US Politics

State Department Watchdog Defends Pompeo on Saudi Arms Sales

The State Department watchdog said in a new report that Secretary of State Mike Pompeos circumvention of Congress by way of an emergency declaration in order to sell $8.1 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates broke no laws.

Diana Shaw, who serves as the agencys acting inspector general, said in an Aug. 10 report (pdf) capping a review of the State Departments role in arms transfers to Saudi Arabia that Pompeos decision to fast-track weapons sales complied with federal law. The Office of the Inspector General did find, however, that the State Department did not do enough to prevent the weapons from being used by the Gulf nations to inflict mass deaths in Yemen.

A State Department official who held a telephone briefing with reporters on Monday to provide context for the report said that the government had sought to make greater efforts to enhance its risk-assessment processes and bolster mitigation measures to minimize civilian casualties.

The sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE was made possible by Pompeos invoking, in May 2019, of a rarely used provision in federal law to bypass a congressional review. A number of congressional Democrats objected when Pompeo notified Congress of the decision to use an emergency loophole in the Arms Export Control Act to proceed with the arms sales, which included precision-guided munitions, along with other bombs and ammunition.

Congress had put a freeze on the arms transfers, citing concerns about civilian casualties in Yemen, but Pompeos emergency declaration circumvented the block, citing Iranian malign activity that threatened regional stability and U.S. national security.

In Tuesdays report, the State Department watchdog concluded that the “secretarys emergency certification was executed in accordance” with the Arms Export Control Act.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks the press conference at the State Department in Washington on May 20, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

At the time, some 26 members of Congress wrote a letter to former inspector general Steve Linick, urging him to review the matter, saying there were “dubious grounds” for invoking the emergency. Linick was fired while his office was probing the legality of the armsRead More From Source

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The Epoch Times

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