WASHINGTON — The State Department did not implement its own policies to fully assess and mitigate the risk of civilian casualties when it declared a national security emergency authorizing the transfer of sophisticated U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia last year, the department’s inspector general has found.

The report, released Tuesday, also concluded that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo followed legal requirements in certifying the emergency over bipartisan congressional objections to the $8 billion sale, which also included some armaments to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

That conclusion was emphasized in a prerelease briefing for reporters Monday by a senior State Department official. “The big takeaway” from the report, the official said, was “that the Secretary used these authorities in accordance with the law.”

But much of the report focuses on human rights concerns that Congress raised in attempting to hold up the sales and requesting the investigation in the first place. The office of the inspector general declined to comment Tuesday.

A U.N. report issued in September said the United States may be complicit in potential war crimes in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed rebels has been accused of intentionally starving Yemenis as a tactic of war and killing thousands of civilians in airstrikes carried out with U.S.-supplied precision-guided munitions. Human rights organizations have made similar charges.

At the time of the review, the report said, “coalition air strikes in Yemen continued to result in high rates of civilian casualties and damage to civilian sites.”

Because the Arms Export Control Act does not define the word “emergency,” the report said, the investigation did not evaluate whether Pompeo’s stated reason – aggression from Iran – constituted one. But in making the emergency declaration, it said, the State Department did not meet other requirements to “fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties and legal concerns associated with the transfer of” precision-guided munitions.

The Monday briefer, in response to a question, said the report included “a recommendation that State implement additional mitigation measures to reduce the risk of U.S. origin defense articles … contributing civilian harm, reducing the risk of civilian harm. So we agree with that, of course.”

But details of the investigation’s findings and the department’s response to the civilian casualty concerns were not part of the public release. They were instead part of a classified annex to the report, following a claim of “executive branch confidentiality interests, including executive privilege,” according to a cover letter signed by acting inspector general Diana Shaw.

Some parts of the annex, provided to Congress, were “inappropriately redacted,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said in a Tuesday letter to committee members. He said he would seek a reversal of the blackouts.

Parts of the publicly released report were also blacked out, including those related to the timing of Pompeo’s emergency declaration. According to an unredacted copy obtained by The Washington Post, State Department staff members first proposed the use of the emergency authority to bypass congressional restrictions on April 3, 2019, nearly two months before Pompeo, on May 24, told Congress that emergency action was required.

The following month, Assistant Secretary of State Clarke Cooper indicated to lawmakers that the unspecified emergency had arisen days before Pompeo’s declaration.

Other redactions deal with when the weapons were actually provided. According to blacked-out portions of the report, at the time of the review last fall, four of 22 arms transfers included in the emergency had been transferred. “Precision-guided munitions were among the first items delivered,” one redaction said.

Delivery of 11 of the 22 was scheduled to begin before the end of 2019, and five “would not begin delivery until 2020 or later,” according to redacted portions. In a letter to the inspector general, attached to the report, Cooper said that “the Certification itself was perhaps the most major ‘deliverable,’ ” apparently as a reflection of administration support for the Saudis.

During a visit to Saudi Arabia in spring 2017, his first trip abroad, President Trump hailed what he said was Riyadh’s agreement to purchase U.S. weapons worth $110 billion. Although Trump has repeatedly resisted any attempt to limit the sales, total Saudi purchases have been far below that number.

While the administration is legally bound to notify Congress of arms transfers, only a veto-proof majority vote of the House and Senate can stop them. Bipartisan majorities had repeatedly voiced concern over weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, both because of the Yemen situation and the Saudi killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. While majorities voted not to permit the emergency transfer, Trump vetoed the measure.

The report also noted that the department had “regularly” approved the shipment of components of weapons identical to some of those listed in the emergency without congressional notification, under a “threshold” exception provided in the arms export law.

Congressional ire over the sales rose last spring, when Trump, at Pompeo’s request, fired Steve Linick, who had served as inspector general since 2013. Linick’s successor as acting inspector general, Stephen Akard, resigned last week after a few months in the post and was replaced by Shaw, his deputy.

In focusing on the legality of Pompeo’s emergency declaration and playing down what the report said about civilian casualties, Engel said the Monday briefer, whom he identified as Cooper, was trying to “pre-spin” the findings in “an attempt to distract and mislead.”

The report noted that under the Trump administration’s Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, issued in April 2018, “the United States seeks to reduce the risk that supplying U.S. defense articles and services to foreign allies and partners will harm civilians.” Consistent with international law, it said, the policy “expressly prohibits the Department from approving arms transfers in cases where the United States has knowledge that the transferred arms will be used to commit attacks intentionally directed against civilians.”

The policy, it said, is the same as that of the Obama administration, with the addition of the word “intentionally” for attacks directed at civilians.

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