An all too typical Military Industrial Complex contractor, Supreme Foodservice owned by crooks in the UAE and Switzerland, pleaded guilty in 2014 to overcharging the U.S. military for food and water served in mess halls in Afghanistan. What wasn't typical is that they were held accountable and paid $434 million in fines and restitution. They're small potatoes compared to notorious American war-profiteers like KBR and DynCorp, not to mention the big weapons manufacturers who made billions in profits from the Afghan war, kicking back substantial funds to members of Congress in the form of legalistic bribes, made "legal" by legislation passed by... Congress.
Last cycle there were half a dozen weapons companies that spent over $2 million in bribes to Congress, Lockhead Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, L3Harris Technologies and General Atomics. There were 20 weapons makers that spent over $400,000 on congressional bribes. It was split almost evenly between Republicans ($16,635,859) and Democrats ($16,554,442). In the last quarter the 5 current House members who scarfed up the most from War, Inc.:
Kay Granger (R-TX), ranking mMember of the Appropriations Committee- $550,823
Adam Smith (D-WA)- chair of the Armed Services Committee- $312,370
Ken Calvert (R-CA)- Defense Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee- $291,950
Mike Rogers (R-AL), ranking member of the Armed Services Committee- $269,000
Michael Turner (R-OH), Armed Services Committee and former chair of the subcommittee on Tractical Air and Land Forces- $263,900
In that cycle, the biggest campaign donor of the weapons makers was LockheadMartin-- $6,946,872. Which 10 crooked warmongers in the House took the most from just this one firm in just the last cycle?
Kay Granger (R-TX), ranking member of the Appropriations Committee- $197,726
Ken Calvert (R-CA), Defense Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee- $70,300
Michael Turner (R-OH), Armed Services Committee and former chair of the subcommittee on Tractical Air and Land Forces- $64,350
Adam Smith (D-WA), chair of the Armed Services Committee- $61,220
Roger Williams (R-TX)- $31,700
Steve Scalise (R-LA), minority whip- $25,388
Devin Nunes (R-CA), ranking member, Intelligence Committee-$24,040
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), minority leader- $19,948
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker- $15,306
Rob Wittman (R-VA), ranking member Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee of Armed Service Committee -$14,925
Few of these crooks have been as overtly blatant as Florida warmonger Michael Waltz (Daytona, Palm Coast, Deltona), who wants to relaunch the Afghan war (literally), having profited mightily from it. Lee Fang wrote that "Before his successful run for Congress in 2018, he managed a lucrative defense contracting firm with offices in Afghanistan. The company was recently sold to Pacific Architects and Engineers, or PAE, one of the largest war contractors the U.S. has hired to train and mentor Afghan security forces. The deal personally enriched Waltz by up to $26 million, a figure made public by a filing disclosed this month."
Last year, the American Prospect ran a piece by Donald Shaw and David Moore: The Members of Congress Who Profit From War. It's not about the legalistic bribes but about stock trading in war companies. The current House members they found to be investing over $100,000 in war-related stocks:
Steve Cohen (D-TN)- $415,000 (Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon)
Gerry Connolly (D-MD)- $400,000 (Leidos)
Ro Khanna (D-CA)- $376,000 (Boeing, Honeywell, Huntington Ingalls, Lockhead Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, United Technologies)
Debbie Dingell (D-MI)- $300,000 (Honeywell, United Technologies)
Phil Roe (R-TN)- $203,230 (Lockheed Martin, United Technologies, Honeywell)
Fred Upton (R-MI)- $155,000 (Honeywell, General Dynamics, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, United Technologies)
Bon Gibbs (R-OH)- $150,000 (Boeing, Honeywell)
Kevin Hern (R-OK)- $150,000 (Boeing, Honeywell, United Technologies)
Last week, TRTWorld reported that "In addition to giants like Lockheed Martin, DynCorp, Academi (formerly Blackwater), Black & Veatch-- and oil companies like ExxonMobil which shipped the fuel on which the army runs-- are just some to have profited immensely from Washington’s lucrative contracts."
To understand the sheer scale of the contractor economy across three theatres where their footprint is most prominent-- Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria-- the US Department of Defense confirmed using the services of over 27,000 contractors as of the fourth fiscal quarter of 2020.
Furthermore, the Pentagon’s “revolving door” between the security establishment, Congress and Corporate America only perpetuated the war machine, allowing a multitude of parties to feed at the Pentagon’s bloated war chest trough.
An investigation by the watchdog Project on Government Oversight found that between 2008-2018 around 380 high-ranking officials and officers had become government lobbyists, defence contractor consultants, or board members and executives within two years of leaving the military.
In the 2005 documentary Why We Fight, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel Karen Kwiatkowski said: “American people who have a son or a daughter that’s going to be deployed…they look at the cost-benefit, and they go ‘I don’t think that’s good.’ But when politicians who understand contracts, future contracts, when they look at war, they have a different cost-benefit analysis.”
