Interesting then, that the Romney campaign’s so-called “Military Advisory Council” is filled with former military men who now benefit from the immense corporate welfare that defense contractors receive. From boldprogressives.org:
- Retired General James Conway: Conway is a retired four-star general. Last year, he was named to the Board of Directors of Textron, which manufactures helicopters and other aircraft and products for the military.
- Retired Navy Admiral James B. Busey: Busey served in the Navy until 1989. After leaving the federal government in 1992, he joined the Board of Directors of defense contractor Curtiss-Wright and left in 2008.
- Retired former commander of United States Strategic Command James O. Ellis: After serving his country, Ellis decided to make a fortune by working for the defense industry. He serves in the leadership of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and also has a board position at Lockheed Martin.
- Retired Air Force General Ronald Fogleman: Fogleman serves on the boards of Alliant Techsystems, AAR Corporation, Mesa Air Group, Inc., and World Air Holdings.
- Retired General Tommy Franks: Franks, who led the disastrous invasion of Iraq, has his own consultancy called Franks & Associates LLC that specializes in “disaster recovery.” He also works for a private firm that pitches itself as able to respond to a viral pandemic.
- Retired Air Force Commander William R. Looney III: Looney actually campaigns on behalf of for-profit colleges that are under fire for abusing military veterans. Those colleges actually are a huge beneficiary of dollars from the Veterans Administration, and thus represent an often under-looked form of defense contractor welfare.
- Retired Navy Admiral Henry Mauz: Mauz is on the Advisory Council of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems.
- Retired Navy Vice Admiral Mike Bucchi: Bucchi was named president of homeland security contractor Ocean Systems Engineering Corporation in 2005.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for the media to question whether this presents a conflict of interest. As a matter of course, rent-seekers who suck from the public teat campaign for candidates they know will shower them with more goodies. That’s uncontroversial.
This should illustrate the extent to which America’s military industrial complex is embedded in our politics, though. In a Boston Globe review conducted last year, it was found that “750 of the highest ranking generals and admirals who retired during the last two decades” moved “into what many in Washington call the ‘rent-a-general’ business.” “From 2004-2008,” the report found, “80 percent of retiring three- and four-star officers went to work as consultants or defense executives” in our massive military-industrial complex. Among the Globe findings:
- Dozens of retired generals employed by defense firms maintain Pentagon advisory roles, giving them unparalleled levels of influence and access to inside information on Department of Defense procurement plans.
- The generals are, in many cases, recruited for private sector roles well before they retire, raising questions about their independence and judgment while still in uniform. The Pentagon is aware and even supports this practice.
- The feeder system from some commands to certain defense firms is so powerful that successive generations of commanders have been hired by the same firms or into the same field. For example, the last seven generals and admirals who worked as Department of Defense gatekeepers for international arms sales are now helping military contractors sell weapons and defense technology overseas.
And just for the sake of balance, click here to see Tim Carney identify more than 50 (former) corporate lobbyists now working in the Obama White House.