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NASA Boss Accused of Breaking Arms Trade Laws

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the what-part-of-regulation-XXIII-459823(aiii)-don't-you-understand? dept.

NASA 88

ananyo writes "The head of NASA Ames Research Center may have fallen victim to restrictive arms regulations — just as a US government report recommends changing them to help the space industry. Simon 'Pete' Worden, who recently announced that Mars exploration would be done by private companies, has been accused of giving foreign citizens access to information that falls under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). ITAR has hampered U.S. firms seeking to export satellite technology. The allegations against Worden come just as the new report recommends moving oversight of many commercial satellites and related activities from the State department to the Commerce department, and some fear they could provide lawmakers with reasons to not ease export controls."

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Frist Psot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39880253)

Frist Psot

Don't Be Silly (3, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880295)

Laws written by the government don't apply to the government. This is just a simple misunderstanding (by the people caught NASA breaking the law).

Re:Don't Be Silly (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880751)

Yeah? Then why are Illinois' last two Governors in prison right now?

Re:Don't Be Silly (3, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880901)

Exactly. Whether laws written by the government apply to the government depends entirely on exactly how embarrassing the situation is, and how well connected the particular politician (or other government official) is (versus how well connected his opponents are).

Re:Don't Be Silly (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39889997)

I've always said that a rich and powerful man only goes to prison when a richer, more powerful man wants him there.

Re:Don't Be Silly (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881331)

Yeah? Then why are Illinois' last two Governors in prison right now?

I guess there's no saving them when they are so corrupt that even other politicians are embarrassed by their actions.

Re:Don't Be Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39882235)

To be perfectly fair, one of them commuted everyone because he considered the court system a sham.

Re:Don't Be Silly (3, Funny)

identity0 (77976) | more than 2 years ago | (#39884243)

Well, it is Illinois. They technically don't have a government, only competing factional interests, like Somalia.

Re:Don't Be Silly (1)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | more than 2 years ago | (#39891449)

Well, it is Illinois. They technically don't have a government, only competing factional interests, like Somalia.

Ah, so is that what they meant when they called it a "failed state"?

Nasa boss accused of breaking arms... (1)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39882619)

Nasa boss accused of breaking arms...

did anybody else read the title this way as well? shoudl have read "accused of beaking arms-control." that's what the hyphen is for.

Re:Nasa boss accused of breaking arms... (1)

Wagoo (260866) | more than 2 years ago | (#39883335)

Yep, he's as bad as the outland revenue.

Re:Don't Be Silly (4, Informative)

RKBA (622932) | more than 2 years ago | (#39884651)

NASA is very strict about what leaves the county even in an employee email. Everything, including computer software and documentation, must be submitted to a department within NASA for approval and an ITAR compliance statement attached to it. It's such a hassle that it almost makes it impossible to work with international partners of friendly nations (Norway for example). It's probably about some mundane engineering material necessary to insure compatibility with an international partner that some bureaucratic bean-counter is trying to use to justify his or her otherwise undeserved salary.

satellite technology developed by NASA ..... (1)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880337)

is funded by the public, there for should be accessible by the U.S. public. Over seas countries should have to pay a fee for using the technology. done and done

Re:satellite technology developed by NASA ..... (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880395)

Same can be said about stealth fighters, ICBMs, and anything else developed with tax payer dollars. Not 100% sure all of that information should be publicly available however.

Re:satellite technology developed by NASA ..... (3, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880569)

Same can be said about stealth fighters, ICBMs, and anything else developed with tax payer dollars. Not 100% sure all of that information should be publicly available however.

Why not? When a government has exclusive right to military technology, they in effect have an exclusive right to unlimited power, which is a gross violation of the Constitutional principle of liberty.

Note that the Second Amendment provides no exclusions regarding what arms the citizens are allowed to own and carry - also note that the reason the Second Amendment exists is to allow the citizenry to defend ourselves not from each other, but from a tyrannical, oppressive government.

Re:satellite technology developed by NASA ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39880863)

When a government has exclusive right to military technology, they in effect have an exclusive right to unlimited power, which is a gross violation of the Constitutional principle of liberty.

First, no. They don't have unlimited resources. We control it all. We just haven't done a very good job. Neither did our parents, or their parents before them. Basically it's all been downhill since the revolution.

