Friday, December 05, 2003

Do you think we might want to know what engineers in potentially terrorist sponsoring countries like Iran and Sudan are up to? Do you think it might be in our interest to give them a forum so they could tell us? Well, try telling that to the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which has effectively told major professional societies including the IEEE and American Chemical Society that they can't publish articles submitted by people in those countries. Why? Because that would involve providing them with editing services which have a clear economic value. As they explain:

In his letter to IEEE, OFAC director R. Richard Newcomb stated that "U.S. persons may not provide the Iranian author substantive or artistic alterations or enhancement of the manuscript, and IEEE may not facilitate the provision of such alterations or enhancements." Such enhancements include "reordering of paragraphs or sentences, correction of syntax or grammar, and replacement of inappropriate words."

But some of us may be able to see the bright side here. I'll bet the Nielsen Haydens had no idea their services were valuable enough to be a matter of national security...


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