Arms Sales OK'd by Hillary Clinton's State Department Raise Questions

Seventeen of twenty foreign governments that made donations to the Clinton Foundation saw increases in commercial arms sales to their countries while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state, the International Business Times reports.

According to an IBT analysis of State Department and foundation data, during the three full years of Clinton's tenure as secretary of state (FY 2010-12), the department approved commercial arms sales worth a total of $165 billion to twenty nations whose governments had given to the foundation — nearly double the total sales to those countries approved in FY 2006-08, during President George W. Bush's second term. For example, arms exports to Saudi Arabia totaling $8 billion were approved in FY 2010-12 — up from $4.1 billion in FY 2006-08 — including $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets delivered by a consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing, despite the State Department's documented concerns about the repressive policies of the Saudi royal family. In the years before Clinton became secretary of state, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributed at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation, while Boeing contributed $900,000 to the foundation just two months before the deal was finalized.

Separately, the State Department approved Pentagon-brokered arms sales totaling $151 billion in FY 2010-12 to sixteen countries whose governments had donated to the foundation, a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations in FY 2006-08 — compared with an 80 percent increase in weapons sales to all countries.

According to the analysis, governments and corporations involved in the arms deals approved by the State Department have contributed between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family in the form of speaking fees. Donations also were made to the foundation by the governments of Algeria, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar, all of which were cleared to buy American-made weapons even as the department faulted endemic corruption, restrictions on civil liberties, and/or violent crackdowns against political opponents in those countries. While the Clinton Foundation had agreed to disclose to the State Department new foreign government donors and increases in donations from existing ones, State Department and White House officials raised no issues about potential conflicts related to arms sales, IBT reports.

National security experts told IBT that the overlap between the list of Clinton Foundation donors and those with business before the State Department presents a troubling conflict of interest. While governments and defense contractors may not have donated to the Clinton Foundation exclusively to influence arms deals, they clearly were "looking to build up deposits in the 'favor bank' and to be well thought of," said Gregory Suchan, a State Department veteran who helped lead the agency's oversight of arms transfers under the Bush administration.

"These continuing revelations raise a fundamental question of judgment," said Lawrence Lessig, director of Harvard University's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. "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?"

David Sirota, Andrew Perez. "Clinton Foundation Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary Clinton's State Department." International Business Times 05/26/2015.