However, I don't want to know exactly how to build a stealth megabomber, because if I know, Iran knows.

As for the second amendment bit, I agree in principle. I'm fine with them keeping some technology under wraps for a while though.

Re:satellite technology developed by NASA ..... (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881611)

Note that the Second Amendment provides no exclusions regarding what arms the citizens are allowed to own and carry

I'm sorry, I'm all for second amendment rights, but I don't think the framers of the constitution could possibly conceive weapons of mass destruction like nukes and biological weapons. I for one don't want you or anyone you know owning such weapons, ICBMs, ballistic missiles, etc.

Re:satellite technology developed by NASA ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39882435)

I agree, but I also think that had the framers conceived of such weapons then they would have banned the government from having them too. They were (rightly) concerned with the government holding to much power over the citizens, so the idea of the government being able to kill large numbers of people with such ease would have certainly warranted further checks against it.
 
Can you imagine the outcome of the war of independence if the British could have ordered any city in America destroyed with no loss of British troops?. The framers would have realized that this is simply to much power for a government to wield.

Re:satellite technology developed by NASA ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39882621)

Can you imagine the outcome of the war of independence if the British could have ordered any city in America destroyed with no loss of British troops?. The framers would have realized that this is simply to much power for a government to wield.

If that had happened, and the resulting constitution prevented the government from having weapons with which to defend people and territory from other governments came about like you postulate, then we would not have to worry about it now as that constitution would no longer exist as the US would have been taken over by the first government that made such weapons.

Re:satellite technology developed by NASA ..... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39883233)

...then we would not have to worry about it now as that constitution would no longer exist as the US would have been taken over by the first government that made such weapons.

Uh... you don't follow politics much, do you? I ask because that nightmare scenario you mention there, that the Constitution would "no longer exist" if the US were "taken over by the first government that made such weapons?" Yea, about that...

Re:satellite technology developed by NASA ..... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39883345)

I don't think the framers of the constitution could possibly conceive weapons of mass destruction like nukes and biological weapons.

Nukes, perhaps not, but biological warfare has been around since party A realized that party B lacked immunity to certain diseases. Hell, in 1710 the Russian Army was using catapults to fling the bodies of bubonic plague victims within the wall of cities they held under siege.

I for one don't want you or anyone you know owning such weapons, ICBMs, ballistic missiles, etc.

Quick note: ICBM (Inter Continental Ballistic Missile) and "ballistic missile" are essentially the same thing. Moving on...

I agree; however, in my case, "anyone you know" includes the government.

How are the People supposed to protect ourselves from tyrannical authoritarianism, when the tyrannical authoritarians get to decide who gets which destructive powers?

Re:satellite technology developed by NASA ..... (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39884537)

Note that the Second Amendment provides no exclusions regarding what arms the citizens are allowed to own and carry

The First Amendment provides no exceptions of any kind to free speech, but nevertheless we accept that there are reasonable limits that can be placed on certain things and then we just spend the rest of time arguing about what is "reasonable".

Screaming "fire" in a crowded theater, libel and slander, revealing military secrets, etc. These are considered reasonable restrictions on the right of free speech.

Same with the 2nd Amendment. There may be a lot more argument over where 'reasonable' is, and I think it's too restrictive right now, but the idea that it guarantees the right to private armies and nuclear stockpiles is a non-starter, sorry.

P.S. For defending ourselves from an oppressive government, it's going to be less about the quality of hardware citizens possess at the beginning (though it helps if guns are plentiful, and they are, and AR-15s are legal and can be converted to full-auto easily), but rather how much we can steal or have stolen by defecting military members. And also not about hardware in general or armies but guerrilla tactics.

Before you blame Bush (2)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880353)

Before you blame post-9/11 security paranoia, this law was made to cover spacecraft in good ol' 1998. Dumb government bureaucracy can happen even in peaceful, profitable times.

Re:Before you blame Bush (4, Informative)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880489)

Before you blame post-9/11 security paranoia, this law was made to cover spacecraft in good ol' 1998. Dumb government bureaucracy can happen even in peaceful, profitable times.

