Thursday, September 20, 2007

Senator Leahy: Against the war, but for the war profiteers?

The following statements can be found on Senator Leahy’s webpage….

I have been outspoken about the exaggerated and misleading statements of the Administration that led to military action in Iraq….

…The initial invasion in 2003 and the subsequent insurgency have destroyed the lives of many thousands of people…Still thousands more have been permanently disabled from grievous injuries.

…Since coming to the Senate, I have worked to help innocent, civilian victims of war. In 1989, I created a special fund now called the "Leahy War Victims Fund," which is administered by USAID to provide relief to civilians who have been disabled as a result of civil strife and warfare, including victims of landmines. In 2003, I authored a provision in the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act that authorized the use of Iraq relief and reconstruction funds to aid Iraqi civilians who suffered losses as a result of military operations there. The provision, similar to one I sponsored for Afghan civilians, has resulted in millions of dollars to assist communities and families who suffered losses as a result of U.S. bombs that missed their targets. (emphasis added)

How does this philosophy square with the following announcement in April 2007?….

From Patrick Leahy's website

Leahy Announces $149 M. Army Contract Installment
For Burlington’s General Dynamics

BURLINGTON (Tuesday, April 10) – Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Tuesday that General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products of Burlington will receive a $149 million installment for a contract awarded to the firm in April 2005. The contract, which has a total possible value of $900 million, is for the production of the Hydra-70 rocket. To date, the five-year contract has brought over $500 million to the firm, which maintains its high-level design, engineering, and product support center in Burlington.

The Hydra-70 rocket, which has seen extensive use in Afghanistan and Iraq, is a flexible and effective weapon that can be deployed from both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. It has become the world’s most widely used helicopter-launched weapon system. The Army intended to scale back production of the rocket system in 2003, but Congress, led by Leahy’s efforts, was instrumental in reversing the decision (emphasis added), based on its continuing usefulness and proven track record. As a result, funds for fiscal years 2005 through 2009, including the contract awarded to General Dynamics, will be allocated to continuing the system.

General Dynamics’ Burlington facility will oversee and manage the project. A sister facility in Arkansas will share production responsibilities.

“The smart, hardworking Vermonters at General Dynamics’ Burlington facility have once again been chosen by the Army to provide these highly effective rockets,” said Leahy. “Our air men and women depend on the usefulness and precision of this important tool on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Army continues to recognize the dependability of the rockets produced at the Burlington plant.”

Leahy is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and of its Defense Subcommittee, which handles the Senate’s work in writing the annual Defense Department budget bill, which includes the Army’s budget.

General Dynamics and weapons testing in Jericho Vermont

Burlington-based General Dynamics Armament Systems also operates the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho, Vermont for system development, qualification, and testing of armament and ammunition (See map). Between 1969-73 over 20,000 anti-tank rounds containing 4,500 kg (10,000 lb.) of depleted uranium (DU) was discharged at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Vermont. Afterwards, 4 inches of contaminated topsoil at the range was scrapped and shipped to the low level radioactive waste dump at Barnwell, South Carolina. -- Citation: G. Bukowski, D. A. Lopez, and F. M. McGehee III: Uranium Battlefields Home & Abroad: Depleted Uranium Use by the US Department of Defense; Rural Alliance for Military Accountability, Progressive Alliance for Community Empowerment, Citizen Alert, (March 1993).

While this soil scraping removed some of the depleted uranium it should be noted that DU rounds are designed to penetrate steel plating and other armor. It is quite likely that many of the depleted uranium rounds penetrated into the ground much further than 4 inches.

