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‘Accidental Giveaway’: US Taxpayers Pay For Refuelling Of Saudi Warplanes Bombing In Yemen

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'Accidental Giveaway': US Taxpayers Pay For Refuelling Of Saudi Warplanes Bombing In Yemen

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It appears that US taxpayers have been paying for a major part of the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, according to a US Defense Department letter, cited by The Atlantic on December 8th.

Written by Principal Deputy General Counsel William S. Castle, the letter is dated November 27th and it reveals that the Pentagon “failed” to charge Saudi Arabia and the UAE for refueling their aircraft during the intervention in Yemen. The “accidental giveaway” was presumably caused by an accounting error.

According to the letter, the Pentagon “believed” the Saudi-led coalition “had been charged for the fuel and refueling services, they, in fact, had not been charge adequately.”

The letter does not specify how much it cost US taxpayers, however it did say that the Pentagon was “currently calculating the correct charges” at the time of writing of the letter.

The letter also notes that the mishap was uncovered only after Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) of the Senate Armed Services Committee, along with seven other Democratic senators specifically requested the information on coalition reimbursements from Secretary of Defense James Mattis in March.

“It is clear that the Department has not lived up to its obligation to keep Congress appropriately informed or its responsibility to secure timely reimbursement,” Reed said. “U.S.-provided aerial refueling assistance was provided to the Saudi-led coalition for more than 3.5 years, activities that likely cost tens of millions of dollars. We must ensure that U.S. taxpayers are fully reimbursed for that support.”

Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Rebecca Rebarich confirmed the contents of the letter to the Atlantic:

“Although DoD has received some reimbursement for inflight refueling assistance provided to the Saudi-led coalition (SLC), U.S. Central Command recently reviewed its records and found errors in accounting where DoD failed to charge the SLC adequately for fuel and refueling services.”

When asked how much reimbursement DoD had received from the Saudi-led coalition, Rebarich said that “CENTCOM is still working through the calculation.”

The Saudi and UAE embassies in Washington provided no response to The Atlantic’s request for a comment.

Jeffrey Prescott, who served as senior director for Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the Gulf States on the National Security Council in Barack Obama’s administration and is now a strategic consultant to the Penn Biden Center said:

“This is a striking revelation. President Trump has been exceedingly transactional, even seeming to threaten to cast aside NATO if our closest allies didn’t increase their contributions. That is why it is jarring to see that the Trump administration—save for congressional and public pressure—would continue to refuel Saudi and Emirati aircraft without adequate, if any, reimbursement.”

Overall, the US refueling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft had been a source of confusion for a while. US officials have spent years trying to pin down details of the arrangements, which are carried out via “acquisition and cross-servicing agreements,” or ACSAs, essentially bilateral treaties between the United States and a partner country that allow for the provision of military and logistical support.

The November 27th letter admits that the US refueled Saudi aircraft without an ACSA during the first year of the Yemen intervention. According to it, the Kingdom was treated as a “third party,” to the Pentagon’s deal with the UAE. Such third-party arrangements are now explicitly prohibited under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.

After the first year, the US drafted a provisional ACSA with the Kingdom, however the Congress was never notified, because Saudi Arabia, several years later hasn’t “fulfilled all of its internal procedures necessary for an Agreement to enter into force.” However, it keeps getting its aircraft refueled, despite there never being any official servicing agreement between the US and Saudi Arabia.

“Evidence exists that the military was, at certain levels, tracking fuel sales. Records provided by the Defense Logistics Agency this March indicated that since the start of fiscal year 2015 (October 2014), more than 7.5 million gallons of aerial refueling had been provided to the UAE, and more than 1 million gallons to the Saudis. Those figures were for all aerial refueling, not necessarily only related to operations in Yemen. Separate DLA data showed that at least some payments had been made by the UAE, though it was unclear to what degree they were tied to operations in Yemen. The Atlantic has asked the DLA whether either set of figures were affected by accounting errors. On Friday [December 7th], the DLA said it was looking into those questions.”

The Government Accountability Office is to release a report on the use of ACSAs, which may shed some light on the issue.

This follows the “conclusion” of the first ever audit of the Pentagon, which ended in failure on November 15th.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan tried to put the best face on things, telling reporters, “We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it.” Shanahan suggested that the DoD should get credit for attempting an audit, saying, “It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial.”

Most significantly, $21 trillion of Pentagon financial transactions between 1998 and 2005 could not be traced, document or explained, as revealed by an investigation by Mark Skidmore, a professor of economics specializing in state and local government finance at Michigan State University and two of his graduate students. Essentially, the Pentagon has been carrying out a massive accounting fraud, spanning at least 20 years.

