Disappearing Transparency in U.S. Arms Sales

A recent article by SAM Director, Christina Arabia, explains how the already difficult task of scouring disparate U.S. government documents for information vital to SAM’s databases has become even more challenging under the current Administration. According to Arabia, “information meant for public availability is being withheld. Vital reports for our database are suddenly being classified, more military aid is going through regional accounts without any country-level justification and arms sales data is not being reported to Congress in the manner or level of detail required.”

These efforts to obscure the details of U.S. international security relationships coincide with the Administration’s determination to push a U.S. foreign policy that prioritizes business interests over human rights or diplomatic relationships and Trump’s consistent efforts to minimize the role of lawmakers and thwart oversight.

Though the Administration’s actions are troubling in their own right, Arabia notes that “what makes Trump’s policies and abuse of power so dangerous is the new precedent his administration has set allowing the executive branch to make foreign policy decisions unilaterally. In effect, arms sales are now driving U.S. foreign policy instead of being used as a tool for it. The repercussions from this reversal could be disastrous.”

Ultimately, Arabia’s article makes it clear that, without adequate information, “it is impossible to assess whether [U.S.] security aid is working or if the aid is going toward its intended purpose” and calls on lawmakers to press their Executive counterparts to commit to greater transparency and details in their reporting.

Read the article here.