Defense Department must cut ties to Syria weapons supplier

Rosoboronexport has now sold over $4 billion in weaponry to the Syrian regime to assist with its massacre of its own people. The U.S. is providing $375 million in Department of Defense contracts to the very same company, at the same time. According to reports, there are options for $550 million in additional purchases, raising the total value to nearly $1 billion. This is unconscionable and must end immediately. The death toll of those on the receiving end of Rosoboronexport weapons, and other lethal munitions at the hands of the Syrian government, is quickly approaching 8,000.
 

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Recent reports confirm that Russian weapons have been found at the site of ongoing atrocities in the Syrian city of Homs. In January 2012, Rosoboronexport signed a deal with Syria to sell 36 combat jets capable of hitting ground targets. Most recently, the head of the company openly expressed his intention to continue supplying arms to Syria.
 
The Defense Department should stop keeping such bad company.
 
When I was a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and its Procurement Subcommittee,  I took Congressional oversight of Pentagon spending quite seriously. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s scheduled appearance before Senate Armed Services committee on Wednesday, March 7 to discuss Syria offers a necessary opportunity to ask tough questions about these contracts that contradict U.S. policy on Syria. Whatever the response, both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees should address this issue in their forthcoming Defense authorization bills.  
 
While it is true that you cannot legislate common sense, sometimes – when common sense seems nowhere to be found – you have to try.