November 16, 2010

Whitehouse Introduces Legislation to Crack Down on Counterfeit Products Sold to the Military

Counterfeit Products Threaten Troops and Impair Military Readiness

Washington, DC – In response to studies showing increasing incidents of counterfeit products in the military supply chain, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has introduced legislation to crack down on criminals who traffic in these dangerous goods. The Combating Military Counterfeits Act of 2010 would create an enhanced offense and increase penalties for trafficking in counterfeit military items.

“With so many of our troops serving in harm’s way overseas, it is vital that we provide them with the best equipment possible to defend themselves and our nation,” said Whitehouse. “Counterfeit products, whether fake body armor, aircraft parts, or chips in weapons systems, expose our troops to unacceptable dangers. This legislation will combat the sale of counterfeits to the military by cracking down on traffickers who put our troops and our national security at risk.”

A January 2010 study by the Commerce Department quoted a Defense Department official estimating that counterfeit aircraft parts were “leading to a 5 to 15 percent annual decrease in weapons systems reliability.” The study also reported two and a half times as many incidents of counterfeit electronics in 2008 as in 2005. Similarly, the Government Accountability Office has reported that the Defense Department discovered in testing that it had procured body armor that was misrepresented as being “Kevlar,” and that a supplier sold the Defense Department a personal computer circuit that it falsely claimed was a $7,000 circuit that met the specifications of a missile guidance system. News reports also indicate that counterfeit chips and other electronics could introduce cybersecurity threats into military systems.

Under the current counterfeit trafficking statute, sentences imposed on traffickers in military counterfeits do not reflect the serious dangers that these products pose to our troops. Whitehouse’s legislation would create an enhanced offense and raise the statutory maximum penalty for counterfeit traffickers who know that the counterfeit product they sell is intended for use by the military or is identified as meeting military standards.


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