Vote Repression Vote Bush in 2004
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Vote Repression Vote Bush in 2004
Sat Jan 10 03:21:23 2004

I do not see why Wesley Clark is not covered more on this page. 

The putative new Great White (Male) Hope of the Democratic Party, General Wesley Clark, came of age politically when he was seduced by Richard Nixon, for whom he cast his first presidential vote. He later voted for Ronald Reagan (twice), and for Bush père. As recently as two years ago, Clark was appearing at Republican fund-raisers. In Arkansas, at the Pulaski County Republican Committee dinner on May 12, 2001, Clark said “that American involvement abroad helps prevent war and spreads the ideals of the United States.”

Military Waste and Fraud - $172 billion a year When it comes to wasting money, the Pentagon has no peer. For one thing, there's the single question of scale. For fiscal year 1996, the Pentagon budget was $265 billion ($7 billion more than it requested). That's 5% of our gross national product, a larger percentage than in virtually any other industrialized nation. In absolute dollars (not as a percentage of GNP), the Pentagon shells out 3 1/2 times more than the next largest military spender (Russia), 6 1/2 times more than Britain, 7 1/2 times more than France, 7 1/4 times more than Japan, 8 1/2 times more than Germany. Our military budget is bigger than the next nine largest military budgets combined, and sixteen times larger than the combined military budgets of all of our "regional adversaries"- Cuba, Syria, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Libya. It accounts for 37% of all military spending on the planet (in comparison, our economy is only 22% of the world total). As enormous as the Pentagon's budget is, there's more military spending buried elsewhere-in the Department of Energy's production of fuel for nuclear weapons, in the military portion of the NASA budget, in the VA, etc. By adding in these hidden military expenses, the Center for Defense Information (CDI), a Washington think tank run by retired generals and admirals, concluded that we spend a total of $327 billion a year on the military. (When it did similar computations independently, the War Resisters League came up with $329 billion.) But that doesn't include what we have to pay for past Pentagon budgets. The CDI went back to 1941 and multiplied the military's percentage of each year's budget by the deficit for that year. Using that method, they figured that interest on past military spending cost us $167 billion in fiscal 1996. (The War Resisters League went all the way back to 1789 and came up with $291 billion.) Since the CDI's estimates are lower, let's be conservative and use them. Adding them together gives us a figure for total military spending-past and present-of $494 billion a year ($9 1/2 billion a week, $1 1/3 billion a day.

Waste beyond your wildest dreams But just the scale of the Pentagon's budget alone can't explain its prodigious ability to waste money. Another quality is required- world-class incompetence. There are so many examples of this that they tend to blur together, numbing the mind. Here are just a few: According to a US Senate hearing, $13 billion the Pentagon handed out to weapons contractors between 1985 and 1995 was simply "lost." Another $15 billion remains unaccounted for because of "financial management troubles." That's $2B billion-right off the top-that has simply disappeared...

