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National Security Advisors to Top Republican Nominees Have Strong Defense Industry Ties

Much has been said about the controversial provision in the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act that allegedly allows for the indefinite detention of American terrorist suspects. Liberals have

/defense-authorization-act_b_1146291.html”>criticized the provision and called on President Obama to veto it, while Conservatives, including Republicans in the House Armed Services Committee, have taken pains to defend it and debunk what they call common “myths and misinformation” about the bill. This debate has overshadowed the fact that, even in a political climate dominated by ideas of fiscal austerity and spending cuts, a bill authorizing $670 billion in defense spending is passed with very little public debate about the spending itself. This lack of debate illustrates that even in today’s economic environment, the bond between government policymakers and the defense industry remains as strong as ever.

Indeed, a recent article published by Bloomberg News indicates that national security advisors to top Republican candidates have strong ties to the defense industry. In all, companies connected to these advisors have received over $40B in defense contracts since 2008. William Schneider, former State Department undersecretary for security assistance, science and technology, and a current advisor to New Gingrich, serves on the board of a number of companies in the defense sector. He’s on the board of a U.S. subsidiary of BAE Systems Plc., (Europe’s largest defense contractor), which makes the Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle and “provides information technology systems to American intelligence agencies and repair services to the U.S. Navy.” He’s also on the board of MBDA Inc. (the U.S. subsidiary of Europe’s largest missile maker), as well as that of Defense Group Inc., a Falls Church, Virginia-based company “whose focus includes research and development in intelligence and cybersecurity.” Alone, Defense Group has received roughly $208 million in defense-related contracts since 2008.

The article also lists a number of advisors to Mitt Romney with ties to the defense industry: Michael Chertoff (former Homeland Security secretary), General Michael Hayden (former National Security Agency Director and Central Intelligence Agency Director), Cofer Black (former Central Intelligence Agency Director and State Department Counterterrorism Director), Dov Zakheim (former Undersecretary of Defense), and Mary Beth Long (former Assistant Secretary of Defense Mary Beth Long). More specifically, six companies that are tied to a number of the advisors above provide cybersecurity services to the federal government: BAE, InfoZen Inc., and security-clearance company KeyPoint Government Solutions Inc. (all of which have Michael Chertoff as a board member); Motorola Solutions Inc. and Alion (whose boards include Michael Hayden); and Blackbird (where Cofer Black is a vice president).

Admittedly, it is arguably impossible in today’s political world for national security advisors to mainstream presidential candidates to be completely devoid of industry ties. Indeed, President Obama famously (and controversially) violated his self-imposed ban on lobbyists in his administration with his 2009 nomination of William Lynn for Deputy Secretary of Defense. Lynn joined Raytheon in 2002, and from then until his nomination in 2009 the defense industry giant received $54B in government contracts. The administration argued that Lynn was a “uniquely qualified” individual who should be able to serve “the public interest in these critical times,” and today, Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich would

likely offer similar explanations. However, the statistics above nonetheless illustrate that the connection between D.C. policymakers and the defense industry remains as strong as ever.

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