Sunday, February 4, 2007

Subsidized by you


What a nasty word, eh? We hear it all the time. Folks in various industries are "restructured" because of it.

A recent study by the New York Times revealed that the number of government contracting gigs has increased, while open competition between bidders has not. Most of these gigs are for operations in Iraq. Interestingly enough, spending by top contracting firms on lobbying and campaign donations has increased.

While the Times can't say it, I can: sounds like some hot, yet clandestine political pillow-talk going on up on the Hill. This type of behavior looks bad because it's easily interpreted as a case of interest groups directing policy. Also consider the long-reaching effects of outsourcing by the U.S. government when the contractors aren't held to the same level of accountability that public officials are, and compound this understanding with the lack of transparency within these privately-held companies.

It could be argued that the current administration has partnered with groups that will insulate Bush et al from any type of legal or punitive actions. I'm thinking of how the U.S. has farmed out torturing of detainees to countries like Egypt and Syria.

Top this off with the $2.9 trillion (that's: 2,900,000,000,000 dollars) budget the Bush administration submitted to Congress (the Pentagon's portion is $624.6 billion, which is up from last time), and wonder how long it will take to us to learn that the military-industrial complex is not the best way, moral or economical, to sustain one of the largest and most powerful countries in the world.

Interestingly, the budget includes only $50 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2009, which is the last year funding is expressly provided. Is this the first sign of when we could expect to see a full-scale extraction from the region?

1 comment:

RoseCovered Glasses said...

Your post has some excellent points. Here's some additional data:

The U.S. Department of Defense, headquartered in the Pentagon, is one of the most massive organizations on the planet, with net annual operating costs of $635 billion, assets worth $1.3 trillion, liabilities of $1.9 trillion and more that 2.9 million military and civilian personnel as of fiscal year 2005.

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

It is difficult to convey the complexity of the way DOD works to someone who has not experienced it. This is a massive machine with so many departments and so much beaurocracy that no president, including Bush totally understands it.

Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and "Rice Bowls" which are never mixed.

Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exhorbitant in terms of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon's many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and Overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years.

What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing.

Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establishment wants. This still continues - with increasing high technology and potential for abuse.

Please examine the following link to testimony given by Franklin C. Spinney before Congress in 2002. It provides very specific information from a whistle blower who is still blowing his whistle (Look him up in your browser and you get lots of feedback) Frank spent the same amount of time as I did in the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) but in government quarters. His job in government was a similar role to mine in defense companies. Frank's emphasis in this testimony is on the money the machine costs us. It is compelling and it is noteworthy that he was still a staff analyst at the Pentagon when he gave this speech. I still can't figure out how he got his superior's permission to say such blunt things. He was extremely highly respected and is now retired.

The brick wall I often refer to is the Pentagon's own arrogance. It will implode by it's own volition, go broke, or so drastically let down the American people that it will fall in shambles. Rest assured the day of the implosion is coming. The machine is out of control.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting on this blog entitled, "Odyssey of Armaments"

On the same subject, you may also be interested in the following sites from the "Project On Government Oversight", observing it's 25th Anniversary and from "Defense In the National Interest", inspired by Franklin Spinney and contributed to by active/reserve, former, or retired military personnel. More facts on the Military Industrial Complex can be gleaned from "The Dissident" link, also posted below: