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Posts Tagged ‘General Atomics’

Foxes watching the hen house? DC insiders oversee Biden defense plans – Responsible Statecraft

Posted by M. C. on January 26, 2023

After years at the trough, these govt. contractors are now empowered to judge how billions are spent on a key national security strategy.

Written by
Eli Clifton

Earlier this month, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees named eight commissioners who will review President Joe Biden’s National Defense Strategy and provide recommendations for its implementation.

But the Commission on the National Defense Strategy, which is tasked with “examin[ing] the assumptions, objectives, defense investments, force posture and structure, operational concepts, and military risks of the NDS,” according to the Armed Services Committees, is largely comprised of individuals with financial ties to the weapons industry and U.S. government contractors, raising questions about whether the commission will take a critical eye to contractors who receive $400 billion of the $858 billion FY2023 defense budget.

The potential conflicts of interest start at the very top of the eight-person commission. The chair of the commission, former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), sits on the board of Iridium Communications, a satellite communications firm that was awarded a seven-year $738.5 million contract with the Department of Defense in 2019.

“Iridium and its Board members follow Iridium’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and all rules and regulations applicable to dealings with the U.S. government,” Iridium spokesman Jordan Hassin told Responsible Statecraft.

A January 11 press release announcing the commission’s roster cited Harman’s current board memberships at the Department of Homeland Security and NASA but made no mention of her Iridium board membership, which paid her $180,000 in total compensation in 2021. Harman held 50,352 shares in Iridium, now worth approximately $3 million, in March 2022, according to the company’s disclosures.

“The members of the Commission on the National Defense Strategy each hold long records of ethical public service and national security leadership,” a Senate Armed Services Committee spokesperson told Responsible Statecraft. “The commissioners have committed to adhering to all government ethics policies to prevent any potential conflicts of interest. Congress will provide responsible oversight throughout the Commission’s work.”

That oversight will be complicated, judging by the financial ties to government and defense contractors held by six of the eight commission members.

“Lets face it, the National Defense Strategy and the Commission on the National Defense Strategy are flipsides of the same coin,” Mark Thompson, national security analyst at the Project on Government Oversight, told Responsible Statecraft. “Both are heavily infected by Pentagon spending and Pentagon contractors.”

“These folks have a vested interest in spending more,” said Thompson. “In Washington’s national security community, the way you get credibility is to work at think tanks funded by defense contractors or serving on boards of defense contractors.”

Indeed, Thompson’s characterization of who has “credibility” appears to be reflected in appointments to the Commission.

Commission member John “Jack” Keane serves on the board of IronNet, a firm that describes itself as providing “Collective Defense powered with network detection and response (NDR), we empower national security agencies to gain better visibility into the threat landscape across the private sector with anonymized data, while benefiting from the insight and vigilance of a private/public community of peers.” The firm’s 2022 second quarter report made clear that IronNet is dependent on government contracts.

“Our business depends, in part, on sales to government organizations, and significant changes in the contracting or fiscal policies of such government organizations could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations,” the report said.

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Representatives are Too Invested in Defense Contractors

Posted by M. C. on August 12, 2022

After Raytheon and L3Harris, the rest of the top ten defense companies donating campaign cash were Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, BAE Systems, General Atomics, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Boeing, and Leidos. These companies lined members’ campaign coffers with millions of dollars in PAC funding.


As Congress considers two monumentally important pieces of legislative business — the annual defense policy bill and a historic reform to congressional ethics rules — it is worth taking some time to consider just how deep the potential for corruption goes in both these areas and how they intersect with one another. In other words, congressional corruption and ethical failings are inextricably linked to the military-industrial-congressional complex — the unhealthy intersection between Congress and the defense sector. This situation calls for serious reforms, and Congress is the only stakeholder that can make that happen.

A Cozy Relationship

There are few examples that better highlight the ethical dysfunction in Congress than the excessively cozy relationship between policymakers and the defense industry. Each year, including this one, members of the House and Senate armed services committees and the House and Senate appropriations committees craft the policy and allocate the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars that fund the Pentagon. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is the primary vehicle for defense policy. The accompanying appropriations bill allocates the money to operationalize the policy laid out in the NDAA. To put this in perspective, consider that the defense budget now clocks in at more than $800 billion and the Pentagon allocated $420 billion in contracts in fiscal year 2020 — over half the total defense budget and a contract dollar amount larger than every other federal agency combined.

In light of the scale and scope of defense spending, reasonable observers could be forgiven for assuming there might be some prudential rules in place to prevent corruption when it comes to Congress’s work regarding the defense industry. Unfortunately, there are virtually no such rules. In fact, the current framework around congressional conflicts of interest and campaign finance regarding industry relationships is so permissive as to all but guarantee the perversion of the policymaking process in this area.

There are few, if any, rules in place that restrict or prohibit members of Congress who sit on committees that oversee and legislate defense policy from holding direct personal financial stakes in defense companies, including through the ownership of stock. This means there is nothing stopping members of the House and Senate armed services committees (as well as each chamber’s respective defense subcommittee of the appropriations committee) from directly tying their own personal financial interests to the financial interests of defense contractors, all while passing laws that would steer billions of tax dollars to those very same companies. Again, these contracts total hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

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