To put this war profiteering into perspective, if one had purchased $10,000 of stocks and evenly divided among those top five defence contractors-- Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics-- it would now be worth almost $100,000, a greater return than the rest of the S&P over the last two decades.
The Intercept did an interesting analysis the other day showing a return on investment for various stocks and baskets of stocks since September, 2001. It sure paid to invest in war:
Total return- 516.67%
annualized return- 9.56%
$10,000 2001 stock purchase today- $61,613.06
Basket of Top 5 Contractor Stocks
Total return- 872.94%
$10,000 2001 stock purchase today- $97,294.80
Total return- 974.97%
annualized return- 12.67%
$10,000 2001 stock purchase today- $107,588.47
Total return- 331.49%
annualized return- 7.62%
$10,000 2001 stock purchase today- 43,166.92
Total return- 1,235.60%
annualized return- 13.90%
$10,000 2001 stock purchase today- $133,559.21
Total return- 625.37%
annualized return- 10.46%
$10,000 2001 stock purchase today- $72,515.58
Total return- 1,196.14%
annualized return- 13.73%
$10,000 2001 stock purchase today- $129,644.84
Norman Solomon: "The US military-industrial complex thrives on the organized killing we call 'war,' and the 20-year war in Afghanistan, waged courtesy of US taxpayers, was a huge boondoggle for a vast number of military contractors and wealthy investors. The colloquial phrase 'making a killing' is all too apt here because that's what many US corporations did over the course of the last two decades as part of the so-called 'war on terror' the US government launched in October 2001 with its attack on Afghanistan. Meanwhile, 'the high-ranking officials and rich looters in the Afghan government who fled the country in recent days were also the big winners.' They lived high on the hog for two decades, and now have absconded with what they've been able to siphon off and retain as personal wealth. All in all, it's an unspeakably vile and truly obscene reality George W. Bush and his bipartisan accomplices in Washington set in motion during the autumn of 2001. They 'won' a vastly pernicious game for themselves while so many people have suffered tremendously as a direct result."
Shervin Aazami, the progressive candidate for Congress in the San Fernando Valley, has a good question we should all be asking ourselves. "We just ended the longest war in U.S. history. Explain to me why then Congress is considering a $38 billion increase to the Pentagon budget, which would bring the grand total to $778 billion? It’s because of the stranglehold of billion-dollar weapons makers on our defense apparatus. Endless wars equal perpetual profit for the military-industrial complex. Politicians like Brad Sherman who have taken hundreds of thousands over their career in Congress from weapons makers are directly responsible for keeping our troops and our federal resources ensnared in military quagmires that intentionally have no end in sight."
Two of the most important planks in progressive Democrat Jason Call's platform are peace and fighting corruption. Last night he told me that "Corporate Dem incumbent Rick Larsen (WA-02) comes in around 12th in war machine overall funding, not far behind his Washington seatmate Adam Smith. Sitting on both the Armed Services Committee (4th ranking member) for his entire 20 year career, and on the Transportation Committee (now chair of Aviation) for most of it, it's no surprise that he's a big recipient of donations from the war machine. As I've mentioned in prior comments, Larsen has voted against every military budget cut presented, and until now has opposed every proposal for withdrawal from Afghanistan (and Iraq, and Libya, and Pakistan...) He will never vote against the interests of the military industrial complex, and there are plenty of 'Good Democrats' just like him. What remains a mystery to me, and what I believe needs more (much more) exposure, is that these reps (on both sides of the aisle) are heavily funded by the very industries their committees are tasked to regulate. There is an inherent conflict of interest here-- it's abject corruption. And what do we-- THE PEOPLE-- get for it? Nothing. We don't get good climate policy. We don't get good healthcare policy. We don't get good fiscal policy. It benefits industry; they get the low interest rates and the subsidies and the tax breaks. But the general populace gets squat. A first step to campaign finance reform would be to bar anyone from taking PAC money from an industry their committee is supposed to regulate. There's a very real and direct harm done to people in the current system." Before watching this stellar video by John Oliver, please consider contributing to Shervin Aazami's and Jason Call's congressional campaigns here.
UPDATE From Steve Holden
"It would come as no shock to anyone that John Katko is beholden to the military-industrial complex. The reason he tried to act so 'moderate' was not to make his contributors look bad. Some of those contributors are companies that reside in what is called Electronics Parkway here in Syracuse. They include the likes of Lockheed Martin, who have their own military-style compound, as no surprise, not far from a US Army Reserve Center. As a career Army Finance Officer, I more than understand why Katko kisses the ring of those he wishes to regulate. He is the Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee, and should not be double-dealing with those he is sworn to have oversight."