Thus, it appears that Senator Lindsey Graham may be right, and that the US isn’t really on the winning side of the conflict in Yemenand Saudi Arabia would need a more direct help from the US if it wants to achieve its goals by military means.

Let me put it this way — I want to be very blunt with you. If it weren’t for the United States they’d be speaking Farsi in about a week in Saudi Arabia.,” Graham said commenting on prospects of an open military confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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  • Carol Davidek-Waller

    It’s worse than that. The US has been assisting Saudi genocide in Yemen as well as selling them weapons. You don’t accidentally gas up jet fighter planes.

    • Garga

      Like the rapist who didn’t know who put “it” there.

      They “assisting” Israel with $billions of tax-payers to kill Palestinians, what’s some pesky $ hundreds of millions to “assist” Saudis and Emiratis to kill Yemeni children?
      Specially if the Saudis/Emiratis compensated the assistance with expensive gifts to the decision-makers in the military, Pentagon and Trump hotels. See? Some of the money is returned, that’s something to cheer for Pentagon.

      Oops! That’s hate speech and Antisemitism!

  • Bob

    Pentagon oversight and accounts department has remarkable tendency to ‘miscalculate’ or ‘lose track’ of US public monies – in six figure numbers and upwards. But there is never any criminal prosecutions or political ramifications for such actions – that are clearly along the legal spectrum from criminal negligence to criminal fraud.

    • Concrete Mike

      Yep but Lo and behold if you or I fuck up our income taxes by a couple hundred bucks.

      This dichotomy has to stop

      • Jens Holm

        Its kind of the same here. Normal small incomes are easier to control.

        EU as upper has the same. We try to tax big companies better. Google as Apple has to pay tax. My economy would be better too, idf I didnt pay tax.

        We need better instruments and some kind of simplifying parts of it.

      • Bob

        Exactly

    • Jens Holm

      Thats only partly true. And I allow me to mention, that high numbers also say many inhabitants having high incomes.

      It would be nice if You mentioned losses in % or something like that.

  • Sinbad2

    When the US was destroying Iraq, Australia was helping. Sometimes the US but their bombs on our planes. The US paid for it out of their foreign aid budget as aid to Australia?

    This will also probably be classified as foreign aid.

    • Jens Holm

      You still dont get its a part deal among coalisitions. So USA might pay for the bombs and Australia for their F18s. That includes Syria.

      I have written it so many times to You senile midget. USA is not alone in this an have a lot of allies, which support with all kinds of things too.

      Even little danes do gainst my will. We for the moment has 220 soldiers in Iraq asked by Bagdads, we have 200 in Estonia even being local comanders and we are in the mud of Helmand too.

  • Lena Jones

    The biggest sucker in the world: the American tax payer.

    • Jens Holm

      The dont say so, and the are asked about it in their country.

      The dont prefare Muhammed Economics as well as the collapsed Mrx and Engels one.

      It would be nice if You at least could show somerthinbg better. Pls make a country list.

      • Lena Jones

        The US taxpayer is the biggest sucker because they let treasonous, swindling jews fleece them in their face and in broad daylight.

        • Jens Holm

          You not even believe that Yourself.

          • Lena Jones

            Unlike yourself, I follow the FACTS and the FACTS clearly show that jews are fleecing the American taxpayer to the tune of 37 billion per year and this has been going on since the assassination of JFK. Google it.

  • Promitheas Apollonious

    well this is why they created the tax slaves. If they have them why not use them?

    • Jens Holm

      Americans and we are not taxslaves at all. Ots a brutto tax, where most of it comes back to pension, schools, hospitals and like that.

      Compasre streets and homes in stead of rederring to stupid economies as the Muhammed or Communist Engeks ones.

      • Promitheas Apollonious

        every time I read one of your posts brainless comes to mind. You seem to be living in a make believe world all by your own. Too much of a coward to face reality, or just plain stupid?

  • Brother Ma

    When do you not go to jail for murder,grand theft and fraud….when you work for the American Establishment,silly!

    • Jens Holm

      Yerrrh, there is no other side of this – its censured away and therefor dont exist. The result is so many are slaughtered by Your own Govermewnt and You ignore most of the killings are muslims killing muslims.

      1001 holy arabic nights of lies. Thats You. The Choran says You in 2 verses can lie, but You lie all the time among others.

  • Jens Holm

    Usual blindness. The only argumentations is the USA taxpayers, which decide themselves, not the enemies of saudis and USA.