Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hillary the Arms Dealer

My article in today's FrontPage magazine:

Hillary the Arms Dealer

By Matthew Vadum

While presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was America’s top diplomat the Department of State that she oversaw approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments forked over millions of dollars to the now-embattled Clinton Foundation.

According to an International Business Times report by David Sirota and Andrew Perez, “at least seven foreign governments that received State Department clearance for American arms did donate to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary.” The article identified the seven nations as Algeria, Australia, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, and Thailand.

Mainstream media’s surprisingly probing coverage of the unfolding Clinton Foundation donations-for-favors scandal suggests that reporters have turned on the Clintons in the age of Obama.

And the fact that the IBT piece was co-authored by Marxist author and radio talk show host David Sirota adds to the growing pile of evidence that some of the more ideologically pure progressives in the Democratic Party are ganging up on Mrs. Clinton in order to help as yet undeclared presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Sirota, a former press aide to various left-wing lawmakers such as then-Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-described socialist who just launched his own quixotic presidential campaign, isn’t exactly an objective observer. A longtime left-wing activist who hurls invective at conservatives and Republicans, Sirota has slobbered over Warren, calling the anti-capitalism crusader “one of the most promising political leaders in a generation.”

Meanwhile, the $165 billion figure, “derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) — represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.”

While Hillary Clinton headed the State Department the agency also gave its blessing to “$151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration.”

Some of the arms transactions that secured official approval bolstered the military power of authoritarian governments that the State Department criticized for human rights abuses. Among those nations are Algeria, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s rulers received an excellent return on investment. That Arab nation gave funding to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was in charge at Foggy Bottom. “During the three full budgetary years of her tenure, Qatar saw a 14-fold increase in State Department authorizations for direct commercial sales of military equipment and services, as compared to the same time period in Bush’s second term,” according to the IBT article.

Mrs. Clinton noted in a December 2009 State Department cable released by Wikileaks that there was “an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.” She also wrote that Qatar’s overall level of “cooperation with the U.S. is considered the worst in the region.”

The government of Kuwait was “less inclined to take action against Kuwait-based financiers and facilitators plotting attacks,” Clinton wrote. She also complained that “UAE-based donors have provided financial support to a variety of terrorist groups.” The countries referenced in the cables all gave money to the Clinton Foundation and were granted increased weapons export authorizations by the State Department under Clinton.

The governments and corporations involved in the weapons transactions that were rubber-stamped by Clinton’s State Department have provided between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family, IBT reported after combing through State Department and Clinton Foundation records. And it’s not clear if that includes all the outrageous speaking fees paid by corporations and foreign governments to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

“Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions — a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy,” the IBT writers noted pointedly. “But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers.”

United Technologies, Lockheed Martin, and General Electric, are just a handful of the U.S.-based companies that apparently gave anticipatory bribes to Mrs. Clinton’s charity in case she becomes the nation’s 45th president.

It would be an understatement to say that conflicts of interests abounded when Mrs. Clinton presided over the State Department while at the same time apparently directing rivers of cash from foreign and domestic special pleaders into her family’s tax-exempt charity.

As Clinton crony and Clinton Foundation donor George Stephanopoulos volunteered on the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” a month ago, “Everybody also knows when those [Clinton Foundation] donors give that money to President Clinton or someone, they get a picture with him: There’s a hope that that’s going to lead to something and that’s what you have to be careful of.” Since the ABC News anchor made that comment, revelations that he gave $75,000 to the foundation forced him to step down as moderator of a 2016 presidential debate between Republican candidates.

Mrs. Clinton’s eagerness to permit those seeking favors from her State Department to give money to her family foundation raises red flags about how she would manage such relationships were she to return to the White House, said Lawrence Lessig, director of Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics.

“These continuing revelations raise a fundamental question of judgment,” Lessig said. “Can it really be that the Clintons didn’t recognize the questions these transactions would raise? And if they did, what does that say about their sense of the appropriate relationship between private gain and public good?”

It is probably not a coincidence that IBT writer David Sirota quoted his comrade-in-arms Lawrence Lessig, also an outspoken supporter of the movement to draft Sen. Warren as a presidential candidate, in the article.
In a mass email sent April 21 to MoveOn members, Mayday Super PAC founder Lessig announced, “I’m joining the growing, grassroots movement and calling on Elizabeth Warren to run for president.”

Lessig added that Barack Obama, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ted Kennedy all denied they were running and then changed their minds “because of an outpouring of grassroots support.”

All of the scandalous revelations come after the publication May 5 of Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, by author Peter Schweizer. The New York Times calls the meticulously documented book “the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy,” and reports that it “asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the [Bill, Hillary and Chelsea] Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.”

And those revelations are just the beginning.

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