Arms, Conflict, Corruption, Hillary Clinton, Law, Middle East, Military, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Scandal, Security, USA

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds hands with her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Reuters / Jim Young)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds hands with her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Reuters / Jim Young)

As the Obama administration increased military weapons exports, Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved transfer of more than $300 billion worth of arms manufactured by US defense contractors to 20 nations that were or have since become donors of the Clinton Foundation, a major philanthropic organization run by the Clinton family. According to a review of available records of foundation donors by the International Business Times, those countries included governments that have received frequent criticism by the State Department for repressive policies.

“Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents,” IBT wrote.

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Algeria, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar were nations that directly donated to the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s term as secretary of state, even as they were requesting weapons shipments. The donated money represents a loophole in US law regarding political contributions.

“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,” IBT noted. “But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers.”

The reviewed sales — both commercial and Pentagon-brokered — represent those made during “three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as secretary of state (from October 2010 to September 2012),” IBT reported. The deals made with the nations in question during this time add up to far more than arms agreements made with the same countries during the last three full fiscal years of George W. Bush’s administration, according to the report.

“The word was out to these groups that one of the best ways to gain access and influence with the Clintons was to give to this foundation,” Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, told IBT. “This shows why having public officials, or even spouses of public officials, connected with these nonprofits is problematic.”

The Clinton Foundation’s donor list has come under closer examination since Hillary Clinton announced she is seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016. In April, the Clintons acknowledged they have made “mistakes” regarding transparency amid increased public scrutiny concerning donations from foreign entities, especially when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, from 2009 to 2013.

Earlier this month, former President Bill Clinton defended his family foundation’s donors.

“I don’t think there’s anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people in countries that are seriously involved in development to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and lifts them up,” Mr. Clinton told NBC News.

The Clinton Foundation signed a foreign donor disclosure agreement just before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, yet neither the department nor the White House raised issues with potential conflicts of interest regarding the weapons agreements.

IBT reported that in 1995 President Clinton signed a presidential policy directive demanding the State Department take into account human rights abuses when considering the approval of military equipment or arms purchases from US companies. Yet Mrs Clinton’s State Department ignored this stipulation, helping the Obama administration increase weapons transfers.

The State Department, under the aegis of Clinton, hammered the Algerian government in its 2010 Human Rights Report for “restrictions on freedom of assembly and association,” allowing “arbitrary killing,” “widespread corruption,” and a “lack of judicial independence.”

“That year, the Algerian government donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation and its lobbyists met with the State Department officials who oversee enforcement of human rights policies. Clinton’s State Department the next year approved a one-year 70 percent increase in military export authorizations to the country,” IBT reported. “The increase included authorizations of almost 50,000 items classified as ‘toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents and associated equipment’ after the State Department did not authorize the export of any of such items to Algeria in the prior year.

“During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department authorized at least $2.4 billion of direct military hardware and services sales to Algeria — nearly triple such authorizations over the last full fiscal years during the Bush administration. The Clinton Foundation did not disclose Algeria’s donation until this year — a violation of the ethics agreement it entered into with the Obama administration.”

IBT also reported that major US weapons manufacturers and financial corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton lucrative speaking fees “reaching $625,000” just as arms deals they had an interest in were in the works with Mrs Clinton’s State Department.

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Hillary Clinton had pledged during her Senate confirmation hearings in 2009 that “in many, if not most cases, it is likely that the Foundation or President Clinton will not pursue an opportunity that presents a conflict.”

US weapons sales tripled in 2011 to a new yearly high of $66.3 billion, according to the New York Times, mostly driven by sales to Persian Gulf nations allied against Iran. This dollar total made up nearly 78 percent of all worldwide arms deals that year, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Reuters reported in January 2013 that the State Department office that has oversight of direct commercial arms sales “was on track to receive more than 85,000 license requests in 2012, a new record.”

The boom in arms sales by the Obama administration has continued to the present day, as Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are using American-made fighter jets against Islamic State and for proxy wars in places like Yemen and Syria.

According to the Times, foreign weapons sales now represent 25 percent to 30 percent of revenue taken in by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US-based arms dealers.

​Clinton Foundation admits ‘mistakes’ amid concerns of foreign donors 20

Donbass elections: Chance for peace in Ukraine

Published time: November 12, 2014 10:20

By Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011).