“Over time, fine DU dust particles deposited on the ground will be absorbed into the soil, while bigger DU fragments remain intact on the ground and start to corrode. In most cases, no more than 10% of the penetrators hit their intended target. DU penetrators that do not hit a target or hit 'soft' targets (non-armored vehicles) do not generate significant dust. Most munitions that impact on soft ground, such as clay or sand, penetrate intact into the ground (down to a few meters depending on the type of soil)” emphasis added citation: International Atomic Energy Agency, 2007

Some links about Ethan Allen Firing Range

link for national "Merchants of Death" campaign against weapons manufacturers:

Map of General Dynamics facilities in Vermont (click on image to see full size)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Money Spent by General Dynamics
to Influence Decisions and Secure Future Federal Contracts
1997 through 2004


Campaign Contributions
(from U.S. Gov't)


*Campaign contributions are reported in two-year cycles.
** In 2002, McCain-Feingold (the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) banned soft money contributions. The United States Supreme Court upheld the soft money ban in 2003.
NCA means Not Currently Available.

Senior Government Officials
Turned Current & Former Company Executives for General Dynamics
1997 through 2004
Lt. General David K. Heebner, U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the Army
Phebe N. Novakovic, Former Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Former Deputy Secretary of Defense

Rear Admiral Kendell Pease, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Chief Information Officer of the U.S. Navy

Lt. Colonel William O. Schmieder, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), Former Senior Officer in Department of the Air Force, Former Senior Officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense
Rear Admiral John F. "Dugan" Shipway, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Director of Strategic Systems Programs - U.S. Navy, Former Commander of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Former Deputy Commander for Submarines at Navy Sea Systems Command

Senior Government Officials
Turned Current & Former Board Directors for General Dynamics
1997 through 2004
Lt. General Julius W. Becton, Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Commander of the U.S. Army Operational Test & Evaluation Agency

Frank C. Carlucci, Former Secretary of Defense

Admiral William J. Crowe Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Member of the Defense Policy Board, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Admiral Jay L. Johnson, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Chief of Naval Operations

General George A. Joulwan, U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Member of the Defense Science Board, Former Supreme Allied Commander - Europe, Former Special Assistant to the President, Former Commander-in-Chief - European Command

Paul G. Kaminski, Member of the Defense Science Board, Former Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology

General John M. "Jack" Keane, U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Former Deputy Commander-in-Chief - Atlantic Command
General Lester L. Lyles, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), Former Commander of the Air Force Materiel Command

Carl E. Mundy, Jr., Former Commandant-U.S. Marine Corps, Former Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

General Gordon R. Sullivan, U.S. Army (Ret.), Former U.S. Army Chief of Staff

Admiral Carlisle A.H. Trost, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Chief of Naval Operations, Former Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Senior Government Officials
Turned Current & Former Registered Company Lobbyists
for General Dynamics
1997 through 2004
Former Rep. Jack Edwards (R-AL) (Ervin Technical Associates)

Former Rep. Joseph M. McDade (R-PA) (Ervin Technical Associates)

Former Rep. Martin A. Russo (D-IL) (Cassidy & Associates)

Firms Registered to Lobby for General Dynamics
1997 through 2004
Baker C. Consulting
Bergson & Co.
Boland & Madigan
Cambridge International Inc.
Cassidy & Associates
Conaway Group
Ervin Technical Associates
Gallagher Group
Mayer, Brown et al.
Magliocchetti Assoc, Paul
Maurer, William W.
McBee Strategic Consulting
McDermott, O'Neill & Associates
Mehl, Griffin & Bartek
Miller & Associates, Denny
Mock & McSwain Consulting
Bob Moss Associates
Paw & Associates
PE McManus Associates
PMA Group
Potomac Advocates
Rhoads Maguire Group
Rhoads, Weber, Shandwick
Government Relations
Robison International
RV Davis & Associates
Skadden, Arps et al.
Sneed, Robert D.
Stinson, John M.
Walton, John C.
Weaver, Paul A.
Wight, Bill
Winston & Strawn

POGO's list of the top 20 government contractors for FY 2002 was compiled by Government Executive magazine (Vol. 35, No. 12, August 2003, p. 24). The dollars for total, individual, political action committee, and soft money
contributions, as of December 1, 2003, were provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. Lobbying expenditures were compiled by POGO from information obtained from Political Money Line and the Center for Responsive Politics. Contract award dollars from FY 1997 through FY 2002 were compiled by Government Executive magazine. In February 2004, DOD listed its top 100 contractors in FY 2003 and we provided those DOD contract award figures for completeness.

