President Obama recently shifted authority for approving sales to China of missile and space technology from the White House to the Commerce Department -- a move critics say will loosen export controls and potentially benefit Chinese missile development.
The president issued a little-noticed "presidential determination" Sept. 29 that delegated authority for determining whether missile and space exports should be approved for China to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.
The presidential notice alters a key provision of the 1999 Defense Authorization Act that required that the president notify Congress whether a transfer of missile and space technology to China would harm the U.S. space-launch industry or help China's missile programs.
Section 1512 of the 1999 law requires the president to certify to Congress in advance of any missile equipment or technology exports to China that the export will not harm the U.S. space-launch industry and that "missile equipment or technology, including any indirect technical benefit that could be derived from such export, will not measurably improve the missile or space launch capabilities of the People's Republic of China."
So Much for Transparency......