No it wasn't. ITAR was enacted in 1976, in the midst of the Cold War, and it's always included far more than just anything related to spacecraft. It was originally meant to restrict a lot of different technologies, and has since been expanded to even cover software and algorithms of certain sorts. It covers both technology and goods, and the list of what is covered is enough to make you want to put a gun in your mouth and "export" your brains all over the wall. It's a truly nightmarish thing to comply with in today's world, if you handle any interesting technology development whatsoever.

Re:Before you blame Bush (3, Informative)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880823)

Not to mention the fact that what does or doesn't fall under the ITAR umbrella is open to interpretation and changes almost daily. Shit, I remember when Xenix implementations that had the crypt() routine in libc.a were not allowed to leave the country.

Re:Before you blame Bush (4, Informative)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880975)

Apparently, satellite stands are covered by ITAR. Basically, we are talking about an aluminum table to hold up the satellite when people are working on it..

Here is an old, but good article,

http://www.economist.com/node/11965352 [economist.com]

Re:Before you blame Bush (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881667)

I used to work with avionics systems that were ITAR controlled. To comply with regulations, we had to keep the hardware locked away when we weren't using it. Then all of a sudden, one day the flight logs generated by the hardware fell under ITAR control, so we had to delete all the logs from our servers, and even some of the software we wrote to analyze the flight data. Very frustrating.

Re:Before you blame Bush (1)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 2 years ago | (#39888289)

That's when you respond with a lawyer telling them to get bent.

RTFA (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#39882033)

No it wasn't.

Yes, it was. From TFA:

Advocates of export-control reform say that the report is the first encouraging development since 1998, when Congress placed all spacecraft and related equipment under ITAR, following revelations that two US companies had shared technical information about a launch failure with China, without seeking government approval. The move proved a blow to many US satellite firms, which lost international customers who were unwilling to deal with the licensing rules. Universities with foreign students are also subject to the rules, which cover what can be taught in classes and who can work on satellite-related student projects funded by the government.

Bonch wasn't saying the law was created in 1998. He said it was expanded to cover spacecraft in 1998.

Re:RTFA (1)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39882931)

you should just use the name "overly critical bonch." I love it - you guys are like a schizo with two personalities!

Re:Before you blame Bush (1)

Matheus (586080) | more than 2 years ago | (#39882961)

Ya. The work I do is (or at least was) constantly butting up against ITAR. You'd be surprised how easy it is to be in violation and the penalties are pretty effing severe if you get caught. We have training every year to fresh and remind us how to not potentially commit a company-ending mistake. Usually we come out of said training ticking off the various infractions that may have occurred in the past or even semi regularly.

You'd also be surprised what all falls under the label "arms" as our company is not involved in any way what-so-ever with the production of anything that could be used to inflict damage on another person/entity's body or property (my, maybe limited, definition of the word)

Re:Before you blame Bush (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 2 years ago | (#39884273)

Correct.

Have people on this site forgotten Phil Zimmerman [wikipedia.org] already?

Re:Before you blame Bush (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39886185)

has since been expanded to even cover software and algorithms of certain sorts.

We can't let those commies get our bubble sort algorithm.

Re:Before you blame Bush (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39888311)

ITAR. Just an American joke on the rest of the world.

It has now got so bad that my company will not use anything made by any American company, no matter how non-defence related it may be, just in case someday it may be declared ITAR. We are even being advised by the UK MOD not to include anything American for whatever we are developing for them because of the complete nightmare that ITAR has caused them.

We have just had to refuse to give back equipment owned by the UK MOD because of ITAR. We built and delivered it years ago when it was not ITAR’ed, but has just been sent back for repair. ‘Cos is now ITAR and we do not have specific clearance under those regulations to deliver these particular items to the MOD, we cannot return them.

Just in case anyone reading these articles thinks that ITAR is to do with selling Nuclear technology or hand grenades, let me enlighten you. The regulations are written so loose and wide that virtually anything can be swept up. I know the following items have been declared ITAR (i.e. stated to be a 'munition' on the United States Munitions List (USML).

RS232 cable
diesel truck engine
radio battery charger
An antenna
An RF cable.

How do they expect us to take them seriously when that is the level of idiocy that they have descended to.

"NASA Boss Accused of Breaking Arms" (4, Funny)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880377)

"NASA Boss Accused of Breaking Arms"

Das parts of NASA's loss of funds. You gots to break legs if youse wants to makes moneys.

