Approximately 1,400 Items Slipped Through; Most Reportedly
We're really trying to act surprised. After a much-publicized
ban earlier this year on the sale of over 1,000 aircraft parts that
could be used on decommissioned F-14 Tomcat fighter jets, now comes
word that, whoops, some parts still managed to squeak through after
In a report released Wednesday, the Government Accountability
Office revealed the Defense Department allowed some 1,400 parts
that could be used in the Tomcats -- still in service in Iran -- to
be sold in February. But security has gotten better, the GAO
The Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service told GAO
investigators the parts made it through the ban because the
Pentagon's surplus sales division failed to update its automated
inventory system, which in turn allowed some parts to be
listed on the DRMS internet site.
It's not clear whether any of those parts made it to Iran, which
is trying to keep its fleet of Tomcats flying. Given that country's
openly-hostile relationship with the US, that's something the
Pentagon would prefer to thwart.
Greg Kutz, managing director of special investigations for the
GAO, told The Washington Post the Pentagon has made positive
strides in stemming the flow of surplus parts to hostile
"Overall I think it's a positive report, but there are still
things that got out," Kutz said.
On the other hand, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden -- who has pushed
for a ban on the sale of all F-14 parts -- says the report shows
why such a ban is needed, and quick.
"The Pentagon's system is still riddled with holes," the
Democrat said. "These are the very parts that they said they
wouldn't be selling and they still are and so you've got to make
sure the changes are going to actually have teeth and work."
As ANN reported, the Defense
Department announced in January it was suspending the sale of all
F-14 parts while the Pentagon reviewed its own security measures
for keeping those items out of enemy hands. The ban in essence
grounded all F-14s still flying, and relegated those aircraft still
remaining to static museum displays.
DRMS officials told the GAO between August 2005 and this past
May, some 2.4 million surplus items were removed from public sale.
A surplus parts dealer trade group has accused the Pentagon of
overreacting, by banning items unrelated to the F-14, according to
The DoD says the group's allegations are untrue... but Wyden
says, in essence, that's what you'd expect them to say.
"I think our legislation speaks to some of their philosophy that
the Pentagon has bumbled to the point where they can't make the
distinction" between sensitive and innocuous surplus items, Wyden
Jack Hooper, spokesman for DRMS told Voice of America news the
items sold weren't specifically designed for the F-14, and did not
involve sensitive systems such as weaponry, flight controls or wing
parts. He added most of the items have been recovered.