News ID: 272824
Published: 0224 GMT August 12, 2020

Watchdog finds US did not weigh civilian risks when pushing Saudi arms sales

Watchdog finds US did not weigh civilian risks when pushing Saudi arms sales
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

The US Department of State did not fully evaluate the risk of civilian casualties in Yemen when it pushed through a huge 2019 precision-guided munitions sale to Saudi Arabia, a government watchdog’s report said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

OIG (Office of the Inspector General of the Department of State) found that the department did not fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties and legal concerns associated with the transfer of PGMs included in the secretarys May 2019 emergency certification,” the report said.

Congress had requested an investigation into the Trump administrations May 2019 decision to push ahead with $8 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia and other countries, sidestepping the congressional review process by declaring an emergency over tensions with Iran.

Lawmakers had blocked some of the sales from concern that the Raytheon Technologies Corp. smart bombs and other equipment might contribute to the humanitarian catastrophe amid Yemens war.

The report did not take a position on whether the emergency declaration was merited, and said the State Department did not violate the Arms Export Control Act.

A department official had briefed reporters before the report was released, touting that finding.


Pompeo defends arms sales



After the watchdog report, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said his department did everything by the book in regards to arms sales to Saudi Arabia in 2019.

We did everything by the book,” Pompeo told reporters during a news conference. I am proud of the work that my team did. We got a really good outcome. We prevented the loss of lives.”

On Tuesday, he did not sit down for an interview for the report, instead submitting a written statement.

The report noted that state had allowed some smaller sales of precision-guided munitions parts to Saudi Arabia without congressional review, saying they were below the threshold for congressional review.

It also said most of the weapons sales approved under the emergency order had not been delivered, months after the emergency was declared.

The report follows President Donald Trumps abrupt dismissal in May of then-inspector general, Steve Linick, who was conducting the investigation.

Congressional committees are probing his firing – one of a string of dismissals of government watchdogs by Trump that have raised concerns about oversight.


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