After last weekend’s release of the Barr memo, aka, Attorney General William Barr’s attempt at condensing two years and hundreds of pages into just four, Donald Trump feels empowered. According to Barr, the report didn’t exactly exonerate Trump, but that’s Trump’s takeaway, regardless.
The newly emboldened Trump is taking the opportunity to level a whole new spate of cruelty on the American people. Most notably, he’s pushing for the courts to take health insurance away from more than 20 million Americans. The administration even tried pulling funding from the Special Olympics. Fortunately, the political fallout was a bit too much, and Trump reversed course and threw his Education Secretary under the bus.
As you might expect, several recent Trump administration actions are flying right under the radar. One that should terrify the entire world is a recent move by Energy Secretary Rick Perry. According to a document seen by Reuters, Perry secretly authorized the sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, the country that 15 of the 9/11 hijackers called home.
The deal puts the United States in competition with Russia and South Korea (among other countries) for a deal which would provide nuclear power technology, but not equipment, to the Saudis, who plan to build two nuclear power plants. The winner of the contract will be announced later in the year.
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said in the document that the companies had requested that the Trump administration keep the approvals secret. “In this case, each of the companies which received a specific authorization for (Saudi Arabia) have provided us written request that their authorization be withheld from public release,” the NNSA said in the document.
Perry’s approvals, known as Part 810 authorizations, allow companies to do preliminary work on nuclear power ahead of the deal, but not ship equipment that would go into a plant, a source with knowledge of the agreements said on condition of anonymity. The approvals were first reported by the Daily Beast.
If you breathed a little sigh of relief learning the proposed deal is for nuclear power, and not nuclear weapons, remember that Republicans have been beating the war drums over Iran’s nuclear power program for decades. It’s worth noting that the U.S. supplied Iran with their very first nuclear reactor. Maybe in this case, we shouldn’t let history repeat itself?
Iran, and their possible reaction, is one of the major concerns expressed by Democrats. This could easily lead to a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS last year that the kingdom would develop nuclear weapons if its rival Iran did. In addition, the kingdom has occasionally pushed back against agreeing to U.S. standards that would block two paths to potentially making fissile material for nuclear weapons clandestinely: enriching uranium and reprocessing spent fuel.
Saudi Arabia’s human rights record paints the picture of a savage regime that has little regard for human life. Since 2015, the Saudis have bombarded Yemen with attacks, killing thousands, if not more, civilians. Saudi citizens enjoy no freedom of speech. Women rank only slightly above dogs, and they’re not fans of our four-legged friends.
Lest we forget that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earned the nickname of Prince Bone Saw after we learned that he ordered the savage killing and dismembering of Washington Post journalist and United States resident, Jamal Khashoggi.
After 9/11, the United States turned a blind eye to Saudis’ involvement. The Obama administration walked a fine line between appeasing the Saudis and cracking the whip. But no one has been cozier with the Saudi Royal Family than the Trump Royal Family in training. The administration’s refusal to denounce Khashoggi’s murder made even some Republicans feel queazy.
Now, some in Congress are citing the Khashoggi murder and other human rights violations as the reason the offer to sell nuclear technology is potentially devastating to the world.
“If you cannot trust a regime with a bone saw, you should not trust them with nuclear weapons,” (Rep. Brad) Sherman (R-CA) said, referring to reports from the Turkish government that Saudi agents used a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi after he was killed last year.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a member of the Armed Services Committee, told Perry it was “a bad idea to even consider passing on nuclear technology to the Saudi government,” given the possible role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Khashoggi’s murder.Source: Time
Appealing to the humanity of an administration that locks children in cages is a bit futile, though.
Some lawmakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), question why the deal is coming from the Energy Department, instead of State. Many wonder why the administration went behind Congress’ back.
The answer seems to be about as Trumpian as it gets. It allegedly involves corporatism, Russia, and a now convicted felon. I’ll let you read this whopper by the Washington Post’s Paul Waldman yourself, but here’s just a bit.
It stars a cast of familiar and not-so-familiar characters — including former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump buddy and billionaire investor Tom Barrack, and even Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.
The op-ed goes on to mention a company called IP3 International, which is described as a private company that assembled a consortium of companies itching to sell nuclear technology to the Saudis. One of those companies is Westinghouse.
Flynn, who pled guilty for lying to the FBI, worked as an advisor to IP3 at the very same time he worked as Trump’s national security advisor. He, and some of his Russian business partners, advocated for the deal the entire time he worked for Trump.
Then there’s Tom Barrack, one of Trump’s billionaire buddies and campaign donors. Barrack was looking into buying a large share of Westinghouse while Flynn advocated for the deal.
Trump’s own family seems to be involved as well. The eventual buyers of that Westinghouse stock bailed out his son-in-law.
In January 2018, Brookfield Business Partners, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management, announced its plans to acquire Westinghouse Electric for $4.6 billion. Westinghouse Electric is the bankrupt nuclear services company that is part of IP3’s proposed consortium to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, and which stands to benefit from the Middle East Marshall Plan. In August 2018, Brookfield Asset Management purchased a partnership stake in 666 Fifth Avenue, a building owned by Jared Kushner’s family company.
If you recall, 666 Fifth Avenue was the building that almost broke the Kushner family. To get out of it, the Trump administration might have struck the deal that could take down the world.