State IG: Department Did Not ‘Fully Assess Risks’ Of Civilian Casualties In Arms Sales

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department on June 10, 2020. Photo by ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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August 11, 2020 8:11 p.m.

The State Department inspector general found in a report released Tuesday that the department did not “fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties and legal concerns” when it green-lit arms sales to Middle Eastern countries.

The report also found that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did follow the law in his use of emergency powers, a point that State Department officials were eager to underscore in a press call Monday before the report’s release. Officials repeated many times that Pompeo’s actions were in “accordance with the law,” a preemptive spin that Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY) called “directly from the Bill Barr playbook.”

Politico obtained an unredacted version of the report, which suggests that Pompeo moved slowly, over weeks, to make the emergency declaration final. The public version, with the State Department’s redactions, makes the timeline seem much more condensed.

The IG investigation came at the behest of lawmakers who questioned Pompeo’s emergency declaration that allowed for the $8 billion sale to go ahead. Lawmakers had blocked some of the arms transfers out of concern that the weapons would be used on civilians.

The investigation received special attention after President Donald Trump, at Pompeo’s request, fired IG Steve Linick who was heading up the probe. Pompeo admitted that he responded to written questions pertaining to the investigation. The secretary has called Linick a “bad actor” and said he should have fired him “long ago,” though he denied that the firing was linked to the investigation.

After Linick’s ouster, Stephen Akard, an ally of Vice President Mike Pence, took over for about three months before he abruptly resigned last week. Diana Shaw, his deputy, has stepped into the role in an acting capacity.

Read the redacted report here:

Read the unredacted report here:

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