U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented today on the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which she had requested, detailing problems with State Department and Defense Department procedures to prevent the misuse of U.S. military assistance to Persian Gulf countries. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"State and DOD need to do a more thorough job of keeping track of what U.S. military equipment sold to Gulf countries is being used for, who is being trained to use it, and who ultimately ends up possessing it. We need to ensure that the equipment is not being diverted to third parties, and that those groups and units who are the intended recipients are not implicated in human rights violations.
"We are talking about such human rights violators as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which also has a questionable record on terrorist financing. We are dealing with other governments in the Gulf whose countries are used as transfer points for goods and equipment to the Iranian regime. We need to do a better job of ensuring that U.S. equipment is being used as intended and in keeping with U.S. foreign policy and national security interests.
"The report finds gaps in the implementation of State Department and Defense Department safeguards to prevent the misuse of U.S. equipment, and inconsistencies in the standards applied by each Department. I am particularly concerned by the revelation that some countries have failed to submit compliance plans for the use of night vision devices in a timely manner.
"I look forward to working with the State and Defense Departments to ensure that the deficiencies identified in the report are addressed."
BACKGROUND: The report also finds that the State Department should improve safeguards to ensure that units receiving assistance are not implicated in human rights violations, and determines that State and DOD should harmonize their standards and procedures for monitoring the use of U.S. military equipment sold to Persian Gulf nations.