Re:"NASA Boss Accused of Breaking Arms" (5, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880579)

"Gee, that's an awful nice launch system you have there... be a shame if something happened to it..."

Re:"NASA Boss Accused of Breaking Arms" (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880735)

I am simultaneously both relieved and disappointed to see I'm not the only twisted individual who thought along similar lines.

Re:"NASA Boss Accused of Breaking Arms" (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39884649)

Same here. But I'm still curious if NASA would get more funds if they went that route.

Careful reading the title of the article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39880379)

Careful reading the title: "NASA Boss Accused of Breaking Arms[...]"

Easy to get caught up by this. (4, Informative)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880425)

ITAR serves an important purpose by stating what technologies/goods should not be given to other countries because they comprise munitions or technologies related to them. But the trick is that controlling information is a problematic thing, especially when you get into esoteric aspects of technology. It gets even worse with "dual-use" technologies. A while back, Toshiba fell afoul of similar rules when they shared technology they use in their washing machines with a company in the USSR. Unfortunately, that same technology is also used to make quieter screws (propellers, for you land-loving sorts) for ships, and thus, submarines. At one point, the 128-bit encryption-capable version of Internet Explorer was equally prohibited for export.

The rules also seem totally nuts when you see how they play out. You can discuss things with US Citizens, but only if you're in the US. Unless you're abroad, but in a place the US controls. But not if you're in the US and there's a person here on a visa nearby.

Re:Easy to get caught up by this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39880535)

the first rule of arms: you don't talk about arms.

Toshiba did not fall "afoul" of dual-use rules (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39880731)

Toshiba sold four 5-axis milling machines and four 4-xis milling machines to the USSR. In its export application, Toshiba Machine falsely described the machinery as two-axis machine tools. Anything over two-axis violates COCOM.

Read that again: Toshiba didn't innocently stumble into the export of a dual-use machine that might or might not have been approved depending on bureaucratic review whims, they flat out lied in order to export machines which were explicitly and unconditionally prohibited.

Re:Toshiba did not fall "afoul" of dual-use rules (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881969)

But then, finding ways to circumvent stupid-ass rules is a moral imperative in itself.

Re:Toshiba did not fall "afoul" of dual-use rules (1)

drkstr1 (2072368) | more than 2 years ago | (#39885759)

But then, finding ways to circumvent stupid-ass rules is a moral imperative in itself.

True that.

Re:Toshiba did not fall "afoul" of dual-use rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39888359)

And yet you do not question the idiocy of why 4 and 5 axis milling machines are prohibited.

Re:Toshiba did not fall "afoul" of dual-use rules (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893593)

Probably due to the fact that a 4 and 5 axis milling machine would be amazing for creating the physics package of a nuclear warhead? At least that would be my guess. I mean you wouldn't be able to do much with a 2 axis machine... and there are other things you could undoubtedly create with such a milling machine, besides nuclear bombs. I'm sure you could shape other materials into useful items for war.

Re:Toshiba did not fall "afoul" of dual-use rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39904247)

so when i sit you down in front of such a machine, somehow a nuclear warhead pops out...right?

and of course the ONLY way of making a nucear warhead is with such a machine.......right?

Tit

Re:Easy to get caught up by this. (2)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880765)

The ITAR laws are retarded and don't help anyone except foreign companies competing with American companies. PGP was banned but apparently printing out the source code and mailing it was legalâ"freedom of speech, duh!!! Why bother? We're not the only source for dual use technologies. Russia, France, Germany et al are all willing to supply the stuff so who cares?

Re:Easy to get caught up by this. (3, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880947)

Which is why any company with half a brain and a foreign subsidiary will take any R&D that has the remote possibility of being classified as 'dual use' and move it overseas. Then you can kiss your US job goodbye.

Re:Easy to get caught up by this. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881279)

I wish it was restricted to dual use. I worked in the defense industry building stuff for the Navy, but no weapons, only commercial grade stuff. ITAR applies to that too. Our ITAR specialists use this example: If you buy a coffee pot off of the shelf of Wal-Mart, it is not ITAR controlled. If you now paint that coffee pot gray to fit to a Navy standard, and is in all other ways identical to the black one you bought, it is now a Defense Article and is ITAR controlled. Just by painting it the color the Navy wants.

