U.S. Had Helo Deal With Ousted Tunisian Dictator

By Spencer Ackerman

Check out the #sidibouzid Twitter hashtag and you’ll see real-time updates from a popular coup in Tunisia that’s ousted the kleptocratic dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Months of unrest over unemployment and rising food prices — pushed along by WikiLeaked disclosures — forced Ben Ali to flee to Paris. As it turned out, the Obama administration tried last year to give him what would amount to a parting gift: $282 million worth of upgrades to Ben Ali’s helicopter fleet.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency — which handles military hardware sales to U.S. allies — informed Congress on June 30 that it wanted to send “equipment, parts, training and logistical support” to Tunisia for 12 SH-60F Sikorsky-made multimission helicopters.

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