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Export Enforcement Coordination Center, A Bush Administration Idea

During the President’s remarks earlier this week to the 2010 Department of Commerce Annual Export Controls Update Conference, he mentioned the creation of a Export Enforcement Coordination Center (EECC) as part of ongoing efforts to reform the U.S. export control system.

The EECC or fusion center for enforcement was an idea that was tossed around in Congress and by agencies for some time, but it never took hold likely because there were many other security priorities after 2001.  Yet tucked away in a December 2006 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made the following comment:

Homeland Security agrees in principle with our first recommendation, but believes the establishment of an Export Enforcement Coordination Center within ICE would address coordination concerns in the most immediate and comprehensive manner.

This report was generated in response to a request by, Rep. Henry Hyde, the former Illinois Republican Chairman of the House Committee on International Relations (Democrats changed the Committee name to the House Foreign Affairs Committee when they won the majority) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

When it came to export controls, Hyde, Sensenbrenner, and others were national security hawks, but also balanced commercial concerns as well. They approached reform efforts incrementally, with a special eye on enforcement of the current laws on the books.  Go figure.   Frustrating to some, especially to those who wanted system overhauls, the step-by-step approach to improving the process makes sense because when it comes to national security moving too usually leads to mistakes that ultimately weaken our posture.

Some of the criticism of the current system borders on policy apostasy.  Yet in reality, while the current system may not be the most efficient from a process standpoint, and needs improvement, it is not as labyrinthical as these pan-reform advocates made it out to be. If you take the time to read the law, it is also not that difficult to understand and implement.  In the meantime, an EECC or related fusion center set-up for enforcement is an idea long overdue.

On a partisan note, it was refreshing to hear something positive from this White House, other than blame Bush for our current problems mindset, even if just in this largely parochial issue area of export controls.

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