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Pentagon's revolving door guarantees conflicts of interest

• Meteor Blades

The Pentagon's revolving door is not exactly a new problem. A couple of months ago, there was this. A year ago, USAToday wrote about it here. The activist-investigators at the Project on Government Oversight wrote about it six years ago here. The Government Accounting Office has written numerous reports on the subject for decades, such as this one from 1986.

Today, the Boston Globe's Bryan Bender has the latest rendition of this story, which, truth be told, dates back to before Dwight Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex in his presidential farewell speech half a century ago.

When a general-turned-businessman arrives at the Pentagon, he is often treated with extraordinary deference — as if still in uniform — which can greatly increase his effectiveness as a rainmaker for industry. The military even has name for it — the “bobblehead effect.’’

“We are changing the perception and maybe the reality of what it means to be a general,’’ said retired General Robert “Doc’’ Foglesong, who retired as the second-ranking Air Force officer in 2006.

“The fundamental question,’’ he said, “is whether this is shaping the acquisition system and influencing what the Pentagon buys. I think the answer is yes.’’

What? You mean an active-duty colonel might want to put a smile on the face of his retired commanding officer - now working at Lockheed or General Dynamics - by pushing a weapons system inside the Pentagon with the hope that his efforts might also someday get him a cushy job after retirement at said military contractor? Nah. Couldn't be. Surely there are rules to prevent that sort of thing?


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