22 June 2011

Wikileaks, American Diplomacy and BAE.


A few years ago the US Dept of Justice decided to investigate BAE, who used to be British Aerospace, for bribing Saudi Princes (among others) for defence contracts.

I have absolutely no doubt that BAE actually did hand over bags of cash, but I always suspected the real motive for the US investigation is that BAE handed over more cash than the US companies did.

I was hoping that something would appear from Wikileaks along this line eventually, I've not kept up with the Wikileak releases, as I have to admit all the drama with the Wikileaks organization and the various newspapers does get rather tiresome.

Today Rania Khalek wrote on Alternet a story of how US Diplomats are working as agents of US Corporations
Here is the part I like best :-

In late 2006, then President George W. Bush wrote a personal letter he had hand-delivered to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, practically begging the king to buy as many as 43 Boeing jets to modernize Saudi Arabian Airlines and 13 jets for the Saudi royal fleet.

King Abdullah responded by asking the US government and President Bush to trick out his private airplane with the same high-tech equipment used on Air Force One. He hinted that if the US fulfilled his request, he would make a large purchase of Boeing planes for the royal family's fleet and Saudi Arabian Airlines. And lo and behold, King Abdullah got his airplane upgrade, and Boeing made billions.

Now of course there is no actual cash changing hands, it's swapping goods so there is no money trail. Maybe this is where BAE went wrong, possibly suggesting a new jet, or fitting out of the old one, would have been a bit less troublesome.

Eventually the US Dept of Justice got about $US400 Million in fines from BAE

The scandal provoked quite a bit of a argument at an OECD meeting, with the usual suspects taking sides. The French were almost certainly angry not selling their own jets.

But why is it surprising that Diplomats act as salesmen for their country? It's certainly been going on for a long time, not only that but a  front page incident in Australia from 1995 was about a joint Australia USA mission to bug the Chinese Embassy in Canberra.
This was before the Web was mainstream so there are no copies of the paper online, but the newspapers of the day said this was actually leaked by ASIO, as the Americans where passing commercial intelligence to  US businesses, and using it to undermine Australian business in China. ASIO asked them to stop, and of course the US denied it all.

EDIT:- The point of it all? I wonder who in the US will chase all these diplomats with the same rules as they did BAE? 

Diplomacy means the art of nearly deceiving all your friends, but not quite deceiving all your enemies.
- Kofi Busia 

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