A Republican leader in the House is accusing the Obama administration of violating a federal law designed to protect America’s most sensitive technological secrets from the Red Chinese. The most extreme of Obama’s czars, Science Czar John P. Holdren, so flagrantly violated the law that a one-sided Justice Department legal memorandum drawn up to exonerate him said it could defend “most, if not all” of his actions.
According to Virginia Republican Congressman Frank Wolf, the offense took place when Holdren attended the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) on May 9-10. Holdren, who heads the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), took nine OSTP employees to the meeting, where they admit they met with representatives of the People’s Republic of China. This violates section 1340 of the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011, a funding bill Congress passed earlier this year to avoid a federal shutdown.
Wolf is the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies and an outspoken advocate for human rights in China. He authored the provision, which prohibits OSTP or NASA from collaborating with the PRC, because he rightly believes China’s burgeoning space program benefits the long-range plans of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The relevant section of the law states:
None of the funds made available by this division may be used for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement, or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company unless such activities are specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of enactment of this division.
Despite the clear statutory language, nine OSTP employees participated in the S&ED with their Chinese counterparts, costing the agency $3,500. Wolf said their participation constitutes “blatant disregard for the law.”
A howling Wolf requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) offer its legal opinion on the matter. On October 11, the GAO ruled, “we conclude that OSTP’s use of appropriations to fund its participation in the Innovation Dialogue and the S&ED violated the prohibition in section 1340.” In fact, the GAO found OSTP violated two laws; by spending funds that were not available to it, the agency also broke the Anti-Deficiency Act.
As a sign of this administration’s growing contempt for the rule of law, the government did not attempt to hide its wrongdoing; it simply said the lawbreaking is none of your business.
The GAO noted, “OSTP does not deny that it engaged in activities prohibited by section 1340.” Instead, Assistant Attorney General Virginia Seitz wrote a 13-page memo contending that the law is “unconstitutional,” since it infringes upon “the President’s constitutional authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States.” Besides, “Most, if not all, of the activities of the Office of Science and Technology Policy that we have been asked to consider fall within the President’s exclusive power to conduct diplomacy.”
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