08/29/2005 12:50 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Chavez's Riot Control

A while back I posted elsewhere on how the State Department, in 2004, cleared $24.5 million in direct commercial sales (DCS) of military hardware to Venezuela. Among those sales were $425,000 for what is listed as "RIOT CONTROL CHEMICALS (ANTI-PERS)".

Yesterday the LATimes reported that "a street march by hundreds of Venezuelans opposed to President Hugo Chavez turned violent Saturday, when people believed to be government supporters threw rocks and tear-gas canisters at the protesters."

In all likelihood we'll never know whether the tear-gas canisters that Chavez's supporters used were made in the United States. But surely the fact that they were used at all makes it all the more imperative that State come out and explain who specifically authorized the DCS of "riot control chemicals" to Venezuela and, more importantly, why they did so.