Career criminals ... According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, every single one of the top ten weapons contractors was convicted of or admitted to defrauding the government between 1980 and 1992. For example: * Grumman paid the government $20 million to escape criminal liability for coercing subcontractors into making political contributions. * Lockheed was convicted of paying millions in bribes to obtain classified planning documents. * Northrop was fined $17 million for falsifying test data on its cruise missiles and fighter jets. * Rockwell was fined $5.5 million for committing criminal fraud against the Air Force. In another study, the Project on Government Oversight (PGO) searched public records from October 1989 to February 1994 and found-in just that 4~/~-year period-85 instances of fraud, waste and abuse in weapons contracting. For example: Boeing, Grumman, Hughes, Raytheon and RCA pleaded guilty to illegal trafficking in classified documents and paid a total of almost $15 million in restitution, reimbursements, fines, etc. * Hughes pleaded guilty to procurement fraud in one case, was convicted of it in a second case and, along with McDonnell? Douglas and General Motors, settled out-of-court for a total of more than $1 million dollars in a third case. * Teledyne paid $5 million in a civil settlement for false testing, plus $5 million for repairs. * McDonnell? Douglas settled for a total of more than $22 million in four "defective pricing" cases. But General Electric was the champ. PGO lists fourteen cases, including a conviction for mail and procurement fraud that resulted in a criminal fine of $10 million and restitution of $2.2 million. In our own research, we found several other examples of GE crimes and civil violations: * In 1961, GE pleaded guilty to price-fixing and paid a $372,500 fine. * In 1977, it was convicted of price-fixing again. * In 1979, it settled out-of-court when the State of Alabama sued it for dumping PCBs in a river. * In 1981, it was convicted of setting up a $1.25 million slush fund to bribe Puerto Rican officials. * In 1985, GE pleaded guilty to 108 counts of fraud on a Minuteman missile contract. In addition, the chief engineer of GE's space systems division was convicted of perjury, and GE paid a fine of a million dollars. * In 1985, it pleaded guilty to falsifying time cards. * In 1989, it paid the government $3.5 million to settle five civil lawsuits alleging contractor fraud at a jet-engine plant (which involved the alteration of 9,000 daily labor vouchers to inflate its Pentagon billings). In 1990, GE was convicted of criminal fraud for cheating the Army on a contract for battlefield computers; it declined to appeal and paid $16 million in criminal and civil fines. ($11.7 million of this amount was to settle government complaints that it had padded its bids on 200 other military and space contracts-which comes to just $58,000 or so per contract.) In 1993, GE sold its weapons division to Martin Marietta for $3 billion (retaining 23.5% of the stock and two seats on the board of directors). The largest investigation of Pentagon fraud took place between 1986 and 1990. Called Operation Ill Wind, it began when Pentagon official John Marlowe was caught molesting little girls. He cut a deal to stay out of jail and, for the next few years, secretly recorded hundreds of conversations with weapons contractors. There's no way of knowing how much the crimes Ill Wind looked into cost the taxpayers, but the investigation, which cost $20 million, brought in ten times that much in fines. According to Wall Street Journal reporter Andy Pasztor, "more than 90 companies and individuals were convicted of felonies... including eight of the military's fifteen largest suppliers....Boeing, GE and United Technologies pleaded guilty...Hughes, Unisys, Raytheon, Loral, Litton, Teledyne, Cubic, Hazeltine, Whittaker and LTV...admitted they violated the law." Unisys signed the largest Pentagon fraud settlement in history: $190 million in fines, penalties and forgone profits (which means they weren't allowed to charge for cost overruns the way military contractors usually do). Assistant Navy Secretary Melvyn Paisley was the central figure in the Ill Wind scandal and the highest-ranking person convicted (he was sentenced to four years in prison). He ran his office like a supermarket for weapons manufacturers, soaking up bribes, divvying up multibillion-dollar contracts and diverting work to a firm he secretly controlled with a partner. Paisley may have been a bit more...flamboyant than most, but there was nothing terribly unusual about his approach. As of 1994, nearly 70 of the Pentagon's 100 largest suppliers were under investigation. Fines for that year totaled a record $1.2 billion. That may sound like a lot, but it's less than 2% of the weapons industry's net income (which averaged $64 billion a year in 1994 and 1995). A billion or two in fines is hardly an incentive to end the corruption and waste in Pentagon contracting.