We ran into issues several times where we were given permission to tell a Canadian company what we wanted (called a TAA, granted by the State Dept and takes about 6-8 months to process), basically giving them performance specs of a system we wanted so they could quote us a system that met those specs. It came in, but there was a defect. So we sent it back to get it repaired. By sending back our supplier's own product to his facility to get a defect fixed, we violated ITAR because we were not given the right to export material, only data (that's called an MLA, and can take 10-14 months to process).

And by the way, the term is not US Citizens. You can't use US Citizens, because under ITAR rules the definition of a US citizen doesn't invalidate that person from ITAR regulations (he may be a dual citizenship person, or a US citizen who is on a watch list). The term is non-US person.

Ridiculous. I am so glad I moved to the commercial world.

Re:Easy to get caught up by this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39888479)

In case anyone thinks that the Coffee pot example is a joke....its not.

I purchased an RS232 cable and then labeled it with our own part number and fitted it into a military vehicle.

Because i had 'modified' the cable (by wrapping a part number label around it) to fit it into a military vehicle, it fell under ITAR regulations.

A SUCKING OFF-THE-SHELF RS232 CABLE.

Re:Easy to get caught up by this. (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39883909)

I never can understand uproar on ITAR, etc. when we export our design and engineering overseas. Geez, foreign countries don't need spies, they just hang out on their turf and we'll send them the factory and design labs.

Re:Easy to get caught up by this. (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39884121)

The rules also seem totally nuts when you see how they play out. You can discuss things with US Citizens, but only if you're in the US. Unless you're abroad, but in a place the US controls. But not if you're in the US and there's a person here on a visa nearby.

To give an example relevant to the original story, I worked for many years on the International Space Station. Note the International part. Nonetheless, when we had visitors from our foreign partners, we had to cover up our whiteboards and computer monitors lest they see some forbidden data. This being a piece of hardware occupied by foreigners most of the time once it's in orbit. Pretty silly, right?

Re:Easy to get caught up by this. (3, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39884783)

A great example was PGPi, the European "International" version of PGP. If you took a copy of the software into the US, you weren't allowed to take it back out again.

The article has others, such as the guy who was banned from seeing the NASA commentary on code he'd written for them under contract because he wasn't cleared. (He can be given a contract, but be banned from completing it? Impressive.)

25 years or so ago, a UK government department was forbidden from selling a Cray supercomputer to, I think it was UCL (University College, London), by the American government because UCL had Russian students. There were rather unveiled threats made, as I recall, by the American government, which declared that all US semiconductors were US soil regardless of what country they were in.

I'm dual-national US/UK, and have run into similar problems myself when working on US government projects as my "official" nationality varied between individuals.

In short, ITAR and similar restrictions are routinely abused - and even when not abused are a severe constraint on US progress AND a crippling influence on relationships between the US and Tier 1 nations.

Re:Easy to get caught up by this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39898653)

In short, ITAR and similar restrictions are routinely abused - and even when not abused are a severe constraint on US progress AND a crippling influence on relationships between the US and Tier 1 nations.

Well put. There is so much confusion about what is and isn't ITAR controlled that the US is setting itself back technologically in a similar way to the way the tech industy in the US is setting itself back over patents. I get to see both of these in play all the time. Throw bad management and intense schedule pressure into the mix, and it becomes hard to stay sane.

I deal with ITAR... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39880429)

...from time to time, and it's a big problem. Anything "cool" is illegal for US citizens to export. Gen3 nightvision or any nightvision related accessories. Sling mounts, rifle stocks etc, all ITAR'd even if it's just a piece of bent metal. And even if china is already mass producing it.
Even if there's already (overpriced) distributors outside of US, you can't. Does it matter if "terrorists" has to spend 3000usd instead of 2500usd on a piece of kit?

I really, really hope that USA lets up for their extremely tight rules, and at least let allied countries be exempt.
ITAR is a PITA.

Re:I deal with ITAR... (0, Troll)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880485)

Just further proof that the US is an authoritarian regime.

Re:I deal with ITAR... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880621)

nothing says authoritarian more then export regulations. Sheeesh.

