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

Breaking news US closes Bagram detention center in Afghanistan

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Released Afghan prisoners raise their hands in prayer as the United States-led military released 20 Afghan prisoners from its Bagram Air Field detention centre, north of Kabul (AFP Photo / Farzana Wahidy)

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Released Afghan prisoners raise their hands in prayer as the United States-led military released 20 Afghan prisoners from its Bagram Air Field detention centre, north of Kabul (AFP Photo / Farzana Wahidy)

RT Breaking News

The US Defense Department announced it has closed the Bagram detention center and now has zero detainees in its custody in Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

Although the United States transferred control over Bagram to the Afghans back in 2013, the detention center became infamous due the harsh treatment some of the detainees received while in American custody. At one point, it was double the size of the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison complex in Cuba.

The facility’s closure comes just one day after the Senate released its long-awaited torture report, which described the gruesome tactics deployed by the CIA against terror suspects in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

READ MORE: Senate accuses CIA of torturing prisoners, overstepping legal boundaries

Two of the most infamous cases involved prisoners named Habibullah and Dilawar, whose abuse was chronicled by The New York Times in 2005. Dilawar – who was chained to the top of his cell for days by the time he died – was brutally beaten and passed away in 2002.

“At the interrogators’ behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend,” wrote Tim Golden in the Times.

“An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.”

Habibullah, who died just a few days before Dilawar, was also chained to the ceiling and beaten. The Times noted that he was struck more than 100 times in a 24-hour period.

READ MORE: ‘The Other Guantanamo’ – Indefinite detention at Bagram Air Force Base

As recently as this past September, there were still questions about the fate of the detainees being held at Bagram. It was unclear how many people remained in American custody, but with the US gradually drawing down its war in Afghanistan, officials said the legal authority allowing them to continue holding prisoners was about to expire.

“We’ve got to resolve their fate by either returning them to their home country or turning them over to the Afghans for prosecution or any other number of ways that the Department of Defense has to resolve,” said Brigadier General Patrick Reinert, the commanding general of the United States Army Reserve Legal Command, at the time. “Until the country provides assurances, the individual cannot be transferred.”

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‘How Ukraine was turned into a failed state in a year’

A Ukrainian anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police in central Kiev early on January 25, 2014. (AFP Photo / Dmitry Serebryakov)

A Ukrainian anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police in central Kiev early on January 25, 2014. (AFP Photo / Dmitry Serebryakov)

As a country with few socio-economic and political problems Ukraine has turned into a failed state torn by civil war and sectarian violence, with a lack of constitutional order and a destroyed economy, foreign affairs expert Nebojsa Malic told RT.

Malic added that there has been a lot of talk about financial assistance for Ukraine but none of that has actually materialized.

“The only people that the US is actually funding are activists and all sorts of interested organizations that are at the business of perpetuating outrage but not really helping the society or the state get better,” he said.

RT: American and European officials have made numerous trips to Ukraine over the past year, making tempting promises regarding the bright future for the country alongside the Western states. Were they fulfilled?

Nebojsa Malic: None of the promises were fulfilled. In fact, Ukraine is far worse off than a year ago in unimaginable ways. From a country that was having problems financially, socially and politically, it has basically transited to a failed state torn apart by a civil war, sectarian violence, oligarchs, private armies, Nazis, a coup government, complete lack of constitutional order, and on top economic problems that get much worse.

RT: Mr. Biden, who’s visiting Kiev today, has promised to deliver a “strong message” supporting the Ukrainian government and people. Will he be heard and/or believed?

NM: I’m sure that the people in power in Kiev will believe anything that they are told because their entire rule rests on perception management, that they are a legitimate government backed by the West which they equate with the entire world. As for the people, I’m not sure that Biden’s words will keep anybody warm or fed this winter. Biden, wherever he goes, things don’t turn out particularly well. Likewise these biscuits that Victoria Nuland handed out last December are the thing of the past at this point. Press people are wondering where the next meal is going to come from. Essentially the entire message from the US is “You people go on and do your thing, we will back you up,” and the backup is never there. There has been no financial support for Ukraine’s debts or economic recovery. There has been a lot of talk of assistance but none of that has actually materialized. The only people that the US is actually funding are activists and all sorts of interested organizations that are at the business of perpetuating outrage but not really helping the society or the state get better.

