Conflict & Justice

Questions about illegal arms deals

(What is the big picture?) It's really looking at how little oversight there is in the military about some of the contracting procedures overseas, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a very murky area the US government has gotten into. (So the US government procured through some contractors in Miami armaments from China through Albania. Why is it illegal for the US to buy arms from China?) As a result of the Tiananmen Square massacre there was legislation put in effect which barred the trade of Chinese ammunition. This was Chinese ammunition made in the 1960s and 70s and then stockpiled in Albania, so is this still a violation of law? Was this bought prior to the Chinese ban was implemented? (So this Miami company has extremely young presidents.) Yes and this was on the minds of many of the people involved in the Congressional hearing today about the issue. What they found out is there are some large loopholes and loose definitions of what constituted serviceable ammunition in their contract and they had been exploiting that. They would take these munitions out of their metal packaging which kept them from deteriorating and they'd put them into cardboard boxes because it'd save weight on the shipping they'd have to pay. So the fear is these munitions were already old and deteriorating even more, and it'd also hide the origin of the munitions. (Now bring in the parts about the US Ambassador to Albania. What's his alleged involvement?) There's a military attache in Albania who told the hearing committee that the Albanian Defense Minister expressed concerned with US officials in Albania that corruption issues might be turned up surrounding this issue. So this attache said the Albanian Defense Minister said let's just get rid of all these boxes of the Chinese munitions so nobody will find anything out, and allegedly the ambassador went along with this. The ambassador denies this. (Could it be argued that America's allies need ammunition wherever it can be procured and perhaps the rules could be bent to meet a greater national goal?) There's no doubt countries like Afghanistan need ammunition and support but it's ironic that countries who want to join NATO are trying to get rid of these old munitions. And the army then says they have to follow current regulations which don't allow them to take or use these munitions.

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