For more information about the revolving door between the government and federal contractors and about campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures, please see POGO's report "The Politics of Contracting." For more detailed information regarding misconduct by the government's top contractors, see POGO's Federal Contractor Misconduct Database and POGO's report Federal Contractor Misconduct: Failures of the Suspension and Debarment System.
War Gains
Vermont's Pentagon payout: What's our bang for the buck?

by Ken Picard
Seven Days

The Pentagon doesn't discriminate between red states and blue states. The spoils of war come in just one color -- green. Like it or not, military spending is on the rise, and the reelection of President Bush all but assures that the trend will continue. Between 1997 and 2003, the U.S. defense budget rose from $296 billion to $379 billion, not including supplemental appropriations; experts say it could surpass $500 billion in 2005. Next year, according to the World Policy Institute, the United States will spend about $1.15 billion per day on the military -- or $11,000 per second.

A rising tide raises all ships, and the flood of money that's flowing from the Pentagon to civilian defense contractors is lifting Vermont, too. Though pacifistic and peace-minded Vermonters prefer not to think about it, the U.S. Department of Defense funnels hundreds of millions of dollars each year into the state's economy, buying goods and services, funding research and development, providing start-up grants to new high-tech firms, and ultimately, creating new jobs.

While Vermont can't hope to compete with larger states like California and Texas in manufacturing or research-and-development money, this state often fares better than others of comparable size and population when vying for defense and homeland-security dollars. Largely, that's due to the influence of Senator Patrick Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee who sits on the subcommittees on defense and homeland security. Leahy also wrote the rule that requires every state to get at least a minimum share of all homeland-security grants, which in Vermont totaled more than $51 million in 2004.

It's not easy to measure the state's exact slice of the Pentagon pie, since defense dollars can flow through a number of different channels, depending upon what the money is used for: research and development, small-business seed money, direct purchases, and so forth. But according to the Federal Procurement Data System, the Department of Defense is by far the biggest spender among government agencies with civilian contracts in Vermont. It drops more dollars on Vermont than four other big-budget federal agencies combined.

Not surprisingly, the military's Vermont shopping list is growing. In fiscal year 2000, the Pentagon spent about $243 million on defense contracts here; by 2003, the number had jumped to $455 million. In comparison, the second largest federal spender in 2003 -- the U.S. Department of Transportation -- spent just $25.6 million in Vermont; Veterans Affairs spent $7.9 million.

But even a state-by-state breakdown of defense contracts doesn't necessarily paint an accurate picture of where the money ends up or who benefits from it. For one thing, the state in which a company is headquartered -- and thus where a contract may be listed -- isn't necessarily the state where the company or the majority of its employees or performs most of its work.

Goodrich Aerospace of Vergennes is an example. The company manufactures a wide range of high-tech electronic, fuel and utility systems for both military and civilian uses. Goodrich products can be found on everything from Boeing 727s to Black Hawk helicopters and F-16 fighter jets; their products have been on every manned space flight since the Apollo missions. Goodrich, which has been in Vermont for more than 50 years, currently employees about 700 people as engineers, assemblers, technicians and the like, and about 60 percent of its work is for the U.S. government. But because its parent company, Goodrich Corporation, is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, some state-by-state breakdowns don't reveal the millions of dollars that Goodrich contributes to Vermont's economy.

On the other side of that equation --that is, at the top of the local defense-spending list --is General Dynamics Armament Systems of Burlington, the state's largest defense contractor. Between 2000 and 2003, General Dynamics' armament division saw its Pentagon contracts jump from $14.7 million to $437 million.

But looks can be deceiving, explains Art Woolf, an associate professor of economics at the University of Vermont. With 550 employees, the company's impact on the local economy is far less than it was in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the facility -- then General Electric -- employed nearly 3000 people in Burlington. Plus, Woolf notes, many of the government dollars probably pass right through Vermont to out-of-state plants or subcontractors that now do most of the company's manufacturing.

