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Killing of Khashoggi Tests US defense industry as a backlash based on Capitol Hill

Tom Hamburger Investigative reporter focused on the intersection of money and politics in Washington 21 November 19:02 The powerful US…

The powerful US defense industry faces a rare challenge for its influence on Capitol Hill as a support for arms sales to Saudi Arabia has been quickly eroded after being killed last month by journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the hands of Saudi government operators.

The defense industry’s typical aggressive lobby has gone silent, as cruel details about Khashoggi’s death have leaked and American intelligence officials have blamed at the foot of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Although President Trump has repeated his support for continued sales of US weapons to the empire, the Congress’s opposition to these sales and to American support for the Saudi Arabian leader the war in Yemen has mounted in recent weeks – tested the power of an industry that has sold tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons sister ems to the empire since the 1950s.

Growing bipartisan support for Senate legislation to cut off the arms sales brands is a historic disruption in an apparently indestructible trade-off between arms and oils that stretch back for decades and is an unusual setback for one of Washington’s most influential lobbies.

In the next few weeks, major senators are expected to vote on a measure that would impose sanctions against Saudi officials responsible for Khashoggi’s death and abolish many arms sales to Saudi Arabia until it ends with violations in Yemen that killed tens of thousands of civilians.

The bill represents one of the first major races between Congressional Republicans and the White House, which has embraced Saudi Arabia as a central star in the Middle East – a strategy driven by Jared Kushner, Trumps son of law and senior counselors, who falsified a strong personal relationship with the Crown Prince.


Then. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) At the Capitol this month. He described the Saudi crown prince as a “waving ball”. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)

But Trumps strong support to the Empire before the CIA concluded that Mohammed ordered the Khashoggi murder – a Washington Post-contributing columnist – has triggered a backlash on Capitol Hill among the intensifying opposition to the war in Yemen.

In an interview Tuesday, Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) sent a Trump trust, previously opposed to efforts to restrict arms sales to Saudi Arabia, proposed legislators could tie federal funding to Saudi sanctions. He co-sponsors the two-piece Senate action, which would revoke licenses for any weapons that had previously been approved.

“In the case of the Crown Prince, it is not wise to look away,” said Graham, calling the crown.

Other legislators who have armed arms treat Saudi Arabia in the past and now rethink their support include Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Rep. Eliot L. Engel (DN.Y.) and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), According to the latest votes and congress leaders.

In the House, legislators write on several proposals that would restrict Saudi Arabia offers, including one offered by rep Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) Who would require updates on the investigation of Khashoggi’s death before any new military sales to Saudi Arabia could be considered.

McGovern District is home to Raytheon, which sells hundreds of millions of worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia every year, whose company’s PAC has been a top campaigner for McGovern in recent years.

“I care a lot about work,” said McGovern, who was an early critic of the war in Yemen. “But I do not want to create jobs by selling weapons to governments that kill journalists in cold blood and then lie about it.”

The defense industry has long had a guiding hand on American foreign policy, facilitated by a parade of former military and state officials moving between business jobs and key government departments and the ministry of defense. US defense companies have spent between 125 million and 130 million dollars a year in lobbying in recent years, plus tens of millions more on contributions to federal candidates, according to the Non-Party Center for Responsive Politics.

In a sign of industrial muscle, Congress has only voted once to block a foreign arms agreement through a key monitoring tool called a joint resolution of disapproval, according to a report by Congressional Research Service. This effort occurred more than three decades since 1986, and the action was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan.

Since the beginning of the war in Yemen, the defense industry – working with Saudi Arabia lobbyists – successfully fought back the Congress efforts supported by human rights groups to stop or limit US support to the war in the conflict.

At present, the defensive line holds low profile and spans the value of a strong US-Saudi Arabian relationship while strategizing how to proceed, according to people familiar with the approach. Industry lobbyists said they closely monitor the dynamics of the best Saudi Arabian leaders and Trump, which has emerged as the industry’s most vocalist lobbyist, who exerts the economic importance of Saudi Arabian agreements.

On Tuesday, the president suggested that he could veto any congress efforts to stop arms sales. “We will not give up hundreds of billions of dollars in order and let Russia, China and everyone else have them,” he told reporters.

