Murtha intervening to protect firm convicted of illegal exports

The Washington Post reports that Rep. John Murtha has written the State Department asking them to meet with a firm that illegally exported components for military night-vision goggles.  Electro-Glass had no export license for the equipment, which allows the US to regulate who has access to the high-tech gear to ensure it doesn’t get used against us our our allies.  They lost the ability to export for three years, which Murtha says will put them out of business:

Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat known for delivering federal money to defense contractors in his district, is now going to bat for a constituent’s company that was convicted last year of illegally exporting components of military equipment.

Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, wrote State Department officials in late June urging them to meet with the president of Electro-Glass Products, a 50-employee company that was convicted in April 2007 of illegally exporting components of night-vision goggles to a company in India. The Mammoth, Pa., firm has been sanctioned by the State Department, and Murtha argues that the action threatens to put the firm out of business.

“Electro-Glass is a highly respected company known for its honesty,” Murtha wrote. He said the company, which manufactures small glass rings called “preforms,” would not have made the shipments “if they truly believed the shipments were in violation of the law.” He added: “It will be genuinely unfortunate if they are forced to close their doors.”

Well, excuse me, but the first indication that Electro-Glass broke the law is that they didn’t get an export license for their product.  That doesn’t sound terribly “honest” to me, although the concept of honesty could be foreign to a porker like Murtha.  That failure suggests that Electro-Glass deliberately attempted to evade the oversight of the State Department, and that they only discovered their basic “honesty” when most criminals feel remorse: moments after getting caught.

Nor was this the first time the company found out about the requirement.  State “counseled” them in 1994 for doing exactly the same thing.  Ten years later, they re-offended, which is why State chose to prosecute them the second time.

The risk in these transactions is that the technology can fall into the wrong hands.  We maintain a technological advantage over our enemies only as long as we protect that technology.  When firms like Electro-Glass go rogue and start proliferating their components and systems, we may find our troops facing off against terrorists and foreign armies using our own weapons and systems against us, including Murtha’s fellow Marines.  One would think that Murtha would put them above the cheats at Electro-Glass, but apparently Murtha has other priorities. (via Michelle)