WASHINGTON (Oct. 29)
A Defense Department statement that it cannot obtain guarantees from the Saudi Arabian government for non-discriminatory treatment of American companies was described by two investigating Senators as meaning “the Department is condoning unlawful hiring and business practices,” in the United States.
Sens. Frank Church (D. Id.), chairman, and Clifford P. Case (R. NJ), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Multinational Corporations, had written Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger that they “do not find it acceptable that U.S. contractors, in bidding on projects being administered by the Corps of Engineers (U.S. Army), have to accede to the Saudi Arabian requirement of submitting a certificate of their religious affiliation or their commercial relations with Israel, can still be excluded from competing for Saudi projects.”
Responding for Schlesinger, Assistant Secretary of Defense H. Minton Francis, said that the Saudi Arabian Embassy still requires such evidence and that “obtaining guarantees from the Saudi Arabian government” for non-discriminatory treatment “lies beyond the authority and influence” of the Defense Department.
Writing again to Schlesinger in correspondence revealed Monday, Church and Case said that Francis’ letter was “not responsive to the concerns we raised” and that his reply “conveys a disturbing impression that the Department has chosen to sanction the discriminatory practices of other countries even when they directly affect U.S. citizens.”
Church and Case wrote that “It is our intention to subject future foreign military sales contracts which carry these discriminatory provisions to intensive Congressional consideration.” A contract for $1.5 billion recently was allowed to go into effect when it was not disapproved directly within 20 days by Congress.