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Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s recent decision to cut big ticket weapons systems (even as he was increasing defense spending by four percent overall) was met with predictable howls of outrage from members of Congress. Those protests, needless to say, have nothing to do with concern about protecting the country– unless you’re dumb enough to believe that the Pentagon can build a workable missile defense system– and everything to do with protecting the defense companies who provide so much money to members of Congress.
Here’s an interesting small-scale example of how the system works, involving Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, and General Dynamics:
Step 1, April 23, 2008: General Dynamics makes a $4,000 contribution to Wasserman’s personal Leadership PAC, Democrats Win Seats (and it kicks in another $1,500 in early 2009).
Step 2, May 22, 2008: General Dynamics opens a small office in Wasserman’s district.
Step 3, September 20, 2008: General Dynamics makes a $5,000 PAC contribution to Wasserman.
Step 4, Wasserman announces her fiscal year 2010 appropriations requests, which includes $9.7 million for a General Dynamics project at the company’s new Florida office.
Multiply that process 535 times and you get a defense budget.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”