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Subject: BAE is none of Washington's business
AdamB    6/29/2007 7:13:11 AM
BAE is none of Washington's business By Con Coughlin 29/06/2007 The Telegraph The international arms trade is a murky business at the best of times, but when it comes to selling arms to the Middle East, it is positively cut-throat. So it is hardly surprising that the recent history of Western involvement in selling arms to the region is littered with scandal, from the Iran-Contra affair of the 1980s, which seriously damaged Reagan's presidency, through to the Scott inquiry of the 1990s into Britain's illegal sale of arms to Iraq, which drove the final nail into the coffin of John Major's credibility. Soon - at least if the US Justice Department has its way - we will be examining the Government's involvement in the Al-Yamamah scandal, the multi-billion-pound arms deal negotiated between Saudi Arabia and the Thatcher government in the 1980s. advertisementBy any standard, Britain's agreement to equip the Saudis with state-of-the-art fighters deserved the billing it acquired at the time as the arms deal of the century. Britain agreed to provide 48 Tornado fighters, 60 Hawk jet trainers, 80 helicopters, six minesweepers, millions of dollars worth of electronic gear and two air bases, in a deal valued at £20 billion over 15 years. Although the details were negotiated by the MoD, British Aerospace, the country's main defence exporter which is now part of BAE Systems, was the main beneficiary and it has provided a large percentage of the company's profits ever since. As is usually the case in Middle Eastern arms deals, Britain's success in securing the deal had more to do with politics than acumen. The Saudis, who were keen to enhance their defensive capabilities against Iran and Iraq, would have preferred to purchase the technically superior American F-15 interceptor, rather than the Tornado, primarily a ground attack bomber. But repeated Saudi efforts, going back to the 1970s, to negotiate a deal with Washington foundered on the hostility of the Jewish lobby in Congress which, encouraged by Israel, bitterly opposed the sale on the grounds that selling F-15s to Saudi Arabia would challenge Israel's undisputed air superiority in the region. As a senior Saudi official commented at the time: "We would prefer to buy weapons from the United States, but we are not going to pay billions of dollars to be insulted. We are not masochists." Sensing a rare opportunity to revive the fortunes of Britain's flagging defence industry, the Thatcher government threw its full weight into securing the deal, with Mrs Thatcher even getting her son, Mark, to lobby on her government's behalf. Prince Bandar, the senior member of the Saudi royal family responsible for negotiating Al-Yamamah, writes in his recent autobiography, The Prince, that Mrs Thatcher's response to Congress blocking the F-15 sale was: "Hurrah, I want that contract! I want it to be British. I want to get my factories working." Mrs Thatcher was delighted with the deal when it was finally signed in 1985, having fought off competition from the French. But another influential Washington lobby, the one that represents America's defence industry, was less than pleased that it had been denied a lucrative commercial opportunity, and the rancour has continued to this day. Officials at the Justice Department insist that their decision this week to launch a corruption investigation into claims that BAE paid millions of pounds' worth of bribes to Saudi officials was not motivated by political pressure or lobbying from the American defence industry. Under the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Justice officials have the right to investigate any company with interests in America that is suspected of wrongdoing. BAE Systems has been gradually developing its commercial activity in the States, and only last week completed the £2 billion purchase of Armor Holdings, which makes protective armour for the Humvee. But British and Saudi officials are convinced the American action has been motivated by jealousy over the vast profits that BAE and the Government have derived from the initial deal. And there are suspicions that the Americans are trying to derail the latest arms agreement between Britain and Saudi Arabia - "Son of al-Yamamah". Under the new deal, agreed last year, the Saudis have agreed to pay £6 billion for 72 Typhoon Eurofighters to replace the ageing Tornados. As with the original contract, this was negotiated by the Government, with BAE Systems acting as the main contractor. The Saudis have already made their displeasure known about attempts to investigate bribery allegations concerning Al-Yamamah. When it became clear at the end of last year that the Serious Fraud Office was minded to bring prosecutions against those accused of corruption, the Saudis told Downing Street in no uncertain terms that they would not only cancel the Typhoon deal, but would withdraw all co-operation on intelligence-gathering, which would severel
 
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flamingknives       6/29/2007 9:14:08 AM
Copy-paste, copy-paste spambot.
 
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Herald1234    Comment.   6/29/2007 12:11:59 PM
Saudi Arabia is a US ally? ROTFLMAO!

Herald

 
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Lynstyne       6/29/2007 5:40:53 PM
I would say they were an ally in some respects but mostly nuetral as regards heir forighn policy.
internal  public opinion being more hostile in some areas.
 
Perhaps best to regard saudi on similar lines to france on how they act
 
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Pseudonym       6/29/2007 5:48:01 PM
Well Washington is none of BAE's business.

Get your goddamn blood sucking lobbyists out of there and we will talk.

Of course my statement is hypocrisy.

Just playing the opposite end of the field from you.

Gotta balance the hypocrisy.
 
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paul1970       7/2/2007 7:44:41 AM
its about time someone took charge in the US and halted the investigation.
 
it only serves to hack off the Saudi's and they will retaliate by assigning trade elsewhere (as they threatened the UK and thus UK backs down and drops its investigation on grounds of "not in the interest.....")... so if the US plan to sell much hardware in the near future then they should wrap it up quickly with a NFF.
 
also opens a can of worms with the F15 contract which had enough of its own backhanders while I was out there.
 
 
Paul
 
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Pseudonym       7/2/2007 10:30:47 AM
"its about time someone took charge in the US and halted the investigation."

Let me rewrite this for you.

its about time someone took charge in the US and violated the law by halting the investigation.

So who do you nominate to receive the Obstruction of Justice Charges?
 
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paul1970       7/2/2007 11:15:09 AM

"its about time someone took charge in the US and halted the investigation."

Let me rewrite this for you.

its about time someone took charge in the US and violated the law by halting the investigation.

So who do you nominate to receive the Obstruction of Justice Charges?


its the reality of doing business in Saudi.... surely you get that?
 
the contract was UK government to Saudi government... its all confidential and technically illegal for the BAe to hand over the info... BAe were just the middle man doing the business... so you are looking at the British government as obstructing your investigation as they are contractually obliged to do....
 
if the DOJ want to go hunting for corruption with the Saudi's then why not look at McD at the same time?
 
basically.... it was not in the "UK interest" to continue the investigation...  I suggest it is not really in the US interest to pursue the investigation either? perhaps it is more about point scoring cross party rather than for any "good" purpose?
 
after all....  surely you don't want the Saudi's to go off and buy French????    :-)
 
 
Paul
 
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Pseudonym       7/2/2007 1:38:16 PM
"its the reality of doing business in Saudi.... surely you get that?"

I agree entirely, that is how business is done in most of the world.

What I am saying is that now it is in the court system, no one can stop it until the process finishes.
 
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paul1970       7/3/2007 3:51:34 AM

"its the reality of doing business in Saudi.... surely you get that?"

I agree entirely, that is how business is done in most of the world.

What I am saying is that now it is in the court system, no one can stop it until the process finishes.
our government quashed it pretty convincingly....   yours can easily do the same in the interest of national security....
Paul

 
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