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US company provides tear gas to Egyptian police

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Friday, January 28, 2011 22:34 EDT
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The tear gas being used by police to disperse protesters in Cairo, Egypt was made in America, according to a television news report.

The labels on canisters say that the tear gas was produced by Combined Systems International (CSI) of Jamestown, Pa., Egyptian protesters with photographic proof told ABC News Friday.

These “Made in the USA” canisters were reportedly first discovered when U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called for the Egyptian government to not use violence against the protesters.

Egypt annually receives $1.3 billion in military aid from the United States. However, CSI’s brand of tear gas is also purchased by foreign nations other than Egypt.

The Israeli military fired CSI’s tear gas at a December 31 demonstration in the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Bil’in. A day after inhaling tear gas there, one protester, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 37, died of cardiac arrest. Two years earlier, his brother Bassem was also killed by tear gas.

“This death was caused by their brutality, by the fact that they are using tear gas that was banned in Europe in the ’60s and ’70s because it is lethal. But here, on Palestinians, they continue using it,” Jonathan Pollak, an Israeli activist who took part in the Bil’in protest, told Democracy Now after Rahmah’s death.

Aly Eltayeb, a 26-year-old protester in Egypt, told ABC News that the military aid that the US provides Egypt has helped keep President Hosni Mubarak in power since 1981.

“US political institution as a whole supports dictators in the Middle East as long as they do the torturing for them,” he said.

The CIA has repeatedly been accused of sending terrorism suspects to Egypt in a practice known as “extraordinary rendition.” In 2006, a radical Muslim cleric described having been kidnapped by the CIA in Italy and flown to Cairo for months of torture. Another incident involved two Egyptians who were arrested in Sweden and handed over to American agents to be taken to Egypt, where they were beaten and subjected to electric shocks.

Newly-elected tea party hero Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) recently told CNN that all US aid to foreign nations should stop immediately. He especially questioned the wisdom of sending military aid to Israel as well as Israel’s enemies in the Middle East.

“I have a lot of sympathy and respect for Israel as a democratic nation,” Paul said.

He continued, “But at the same time, I don’t think funding both sides of an arms races, particularly when we’ve got to borrow the money from China to send it to someone else — we just can’t do it anymore.”

This video is from ABC News, broadcast Jan. 28, 2011.

 
 
 
 
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