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IPFS News Link • Military Industrial Complex

US: Lockheed Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (from 2007)

• Corpwatch
by Richard Cummings
January 16th, 2007
 
 

In November of 2002, Stephen J. Hadley, deputy national security advisor, asked Bruce Jackson to meet with him in the White House. They met in Hadley's office on the ground floor of the West Wing, not far from the offices of Vice President Dick Cheney and then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Hadley had an exterior office with windows, an overt indicator of his importance within the West Wing hierarchy.

This was months before Secretary of State Colin Powell would go to the United Nations to make the administration's case for the invasion of Iraq, touting the subsequently discredited evidence of weapons of mass destruction. But according to Jackson, Hadley told him that "they were going to war and were struggling with a rationale" to justify it. Jackson, recalling the meeting, reports that Hadley said they were "still working out" a cause, too, but asked that he, Jackson, "set up something like the Committee on NATO" to come up with a rationale.

Jackson had launched the U.S. Committee on NATO, a nongovernmental pressure group, in 1996 with Hadley on board. The objective of the committee, originally called the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO, was to push for membership in the NATO military alliance for former Soviet bloc countries including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. 

What Bruce Jackson came up with for Hadley this time, in 2002, was the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. The mission statement of the committee says it was "formed to promote regional peace, political freedom and international security by replacing the Saddam Hussein regime with a democratic government that respects the rights of the Iraqi people and ceases to threaten the community of nations." The pressure group began pushing for regime change -- that is, military action to remove Hussein -- in the usual Washington ways, lobbying members of congress, working the media and throwing money around. The committee's pitch, or rationale as Hadley would call it, was that Saddam was a monster -- routinely violating human rights -- and a general menace in the Middle East.

"I didn't see the point about WMDs or an Al Queda connection," Jackson says. In his mind the human rights issue was sufficient to justify a war.

Jackson had long been a proponent of unseating Hussein, and the committee dovetailed with his quite real sense of mission. In addition to his role in the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and the U.S. Committee on NATO, he had also been president of the Project for Transitional Democracies, organized to "accelerate democratic reform" in Eastern Europe. 

Still, there is another way to view Jackson's activities. As The New York Times put it in a 1997 article, "at night Bruce Jackson is president of the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO, giving intimate dinners for senators and foreign officials. By day, he is director of strategic planning for Lockheed Martin Corporation, the world's biggest weapons maker."

That's how D.C. works. Many of the people making decisions have been in and out of the same set of revolving doors connecting government, conservative think tanks, lobbying firms, law firms and the defense industry. So strong is the bond between lobbyists, defense contractors and the Pentagon that it is known in Washington as "the iron triangle." And this triangle inevitably gets what it wants. Why? Because in the revolving door system, a defense contractor executive can surface as an official in the Department of Defense, from which position he can give lucrative contracts to his former employer, and his prospects for an even better paying job in the private sector brighten. Former aides to members of congress become handsomely paid lobbyists for the companies they were able to help in their position on Capitol Hill. Such lobbyists can spread their corporate-funded largesse to the friendliest members and their aides on the Hill. And so on.

These "blow-dried Republican lobbyists," as one Washington district court judge calls them, wield far more power than most of the elected officials in town. Forget dime-a-dozen congressmen. It's these operatives who get the best tables at the Capital Grille, where the power brokers lunch and sup. The lobbyists have their own lockers there, with personalized nameplates, where they store their vintage wines, ports and whiskies. They dine on the fine aged beef you can see through a window that allows guests to gaze into the refrigerated meat storage area. These people make up the K Street oligarchy that, despite all the vituperative rhetoric in recent years about campaign finance reform and insidious special interests, run Washington.

Bruce Jackson is a perfect example of this. While vice president for strategy and planning for Lockheed from 1999 to 2002, Jackson, by his own account, was also "responsible for the foreign policy platform at the 2000 Republican National Convention," to which he was a delegate. (The platform involved a dramatic increase in defense spending.) His title at the convention was chair of the platform subcommittee on foreign policy. He also served as co-chairman of the finance commission of Bob Dole's 1996 campaign. Prior to joining Lockheed, Jackson had served as executive director of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the think tank whose principles included Dick Cheney. PNAC served as the Bush administration's blueprint for preemptive war and authored a 1998 open letter to President Bill Clinton calling for military force to oust Saddam Hussein.

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