WASHINGTON (CNN) – U.S. military hardware that can be used in nuclear devices and ground fighting can be easily purchased at home and shipped overseas, an undercover government investigation revealed Thursday.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) watchdog agency set up fake companies to obtain so-called dual use items – which have both military and commercial use – in the United States and ship them overseas, according to testimony at a House subcommittee hearing.
Items purchased in the bogus transactions included parts for making nuclear devices and guiding missiles that could carry nuclear warheads, as well as night-vision goggles, body armor and other hardware for ground combat, Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, said in opening the hearing of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.
"There appears to be a gigantic loophole within our laws that makes it easy for our enemies to get hold of our superior military technology and use it against us," Dingell said.
Witnesses scheduled to testify at the hearing included GAO investigators and representatives of companies that sold the items to them.
The hearing focused on both the easy procurement of military technology in the United States, and the equal ease in shipping the items out of the country. Committee members stressed that no laws were broken by any companies, which they said made the situation more troubling.
"The scandal here may be what is legal, not what is illegal," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon.