Sunday, November 17, 2013

War Business

Published on Feb 4, 2013
Written and spoken by Michael Rivero. 
The written version is here:

Video by Zane Henry.

This video is in the public domain. The producers have waived their copyright to this video.
Listen to a post production conversation between the producers by clicking on this mp3:

Cora Currier writes for ProPublica via Juan Cole
The United States is loosening controls over military exports, in a shift that former U.S. officials and human rights advocates say could increase the flow of American-made military parts to the world’s conflicts and make it harder to enforce arms sanctions.
Come tomorrow, thousands of parts of military aircraft, such as propeller blades, brake pads and tires will be able to be sent to almost any country in the world, with minimal oversight – even to some countries subject to U.N. arms embargos. U.S. companies will also face fewer checks than in the past when selling some military aircraft to dozens of countries.
Critics, including some who’ve worked on enforcing arms export laws, say the changes could undermine efforts to prevent arms smuggling to Iran and others.
Brake pads may sound innocuous, but “the Iranians are constantly looking for spare parts for old U.S. jets,” said Steven Pelak, who recently left the Department of Justice after six years overseeing investigations and prosecutions of export violations.
“It’s going to be easier for these military items to flow, harder to get a heads-up on their movements, and, in theory, easier for a smuggling ring to move weapons,” said William Hartung, author of a recent report on the topic for the Center for International Policy.
In the current system, every manufacturer and exporter of military equipment has to register with the State Department and get a license for each planned export. U.S. officials scrutinize each proposed deal to make sure the receiving country isn’t violating human rights and to determine the risk of the shipment winding up with terrorists or another questionable group.
Under the new system, whole categories of equipment encompassing tens of thousands of items will move to the Commerce Department, where they will be under more “flexible” controls. Final rules have been issued for six of 19 categories of equipment and more will roll out in the coming months. Some military equipment, such as fighter jets, drones, and other systems and parts, will stay under the State Department’s tighter oversight.
Commerce will do interagency human rights reviews before allowing exports, but only as a matter of policy, whereas in the State Department it is required by law.
The switch from State to Commerce represents a big win for defense manufacturers, who have long lobbied in favor of relaxing U.S. export rules, which they say put a damper on international trade. Among the companies that recently lobbied on the issue: Lockheed, which manufactures C-130 transport planes, Textron, which makes Kiowa Warrior helicopters, and Honeywell, which outfits military choppers.
Overall, industry trade groups and big defense companies have spent roughly $170 million over the last three years lobbying on a variety of issues, including export control reform, a ProPublica analysis of disclosure forms shows.
The administration says in a factsheet that “spending time and resources protecting a specialty bolt diverts resources from protecting truly sensitive items,” and that the effort will allow them to build “higher fences around fewer items.” Commerce says it will beef up its enforcement wing to prevent illegal re-exports or shipments to banned entities. The military has also supported the relaxed controls, arguing that the changes will make it easier to arm foreign allies.

An interview with Commerce Department officials was canceled due to the government shutdown, and the State Department did not respond to questions.
The shift is part of a larger administration initiative to update the arms export process, which many acknowledge needed to be streamlined. But critics of the move to Commerce say that decision has been overly driven by the interests of defense manufacturers.
“They’ve cut through the fat, into the meat, and to the bone,” said Brittany Benowitz, who was defense adviser to former Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., and recently co-authored a paper on the pending changes.
“I think it’s fair to say that the views of the enforcement agencies and actors charged with carrying out the controls haven’t won the day,” said Pelak, the former Justice Department official.
Current controls haven’t prevented the U.S. from dominating arms exports up to now: In 2011, the U.S. concluded $66 billion in arms sales agreements, nearly 80 percent of the global market. The State Department denied just one percent of arms export licenses between 2008 and 2010.
At a recent hearing, a State Department official touted the economic benefits, saying the “defense industry is going to become even more competitive than they are already.”
Under the new policy, military helicopters, transport planes and other types of military equipment that typically need approval may be eligible for license-free export to 36 allied governments, including much of Europe, Argentina, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.
According to Colby Goodman, an arms-control expert with the Open Society Policy Center, once an item is approved for that exemption, it’s not clear that there will be any ongoing, country-specific human rights review. (The State Department hasn’t yet responded to our request for comment on that point.)
Goodman is particularly concerned about Turkey, where in the last year authorities violently suppressed protests and “security forces committed unlawful killings,” according to the most recent State Department Human Rights report.
Under the new system, some military parts can now be sent license-free to any country besides China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria. Other parts that are deemed not “specially designed” for military use, while also initially banned from those countries, have even fewer restrictions on re-exports.
Spare parts are in high demand from sanctioned countries and groups, which need them to keep old equipment up and running, according to arms control researchers. Indonesia scrambled to keep its C-130s in the air after the U.S. blocked exports for human rights violations in the 1990s. In a report on trade in arms parts, Oxfam noted that by the time of the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, Muammar Qaddafi’s air combat fleet was in dire shape, referred to by one analyst as “the world’s largest military parking lot.” Goodman said Congolese militia members may be using aging arms that the U.S. sold decades ago to the former Zaire.
Pelak says the changes will make enforcement harder by getting rid of part of the paper trail as parts and munitions exit the U.S.: “When you take away that licensing record, you put the investigation overseas.” His office handled dozens of cases each year in which military items had been diverted to prohibited countries. The Government Accountability Office raised concerns last year about Commerce’s enforcement abilities as it takes control of exports that once went through the State Department.
The president is authorized – in fact, required – to revise the list of items under State Department control. But the massive shift to Commerce means that laws and regulations that were designed with the longstanding State Department system in place may now be up to presidential prerogative.
Vetting for human rights compliance is one such requirement. The Commerce Department said it will also continue to publicly report the sales of so-called “major defense equipment.”
Other laws may not get carried over, however. For example, if firearms are moved to Commerce, manufacturers may no longer have to notify Congress of foreign sales.
Several organizations, including the Center for International Policy, the Open Society Policy Center, and the American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights, have called on the administration to hold off moving some military items from the State Department, and have asked Congress to apply State’s reporting requirements and restrictions to more of the military items and parts soon to be under Commerce control.
In one area, the administration does appear to have temporarily backed off – firearms and ammunition. Any decision to loosen exports for firearms could have conflicted with the president’s call for enhanced domestic gun control.
According to a memo obtained by the Wall Street Journal last spring, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security both opposed draft versions of revisions to the firearms category. (The Justice Department press office is out of operation due to the government shutdown, and the Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.) Shifting firearms was also likely to be a lightning rod for arms control groups. As the New York Times’ C.J. Chivers has documented, small arms trafficking has been the scourge of conflicts around the world.
Draft rules for firearms and ammunitions were ready in mid-2012, according to Lawrence Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group for gun manufacturers. The Commerce Department even sent representatives to an industry export conference to preview manufacturers on the new system they might fall under.
But since the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last December, no proposed rule has been published.
Keane thinks the connection is irrelevant. “This has nothing to do with domestic gun control legislation. We’re talking about exports,” he said. “Our products have not moved forward, and we’re disappointed by that.”
The defense industry has long pushed for a loosening of the U.S. export controls. Initial wish-lists were aimed at restructuring and speeding up the State Department system, where the wait for a license had sometimes stretched to months. The current focus on moving items to Commerce began under the Obama administration.
The aerospace industry has been particularly active, as new rules for aircraft are the first to take effect. Commercial satellites had been moved briefly to Commerce in the 1990s, but when U.S. space companies were caught giving technical data to China in 1998, Congress returned them to State control. Last year, satellite makers successfully lobbied Congress to lift satellite-specific rules that had kept them from being eligible for the reforms.
Newer industries want to cash in, too. Virgin Galactic wrote in a comment on a proposed rule that the “nascent but growing” space tourism industry was hindered by current rules. At a conference in 2011, the chief executive of Northrup Grumman warned of “the U.S. drone aircraft industry losing its dominance” if exports weren’t boosted. (Drones are regulated under missile technology controls, and are mostly unaffected by the current changes.)
Lauren Airey, of the National Association of Manufacturers, named two main objections to the current system. First off, fees: Any company that makes a product on the State Department list has to be registered whether or not they actually export, with yearly costs starting at $2,500. There’s no fee for the Commerce list.
Secondly, any equipment that contains a listed part gets “lifetime controls,” Airey said. If a buyer wants to resell something, even for scrap, they need U.S. approval. (For example, the U.S. is currently debating whether to let Turkey re-sell American attack helicopters to Pakistan.) Under Commerce, “there are still limitations, but they are more flexible,” Airey said.
Airey’s association (and other trade groups) makes the case that foreign competitors are “taking advantage of perceived and real issues in U.S. export controls to promote foreign parts and components – advertising themselves as State-Department-free.” Airey demurred when asked for an estimate on the amount of business lost: “It’s hard to put a number directly on how much export controls cause U.S. companies to be avoided.”
An Aerospace Industries Association executive noted at a panel this spring, “We really did not move the needle at all by complaining about the fact that we weren’t making as much money as we wanted to.”
But at a recent hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, members of Congress highlighted economic impact.
“In my district in Rhode Island,” said David Cicilline, D-R.I., “as many of our defense companies are looking to expand their business, really, to respond to declines in defense domestic spending, international sales are becoming even more important and really critical…to the job growth in my state.”
William Keating, D-Mass., said that “with declining defense budgets, arms sales are even more critical to the defense industry in my state to maintain production lines and keep jobs.”
“That would not have been the response a decade ago,” said one staffer who works on the issue. “National security hawks would have been worried about defense items moving to the Commerce list. The environment on the Hill has dramatically changed.”
One concern came from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which believes that easing controls on military technology and software could actually lead to more outsourcing of production.
William Lowell, who spent a decade of his 30 years at the State Department directing defense trade controls, told ProPublica that the move represents a major shift in the U.S. attitude towards international arms trade. U.S. policy has long been aimed at “denying the entry of U.S. military articles of any type into the international gray arms market – for which small arms and military parts are the lifeblood,” Lowell wrote in comments opposing the new rules. “Commercial arms exports have never been considered normal commercial trade.”
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U.N. Arms Trade Treaty...Not only would it violate Texans’ Second Amendment rights, including the right to self defense, it also raises U.S. sovereignty and national security concerns.

Senator John Cornyn
On 2 April 2013, the General Assembly adopted the landmark Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), regulating the international trade in conventional arms, from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships. The treaty will foster peace and security by putting a stop to destabilizing arms flows to conflict regions. It will prevent human rights abusers and violators of the law of war from being supplied with arms. And it will help keep warlords, pirates, and gangs from acquiring these deadly tools.

By Richard Solash
September 25, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has signed a landmark treaty at the UN General Assembly in New York aimed at regulating the multibillion-dollar global trade in conventional weapons. RFE/RL looks at how the Arms Trade Treaty works and why it is significant that the United States has signed the international accord.

What does the Arms Trade Treaty seek to do?

The UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) has the ambitious aim of responding to international concern that the $70 billion a year trade in conventional weapons leaves a trail of atrocities in its wake.

The treaty calls for the international sale of weapons to be linked to the human rights records of buyers.

It requires countries to establish regulations for selling conventional weapons.

It calls for potential arms deals to be evaluated in order to determine whether they might enable buyers to carry out genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.

The treaty also seeks to prevent conventional military weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists or organized criminal groups, and to stop deals that would violate UN arms embargos.

What is the significance of Washington's signature on the treaty?

Experts say that Washington's signature on the document could be the treaty's watershed moment.

The United States is the world's largest arms dealer. So U.S. support and ratification of the accord is essential to its success.

According to Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, formal support from the United States gives the treaty the potential to change the very nature of the global arms trade.

"The United States already has a very robust set of standards and export controls," he says. "This treaty essentially internationalizes the U.S. system and lays down some prohibitions on the transfer of conventional weapons. And this treaty will require all states to establish export laws, to enforce those export laws, and to abide by a common set of standards."