Officials of Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics all rejected Posten’s request for comments on the future of arms sales to Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s death.

An executive said defense contractors are waiting to see if the Crown Prince will be replaced before an Action Plan is established.

US defense contractors are really in anchor-and-cover mode, hoping to relate to this as little as possible, “said a prominent defense manager who spoke on terms of anonymity out of concern to publicly discuss the issue would be bad for business. “To say we will support this because we have a few thousand jobs at stake … We do not want it,” said the CEO.

Pressed by Wall Street analysts about the consequences of Khashoggi disappearance last month, officials from Raytheon and another big company selling arms to Saudi Arabia, Lockheed Martin, made only short statements vowing to take into account US policies against one of their foremost foreign customers.

“I’m pretty sure we’ll be very complex “says Raytheon’s CEO Thomas Kennedy in a redemption call, without mentioning Khashoggi.

Signs of Sliding Support

The conflict that has hardened one of the world’s poorest countries pisses on the condemned Yemeni government, supported by the Saudi empire, against rebels known as Houthis, believed to be sponsored by Iran. US assistance to the Saudi government-led coalition, initiated in 2015 under presidency nt Barack Obama, contains refueling plans, which provide intelligence and logistical support – and sells bombs.

Intensive criticism of civil disturbances led the administration to stop the sale of nearly $ 400 million in precision munitions management system to Saudi Arabia in December 2016, at the end of the Obama administration. Three months later, the Trump Administration reversed that decision and approved a resumption of arms sales.

Since then, weapons made by American companies have been linked to some of the worst episodes of civilian accidents.

The bomb that killed more than 50 people, including at least 40 children, on a school bus trip on August 9 was manufactured in the United States by Lockheed Martin, a CNN survey found. Raytheon bombs have been blamed for other air raids that killed civilians, including an April 23 attack on a wedding that left 22 people dead. Post reporters and human rights groups have shown evidence that American ammunition has killed and lost civilians in Yemen.

When the accidents increased, there was evidence that Congress’s support for the war was slipping.

In mid-September, one month after school bus bombing, Raytheon’s Kennedy stopped by Capitol Hill to see then Robert Menendez (DN.J.), who had raised concerns about the occurrence of accident events in Yemen, according to a congressman.

Few American companies have benefited more from the Yemen war than Raytheon, a $ 25 billion defense warrior annually. analysts said.

And Menendez, who exercised his power as the ranking democrat in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, delayed the sale of nearly $ 2 billion in bombing the company made to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a Saudi ally.

Despite Raytheon’s CEO’s personal visit, Menendez held his sales. He now sponsors the bipartisan senate bill which requires the cancellation of many arms sales to the realm.

Asked about Raytheon’s contacts with Menendez and other legislators, the company said: “As part of the government’s decision-making process, Raytheon routinely engages government officials to provide information and answer questions.” Kennedy declined an interview request.

Since Khashoggi was killed, contacts with the main congress agencies of Raytheon lobbyists have fallen, according to the adjunct.

“If I was Raytheon or Boeing or Lockheed, I would keep my damn trap shut and my head low because this is bad for the Saudi people,” said a Republican Senate Federation, who spoke on the assumption that anonymity was sincere about the defensive run.

In a conversation with investors last month, Raytheon’s financial director emphasized that the company’s sales to Saudi Arabia amounted to only 5 percent of total revenues.

But such figures do not illustrate the full extent of the industry’s dependence on the kingdom, one of the foremost foreign markets for US defense companies, analysts said. Saudi Arabia spends billions of dollars each year on American weapons systems and the empire has few of the bureaucratic checks and balances that delay major military purchases in the United States.

Lockheed has made sales to foreign governments an important target for growth, with Saudi Arabia being a major driver of the effort, according to a defense analyst. A photo of the Crown Prince during his April visit to the Lockheed facility in Silicon Valley remains on the company’s website, although other companies have been distant from Muhammad since Khaygogi’s slaying.

“The importance of military sales to Saudi Arabia goes well beyond what the annual sales figures would indicate,” said Peter Mandaville, a former state adviser who teaches at George Mason University. “These contracts over time keep assembly lines and supply chains open to the major defense contractors. When they plan for the future, they always keep Saudi in mind.”

