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Truthout: Binders Full of Generals

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

Dina Rasor - ( Truthout | Solutions) – October 25, 2012 - Longtime military watchdog and Truthout editor Dina Rasor paints a well-informed picture of what might be motivating the 359 retired senior military officers endorsing the GOP presidential candidate, and asks: if we continue to allow them and their peers to throw their rank around in the political arena, what message does that send to more junior members of the military, not to mention the public?

On October 17, Mitt Romney’s campaign announced that he had received the endorsement of 359 retired generals and admirals in the form of a “military advisory council,” thus furthering the corruption of former military members through politics and defense money. There may be many personal reasons that these retired military would want to endorse Mr. Romney – based on my past 30 years’ experience investigating the military, I can think of a few reasons.

Money, Money, Money

Mr. Romney has promised to shoot the defense budget into the stratosphere at levels that have been unseen since the height of the Korean War. As in a past column, I have inserted here a chart that I think is one of the most significant of the presidential campaign, and it should be passed around to as many people possible before the election. Read the remainder of this entry »

That bird won’t fly and other news

Hold that Revolving Door! Four-Star General Coming Through
Dana Liebelson – (POGO) – January 28, 2012 – The revolving door that carried former Department of Defense honcho William Lynn III to a well-paying job with an Italian defense contractor keeps on spinning – now Gen. James Cartwright, who retired as the nation’s second-highest ranking military officer in August, is following Lynn into the private sector.

Cartwright is joining the Board of Directors at Raytheon, a major U.S. defense contractor. Earlier in the week, DRS Technologies named Lynn as its chief executive officer. (Coincidently, before Lynn was tapped as deputy defense secretary, he was a top lobbyist for Raytheon.)

“General Cartwright’s deep understanding of defense and broad experience in military operations and matters of national security will be of great value to our Board,” Raytheon Chairman and CEO William H. Swanson said in a press release.

Well, Cartwright certainly has a deep understanding of defense: He’s a four-star general with 40 years of service in the Marine Corps, including four years as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But then there’s that sticky “great value to the Board” comment. And that’s where the problem with the well-oiled revolving door that leads from the Pentagon to the defense industry rears its ugly head. (Click HERE for article)

Former United Nations Employee Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison
(DoJ) – WASHINGTON - January 27, 2012 – Jeffery K. Armstrong, 52, of South Riding, Va., was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for obtaining more than $100,000 in salary payments by fraudulently holding concurrent jobs at the United Nations (U.N.) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). He was ordered to serve a three-year term of supervised release following his sentence and to pay $128,153 in restitution.

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Dealing: Even Ex-Federal Watchdogs Are Doing It

Is this the future CWC Commissioners role?

Dina Rasor – (Truthout | Solutions) – January 12, 2012 – Several years ago, I pushed for a revival of the old “Truman Committee” in the US Congress to look at war fraud and profiteering in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I had just written a book[4] about the fraud and waste by contingency contractors in the Iraq war and was shocked, even after 30 years of investigating the Pentagon, at how much the government was being cheated, especially at the expense of our troops.

Sens. Claire McCaskill and Jim Webb pushed for a revival of a Truman Committee-style look at our wartime contracting because they, too, were shocked at what they were seeing in these current wars’ private contracting. The original Truman Committee exposed and corrected major fraud in World War II while the war was still going on. Truman, then a senator from Missouri, was proud that he found fraud and actually sent a general to jail.

The idea for the committee was to have it run and staffed by a group of current members of Congress, but politics intervened and, instead, the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) was staffed and chaired by appointees from each of the political parties. Even though I promoted this commission in my past life as a Huffington Post blogger because of the desperate need for oversight in this area, I knew that it might have turned out like many other commissions on Department of Defense (DoD) spending that I had witnessed over the years. Without having current, working members of Congress with subpoena and other investigative powers, I feared that this commission would not have the clout to really make a difference and change this destructive contracting. I testified in front of this commission and advised them several times, but could see the politics on the part of the appointees.

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Iraq: We Lost $1.2 Billion in Equipment Going in; How Much Will We Lose Getting Out?

Dina Rasor – (Truthout | Solutions) – September 21, 2011 – On December 31, 2011, the United States has committed to the government of Iraq that they will be removing their troops and contractor personnel. The US State Department will remain in a diplomatic role with limited Department of Defense (DoD) personnel and some State Department-hired private security personnel for protection.

Beyond the sticky diplomatic implications of this transfer, the DoD has a complicated task to wind down its giant footprint in Iraq. It will require a delicate and well-prepared withdrawal to get all the troops, contractors, equipment, and other assets out of the giant bases and turn the bases over to the Iraqi government while preventing attacks from insurgents and looting of US government assets.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) just released a detailed report [4] saying, in their ever so polite way, that the DoD and the State Department don’t have the information and tools to pull this off. The benign title of the report to Congress (“IRAQ DRAWDOWN: Opportunities Exist to Improve Equipment Visibility, Contractor Demobilization and Clarity of Post-2011 DoD Role”) doesn’t project the startling troubles they outline inside the report that threaten this withdrawal.

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