A Liberator pistol appears on July 11, 2013 next to the 3D printer on which its components were made. A State Department nomination that should have been a victory lap for the Trump administration’s efforts to boost U.S. arms sales abroad instead has become caught up in a controversy over 3D firearms.
A State Department nomination that should have been a victory lap for that Trump administration’s efforts to enhance U.S. arms sales abroad instead has become caught up in an outside domestic controversy, likely for weeks to come.
Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey includes a “hold” on R. Clarke Cooper, that is nominated because the next assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, until the Trump administration reverses a decision allowing a company from posting blueprints online for 3D-printed guns.
Cooper would oversee State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, that’s in the center of law suit on the gun blueprints. Mainly, Cooper could be involved in linking the Defense Department with the State Department in areas including international security, military operations and defense strategy. (Though industry watchers have dinged State for a 30 percent vacancy rate with the directorate.)
Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson, an early national security advisor to Vice President Mike Pence, was named in April along with other political appointees at the assistant secretary tier are already seated in recent weeks. Cooper would replace Tina Kaidanow, a job foreign service officer and the acting assistant secretary for political-military affairs.
A diplomat within the Bush administration and combat veteran, Cooper is director of intelligence preparing for Joint Special Operations Command’s Joint Inter-Agency Task Force – National Capital Region, based on a White House bio.
It’s not mentioned inside the bio, but Cooper was chief of Log Cabin Republicans when it challenged the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policies toward gay troops.
Aside from President Donald Trump’s personal support for international arms deals, his administration has recently rolled out new policies to emphasize the main advantages of such sales for the U.S. economy: the Conventional Arms Transfer policy and policies governing the international sale, transfer and subsequent usage of U.S.-origin military and civil unmanned aerial systems.
American weapons sales have hit record highs lately. In the first 2 quarters on this fiscal year, the U.S. has signed $46.9 billion in weapons sales to foreign partners and allies, smashing past the $41.9 billion figure all of fiscal 2017.
At Cooper’s confirmation hearing Aug. 1, Democrats fretted that human rights would get lost inside the administration’s pursuit of deals, noting that this new Conventional Arms Transfer Policy deemphasized a person’s rights records of state recipients of U.S. security assistance.
“I want U.S. companies to be able to sell the things they produce anywhere in the world, when we sell it off for an end-user, a country, which utilizes it outside of internationally recognized standards and applicable law, that’s a challenge, because then we’re complicit within it,” said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s ranking member, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.
“Human rights are not just a good gesture, they’re absolutely important to peace, justice, and the spread of democracy, and thus stability all over the world. We have to ask why we being a nation what we want America to be: A beacon of hope for that oppressed, or simply the largest arms merchant towards the world?”
For his part, Cooper testified that human rights are “a moral and legal obligation for us to consider” in security assistance decisions. “It is a component of each sale every transfer, it is a broader consideration when we’re taking a look at any pursuit that is representative of our security interest but in addition in our values,” he was quoted saying.
Separately, congressional Democrats are pressuring Trump to reverse a decision to allow for downloadable-gun promoter Defense Distributed to discharge blueprints to produce untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed plastic guns.
A federal judge late last month stopped the corporation behind the plans after eight Democratic attorneys general filed a lawsuit seeking to block funds between the business and also the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls that will allow the blueprints being posted.
“I appreciate that you aren’t the person who made this plan, however are asking us to ensure you to definitely a position where you’ll be defending the indefensible,” Markey told Cooper at his confirmation hearing.
“Until the President agrees to reverse this insurance policy and prohibit the web publication of these dangerous blueprints a conclusion that’s entirely within his authority I want to place a hang on your nomination.”
A senator may place a friendly “hold” on the nomination, blocking quick confirmation, nevertheless the decision to honor it is going to ultimately be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.