Sunday, January 14, 2007

Lockheed and the revolving door of the MIC

Playboy(!) has a great article on Lockheed and the revolving door of the MIC (pdf).
That’s how D.C. works. Many of the people making decisions have been in and out of the same set of revolving doors connecting government, conservative think
tanks, lobbying firms, law firms and the defense industry. So strong is the bond between lobbyists, defense contractors and the Pentagon that it is known in Washington as “the iron triangle.” And this triangle inevitably gets what it wants. Why? Because in the revolving door system, a defense contractor executive can surface as an official in the Department of Defense, from which position he can give lucrative contracts to his former employer, and his prospects for an even better paying job in the private sector brighten. Former aides to members of congress become handsomely paid lobbyists for the companies they were able to help in their position on Capitol Hill. Such lobbyists can spread their corporate-funded largesse to the friendliest members and their aides on the Hill. And so on.
Of course, all the frothing at the mouth about lobbyists, money and special interests can seem from outside the Beltway as much ado about nothing. The government hands out contracts. The beneficiaries or those who want to be beneficiaries buy steak dinners for the officials who hold the purse strings. Big deal. The problem, though, is that, upon closer scrutiny, this is not how the system works. It’s actually much more sinister than that, allowing the interests of America to be subverted by the interests of corporate America. As you’ll see here, your elected officials did not deliberate on how best to protect their constituents, decide bombing Iraq was the best way and then order some provisions and weapons. On the contrary, this is the story of how Lockheed’s interests, as opposed to those of the American citizenry, set the course of U.S. policy after 9/11.
What, if anything, can be done about the oligarchy of the war companies and the K Street lobbyists pulling the strings in our capital? Is there no way to break the iron triangle? Jackson agrees that contractors doing business with the government should be prohibited by law from making political contributions. He says the contractors would favor this because the situation is not as most people think it is. He insists it’s the elected officials who “shake down” the contractors for contributions and not the other way around. Of course, this may be the best indicator, in a roundabout way, of just how powerful the war companies are—in the name of special interest reform the legislators would be cut out of the action from the flow of defense money they can apparently no longer control.

Former Long Island Democratic Representative Otis Pike, who served in the Marines and was a hawk on Vietnam, once said privately, while still in office, that the only solution was to “nationalize” the defense industry. Pike’s attitude regarding national security evolved as a result of experiences chairing the Pike Committee investigating abuses by the CIA in the 1970s. Since half of Lockheed Martin’s business now comes from its IT division, there is no reason why it should not be broken up under the anti-trust laws into two separate companies, without any damage to its ability to innovate. Also, a war-profits tax of the type imposed by Britain on its military contractors during World War I to help pay for the cost of the war—since they were profiting from it—might be in order.


Don said...

When the question is asked, "What kind of man reads Playboy?", it isn't rhetorical.

For as long as they've run, they've always run hard-hitting, thought provoking articles on many subjects near and dear to our hearts. Politics, religion &/vs science, race relations and abuse of power have been addressed many times and their editorials on personal freedom (and the threats to it) should be required reading in Washington. Their interviews often tend to be far more substantial, and far more in-depth, than anything you'd find in the so-called news publications these days.

A scan of their letters columns reveals readers of both genders, all sexual orientations and representatives from every point on the political spectrum. Just the last year they've had articles penned by John Dean and Eugene Jarecki, interviews with Michael Brown, Al Franken, and Arianna. One example of their journalistic prowess: the environmental (and anti-GOP) trend of the once pro-Republican gun crowd, noted recently in mainstream news articles (and IIRC, Raw) was reported in their Forum editorial last April (side-by-side with a gloves-off Q&A with RFK jr, to boot).

That this article appears in their pages (as opposed to, say, Time or Newsweek) is no surprise to me; it's just more of the same.

lukery said...

thnx Don - the american corp media is so appalling - and the political ones not necessarily a whole lot better either.

that's why we see these great investigative pieces in Playboy (apparently) and VanityFair and RollingStone. it's bizarre