RT: Victoria Nuland is set to join Mr. Biden. We remember the famous leaked remark of hers when speaking of Europe’s hesitant policy towards the protests on Maidan, showing how strongly the US controls the decision-making in terms of the Ukrainian crisis. Do you think Washington is happy with the results?

NM: It depends on what actual objectives of the intervention were. If the objective was to create intractable hostility between Kiev and Moscow, then yes, Washington has every right to be happy. If the objective is to create a normal functioning European-civilized Ukrainian state then no that has been a complete disaster from day one. Personally I think the objective was to create the conflict, to create the chaos, to create disorder, suffering and misery, so that the US government and the EU could bow in as liberators or knights in shining arms rescuing people, except there hasn’t been any rescue as they are neither capable of it, nor do they actually intend to perform it. If I was in charge of US foreign policy, I would chalk it up as a massive failure, if the objectives were, as officially stated, to create order and stability. But I’m not in charge and the objectives are not what they were officially stated.

Protesters carry a wounded protester during clashes with poliсe, after gaining new positions near the Independence square in Kiev on February 20, 2014. (AFP PHhoto / Louisa Gouliamaki)

Protesters carry a wounded protester during clashes with poliсe, after gaining new positions near the Independence square in Kiev on February 20, 2014. (AFP PHhoto / Louisa Gouliamaki)

RT: According to the UN figures, over 4,300 people were killed in the conflict in Ukraine. Where do you believe it is heading?

NM: Right now there is a ceasefire that is holding on paper and is not holding in practice. People are still dying every day; we have the President of Ukraine declaring that children of the rebels will be hunkering down in basements forever. There was hope in September when the Minsk accord was signed that it might create preconditions for a dialogue and a possible political solution. Unfortunately, so long as Kiev believes that it has unconditional support of the West to do whatever it wants, including what it rightly classified as war crimes, they will continue being aggressive and belligerent, refusing any sort of compromise or dialogue. They believe their rights are absolute, they believe they can do whatever they want and they will continue behaving accordingly. This is not a prescription for peace; this is a prescription for further conflict. I don’t know whether the war will continue throughout the winter, what sort of intensity, depending on how bad the winter is, but I’m certain that there are people in Kiev who have said so that they will resume hostilities at the first possible opportunity with the goal of taking the rebel regions and expelling the population that refuses to accept the current government.

Security analyst Charles Shoebridge on Ukraine: “It has been a disastrous year of very little progress. Different people have different perspectives. For example, some people in the west of Ukraine are very happy that the government of Yanukovich was overthrown by the street protests that took place in Kiev. If one looks at the eastern regions, it’s a disaster time – we are talking about some 4,500 deaths, many of those, if not the majority, are civilians. And also Ukraine forces and rebel fighters themselves are suffering terrible causalities. Maybe 450,000 have fled Ukraine to go to Russia, some another 400,000 people are internally displaced. The country continues to stagnate if not decline economically as a result of this.”

Security analyst Charles Shoebridge on Ukraine: “I think that the influence of external players is also important because until now it doesn’t appear that there has been a lot of pressure placed on the Poroshenko government and Poroshenko himself by his Western supporters, particularly NATO, the EU and the US, to seek out peace instead of seeking out victory. That peace, even as a Minsk agreement itself implicitly recognized a few weeks ago, does need some form of compromise and negotiation between the parties. That simply isn’t taking place in any meaningful way at the moment.”

Security analyst Charles Shoebridge on Ukraine: “There is a division in Ukraine society, not just between those of Russian-speaking or ethnically Russian descent, but even within those communities. The same in the west of Ukraine – you have Ukrainians, some are sick of the war, but there are also a strong nationalist and far-right elements that are prevalent in much of the west of Ukraine who are really not even in any mood to negotiate or give any way to what they describe as terrorists in the east, the rebel fighters, and who want this war prosecuted to a victory rather to any form of compromise.”