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Tanks Used in Egypt Made in the USA

February 11, 2011

(This article is re-posted from OpenSecrets.)

Foreign Policy magazine recently revealed how Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and ex-Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) introduced a resolution last July to press Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak toward more free and fair elections. After a series of meetings between lobbyists representing the government of Egypt and key U.S. senators, the bill was stalled, and then in November, two anonymous Democratic senators placed secret holds on the resolution and ended its chances of moving forward to a vote.

A number of articles have emerged over Egypt’s lobbying efforts in the United States, showing the complexities and ironies of foreign policy. Let’s go through the process.

Egypt pays the lobbying firm PLM $1.1 million a year to secure and enhance the “interests of Egypt in the United States in the political, economic, military and other fields” according to a 2007 contract. PLM consists of Tony Podesta, president of the Podesta Group and brother of former Bill Clinton chief of staff; former representative Bob Livingston (R-La.); and former representative Toby Moffett (D-Conn.).

Every year, the United States sends more than $1 billion to Egypt and much of it comes back in military contracts. For example, the M1A1 battle tanks seen in Tahrir Square are built in America by General Dynamics, a defense contractor that is also Podesta’s lobbying client. According to an NPR interview with Sunlight Foundation‘s Bill Allison, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) was active in preventing the aforementioned resolution from moving forward but also benefited from an $800 million deal with Egypt to build four fast missile ships in his state.

In a statement to Politico, Wicker makes it clear that he did not oppose the resolution and was not happy with the process, saying, “[I] wanted to make sure that it was given due diligence, and I made suggestions to improve the resolution.” A Senate Republican aide said the shipbuilding contract never came up in his discussions with Wicker.


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