What types of conventional weapons deals does the Arms Trade Treaty seek to regulate?

Conventional weapons covered by the UN Arms Trade Treaty include tanks and other armored combat vehicles, artillery, attack helicopters, naval warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms.

It also establishes common international standards for the regulation of the international trade in ammunition, weapons parts, and arms components.

The treaty does not regulate the domestic sale or use of weapons in any country. It also recognizes the legitimacy of the arms trade to enable states to provide for their own security.

What enforcement clauses are contained in the treaty?

There is no clear enforcement mechanism in the UN Arms Trade Treaty. It also remains unclear whether the transfer of conventional weapons in ways other than sales -- for example, such as rental contracts or gifts -- would fall under the treaty.

Nevertheless, arms-control advocates hope the treaty will increase pressure on weapons exporters such as Russia -- which argues that arms sales to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime are permitted because Damascus is not under a UN arms embargo.

The West argues that Russia, a major player in the global arms trade, should stop sending weapons to the Syrian regime because Assad's security forces have used conventional military weaponry to kill tens of thousands of civilians caught up in the civil war.

Who supports the treaty and who doesn't?

The UN General Assembly voted decisively in April to approve the Arms Trade Treaty, ending nearly a decade of negotiations over how strict it should be.

UN members voted 154 to 3 in favor of the accord, with 23 countries abstaining.

Iran, North Korea, and Syria -- long accused of fueling international conflicts through arms shipments -- were the countries to vote against the treaty.

The United States voted in favor of the treaty, despite opposition from influential U.S. gun lobbyists.

The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, and Canada also voted for the treaty.

Former Soviet republics that voted for the treaty were Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and all three Baltic states.

Also voting yes were Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.

Russia and China, which are two of the world's leading exporters of conventional weaponry, were among the countries that abstained from the vote.

Others who abstained from the vote include Belarus, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Cuba, Burma, and Angola.

Several abstaining countries objected on grounds that the human rights criteria in the treaty are not defined clearly enough.

To date, 89 countries have signed the treaty, including the United States, which did so on September 25.

To take effect, it must be ratified by at least 50 UN member states. So far, just five countries have done so.

Italy became the first EU state to ratify the accord after it won parliamentary approval there on September 25.

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is a multilateral treaty that regulates the international trade in conventional weapons, which has not entered into force. International weapons commerce has been estimated to reach US$70 billion a year.[1]

The treaty was negotiated at a global conference under the auspices of the United Nations from July 2–27, 2012, in New York.[2] As it was not possible to reach an agreement on a final text at that time, a new meeting for the conference was scheduled for March 18–28, 2013.[3] On 2 April 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted the ATT.[4][5] The treaty has been signed by 113 states, but it will not enter into force until it has been ratified or acceded to by 50 states.

The roots of what is known today as the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) can be traced back to the late 1990s, when civil society actors and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates voiced their concerns about the unregulated nature of the global arms trade and its impact on human security.[7]

The ATT is part of a larger global effort begun in 1997 by Costa Rican President and 1987 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Óscar Arias. In that year, Arias led a group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates in a meeting in New York to offer the world a code of conduct for the trade in arms. This group included Elie Wiesel, Betty Williams, the Dalai Lama, José Ramos-Horta, representatives of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Amnesty International, and the American Friends Service Committee. The original idea was to establish ethical standards for the arms trade that would eventually be adopted by the international community. Over the following 16 years, the Arias Foundation for Peace & Human Progress has played an instrumental role in achieving approval of the treaty.

In 2001, the process continued with the adoption of a non-legally binding program of action at the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects in 2001. This program was formally called the “Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects” (PoA).[8]

Later put forward in 2003 by a group of Nobel Peace Laureates, the ATT was first addressed in the UN in December 2006 when the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 61/89 “Towards an Arms Trade Treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms”.

