Monday, January 8, 2007

Updates: Somalia and Export Controls

First, I wanted to say that I'm surprised by how successfully the transitional government of Somalia routed the ICU over the last week. The transitional government President, Abdullahi Yusuf, returned to Mogadishu today. There has been some protests and violence, but the media hasn't characterized it as distinctly Islamist:
On Saturday, security forces fired in the air to disperse crowds, as youths burnt tyres and threw stones, witnesses said. At least two civilians were killed and several others injured by gunfire, but it was not clear who was responsible. President Yusuf has always been wary of going to MogadishuAnother protest was held in the town of Beledweyne, near the border with Ethiopia, with one death reported.
If Somalia's Islamists are anything like the Taliban, they should be able to put together a guerrilla campaign in a year - if they disperse now. I'll definitely be keeping an on developments southern Somalia over the next few weeks. On to the second topic: export controls. Export controls are the least glamorous component of the U.S. arms control and nonproliferation regime, but they have the potential to throw a huge monkey wrench in how the U.S. does business abroad. Case in point - the State Department slapped down Lockheed Martin for using the "but we had a DoD contract" excuse:
According to the charging letter that preceded the consent agreement, Sippican continued to provide technical data after a TAA had expired, provided technical data to parties not authorized under the TAA, and provided technical data explicitly excluded by a proviso to one of the TAAs. In particular, Sippican provided controlled technical data classified at a level higher than Secret even though the TAA in effect at the time only permit transfer of data up to the Secret level. During discussions with DDTC, Sippican attempted to argue that it transferred the classified data in question because that was required by the Navy contract. [snip] DDTC is, of course, correct that a government contract does not eliminate the need for an export license. That being said, it seems that DDTC did not fully understand the background that I surmise led Sippican to make that argument. This would not be the first time that military contracting officers, anxious for the contract to proceed rapidly, pressured contractors to provide deliverables or data without going through the 3-4 month wait (or more) for an export authorization from DDTC. Indeed, in more than one instance with which I’m aware, the contracting officer has represented that no license was necessary precisely because the military was requesting the unlicensed export.
If the $3 million fine tacked on the consent agreement doesn't cause a palpable chilling effect in the defense industry, I don't know what will. The flap with the UK over to technical data for the Joint Strike Fighter that was just resolved last month is just the beginning. Once promised international cooperation on politically-sensitive, big-ticket weapons systems - such as national missile defense (if Congress doesn't kill it before then) - starts to take off of a few years from now, we will see just how deep this rabbit hole goes.

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