Turns out you really can buy anything on eBay.
Including military items that were either stolen or slipped out of the Pentagon bureaucracy.
Officials from the Government Accountability Office* testified today (PDF link) to Congress how they found antennas from F-14 fighter jets; nuclear, chemical, biological gear; and body armor for sale on eBay and Craigslist.
Not exactly the kind of stuff you’d get from your friendly, neighborhood Army surplus store.
According to the GAO:
We found numerous defense-related items for sale to the highest bidder on eBay and Craigslist from January 2007 through March 2008. A review of eBay and Craigslist policies and procedures determined that, although these Web sites have taken steps to regulate their user communities and define items that are prohibited from sale, there are few safeguards to prevent sensitive and stolen defense-related items from being sold to either domestic or foreign users of these sites. During the period of our investigation, undercover investigators purchased a dozen sensitive items to demonstrate how easy it was to obtain them. The items were shipped to us “no questions asked.” Many of these items were stolen from the U.S. military.
It also notes this isn’t the first time that sensitive military components have shown up for sale on the Internet. The U.S. Attorney in Utah filed a complaint last year (PDF link) against two Utah men for selling F-14 parts on the Internet.
*Correction: In the original post, I mistakenly referred to the GAO by its old name, the General Accounting Office.
Written by Paul Monies