorities in this area, and I understand that some legislation was proposed as recently as yesterday.