ITAR is weird and often stupid (5, Insightful)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880491)

Those regulations hapmper everybody. The folks in the gun lobby will tell you that they are a backdoor attempt at gun control and they make a good case (if you're a firearms accessories and parts merchant, you literally can't drop a simple magazine spring in a box and mail it abroad without mounds of expensive paperwork) until you realize that it screws up *everybody*. Anything can be defined as "arms" if you're willing to stretch the term enough to server your particular agenda and, under ITAR, it's been stretched to a ridiculous degree, already. The anecdotes in the article (yes, I read it, so flog me) are just the tip of the iceberg.

Re:ITAR is weird and often stupid (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880613)

Clearly I'm having a "my spelling skills took the day off" day. My apologies.

hapmper == hamper

enough to server == enough to serve

If I find more, I'll just sit here and scream and not bother with another post.

Re:ITAR is weird and often stupid (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880655)

No, they don't make a good case.
And ITAR is a good thing, mostly.

But hey, don't read up on it, understand it's intent or history, just keep posting anecdote.

Re:ITAR is weird and often stupid (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 2 years ago | (#39881117)

What we have here is, "he said, she said."

But hey, don't post any supportive arguments or citations for your claims, we'll just take your word for it.

Re:ITAR is weird and often stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39889115)

I did export control for a major aerospace corporation.

ITAR and Arms Export Control Act made sense back in the day. To an extent. But it has NOT been kept up to date (not even within a decade of accuracy), it can be highly subjective, and it is extremely arbitrary. To counterbalance this, the Export Administration Regulations is about ... oh, twenty times the length of ITAR. But about twenty times as easy to implement it. I rarely if ever had a product I couldn't classify within EAR in about ten minutes. ITAR could take months just to classify something.

Commerce Department goes out of their way to make everything easy to understand and implement. State Department, not so much. Both departments freely admit it. State has made some minor stabs at making their licensing program quicker, but generally... Not so much.

Re:ITAR is weird and often stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881375)

Agreed.

I wrote some firmware for the Phonesat project and, not being a US citizen, I was not allowed to check out stuff from the SVN repository, only commit. I think everyone here understands how ridiculous that is.

Re:ITAR is weird and often stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39888423)

Its not all bad though. Its part of the reason the DVD CSS encryption was ridiculously weak.

The timing (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880563)

It's all in the timing.

Nightmare for aerospace (4, Insightful)

geogob (569250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39880939)

working in the aerospace field, I have to deal with ITAR related issues all the time. It's is really burdensome for the industry outside the US and, in the end, mostly hurting the US Industry. Having such regulation within the NATO countries is quite silly if you ask me and it is the best incentive for those nations to develop their own industry. In the end we always get parts or expertise outside of the US if we have a choice.

But don't think the grass is greener everywhere. Other countries have similar export regulations that aren't any less a PITA. I quickly think problems we have with BAFA [www.bafa.de] in Germany, although those issues are nowhere as complicated as those create by ITAR.

On many project requirements, you find on top of the list "No ITAR regulated parts/software/whatever"... and this trend is expending as people learn to work without new providers outside of the US and these providers gain the required expertise. Hell! Even some US projects now aim for systems without any ITAR regulated components! Your guess on the impact of such a trend on the US industry is just as good as mine.

Re:Nightmare for aerospace (1)

Almandine (1594857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39882311)

I dealt with ITAR all the time too last year. When you mentioned Germany, I am reminded of a funny situation. Like here, they also have strict export restrictions. For one item that was already imported from there and in our hands, additional paperworked needed to be filled out so it was proposed to ship the item back to Germany and then immediately import it back to the US.

Re:Nightmare for aerospace (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39884829)

Agreed that there are problems everywhere (I'm firmly convinced that the Norse were onto something with their mythology of Loki - we see evidence of it in every government). Agreed that such regulations hurt everyone -- NASA's "Beowulf" software was classified as munitions for a while, as I'm sure older Slashdot readers will remember. It resulted in the software being smuggled into Canada and developed there.

I would want to ask the US Congress this - is the US truly made stronger, more capable and more competent by forcing the best minds to flee to other nations to continue their work?

...and astrophysics (1)

Richard_J_N (631241) | more than 2 years ago | (#39884961)

I have a (UK) project involving a certain chip manufactured by Rockwell. There is an exceptionally terse datasheet available online. I asked for a a little more, and Rockwell, while courteous, basically declined to help me, citing ITAR. The chip is a CCD (sensitive to the infra-red), but otherwise nearly obsolete, and the datasheet I wanted was something similar to the common documentation for the 555 timer chip. The idea that I might build a guided missile out of this thing is laughable.

