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U.S. News and Commentary



Monday
Feb252013

NASA Affairs: Questions about tech leaks to China and ‘revenue’ from leases

Photo: NASAExplosive allegations about violations of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) have arisen at NASA, but there’s more to the story than technology leaks. Within accounts published by media, information about space NASA leases commercially at Ames Research Center (Calif.) should also raise questions.

The primary concern involves allegations about the sharing of missile defense technology with countries like China, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Fox News said the accusations arose from whistleblowers’ claims. Documents Fox News obtained said the FBI has been investigating foreign nationals working at Ames since 2009. Whistleblowers pointed the finger at Ames director Simon P. Worden and Will Marshall who is a British citizen.

Fox said a “secret grand jury” was scheduled for February, 2011, in San Jose. But apparently Eric Holder, head of the Dept. of Justice, transferred the U.S. attorney acting on the case. Melinda Haag took over, but she has prioritized busting medical marijuana interests. Medical marijuana is legal according to state laws in California.

NASA isn’t talking, referring questions to DOJ. DOJ refused comment for Fox News.

Most legacy media haven’t reported on this national security issue.

Aside from the tech leak allegations, other questions are warranted.

Fox News described Ames:

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the Ames Research Center has been a center of high tech innovation for more than 60 years. As the space agency’s mission has changed over the years since it was built, NASA has turned it into a commercial research facility, leasing out space to a number of companies including rocket firm SpaceX and tech giant Google, which leases 42 acres there through a holding company called Planetary Ventures.

Is anyone in Washington asking whether the 42 acres leased to Google and acreage leased to other commercial companies bring in adequate “revenue”? Democrats perpetually call for tax increases (they call this “revenue”), but there appears to be little concern about getting taxpayers the best deal when prime acreage is leased to commercial interests. How does the taxpayer find out how much rent Google and other companies pay the government? Have congressional committees addressed this matter, considering the scramble for “revenue” President Barack Obama and Democrats routinely pursue?

Taxpayers have been fleeced in the past on investments in companies elected officials had ties to or supported ideologically. For instance the U.S. taxpayer handed over $124 million to a battery company that ended up in bankruptcy and then was acquired by China.

Aviation Week started covering the NASA leak allegations in early February. AW described Ames director Worden:

Worden, a former Air Force brigadier general with a reputation as a bureaucratic entrepreneur, has been the target of unsubstantiated allegations along the lines mentioned in the congressional letters since last summer. He is known to maintain a free-wheeling culture of innovation at Ames, encouraging young engineers and scientists regardless of their nationality to develop new ideas.

Recent congressional letters came from Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) who chair the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, respectively.

Fox said AW claimed that information “on guidance and terrain-mapping systems from the Tomahawk cruise missile and radar from the F-35 were also shared.”

ITAR provides a framework for controlling the export and import of defense articles and defense services.

(Filed by Kay B. Day/Feb. 25, 2013)

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