- ‘Game of Thrones’ earns a leading 19 Emmy nods
- Ann Coulter: Chris McDaniel should concede, live to fight another day
- Chelsea Clinton nabs $75K in speaking fees — same as Dick Cheney
- ‘Year of action’ not over: Obama has worked around Congress more than 40 times
- Rick Perry: Obama showed up after Hurricane Sandy, why not the Texas border?
- Alec Baldwin in talks to play Rob Ford-like mayor in new NBC drama
- Chinese hackers sought data on federal employees: report
- League City, Texas, votes 6-2 to ban processing of illegal kids
- Iraq tells U.N. that ‘terrorist groups’ have seized nuclear materials
- Houston dad suspected of shooting his 4 kids surrenders to police
House panel probes UN agency’s tech shipments
Question of the Day
WASHINGTON (AP) - A House panel launched an investigation Monday into whether a U.N. agency sent computers and other technology to Iran and North Korea in possible violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions.
The Foreign Affairs Committee probe comes on the heels of a State Department review of the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization, which insisted last week that it did nothing wrong in providing “standard IT equipment” to the patent and trademark offices in the two countries. The 185-member organization focuses on patents, copyright, trademarks and designs.
Those assurances failed to mollify members of Congress.
“Providing these thugs with sensitive technology has the potential to enable their dangerous agendas,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the committee, said in a statement. “This serious offense cannot go overlooked or unpunished.”
In Geneva last week, WIPO legal counsel Edward Kwakwa said none of the technology or training provided to Iran and North Korea violated U.N. Security Council sanctions. However, he said that because of American concerns the U.N. agency will “systematically refer relevant cases of technical assistance” to sanctions officials.
State Department officials were pressed on the issue last Thursday. They said they were aware of allegations that the transfer or material may have violated U.N. sanctions and they were reviewing development projects for both countries.
“We’re working with both the (WIPO) director general and other member-states to institute reforms that will ensure future development projects are properly reviewed prior to being approved and implemented,” said spokesman Patrick Ventrell. “And we’re working in New York to ensure that the U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committees play a more active role in advising international organizations on how to remain compliant with U.N. sanctions.”
Last month, Rep. Howard Berman, the Foreign Affairs Committee’s top Democrat, raised concerns about the transfer with Commerce Department officials.
“I have been closely following reports that WIPO officials have been transferring computers, firewalls, and other technological devices to the governments of North Korea and Iran,” said the California congressman. “Needless to say we find this highly distressing, not only because it potentially violates a slew of U.N. Security Council Resolutions and very possibly our country’s policies on internet freedom, but also because these technology transfers were carried out by an organization largely funded by U.S. inventors.”
Teresa Stanek Rea, deputy undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and deputy director of the Patent and Trademark Office, told Berman and members of the House Judiciary Committee that the office found the allegations disappointing.
“From what I understand (WIPO) Director General Francis Gurry has not yet been fully open as to all of the issues and that more information will likely be forthcoming,” Rea said. “The World Intellectual Property Organization is operating in our U.S. innovators and stakeholders best interest, but this issue is something that’s particularly distressing to us at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and that in collaboration with other U.S. government agencies we will do and handle it in a way that’s appropriate.”
TWT Video Picks
By Ted Cruz
Banning speech with a constitutional amendment is playing with fire
- GOP: Lerner warned IRS employees to hide information from Congress
- ISTOOK: Flying illegals home would be 99.5 percent cheaper than Obamas plan
- White House plans for bowling alley upgrades abruptly canceled
- Islamic militants aim to take Baghdad airport
- HUSAR: Mexicos Pena Nieto passes the immigration bucket
- EDITORIAL: Whats Obama hiding at illegal-alien 'refugee' camps?
- Obama requests $3.7 billion to fight surge of illegals
- Harry Reid lambasted by black conservatives after calling Justice Thomas white
- A series of missteps steers Obama's trip off course
- CURL: Obama turning millennials into Republicans
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq
World Cup's sexiest WAGs
U.S.-Ghana World Cup opener