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Waxman: U.S. Embassy Tried To Cover Up Source Of Chinese Ammo

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), in a letter today to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said the U.S. Embassy in Albania tried to cover up the fact that a U.S. military contractor was illegally supplying the government with old Chinese-made ammunition for use by Afghan Army forces.

Waxman's investigation began after the New York Times ran a March 27 story on AEY, Inc., an American military contractor, and its owner,  Efraim Diveroli, regarding allegations that the firm was illegally supplying nearly $300 million worth of Chinese-made ammunition to Afghan forces under a U.S. government contract. Diveroli and three other men have now been indicted on charges of conspiracy and lying to federal officials.

According to Waxman, the U.S. Embassy officials in Tirana were aware of that the ammo, manufactured between 1964 and 1972, actually came from China, although AEY certified that it was made in Hungary. Buying ammunition from China would be a violation of U.S. law. You can read Waxman's full letter to Rice here. These are excerpts from the letter:

"On June 9, 2008, Committee staff interviewed Major Larry Harrison, the Chief of the
Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Albania. According to Major Harrison:

• On November 19, 2007, the U.S. Ambassador to Albania [John L. Withers, II] and his top aides met with the Albanian Defense Minister to discuss how to respond to a request by the New York Times  to visit a site in Albania where a U.S. arms contractor, AEY, Inc., was removing Chinese ammunition from its original packaging before sending it to Afghanistan.

• As a result of discussions that went late into the night, the Albanian Defense Minister
ordered one of his top generals to remove all evidence of Chinese packaging before the
site was inspected the following day. Major Harrison told the Committee: "the
ambassador agreed that this would alleviate the suspicion of wrongdoing."

• At the time of this meeting, AEY was under investigation for illegal arms trafficking
involving Chinese ammunition. Major Harrison told the Committee that he did not agree
with the decision to remove the Chinese markings and felt ' very uncomfortable' during
the meeting."

All of this took place shortly before a NYT reporter was supposed to visit the site where the ammunition was stored.
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