The arms trade treaty, like the PoA, is predicated upon a hypothesis that the illicit trade in small arms is a large and serious problem requiring global action through the UN. According to a well regarded 2012 Routledge Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution publication, "the relative importance of diversion or misuse of officially authorised transfers, compared to international entirely illegal black market trafficking has been thoroughly confirmed."[9] The authors go on to elaborate that "For most developing or fragile states, a combination of weak domestic regulation of authorised firearms possession with theft, loss or corrupt sale from official holdings tends to be a bigger source of weapons concern than illicit trafficking across borders."

The UN General Assembly of 2 April 2013 (71st Plenary Meeting) adopted the Arms Trade Treaty as a resolution by a 154-to-3 vote with 23 abstentions. North Korea, Iran, and Syria voted in opposition. China and Russia, among the world's leaders in weapon exports, were among the 23 nations that abstained.[21] Cuba, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan also abstained. Armenia, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Vietnam did not vote.[1] It was opened for formal signature on 3 June 2013.

"According to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the treaty will not do any of the following: interfere with domestic arms commerce or the right to bear arms in Member States; ban the export of any type of weapon; harm States' legitimate right to self-defence; or undermine national arms regulation standards already in place."

Opposition to the ATT can be broken down into state opposition and civil society opposition. Over thirty states have objected to various parts of the ATT during negotiations, the majority of which held strong concerns about the implications for national sovereignty.[citation needed] According to, the leading ATT negotiations tracking website,[citation needed] countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Egypt, and Iran have objected to many more aspects of the ATT than has the United States.

From a civil society point of view, groups concerned about national sovereignty or individual rights to armed defense have been negative of the ATT. While not fundamentally opposed to an ATT, these groups are keenly sensitive to ensuring an ATT does not undermine national constitutional protections and individual rights. The most vocal and organized civil society groups opposing objectionable aspects to the ATT originated from the United States. These groups include the International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR), the National Rifle Association (NRA), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and The Heritage Foundation. The NRA and the Gun Owners of America say that the treaty is an attempt to circumvent the Second Amendment and similar guarantees in state constitutions in order to impose domestic gun regulations.[24]

Perhaps the largest source of civil society opposition[vague] to the ATT has come from the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), which is the lobbying arm of the NRA. In July 2012 ILA wrote that:
"Anti-gun treaty proponents continue to mislead the public, claiming the treaty would have no impact on American gun owners. That's a bald-faced lie. For example, the most recent draft treaty includes export/import controls that would require officials in an importing country to collect information on the 'end user' of a firearm, keep the information for 20 years, and provide the information to the country from which the gun was exported. In other words, if you bought a Beretta shotgun, you would be an 'end user' and the U.S. government would have to keep a record of you and notify the Italian government about your purchase. That is gun registration. If the U.S. refuses to implement this data collection on law-abiding American gun owners, other nations might be required to ban the export of firearms to the U.S."[25]
Advocates of the treaty say that it only pertains to international arms trade, and would have no effect on current domestic laws.[26][27][28] These advocates point to the UN General Assembly resolution starting the process on the Arms Trade Treaty. The resolution explicitly states that it is “the exclusive right of States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through constitutional protections on private ownership.”

On 12 July 2012, the United States issued a statement condemning the selection of Iran to serve as vice president of the conference. The statement called the move "outrageous" and noted that Iran is under Security Council sanctions for weapons proliferation.

International non-government and human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Oxfam, the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, Saferworld and the International Action Network on Small Arms (who lead the Control Arms Campaign) have developed analysis on what an effective Arms Trade Treaty would look like.[30]

It would ensure that no transfer is permitted if there is substantial risk that it is likely to:
Loopholes would be minimized. It would include:
  • all weapons—including all military, security and police arms, related equipment and ammunition, components, expertise, and production equipment;
  • all types of transfer—including import, export, re-export, temporary transfer and transshipment, in the state sanctioned and commercial trade, plus transfers of technology, loans, gifts and aid; and
  • all transactions—including those by dealers and brokers, and those providing technical assistance, training, transport, storage, finance and security.
The Amnesty International website "loopholes" include shotguns marketed for deer hunting that are virtually the same as military/police shotguns and rifles marketed for long range target shooting that are virtually the same as military/police sniper rifles. AI advocates that the civilian guns must be included in any workable arms trade controls; otherwise, governments could authorize export/import of sporting guns virtually the same as military/police weapons in function.[31]

