London, April 21 : Investigators from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) were astonished to find that sensitive military items are easily available for sale on eBay, an online trading website.
According to a report in New Scientist, the investigators wanted to know if it was possible for countries or organisations opposed to the US to obtain sensitive items of military equipment over the Internet.
For this, the team posed as members of the general public on the online trading sites eBay and Craigslist and was taken aback when they saw how easy it was to purchase many military items.
The team had no trouble at all picking up 10 pieces of US military body armour, which are supposed to be destroyed if no longer required by the DoD (Department of Defense).
They also managed to buy a used nuclear-biological-chemical protective suit, an antenna for an F-14 jet fighter and several other sensitive items.
Apart from using the items directly in attacks, the GAO says that nations or organisations opposed to the US could study the items and devise ways of creating their own protection, or identify weaknesses in the armour, that could be exploited in attacks on US soldiers or their allies.
Though the GAO doesn't know exactly how the sellers of the equipment got hold of it, a string of military employees and self-employed traders now face criminal investigations. The GAO has also criticised Craigslist and eBay for doing little to stop the sales.