The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Saturday, April 5

a little look back

One Secretary of Defense under President Clinton was a republican and former Senator, William S. Cohen. Cohen had this to say in his bio about his tenure:
At his January 1997 confirmation hearing, Secretary Cohen set forth his prioritized objectives as Secretary and completed his tenure having accomplished them all. Reversing a steady decline in defense budgets that began in the 1980s, Secretary Cohen succeeded in modernizing the military and maintaining its readiness to fight; reversing recruitment and retention problems by enhancing pay and other benefits; and strengthening security relationships with countries around the world in order to reorient them from the Cold War to the challenges of a new era. Under his leadership, the U.S. military conducted the largest air warfare campaign since World War II and conducted other military operations on every continent. During his tenure, Secretary Cohen held substantive meetings with foreign leaders in over 60 countries.
Now let us look at a recent letter at the PNAC website from House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA):
What should our priorities be? First, it makes sense to provide modern equipment for the military forces that survived the Clinton budget axe. According to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, which analyzed the longevity and replacement costs of the military's larger platforms (planes, tanks, trucks and ships), the annual modernization requirement is at least $90 billion per year. This year's modernization budget proposal is some $20 billion short. Making up this shortfall should be a priority.
Hunter reminds us three times in his letter that Clinton was responsible for taking an axe to the defense department. But, that brings us to who we're giving the money to and how it's being spent and what it's being spent on.
Since 1994, the U.S. Defense Department has entered into 3,061 contracts with 12 of the 24 U.S.-based PMCs [private military companies] identified by ICIJ [International Consortium of Investigative Journalists], a review of government documents showed. Pentagon records valued those contracts was more than $300 billion. More than 2,700 of those contracts were held by just two companies: Kellogg Brown & Root and Booz Allen Hamilton. Because of the limited information the Pentagon provides and the breadth of services offered by some of the larger companies, it was impossible to determine what percentage of these contracts was for training, security or logistical services.
And who are some of these companies?
The strong links between the U.S. government and many of the private military companies that contract with them has presented questions regarding the revolving door between government and the private sector. In 1992, the Pentagon, then headed by Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, paid Brown & Root Services $3.9 million to produce a classified report detailing how private companies could help provide logistics for American troops in potential war zones. Later in 1992, the Pentagon gave Brown & Root an additional $5 million to update the report. Brown & Root (now called Kellogg Brown & Root, or KBR) is a subsidiary of Halliburton Corporation, which Cheney, the U.S. vice president, headed as CEO from 1995 to 1999. Brown & Root was also awarded contracts in 1995 and 1997 to provide logistical support in the Balkans, where the U.S. military has been enforcing the 1995 Dayton Peace accord that ended the war in former Yugoslavia. Those contracts mushroomed to $2.2 billion worth of payments over five years, according to the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
What about other connections?
Brown & Root is hardly the only PMC that raises questions about the revolving door. Frank Carlucci, who served as defense secretary in the waning years of the Reagan administration, was chairman of BDM [International] when it acquired Vinnell; he is [the former] chairman of the Carlyle Group, a merchant banking firm that owns BDM and counts a plethora of former government officials, including former President George H.W. Bush, his secretary of state, James Baker, and his director of the Office of Management and Budget, Richard Darman, as consultants, advisors, and executives. During Carlucciís tenure at BDM, the company greatly expanded the number of contracts it had with the U.S. government; by 1994, the company had revenue of $774 million, up from the $295 million the company grossed in 1991, the first full year that the Carlyle Group owned the company.
Frank Carlucci may not be the chairman anymore but he still is a managing director at Carlyle Group. Too bad they don't list their board of advisors. It must be a very interesting group indeed. Carlyle sold BDM International (and Vinnell) to Northrop Grumman in 1998. In December of 2002, Northrop Grumman bought defense contractor TRW.

If you go to the website for BDM International you are now redirected to Northrop Grumman. Who is on the board of Northrop Grumman? Philip Odeen is, the retired chair of TRW. Who is Philip Odeen? He was appointed the chair of the 1997 quadrennial review by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen.

In the meantime, George HW Bush, a member of the advisory council to the Korea Society, leaves for meetings in South Korea on April 14th thru April 15th. A week later, the Carlye Group, of which he is also an advisor, will be meeting in Lisbon to drum up business for post war Iraq reconstruction.

Don't you love how these folks just flock together but find time to blame Clinton for everything? Get over it guys. In case you haven't noticed, it's Dubya who is in the White House.


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