A woman casts a ballot during the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic leadership and local parliamentary elections at a polling station in the coastal settlement of Sedovo, south from Donetsk (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

A woman casts a ballot during the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic leadership and local parliamentary elections at a polling station in the coastal settlement of Sedovo, south from Donetsk (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

RT Op / Edge

Elections held in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions of Ukraine are very important in terms of legitimizing the authorities in the two regions and establishing the peace process in the country, with a high voter turnout.

These are the two regions whose populations had categorically refused to accept the coup in Kiev and its aftermath, and who rejected the divisive ideology that the triumphant Maidan leaders had tried to impose on the entire country. They showed their own perspective on the historical processes which had shaped modern Ukraine.

This means that negotiations between Kiev and Donbass, including within the Contact Group, will from now on bring together elected representatives of the respective populations. This will strengthen the chances for finding political solutions that would be, first, accepted by the people and, second, implemented in practice. Consequently, the elections are an important contribution to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

Russia respects the expression of the will of the people in southeastern Ukraine. The main task of the elected authorities is to address the extremely difficult economic and humanitarian situation in the region.

There are widespread accusations against Donbass to the effect that the elections run counter to the Minsk agreements and undermine the peace process. However, it is to be recalled that the Ukrainian authorities have not implemented many of their own Minsk commitments, including with respect to local elections.

They had failed to give effect to the special law adopted for that purpose: the law provided that its area of application was to be set by a special parliamentary decision that has never been adopted. They had set the date for local elections in Donbass for December 7, while the schedule agreed in Minsk provided for the timeframe between October 19 and November 3. In brief, they had made it impossible to hold elections within the framework of Ukrainian legislation, as was envisaged in Minsk.

To that, one may add the many other Ukrainian violations of Minsk commitments: the ceasefire is being violated, no amnesty has been granted, no progress is seen in devolution, no national dialogue is taking place, no economic program for Donbass has been adopted, and obstacles are created for humanitarian assistance to Donbass.

In these circumstances, it is utterly wrong to artificially pick one aspect of the interconnected Minsk agreements (the elections issue) and declare it the main criterion of the sustainability of the peace process.

If Kiev chooses to withdraw from talks under this pretext, it will bear full responsibility for derailing them. For Russia’s part, we are prepared to facilitate further dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk aimed at preservation of the single political, economic and humanitarian space of Ukraine.

 

Poroshenko considers canceling law on special local governance of Donbass

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (RIA Novosti/Nikolay Lazarenko)

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (RIA Novosti/Nikolay Lazarenko)

 

RT news

Ukraine may abolish its law on special local governance in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, President Petro Poroshenko announced on Monday. The measure will be discussed at a meeting with the National Security Council, called by the president for Tuesday.

In his address to the nation, the Ukrainian president said that Kiev stays true to the Minsk protocol, but has to make amendments to the special status law, which was approved by the parliament on September 16.

Ukraine is ready to adopt a new law on decentralization of power “if all sides get back to observance of the Minsk protocol,” Poroshenko said.

The protocol was approved in the Belarusian capital on September 5, with Kiev authorities and Donetsk and Lugansk militias agreeing on a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. The contact group in Minsk agreed on other key issues, including the exchange of war prisoners and humanitarian aid access to the conflict zone.

The document on special local governance in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, signed by Poroshenko last month, outlined “temporary order of local government in certain districts,” and suggested local elections in the districts to be scheduled for December.

Prime Minister of Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, casting his vote. RIA Novosti / Aleksey Kudenko

Prime Minister of Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, casting his vote. RIA Novosti / Aleksey Kudenko

The self-proclaimed people’s republics carried out elections this weekend. According to the vote’s final results, incumbent PM Aleksandr Zakharchenko won Sunday’s elections in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, taking some 75 percent of the votes. In Lugansk, 63 percent voted for the current leader, Igor Plotnitsky.

In his address, Poroshenko said Ukraine did not recognize the elections in the regions, calling it a “farce at gunpoint” and a “terrible event that has nothing in common with the real expression of the people’s will.”

The vote “brutally violates” the Minsk agreements, Poroshenko stated, adding that the vote threatened to disrupt the peace process in the area.

Representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions have said they abide by the Minsk protocol and are ready to continue their dialogue with Kiev, should its officials “act in a sensible way.”

Ukraine held its early parliamentary elections on October 26. Moscow recognized the results of both votes.

Earlier in October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the law giving special status to troubled regions in eastern Ukraine was “not perfect,” but might be used to finally stabilize the situation in the area.

Perhaps it’s not a perfect document, but it’s a step in the right direction, and we hope it will be used in complete resolution of security problems,” Putin said after closed-door talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Milan.