It must be workable and enforceable. It must:
  • provide guidelines for the treaty's full, clear implementation;
  • ensure transparency—including full annual reports of national arms transfers;
  • have an effective mechanism to monitor compliance;
  • ensure accountability—with provisions for adjudication, dispute settlement and sanctions;
  • include a comprehensive framework for international cooperation and assistance.
NGOs are also advocating that the Arms Trade Treaty must reinforce existing responsibilities to assist survivors of armed violence, as well as identify new avenues to address suffering and trauma.

The U.S. NGO Second Amendment Foundation has voiced concern that a multinational treaty limiting the firearms trade might infringe on the constitutional right of private firearm ownership for self-defense in the US and other countries.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution provides, in part, that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” In Reid v. Covert and many other cases, United States Supreme Court has “regularly and uniformly recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty.” In Reid, the Court held, in part, that:
No agreement with a foreign nation can confer power on the Congress, or any other branch of government, which is free from the restraints of the Constitution. Article VI, the Supremacy clause of the Constitution declares, ‘This Constitution and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all the Treaties made, or
which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law
of the land...’ Indeed, as the Second Amendment applies directly to the federal government, it logically extends to international treaties entered by the federal government and, thus, may not be circumvented by such a treaty.

The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty would violate the Second Amendment, as it broadly applies to “small arms and light weapons” which are owned and carried by millions of Americans. The treaty also contains provisions for “end user documentation” for a “minimum of ten years,” which potentially opens the door to an international gun registry. Such a proposal goes far beyond measures Americans have already rejected time after time.

Texas Conservative Coalition


Brian Jones Aug. 27, 2013, 10:29 AM 5,322 4

The international community is not happy with the United States and Saudi Arabia amid news that they have inked a deal for hundreds of millions of dollars of controversial and potentially unethical cluster bombs.
The $641 million deal would send 1,300 cluster bombs to America's closest ally on the Arabian Peninsula, through U.S. defense contractor Textron, according to a Pentagon release on the contract.
Cluster are controversial because they are by nature less accurate than more modern munitions. The Human Rights Watch page on cluster bombs puts it this way:
[Cluster munitions] pose an immediate threat during conflict by randomly scattering thousands of submunitions or "bomblets" over a vast area, and they continue to take even more civilian lives and limbs long after a conflict has ended, as hundreds of submunitions may fail to explode upon impact, littering the landscape with landmine-like "duds.
Presently, a treaty banning cluster bombs has been signed by 112 of the 192 member U.N. states. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are not signatory.
This comes as both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia criticize the violence that has waged on in Syria for more than two years.
Among a litany of human rights violations that include targeting civilians and using chemical weapons, the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria has also been accused of using cluster bombs.

The war on Syria has nothing to do with the welfare of the Syrian population, the chemical attack just a fabricated excuse

Top US arms makers are forecasting a significant rise in sales for the coming year - after a pretty solid 2012. Washington has been shifting its sights towards Asia - looking to arm its allies neighboring North Korea and China.

Independent journalist James Corbett says the US is creating a pretext to make billions from arms sales - which generate geopolitical tensions.

(CNN) -- Adam Lanza brought three weapons inside Sandy Hook Elementary school on December 14 and left a fourth in his car, police said. Those weapons were a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle and two handguns -- a Glock 10 mm and a Sig Sauer 9 mm.