“We must take the long view”

Despite the controversy storm predicts former defense managers and National security analysts that the decade-long relationship with Saudi Arabia is likely to end because of the economic and strategic importance of the Kingdom.

Hawk Carlisle, a senior general assembly that helps the National Defense Industrial Association, an industry organization, said in an interview last month that while the United States must respond to Khashoggi’s killing, it must also look for national security.

“As a nation, we must maintain our principles. We must take appropriate action but not have an overreaction,” said Carlisle. “We must take the long perspective.”

After Khashoggi’s death, Raytheon board members gathered at Waltham’s company, Mass., Headquarters to consider how to handle the fallout and relations with Saudi Arabia among other issues, according to people familiar with the meeting.

The meeting was led by Kennedy, 63, a former air force captain who has traveled the world selling Raytheon’s goods to the Saudi Crown Prince and other international clients. The Board called on Kennedy today to cancel a planned trip to a Riyadh Economic Summit and send others to his place, said those familiar with the meeting.

A spokesman Raytheon called the board meeting “a regular part of our board process. “

Raytheon’s Board contains some of the most influential figures in the world of military strategy and intelligence: Stephen J. Hadley, National Security Adviser to President George W. Bush; Robert O. Work, who went down last year as Deputy Defense Secretary for Planning ; Letitia A. Long, a veteran of the chief echelons of US defense and intelligence agencies;

The Revolution Door has also gone, because former industry’s supporters have secured key positions.

At the government department, Charles Faulkner, a registered Raytheon lobbyist from 2012 until 2016, when he worked for the BGR Group, now serves as State Secretary for the State Secretary at the Bureau of Legislative Affairs.

In the autumn, his presidency called on Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo to certify that Saudi Arabia and the UAE worked to reduce civilian accidents, warning that hold back the support to the kingdom – like the spirit Rough officials in the state department urged – could endanger future arms sales, as the delimitation first reported.

Pompeo collaborated with Faulkner’s agency and allowed arms sales to move forward, as Wall Street Journal first reported.

“Mr. Faulkner has a long experience in working with Capitol Hill,” states spokesman Heather Nauert. “However, his previous positions do not matter for the final certification decision.”

A building showdown

Since Congressional criticism has intensified, there have been signs that the Trump Administration’s appetite for the war is decreasing. Last week, the United States confirmed that it stopped the practice of providing aviation fuel to Saudi coalition aircraft. And Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently asked for a ceasefire, why the war has left half of the population on swine fever.

Mattis said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia and the UAE had ceased violations and other offensive operations during the last three days of Yemen in anticipation of UN-sponsored peace talks.

Yet, Trump has very refused to block what he has deceived is described as $ 110 billion in military sales to the realm. (This figure contains offers submitted in non-binding memoranda, previously announced by the Obama administration or for equipment scheduled for delivery after 2022 or on an indefinite date.)

In a statement on Tuesday, Trump questioned the CIA’s conclusion that the Crown Prince ordered Khashoggi’s death and said that his priority is to protect trade relations between the US and Saudi Arabia. The kingdom keeps the oil price at “reasonable levels” and provides money for US weapons that translate into US jobs, “said Trump.

“If we stupidly cancel these agreements, Russia and China would be the huge recipients – and very happy to acquire all this new-found company,” he said. “I understand that there are members of Congress who for political reasons or other reasons would like to go in another direction – and they can do it.”

Many congress legislators – including some Republicans – reacted with disgust at his dismissal of CIA’s assessment.

“I never thought I would see the day as a white house would be moonlight as a PR company for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” later Bob Corker (R.-Tenn.) tweeted

.

The dynamics are to create a showdown between Trump and Congress as a pressure to restrict Saudi Arabian arms and the United States’s role in Yemen is based on human rights groups and some conservatives.

Charles Koch Institute, an ideal group founded by the billionaire Libertarian industry, has warned a bipartisan group of legislators about the consequences of continued US involvement in Yemen, officials said.

Then. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.) – as with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) challenges the decision of the State Department in September to certify that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are trying to protect civilians from injuries – saying that rising civilian accidents in Yemen should anticipate the industry’s financial interests.

“Economic interests are important, but they are not the most important,” said Young.

Alice Crites, Christian Davenport, Karen DeYoung, Karoun Demirjian, Aaron Gregg and Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

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