A better way to assess the impact of defense dollars in Vermont is to look at employment, suggests Burlington policy analyst Doug Hoffer. How many local jobs do defense contractors provide and what do they pay? It's also important to look at where these companies buy their supplies and how much business they do with other Vermont firms. "It's never enough to say how much money goes through the company," says Hoffer. "You have to say how much of it stays in Vermont, to be recycled in Vermont."

In this respect, General Dynamics differs significantly from a smaller, less traditional defense contractor in Vermont: New England Woodcraft of Forest Dale. This family-owned and operated-company on the western edge of the Green Mountain National Forest manufactures institutional wood furniture -- beds, desks, dressers -- that is sold to colleges, universities and the U.S. military. New England Woodcraft has been around for more than 40 years and employs about 100 people full-time, but only began getting defense contracts a few years ago. In 2003, the company landed a $4.2 million contract to build furniture for military barracks. Today, defense contracts account for about half the company's business.

But unlike General Dynamics, New England Woodcraft does all of its manufacturing in Vermont and buys all of its raw materials from local and regional sources. Moreover, when New England Woodcraft adds jobs, most of the workers are hired locally, not through national searches. New England Woodcraft's manufacturing jobs don't pay as well as the high-tech jobs at General Dynamics. But all of the company's profits go to its Vermont owners, not Wall Street investors.

Another factor to consider is how defense dollars "multiply" in the local economy in terms of creating new jobs and earnings for other Vermont businesses. Hoffer cites U.S. Department of Commerce figures showing that two traditional defense-related categories -- aircraft and missile engines, and ordnances and accessories -- don't multiply in the Vermont economy as well as other industries do.

Every $1 million increase in wood-furniture manufacturing in Vermont translates into $1.88 million in total economic output for the state. But every $1 million uptick in ordnance and accessories spending in Vermont translates into just $1.47 million for the Vermont economy.

The same holds true for job creation, Hoffer says. Com-merce Department figures show that every $1 million increase in wood-furniture manufacturing adds 20 new jobs in the state. But a comparable $1 million increase in manufacturing of aircraft or missile engines translates into just 14 new jobs in Vermont; for ordinance and accessories manufacturing, 12 new jobs.

Other concerns are the stability of those jobs, and the company's long-term employment prospects. Does the company produce goods and services that have both military and civilian applications, or does its business rely entirely on a war economy? As Hoffer points out, "if you've got one customer that's 80 percent of your business, you've got a problem."

Mine Safety Appliance employs 120 people at its helmet-manufacturing plant in Newport. In the last year, the Pittsburgh-based company secured three defense contracts totaling more than $78 million to produce more than 230,000 helmets for the U.S. Army. According to a company spokesman, defense contracts account for just 15 percent of the company's global sales, but all the work done in Newport is for the U.S. military.

The Newport plant may seem vulnerable to the ebbs and flows of U.S. military operations overseas, but the helmets produced in Newport also have applications for homeland security and law-enforcement. And the U.S. Army always needs helmets, even in peacetime. Moreover, according to the company's spokesman, the Newport production line can be converted to produce similar products, like fire helmets and riot gear.

Some defense contractors in Vermont produce more obvious "dual-use" technologies. The portable hospital units Mobile Medical of St. Johnsbury builds for the U.S. military have a wide range of domestic applications. Other contractors produce military goods that are needed even after conflicts end. For example, Applied Research Associates of South Royalton builds remote-controlled tractors that deactivate and remove undetonated landmines and other ordnances. For better or worse, this technology will likely be needed throughout the world for years to come.

Even after you've untangled the economic puzzle of local military contracts, that still leaves questions about the ethics of profiting from armed conflict. "If you're asking me if defense spending is good for Vermont, I'll say that it's probably a regrettably good thing for Vermont," Woolf concludes. "It's like saying, is it good for a hardware store when I buy a lock to put on my door? Well, yeah, the hardware store is selling me a lock, but it'd sure be nice to live in a world where I don't have to put a lock on my door."