Last week, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking a simple question: why is the State Department playing politics and appeasing Brazil at the expense of American jobs and American security?
The State Department has yet to provide a convincing answer. Late last year, American aerospace manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft was abruptly disqualified from a competition for a high-profile defense contract – specifically, construction of light support aircraft to be deployed to Afghanistan.
Hawker was not told why they were suddenly disqualified from the bidding process. Nor were they told that their only competitor in the bidding process, Brazilian-owned Embraer, had been secretly awarded the contract. So, why did the Air Force, without public explanation, side with a foreign-owned company to construct a vital national security project, when thousands of American jobs were at stake?
More importantly, how did the State Department sit idly by and watch this happen?
These are the questions Representative Pompeo set out to answer in his letter to Secretary Clinton, which came on the heels of an internal investigation by the Air Force into its awarding of the contract to Embraer.
Hawker Beechcraft, upon learning of its unfair treatment at the hands of the Pentagon, sued the government, asking for a review of the decision-making process. In February, the Air Force released an official statement that after a lengthy internal review, the USAF was cancelling the contract with Embraer and restarting the competition, citing issues with the “quality of the documentation supporting the decision.” Two months later, the Air Force changed its tune, implying that the evaluation process itself, not just the documentation, was faulty. So Hawker Beechcraft’s confusion and concern were ultimately justified.
All of this, however, leads to an alarming possibility that the Brazilian government, which has repeatedly objected to U.S. national security issues, openly criticized the War on Terror, and sided with the Iranian regime time and again, has some sort of undue influence with our nation’s political and military leaders. The decision to award Embraer came at a time when Boeing is competing against French and Swedish aerospace manufacturers for a high-profile Brazilian defense contract. One angry Brazilian official responded that the cancellation of the LAS contract would “be taken into account” when their government awards their own contract in the future.
Brazil’s Embraer has openly admitted that this contract was not about supplying our military with the tools it needs, but about getting their own “seal of credibility” to sell military aircraft elsewhere; in Embraer CEO’s own words, “Most important for us is the seal of credibility of selling to the US Air Force…you have this potential recognition by other potential customers in the world." Judging by Brazil’s relationship with Iran, those “potential customers” could be those who wish to harm Americans and American interests abroad.
Unfortunately for the Obama administration, this isn’t about defense. It’s about politics – and politics should have no place in how our own government awards vital national security projects. Yet from the beginning, the Obama administration has been seemingly determined to play the politics of appeasement.
The administration unfairly disqualified a capable American company without explanation, while denying the American people thousands of good-paying defense jobs – all while outsourcing a national security project to a company owned by a foreign government that has publicly objected to U.S. foreign policy goals.
If Americans are going to have faith in the integrity of our Air Force’s competitive bidding process, they need to start answering questions about how this award was mishandled – and the State Department needs to reassure the American people that that the political interests of foreign nations are not placed before the national security interests of our citizens here at home.