Friday, January 02, 2004

How Much Are You Making on the War, Daddy?
(A Quick and Dirty Guide to War Profiteering in the Bush Administration)

by William Hartung

"Our current debacle in Iraq is just the beginning of the troubles that this obscenely irresponsible approach to national security policy may bring down on our nation if all of us don't stand up and say no," says Bill Hartung, who runs the World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center. Hartung has written an excellent introduction to the U.S. military-industrial complex, which is on the verge of being out of control.

"Crony capitalism" was always bad in countries like Suharto's Indonesia. But now it's time to look at this dynamic within our own government.

For instance, of the thirty-two major Bush administration appointees with direct or indirect links to the arms industry, eight once worked for Lockheed Martin, whose ties to Bush go back to his days as governor when they attempted to privatize Texas's state welfare and Medicaid programs. That bid was blocked by a skillful counter-campagn run by the state employees union, which ran a series of radio ads featuring the sound of a toilet flushing, followed by a narrator saying "Remember the company that brought you the $3,000 toilet seat? Well now that same company wants to come here and run public services...").

Lynne Cheney served on Lockheed Martin's board from 1994 to 2001. Others with L-M ties include Otto Reich (the right-wing Cuban -American and Iran-contra re-tread who was Bush's Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs until shortly after the attempted coup against Chavez in Venezuela failed, and Ex-Lockheed COO Peter B. Teets, who was appointed to serve as Undersecretary of the Air Force and Director of the National Reconnaissance Office, a new post created by Rumsfeld with an eye towards putting the responsibility for acquiring military space assets for the Pentagon under one person's command...and more and more.

With so many ex-employees, lobbyists etc. passing through the revolving door, it's no wonder that Lockheed Martin's annual "take" in federal contracts exceeds the entire payout of the largest federal welfare program -- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) -- which is responsible for providing millions of poor families with income support. So much for cracking down on welfare cheats.

Obviously, Cheney, who continues to receive $162,000 a year from Halliburton, epitomizes the revolving door:

"Of all the loyal, secretive, inside-delaing cronies in the Bush camp, Cheney is the unrivalled master of the game. He is like the guy at the poker game who never makes a joke, never brags about his hand, but always seems to go home with the big pot of money at the end of the night while everyone else wonders what hit them. ... Dan Baum revealed in his analysis of the (no-bid Halliburton contract) in the New York Times magazine that Halliburton was uniquely situated to win the Iraqi oil industry rebuilding contract because the company actually wrote the contingency plan that the Army used to determine what work was needed. As Army spokesman Lt. Col. Gene Pawlik put it, "They were the company best positioned to executive the oil field work becase of their involvement in the planning." (This all sounds a bit like Dick Cheney's "self-selection" of himself to be Dubaya's VP candidate...)"
Bob Dreyfuss and Jason Vest have an excellent piece in Jan/Feb Mother Jones about the Secret Intelligence Unit at the Pentagon.

Check out the new GI Joke.