A U.S. House of Representatives committee says the U.S. embassy in
Albania approved action to conceal the illegal Chinese origins of
ammunition being shipped by a U.S. contractor from Albania to
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said it has
information that the U.S. ambassador to Albania, John Withers, agreed
last year to the removal of all evidence of Chinese packaging from an
ammunition storage site, ahead of a visit by a New York Times reporter.
The letter says the decision was made during a late-night meeting with
Albania's Defense Minister Fatmir Mediu.
The committee is
holding a hearing Tuesday on allegations surrounding the arms dealer in
question, AEY, Incorporated, including questions about its $300
million contract with U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
At the time of the alleged cover-up, AEY was under investigation for illegal arms trafficking in Chinese ammunition.
Last week, the U.S. Justice Department indicted AEY and its top officials on 71 counts of fraud and related charges.
Last March, the U.S. defense department suspended AEY from future government defense work.
U.S. law prohibits the acquisition of ammunition that was made in China.
Tuesday's hearing, the oversight committee's chairman Henry Waxman said
the AEY contract shows the Defense Department's procurement process
is dysfunctional, citing the failure of officials to check the dealer's
poor track record.