In the car he left a shotgun, about which police have offered no details. Lanza used one of the handguns to take his own life, although police haven't said whether the gun was the Glock or the Sig Sauer.
In fact many details remain unknown about the weapons Lanza used that day to kill 20 children, his own mother, six other adults and then himself. Here's what is known so far:

Bushmaster AR-15 rifle

The primary weapon used in the attack was a "Bushmaster AR-15 assault-type weapon," said Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance. The rifle is a Bushmaster version of a widely made AR-15, the civilian version of the M-16 rifle used by the U.S. military. The original M-16 patent ran out years ago, and now the AR-15 is manufactured by several gunmakers. Unlike the military version, the AR-15 is a semiautomatic, firing one bullet per squeeze of the trigger. But like the M-16, ammunition is loaded through a magazine. In the school shooting, police say Lanza's rifle used numerous 30-round magazines.
An AR-15 is usually capable of firing a rate of 45 rounds per minute in semiautomatic mode.
Police didn't offer details about the specific model of the rifle Lanza used. A typical Bushmaster rifle, such as the M4 model, comes with a 30-round magazine but can use magazines of various capacities from five to 40 rounds. An M4 weighs about 6 ½ pounds and retails for about $1,300.
Under the 1994 federal ban on such weapons, buying some variants of new AR-15s was against the law. The ban expired in 2004.
Bushmaster is the No. 1 supplier of AR-15 rifles in the United States, according to the company website.
Their weapons are used by more than 100 police departments and by the militaries of 50 nations, according to Bushmaster. Private citizens use them for "hunting, recreation, competition and home defense and security," the website says.

Gun control: 'This one feels different'

Glock 10 mm handgun

Police haven't said what kind of Glock 10 mm handgun Lanza used. But Glock lists two types on its website, including the Glock 20 and Glock 29.
Lanza had "multiple magazines" for the Glock, Vance said. Such magazines are widely available.
The Glock 20 model has a 15-round magazine. Glock describes it as an ideal weapon for hunting because of its larger bullets, referred to as the ammunition's caliber.
The Glock 20 measures nearly 8 ¼ inches long and weighs about 2 ½ pounds when loaded, according to Glock's website.
Guns and Ammo magazine said of Glocks: "They point naturally, their triggers aren't too heavy ... but most importantly of all, they're reliable."

The Glock is among the more popular pistols sold in the United States.

The Glock semi-automatic was developed in 1982 for the Austrian army. It was not envisioned that it would be bought by millions of citizens. It is not in fact bought by millions of civilians anywhere but in the United States. The gun should not be singled out for demonization; there are lots of semi-automatic pistols, and lots of semi-automatic rifles, and all of them are widespread and legal in the United States.

“The Austrian military made an announcement in 1980 that it would be replacing the Walther P38 handgun – a WWII era weapon. Their Ministry of Defense outlined the basic criteria for this new service pistol. In 1982, Glock learned Austrian Army’s plan to procure a new weapon and begin assembling a team of European experts in the handgun field. He chose a variety of people – including some from the military, some from the police force and he even chose civilians involved in sport shooting.”
It wasn’t long before Glock had his first working prototype. Between Glock’s use of synthetic materials and the newer production technology, the design was very cost effective, making it a viable candidate. The Glock 17 (so-named as it was the company’s 17th patent) passed every endurance and abuse test and was chosen over a number of pistol designs from well-known manufacturers to be the official replacement of the Walther P38. Both military and police forces in Austria adopted the Glock 17 (aka: P80 – Pistole 80) into service in 1982. Many consider the Glock-17 one of the top pistols of all time.”
But here’s the kicker:
 ” Within its first 10 years, this pistol reached sales in excess of 350,000 in over 45 countries; the U.S. alone accounting for 250,000 of that total. “
So here is what happened: in the first ten years, 100,000 of these guns were sold to militaries and police in Europe, and then the rest went to the civilians and police of the United States. The US took 71% of all Glocks in their first decade, even though the US army rejected them. The US is peculiar.

Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun

The other handgun police said Lanza had with him during the school massacre was a Sig Sauer. Authorities didn't say what kind, but possibilities include the P226, P229 or P250, P290, and if it was an older pistol, possibly the P220. The 9 mm P220 is no longer sold in the United States
Like the Glock, Lanza's Sig Sauer also allowed a high-capacity magazine, Vance said. Lanza used "multiple magazines" that are widely available to feed ammunition to the Sig Sauer, Vance said. Sig Sauer makes 9 mm pistol magazines with a maximum capacity of 20 bullets.
And like the Glock, Vance said the Sig Sauer handgun was a semiautomatic.
The P226 has a 15-round magazine, measures 7 ¾ inches and costs about $1,142, according to Sig Sauer's website. They can be found cheaper at some gun shops.

