Reading the story about Mr. Kachajian's experiences with export controls ("Kachajian's Rebellion," October), I was not a bit surprised, because I have my own story to tell.
I am a political refugee from Communist Poland and came to this country 16 years ago and started a company manufacturing scientific medical equipment. We never had any problems with export licensing, because the technology we used did not require such licenses. But in June 1985, my company shipped 69 boxes of medical-research equipment for an exhibition in Moscow. At least some of the equipment was sold to the Soviets. In the shipment were five Apple IIe computers and one IBM Personal Computer clone made in Taiwan. These computers are used in our medical equipment.
For 16 months, my company and I have been the subject of a "criminal investigation." To prove to the government that I am not a Soviet spy and that the technology involved is available to the Soviets from many foreign sources, I imported an IBM-PC/XT clone from Communist Bulgaria. I visited the Department of Commerce many times arguing on the grounds of foreign availability that the computer should not be subjected to licensing requirements. As long as this computer requires an export license, I face prospects of 5 to 10 years in prison, plus more than $250,000 in fines.
Just how far can the "national-security blanket" be stretched?