Wednesday, January 28, 2009

PREDATOR STATE SECURITY: The case of William Lynn

"A day after President Obama issued tough new ethics rules for administration employees, a key lawmaker raised questions about his nomination of a lobbyist to the No. 2 position at the Pentagon," reported the Los Angeles Times last week.

"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."

Last week, DD immediately thought of this as a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too rule. And I don't think I've ever read a major newspaper story in which a lobbyist's appointment to a government position overseeing the military or the national security industry was described as not being in the public interest.

(Except in minimized comments -- usually at the end of a story -- furnished by pesky watchdog groups. That it has been broached at the beginning of the Obama administration seems as much a function of it's curiosity as a rule for avoiding glaring conflicts-of-interest except whenever the president doesn't want to avoid glaring conflicts-of-interest as being something which draws attention to the new boss being sadly somewhat like the old boss.)

Lobbyists from weapons manufacturers -- in this specific case, it's spectacularly about missile production and missile defense initiatives -- are always doing what's in the public interest. Who else could be experts in the defense of the nation? It's common knowledge that this is so.

However, here on the left coast, DD recalls that about half of James K. Galbraith's "The Predator State" being devoted to describing identical practices across all areas of the federal government. And this constitutes a system, one which ensures the expedited transfer of funding from public coffers to the corporate sector, regardless of whether or not it's for something good. Some even see this as putting the fox in the hen house.

Galbraith's book is cut and dried in these matters. He describes this way of conducting affairs as a disaster for the country. But to take these descriptions too seriously is to invite suspicion that one is being overly critical and supercilious, or that one is blinded by dislike of lobbyists and toadies from the corporate sector to what is really good for our country.

Like strategic missile defense, a project which we know so benefits average Americans.

Think, one moment. How many people are really qualified to be civilian leaders at the Pentagon? Not too damn many, buddy. Intellectual power like that just isn't found anywhere else but in the private sector or weapons manufacturing.

"Even the toughest rules require reasonable exceptions," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement, reported by the LAT. "Our waiver provisions are designed to allow uniquely qualified individuals like ... Bill Lynn to serve the public interest in these critical times."

For the other side of the coin, a reasonable one, see here.

The original at the LA Times.

Predator state security -- from the archives.


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