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Mr. Ahern, now with the Chertoff Group security consultants, advocated looking at individual shipments on a case-by-case basis.

“You ask, ‘Who is the supplier?’ ‘Where are the parts headed?’ questions like that,” he said.

Even some executives from the defense industry, which has publicly praised the work of committee investigators, were privately concerned about the proposal.

“It’s very possible an over-broad policy [response] might have unintended consequences,” said one executive at a defense industry trade association.

“We have major concerns about the implementation” of the proposed new rules, he said. He added industry lobbyists would “get to the table [with the committee] to work out an effective and technically feasible solution.”