Re:...and astrophysics (2)

geogob (569250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39887131)

Yes, all Infrared imaging systems, or part thereof, are protected under ITAR. Nobody (maybe some stlll do) in Europe buys IR detector in the US anymore for this reasons. That's one place where the German, French and Israeli industries gained a lot because of ITAR.

Friendly vs Unfriendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881491)

I used to be a product manager for an ITAR product and regularly shipped that product (commodity hardware with very special software) via approved channels to friendly countries. Always felt, considering the potential of what I was shipping, that it was entirely reasonable. Never found it burdensome out of reason. Slow approvals yes, but why would I want to arm somone who had expressed unfriendly intentions?

Re:Friendly vs Unfriendly (2)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39882129)

Slow approvals yes, but why would I want to arm somone who had expressed unfriendly intentions

Because when the definition of "arms" is sufficiently broad, or when the people in charge are unqualified to decide what should and should not be covered, these regulations are classic examples of government gone berserk.

As long as the bad guys can buy the same defense-rated coffee pot or whatever from China, then all we've done is shoot ourselves in the foot. (Oh, and by restricting free trade, we're also giving the bad guys every incentive in the world to develop their own independent production capacity for such items.)

Regulations like ITAR should only cover things like uranium centrifuges that literally have no legitimate civilian use. Classifying everything invented since 1983 as a munition or dual-use item is demonstrably counterproductive.

Re:Friendly vs Unfriendly (1)

Bomazi (1875554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39883061)

You know that centrifuges can be used to make fuel for civilian nuclear power reactors, right ?

Re:Friendly vs Unfriendly (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39884337)

True, those were a bad example of something with "literally" no civilian applications.

But that just reinforces my point. ITAR didn't do jack shit to keep isotope-separation centrifuges out of the Iranians' hands... but a brief glance at the comments in this thread will show plenty of cases where ITAR has served to impede perfectly innocuous economic activity.

That suggests that ITAR is written and enforced by a bunch of power-hungry bureaucrats who are either out of touch with the real-world effects of their regulations, or who have intentions that are very different from most peoples' perception.

Re:Friendly vs Unfriendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39887255)

ITAR regulates specific components such as magnetic bearings and vacuum systems which go a long way towards preventing US companies from aiding the Iranians in their centrifuge program. If the goal is to prevent a scandal where a "60 Minutes" investigative reporter orders centifuge components from McMaster-Carr and has them drop shipped to Tehran then ITAR accomplishes that goal.

It's a reactionary sledgehammer used to save face politically & which is completely indifferent to the massive tax it imposes on technology companies and consequently the USA's GDP.

It's like if a TSA Stooge banned liquids, powders, and electronics from airplanes. Huge tax on the american public and economy which is effective in serving the interests of the specific special interest that wants it but at an absurdly disproportionate cost relative to the value delivered.

In other words: bureaucratic business as usual in government.

ITAR is like responding to the BP oil spill by banning off-shore oil drilling.

Re:Friendly vs Unfriendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39891373)

No, it's like responding to the BP spill by banning export of components for any ocean-going vessel or ocean-based structure connected with oil. Since nearly every ship runs on fuel oil, and the remainder use oil derivatives for at least one thing (lubrication, cooling etc) that would be all ships.

Re:Friendly vs Unfriendly (1)

Almandine (1594857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39884371)

That's why it's important to fill out the forms accurately and be in touch with the people who interpret the regulations. I found that the process usually goes smoothly once the appropriate people are involved with the significance (or insignificance) of the product.

ma83 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39881743)

pe0ple playing can you'rE told. It's '*BSD Sux0rs'. This

Probably (1)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39882045)

"allegations surfaced that a NASA director may have broken the rules when he gave foreign nationals access to an agency research facility."

My guess as to what happened.

So there was no actual *item* being exported.

My guess, it was some foreign researchers coming over to do research, most likely, and most likely of a usual and unclassified nature and it was an ordinary approval.

So now, "unnamed whistleblowers" make allegations that somewhere the foreigners may have picked up some information which happens to be covered by ITAR in some way. ITAR is vague.