The black budget Not all Pentagon waste is visible. Hidden within the military budget is a secret "black budget" that's not subject to any congressional oversight (toothless as that usually is). It includes money for the CIA (tucked away in the Air Force budget, it gets about 10% of the total) and for less well-known but better-funded "intelligence" organizations like the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). In 1995, several members of Congress tried to argue that, with the Cold War over, there was no harm in publishing the total amount of the intelligence black budget, without details on how it was spent. Even this modest proposal went down to defeat but, in the process, led to the absurd spectacle of legislators mentioning the figure-$28 billion for fiscal 1996-while arguing that it shouldn't be publicly disclosed. John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists estimates that the 1996 black budget included an additional $3 billion or so in military "stealth" projects, for a total of about $31 billion-down from about $36 billion a year during the Reagan years. Pike attributes the decrease to a couple of projects that grew too huge to be hidden in the black budget. One of the projects that "surfaced" into the public budget is the B-2 bomber. Originally projected to cost $550 million each, B-2's ended up costing $2.2 billion each-literally more than their weight in gold. Another is MILSTAR, which is designed to ''fight and win a six-month nuclear war...long after the White House and the Pentagon are reduced to rubble." The Air Force has tried to kill this idiotic program four times since it emerged from the black budget, but Congress won't listen. MILSTAR has cost us between $8 and $12 billion so far, and could cost another $4.5 billion between 1996 and 2000. Since the black budget is completely off the books, it encourages waste on a titanic scale. As one Pentagon employee put it: "In a black project, people don't worry about money. If you need money, you got it. If you screw up and need more, you got it. You're just pouring money into the thing until you get it right. The incentive isn't there to do it right the first time. Who's going to question it?" ... Don't call it bribery Why do our legislators put up with military waste and fraud? For the same reason they do anything. Defense PACs gave members of Congress $7.5 million in 1993 and 1994. And PAC money is just part of the story. Of the $4.5 billion in unrequested weapons funding added to the Pentagon budget for fiscal 1996, 74% was spent in or near the home districts of representatives who sit on the House National Security Committee. Another $290 million was spent in or around Newt Gingrich's home district, Cobb County, Georgia. (Cobb gets more federal pork than any county except Arlington in Virginia, which is right next to Washington, and Brevard in Florida, where Cape Canaveral is located.) Although the Pentagon insists that it doesn't need any more B-2 bombers, Norman Dicks (D-Washington) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) don't care. Dicks-who's one of the largest recipients of military PAC money in the House-received over $10,000 from nine major B-2 contractors in the four months just before the battle to resurrect B-2 funding. Stevens got $37,000 between 1989 and 1994, making him one of the top ten recipients of PAC contributions from B-2 contractors. (Isn't it amazing how little politicians cost?) If PAC money isn't enough, military lobbyists can always argue jobs. It didn't hurt funding for the B-2 that spending for it was spread across 88% of all congressional districts and all but two states. Liberal California Representative Maxine Waters defended her vote to continue B-2 funding by candidly admitting that it was one of the few ways she knew to bring federal jobs to her district. (Since her district is South-Central Los Angeles, you can understand her desperation.) There's no conceivable need for Seawolf submarines (which cost $2.4 billion apiece)- except for the votes in Connecticut, where it's built, and in surrounding states. That's why liberal New England senators like Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and George Mitchell supported it, as did Bill Clinton-who needed votes from those states-in his 1992 campaign. Neither the Air Force nor the Navy wants any part of the V-22 Osprey assault plane, which the Bush administration tried in vain to kill. But it's supported by legislators in Texas and Pennsylvania-the two states that do the most contracting for it-and by Clinton, who...oh, you get the idea. What about the jobs we'd lose? -- If new weapons systems are nothing more than make-work programs, they're really inefficient ones. A 1992 Congressional study estimated that shifting money from the Pentagon to state and local governments would create two jobs for every one it eliminates. Building weapons we don't need is so wasteful that the economy would probably be better off if we just paid people the same money to stay at home. The Congressional Budget Office concluded that a billion dollars spent on successfully promoting arms exports creates 25,000 jobs, but if that same billion is spent on mass transit, it creates 30,000 jobs; on housing, 36,000 jobs; on education, 41,000 jobs; or on health care, 47,000 jobs. Aside from the cost, using federal money to prop up military contractors creates a disincentive for them to convert to civilian products. Shifting Pentagon funds to urgently needed domestic uses would be good for both the US and the rest of the world. As President Eisenhower put it, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed." Pentagon boosters argue that military spending has already been slashed too far, since more than 800,000 military-related jobs have disappeared since 1990. But many of these layoffs were in nonmilitary divisions of the companies, and more than half of them were caused by the economy contracting in a recession, not by smaller Pentagon budgets-especially since they've dropped off only slightly from their all-time high of $304 billion (adjusted for inflation) in 1989. Just eight companies-McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed, Martin Marietta, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Hughes-were responsible for half of all military contractors' layoffs in 1993. Only 15% of Boeing's layoffs and a third of McDonnell? Douglas' were related to military production. After the firings, the stocks of these eight companies rose by 20% to 140%, and the salaries of their CEOs soared.

The revolving door Another reason for Pentagon waste and fraud is the revolving door between military contractors and government personnel. Before he was Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger was a top executive at Bechtel, which does massive engineering projects for the Pentagon and foreign clients like Saudi Arabia. Before he was Secretary of State, George Shultz was president of Bechtel. Before his days as a Navy felon, Melvyn Paisley worked for Boeing-as did his boss at the Pentagon, Navy Secretary John Lehman. Secretary of Defense William Perry and CIA Director John Deutch both did consulting work for Martin Marietta before they joined the Clinton administration. The list goes on and on. Generals have an interest in keeping weapons contractors happy-at least if they want to sit on the boards of corporations after they retire. Contractors can use their connections at the Pentagon to find work there and, like Paisley, feed lucrative contracts to their friends in the private sector. On both sides of the revolving door, militarists live in the lap of luxury. Nobody batted an eyelash when Paisley entertained contractors in staterooms on

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