As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Military-Industrial Complex Stretches Their Tentacles

We're not going to get rid of lobbyists completely anytime soon. They are backed not only by lots of money but Constitutional protections (the right to petition your government for redress of grievances). And bills like the recovery package are catnip for lobbyists who want to get a piece of the action of all that money flowing into projects from the Feds (though I think the AP makes it out to be more sinister than it is). Obama has laudably tried to put in safeguards against this process and make ethics reform a hallmark of his Presidency.

The message is weakened by putting a Raytheon lobbyist into the #2 position at the Pentagon. Especially when the #1 position is Bush's leftover Defense Secretary. So the most senior appointment at Defense is someone who explicitly violates Obama's own ethics rules.

William Lynn III, the top lobbyist for Raytheon Co., was chosen by Obama and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for the position of deputy secretary of Defense.

The new ethics rules banned lobbyists from serving in the administration. But the executive order allowed waivers to let some former lobbyists take government jobs if doing so was in the public interest.

On Thursday, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the armed services committee, said he would need further information on the White House waiver for Lynn before considering his nomination.

Levin said he was worried that if Lynn had to recuse himself from any issue that could affect Raytheon, he would be unable to do his job effectively. The Pentagon deputy typically runs much of the day-to-day operation of the Defense Department and handles many key budget and procurement decisions.

Raytheon, one of the five largest U.S. defense contractors, is a key supplier of missiles and radar to the military. The Waltham, Mass.-based company also produces components of the missile defense system.

Great, so #2 at Defense will have at least some tangential interest in keeping the missile defense boondoggle alive.

The article claims that Bob Gates was the one who really pushed for this appointment. I would argue that the entire military-industrial complex did the pushing. The corporate infestation of military issues over the last 50 years has ensured that the only people qualified for these civilian jobs must have ties to industry. This is at least one area where I wouldn't expect a whole lot of change.

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