The Handguns magazine website says of the P226: "Adopted by the [Navy] SEALs nonetheless, it has proven to be durable, reliable, accurate and adaptable. What it has not had a reputation for is compactness."

How America is Filling up itself and the World With Guns

Posted on 12/17/2012 by Juan Cole

It turns out that the Newtown shooter used a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle and he had lots of thirty-round high-capacity clips for it. Authorities have revealed that each of the 20 children and six adults he killed was shot multiple times, but given the number of clips Lanza brought with him, the number of victims could have been much, much higher. The Federal ban on weapons such as the Bushmaster, in place 1994-2004, was allowed to lapse by the George W. Bush administration and his Republican Congress, all of whom received massive campaign donations from the gun lobby. There is a Connecticut ban, but the maker of the Bushmaster used a loophole in the poorly written state law to continue to sell the gun in the state. The Bushmaster is manufactured by a subsidiary of the Wall Street hedge fund, Cerberus Capital Management, called the “Freedom Group”– which also owns Remington and DPMS Firearms. It is the largest single maker of semi-automatic rifles in the US, and they are expected to be a major growing profit center in the coming years. The Freedom Group was sued over the Washington, DC, sniper attacks, and paid $500,000 without admitting culpability.
So, the hedge funds are doing us in every which way.
But the weird idea of letting people buy military weaponry at will, with less trouble than you would have to buy a car, is only one manifestation of America’s cult of high-powered weaponry.
In 2011, US corporations sold 75% of all the arms sold in the international weapons market, some $66 billion of the $85 billion trade. Russia was the runner-up with only $4 billion in sales.
Saudi Arabia bought F-15s and Apache and Blackhawk helicopters. Oman bought F-16s. The UAE got a missile shield. And, of course, Israel gets very sophisticated weapons from the US, as well.
The US share of the arms trade to the Middle East has burgeoned so much in the past decade that it now dwarfs the other suppliers, as this chart [pdf] from a Congressional study makes clear.

The University of Michigan “Correlates of War” project, run by my late colleague David Singer, tried to crunch numbers on potential causes of the wars of the past two centuries. Getting a statistically valid correlation for a cause was almost impossible. But there was one promising lead, as it was explained to me. When countries made large arms purchases, they seemed more likely to go to war in the aftermath. It may be that if you have invested in state of the art weapons, you want to use them before they become antiquated or before your enemies get them too.
So the very worst thing the US could do for Middle East peace is to sell the region billions in new, sophisticated weapons.
Moreover if you give sophisticated conventional weapons to some countries but deny them to their rivals, the rivals will try to level the playing field with unconventional weapons. The US is creating an artificial and unnecessary impetus to nuclear proliferation by this policy.
I first went to Pakistan in 1981. At that time it was not a society with either drugs or guns. But President Ronald Reagan decided to use private Afghan militias to foment a guerrilla war against the Soviets, who sent troops into Afghanistan in late 1979. Reagan ended up sending billions of dollars worth of arms to the Mujahidin annually, and twisting Saudi Arabia’s arm to match what the US sent. The Mujahidin were also encouraged by the US to grow poppies for heroin production so that they could buy even more weapons.
Over the decade of the 1980s, I saw the weapons begin to show up in the markets of Pakistan, and began hearing for the first time about drug addicts (there came to be a million of them by 1990). I had seen the arms market expand in Lebanon in the 1970s, and was alarmed that now it was happening in Pakistan, at that time a relatively peaceful and secure society. The US filled Pakistan up with guns to get at the Soviets, creating a gun culture where such a thing had been rare (with the exception of some Pashtuns who made home-made knock-offs of Western rifles). Ultimately the gun culture promoted by Reagan came back to bite the US on the ass (not to mention Afghanistan and Pakistan!) And not to mention the drugs.
Now the US views Pakistan as peculiarly violent, and pundits often blame it on Islamism. But no, it is just garden-variety Americanism. You’re welcome.

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