It's completely different from actual classified information which, as the name says, is properly classified as to who may and may not receive it, and every bit of it is clearly marked and everybody who works with it knows what they can and cannot discuss with foreigners. This ITAR could be anything random.

If foreigners had received actual classified information illegally then it would have been a problem, but nobody's saying that they did. NASA respects that seriously.

I have a wholly unsubstantiated hypothesis that this event is actually nothing but sabotage by incumbent and expensive Traditional Government Contractors (or possibly government workers at Marshall) who are upset at NASA's direction to actually go free-market and buy from smaller innovative companies like SpaceX and Orbital Sciences.

Export Controls rules are harsh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39882685)

Although wasn't as high up in the 'food chain' has a center administrator, I also recently lost my job with Caltech, because I allegedly violated their policy on the release of data under export compliance rules. A rather harsh punishment for what I still feel was a casual release of trivial material.

My own transgression was posting my own technical notes on a website, which made this available to anyone who did a specific search. This posting was after I had left Caltech, (NASA budget cutbacks, which released me from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory). I had since rejoined Caltech, to work at a non-NASA facility, after over two years. I was honest & forthcoming when HR started asking questions about my site, I was proud of my work, & wanted to show it off to anyone interested.

After six weeks I was given notice of termination, not for the release of the information, but for violation of Caltech's policy for export control of information.

Whatever the ITAR & export compliance rules are, I thought that my participation in various projects for NASA was way too trivial for any information that I had, to be important enough to be of concern, I was wrong, no matter how trivial the infraction of violating policy was enough for Caltech to terminate my employment. It didn't matter to them that my current position had nothing to do with JPL or NASA.

You insensi7ivE clod!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39883271)

the reap3r BSD's Betwwen each BSD

Obama send them another RQ-170 drone please (0)

gelfling (6534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39883557)

Why not, laws don't mean shit anymore.

Statists don't want a new frontier they want war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39884041)

Statists don't want a new frontier they want war.

War means an excuse to control.

If people made it to Mars, they'd be 2 years away from the statist governments on Earth.

That's further away timewise than the new world colonies were from Europe.

Also, does anybody think the people that control the metal mines here on Earth are any happier about the idea of asteroid mining than the Koch brothers (control global coal) are about space based solar energy?

These people are the enemies of progress and should be identified and treated as such.

NASA Boss Accused of Breaking Arms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39885371)

That's awesome.

Book'em DanO' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39886331)

DanO': Fuck that shit! This mother ... is a dead mother. And my US Government Issue Service Firearm with teflon coated rounds and a laser sniper scope, Magnum .357 class, will do a big nasty on the face and body of this nigger for the good of the US Government.

Internal company stuff gets hurt too (1)

Aero (98829) | more than 2 years ago | (#39888535)

I used to work for a large satellite operator that, at one time, was an NGO. As a non-US company, ITAR didn't apply, and because of the nature of the work, it attracted talent from all over the world.

Then it went to private ownership, and the division I worked for here in the US suddenly became subject to ITAR. We had some time to prepare before the transition, but we had to start jumping through all sorts of hoops to ensure compliance. There were cases where people (mainly subsystems engineers) could not perform their basic job functions because that would violate ITAR, so TAA's had to be drawn up for every such individual. Fortunately I wasn't part of that paperwork.

However...the COO of the company was one of those non-US persons, and the committee in charge of ITAR compliance decided that his job functions wouldn't be impaired by not having a TAA in place for him. So he was not allowed to be present in the flight operations center during launch missions or major orbital maneuvers...y'know, things that as the COO, he had a vested interest in witnessing.

I thought ITAR in space was to be relaxed?? (1)

Herve5 (879674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39890835)

In their last report to Congress last month, the DOD very specifically detailed how they wished to *relax* the ITAR constraints: see
http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=15198 [defense.gov]
who just points the report itself.
From the exec. summary:
"In summary, the Departments agree that maintaining non-critical satellites and related components on the USML and monitoring low-risk launch activities provide limited national security benefits. Moreover, this practice places the U.S. space industrial base at a distinct competitive disadvantage when bidding against companies from other advanced satellite-exporting countries that have less stringent export control policies and practices. Transferring select items from the USML to the CCL would allow for controls consistent with other technologies and would help enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. space industrial base, while continuing to protect U.S. national security needs."

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