State Department Did Not Consider Civilian Casualties When Sending Arms to the Middle East, Report Finds
The State Department did not fully consider the risk of civilian casualties when it approved more than $8 billion in arms sales to Middle Eastern countries last year, according to an inspector general report released Tuesday.
Lawmakers asked the IG to investigate the transfer of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in May 2019 cited threats from Iran when using emergency authorities to transfer the weapons. The move short-circuited lawmakers, who had blocked some of the transfers for more than a year over concerns that the U.S.-made equipment could be used to kill civilians.
The IG determined that Pompeo carried out his use of emergency authorities properly. Yet it also said the department “did not fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties and legal concerns” surrounding the transfer of precision guided munitions to the three countries. The inspector general provided additional details about this failure, as well as a recommendation, in a classified annex of the report.