On Monday President Barack Obama issued a memorandum instructing the Secretary of State that he authorized the Export Import Bank to loan Vietnam nearly $126 million. In the memo, President Obama insists that making the loan was “in the national interest of the United States.”
Specifically, the money is earmarked for use by the Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), a company completely owned and controlled by the Communist government, to cover the cost of parts and labor for a high-tech television and telecommunications satellite manufactured by Maryland-based aerospace and defense contractor, Lockheed Martin.
According to figures released by the United Nations in 2007, VNPT is the second-largest company in Vietnam. For its part, Lockheed Martin is an enormous enterprise, employing more than 123,000 people worldwide with 74 percent of its revenue coming from military contracts.
Per applicable provisions of the Export Import Bank Act of 1945, the President must personally approve any loan of more than $50 million to any country ruled by a communist regime. The Act provides that the President may only sign off on such a loan after determining that the loan would serve American interests.
There is little doubt that the loan serves the interest of Lockheed Martin. The sale of that satellite will bring a tidy sum to the company, much of which will no doubt be funneled right back to Congress and the White House.
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