John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Iran on F-14 Fleet: We Did It eBay

F-14 components are tough to find these days, now that the United States has retired its F-14 fleet. A tough break for the countries that still use the aircraft–countries like Iran. Lucky for them, finding those components is about as difficult as digging up a spare fender for your classic car. All that’s required is a quick search or three on eBay (EBAY) or Craigslist.

According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, all manner of sensitive or stolen military gear is available for purchase online. GAO investigators apparently had no trouble at all picking up night-vision goggles, U.S.-issue body armor, nuclear-biological-chemical gear and the aforementioned F-14 fighter components at online marketplaces. Many of these items could easily be used against U.S. troops or reverse-engineered to develop countermeasures or equivalent technology, yet they were shipped to the GAO “no questions asked.”

“Given that the United States has retired its fleet of F-14s, these components could only be used by the Iranian military,” the GAO noted in its report. “By making these components available to the general public, the eBay sellers provided an opportunity for these components to be purchased by an individual who could then transfer them to Iran. The continued ability of Iran to use its F-14s could put U.S. troops and allies at risk.”

A sobering revelation. Funny that eBay and Craigslist policies and procedures prohibit the sale of things like bootlegs, animals and whatnot, but F-14 fighter components are perfectly acceptable.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik