Lockheed Martin's Shadow Government

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by Tom Engelhardt: The
Urge to Surge

As a boy in
the 1950s, I can remember my father, a World War II vet, becoming
livid while insisting that our family not shop at a local grocery
store.  Its owners, he swore, had been "war profiteers"
and he would never forgive them.  He practically spat the phrase
out.  I have no idea whether it was true.  All I know
is that, for him, "war profiteer" was the worst of curses,
the most horrifying of sins.  In 1947, Arthur Miller wrote
a wrenching play on the subject of war profiteering, All
My Sons
, based on a news story about a woman who turned
her father in for selling faulty parts to the U.S. military during
my father’s war. It was a hit and, in 1948, was made into a movie
starring Edward G. Robinson. 

Now, skip 42
years.  In September 1990, I wrote an op-ed for the New
York Times with the title "Privatize the Pentagon,"
a distinctly tongue-in-cheek column suggesting that it was time
for the U.S. to develop what I termed a "free-enterprise-oriented
military."  "Looking back," I wrote then, "isn’t
it odd that unlike the environment, the post office, the poor, and
Eastern Europe, the military has experienced no privatizing pressures?"

No privatizing
pressures?  Little did I know.  Today, if my dad were
alive to fume about "war profiteers," people would have
no idea why he was so worked up.  Today, only a neocon could
write a meaningful play with "war profiteering" as its
theme, and my sarcastic column of 1990 now reads as if it were written
in Klingon.  Don’t blame my dad, Arthur Miller, or me if we
couldn’t imagine a future in which for-profit war would be the norm
in our American world, in which a "free-enterprise-oriented
military" would turn out to be the functional definition of
"the U.S. military," in which so many jobs from KP to
mail delivery, guard duty to the training of foreign forces, have
been outsourced to crony capitalist or rent-a-gun outfits like Halliburton,
KBR,
Xe Services (formerly
Blackwater
), and Dyncorp
that think it’s just great to make a buck off war.  As they
see it, permanent war couldn’t be a dandier or more profitable way
to organize our world. 

If one giant
outfit gives war profiteering its full modern meaning, though, it’s
Lockheed Martin.  You’ll know what I’m talking about when you
read today’s post.  As much as any robber baron of the nineteenth
century, that corporation has long deserved its own biography. 
Now, William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Initiative
at the New America Foundation, has written Prophets
of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial
Complex
, the definitive account of how that company came
to lord it over our national security world.  It’s a staggering
tale that would leave my father spinning in his grave.  (To
catch Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast audio interview in which
Hartung discusses the unsettling reach of Lockheed Martin, click
here
 or, to download it to your iPod, here.) 
~ Tom

How
a Giant Weapons Maker Became the New Big Brother

By William
D. Hartung

Have you noticed
that Lockheed Martin, the giant weapons corporation, is shadowing
you?  No?  Then you haven’t been paying much attention. 
Let me put it this way: If you have a life, Lockheed Martin is likely
a part of it.

True, Lockheed
Martin doesn’t actually run
the U.S. government, but sometimes it seems as if it might as well. 
After all, it received
$36 billion in government contracts in 2008 alone, more than any
company in history.  It now does work for more
than two dozen
government agencies from the Department of Defense
and the Department of Energy to the Department of Agriculture and
the Environmental Protection Agency.  It’s involved in surveillance
and information processing for the CIA, the FBI, the Internal Revenue
Service (IRS), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Pentagon,
the Census Bureau, and the Postal Service.

Oh, and Lockheed
Martin has even helped
train
those friendly Transportation Security Administration
agents who pat you down at the airport. Naturally, the company produces
cluster
bombs
, designs nuclear weapons,
and makes the F-35
Lightning
(an overpriced, behind-schedule, underperforming combat
aircraft that is slated to be bought by customers in more than a
dozen countries) – and when it comes to weaponry, that’s just
the start of a long list. In recent times, though, it’s moved beyond
anything usually associated with a weapons corporation and has been
virtually running its own foreign policy, doing everything from
hiring interrogators
for U.S. overseas prisons (including at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and
Abu Ghraib in Iraq) to managing
a private intelligence network in Pakistan and helping write the
Afghan constitution.

A For-Profit
Government-in-the-Making

If you want
to feel a tad more intimidated, consider Lockheed Martin’s sheer
size for a moment. After all, the company receives one of every
14 dollars doled out by the Pentagon. In fact, its government contracts,
thought about another way, amount to a "Lockheed Martin tax"
of $260 per taxpaying household in the United States, and no weapons
contractor has more power or money to wield to defend its turf.
It spent $12 million on congressional lobbying
and campaign
contributions
in 2009 alone.  Not surprisingly, it’s the
top
contributor
to the incoming House Armed Services Committee chairman,
Republican Howard P. "Buck" McKeon of California, giving
more than $50,000 in the most recent election cycle. It also tops
the list
of donors to Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), the powerful
chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the self-described
"#1 earmarks guy in the U.S. Congress."

Add to all
that its 140,000 employees and its claim
to have facilities in 46 states, and the scale of its clout starts
to become clearer.  While the bulk of its influence-peddling
activities may be perfectly legal, the company also has quite a
track record when it comes to law-breaking: it ranks
number one
on the "contractor misconduct" database
maintained by the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington-DC-based
watchdog group. 

How in the
world did Lockheed Martin become more than just a military contractor? 
Its first significant foray outside the world of weaponry came in
the early 1990s when plain old Lockheed (not yet merged with Martin
Marietta) bought Datacom Inc., a company specializing in providing
services for state and city governments, and turned it into the
foundation for a new business unit called Lockheed Information Management
Services (IMS).  In turn, IMS managed to win
contracts
in 44 states and several foreign countries for tasks
ranging from collecting parking fines and tolls to tracking down
"deadbeat dads" and running "welfare to work"
job-training programs. The result was a number of high-profile failures,
but hey, you can’t do everything right, can you?

Under pressure
from Wall Street to concentrate on its core business – implements
of destruction – Lockheed Martin sold
IMS in 2001.  By then, however, it had developed a taste for
non-weapons work, especially when it came to data collection and
processing.  So it turned to the federal government where it
promptly racked up deals with the IRS, the Census Bureau, and the
U.S. Postal Service, among other agencies. 

As a result,
Lockheed Martin is now involved in nearly every interaction you
have with the government.  Paying your taxes?  Lockheed
Martin is all over it.  The company is even creating
a system that provides comprehensive data on every contact taxpayers
have with the IRS from phone calls to face-to-face meetings.

Want to stand
up and be counted by the U.S. Census?  Lockheed Martin will
take care of it.  The company runs
three centers – in Baltimore, Phoenix, and Jeffersonville,
Indiana – that processed up to 18 tractor-trailers full of
mail per day at the height of the 2010 Census count.  For $500
million it is developing the Decennial Response Information Service
(DRIS), which will collect and analyze information gathered from
any source, from phone calls or the Internet to personal visits.
According
to
Preston Waite, associate director of the Census, the DRIS
will be a "big catch net, catching all the data that comes
in no matter where it comes from."

Need to get
a package across the country?  Lockheed Martin cameras will
scan
bar codes and recognize addresses, so your package can be sorted
"without human intervention," as the company’s web site
puts it.

Plan on committing
a crime?  Think twice.  Lockheed Martin is in
charge of
the FBI’s Integrated Automatic Fingerprint Identification
System (IAFIS), a database of 55 million sets of fingerprints. 
The company also produces
biometric identification devices that will know who you are by scanning
your iris, recognizing your face, or coming up with novel ways of
collecting your fingerprints or DNA.  As the company likes
to say, it’s in the business of making everyone’s lives (and so
personal data) an "open book," which is, of course, of
great benefit to us all. "Thanks to biometric technology,"
the company proclaims,
"people don’t have to worry about forgetting a password or
bringing multiple forms of identification.  Things just got
a little easier."

Are you a New
York City resident concerned about a "suspicious package"
finding its way onto the subway platform?  Lockheed Martin
tried
to
do something about that, too, thanks to a contract from the
city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to install 3,000
security cameras and motion sensors that would spot such packages,
as well as the people carrying them, and notify the authorities. 
Only problem: the cameras didn’t work as advertised and the MTA
axed Lockheed Martin and cancelled
the $212 million contract.

Collecting
Intelligence on You

If it seems
a little creepy to you that the same company making ballistic missiles
is also processing your taxes, accessing your fingerprints, scanning
your packages, ensuring that it’s easier than ever to collect your
DNA, and counting you for the census, rest assured: Lockheed Martin’s
interest in getting inside your private life via intelligence collection
and surveillance has remained remarkably undiminished in the twenty-first
century.

Tim Shorrock,
author of the seminal book Spies
for Hire
, has described Lockheed Martin as "the largest
defense contractor and private intelligence force in the world."
As far back as 2002, the company plunged
into
the "Total Information Awareness" (TIA) program
that was former National Security Advisor Admiral John Poindexter’s
pet project.  A giant database to collect telephone numbers,
credit cards, and reams of other personal data from U.S. citizens
in the name of fighting terrorism, the program was de-funded by
Congress the following year, but concerns remain that the National
Security Agency is now running a similar secret program.

In the meantime,
since at least 2004, Lockheed Martin has been involved in the Pentagon’s
Counterintelligence Field Activity
(CIFA), which collected personal
data on American citizens for storage in a database known as "Threat
and Local Observation Notice" (and far more dramatically by
the acronym TALON). While Congress shut down the domestic spying
aspect of the program in 2007 (assuming, that is, that the Pentagon
followed orders), CIFA itself continues to operate. In 2005, Washington
Post military and intelligence expert William Arkin revealed
that, while the database was theoretically being used to track anyone
suspected of terrorism, drug trafficking, or espionage, "some
military gumshoe or overzealous commander just has to decide someone
is a ‘threat to the military’" for it to be brought into play.
Among the "threatening" citizens actually tracked by CIFA
were members
of antiwar groups
.  As part of its role in CIFA, Lockheed
Martin was not only monitoring intelligence, but also "estimating
future threats."  (Not exactly inconvenient for a giant
weapons outfit that might see antiwar activism as a threat!)

Lockheed Martin
is also intimately bound up in the workings of the National Security
Agency, America’s largest spy outfit.  In addition to producing
spy satellites for the NSA, the company is in charge of "Project
Groundbreaker,"
a $5 billion, 10-year effort to upgrade
the agency’s internal telephone and computer networks.

While Lockheed
Martin may well be watching you at home – it’s my personal
nominee for twenty-first-century "Big Brother" –
it has also been involved in questionable activities abroad that
go well beyond supplying weapons to regions in conflict.  There
were, of course, those interrogators it recruited for America’s
offshore prison system from Guantanamo Bay to Afghanistan (and the
charges of abuses that so naturally went with them), but the real
scandal the company has been embroiled
in
involves overseeing an assassination program in Pakistan.
Initially, it was billed as an information gathering operation using
private companies to generate data the CIA and other U.S. intelligence
agencies allegedly could not get on their own.  Instead, the
companies turned out to be supplying targeting information used
by U.S. Army Special Forces troops to locate and kill suspected
Taliban leaders.

The private
firms involved were managed by Lockheed Martin under a $22 million
contract from the U.S. Army.  As Mark Mazetti of the New
York Times has reported,
there were just two small problems with the effort: "The American
military is largely prohibited from operating in Pakistan. 
And under Pentagon rules, the army is not allowed to hire contractors
for spying."  Much as in the Iran/Contra
scandal
of the 1980s, when Oliver North set up a network of
shell companies to evade the laws against arming right-wing paramilitaries
in Nicaragua, the Army used Lockheed Martin to do an end run around
rules limiting U.S. military and intelligence activities in Pakistan. 
It should not, then, be too surprising that one of the people involved
in the Lockheed-Martin-managed network was Duane
"Dewey" Claridge
, an ex-CIA man who had once been
knee deep in the Iran/Contra affair.

A Twenty-First
Century Big Brother

There has also
been a softer side to Lockheed Martin’s foreign policy efforts. 
It has involved
contracts for services that range from recruiting election monitors
for Bosnia and the Ukraine and attempting to reform Liberia’s justice
system to providing personnel involved in drafting the Afghan constitution. 
Most of these projects have been carried out by the company’s PAE
unit
, the successor to a formerly independent firm, Pacific
Architects and Engineers, that made its fortune building and maintaining
military bases during the Vietnam War.

However, the
"soft power" side of Lockheed Martin’s operations (as
described on its web site) may soon diminish substantially as the
company has put PAE up
for sale
.  Still, the revenues garnered from these activities
will undoubtedly be more than offset by a new $5
billion, multi-year contract
awarded by the U.S. Army to provide
logistics support for U.S. Special Forces in dozens of countries.

Consider
all this but a Lockheed Martin précis.  A full
accounting
of its "shadow government" would fill volumes. 
After all, it’s the number-one contractor not only for the Pentagon,
but also for the Department of Energy. It ranks number two for the
Department of State, number three for the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration, and number four for the Departments of Justice
and Housing and Urban Development.  Even listing the government
and quasi-governmental agencies the company has contracts with is
a daunting task, but here’s just a partial run-down: the Department
of Agriculture, the Bureau of Land Management, the Census Bureau,
the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense (including the Army,
the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force and the Missile Defense Agency),
the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Environmental
Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Technology Department, the
Food and Drug Administration, the General Services Administration,
the Geological Survey,  the Department of Homeland Security,
the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Internal Revenue Service, the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes
of Health, the Department of State, the Social Security Administration,
the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Postal Service, the Department
of Transportation, the Transportation Security Agency, and the Department
of Veterans Affairs.

When President
Eisenhower warned
50 years ago this month of the dangers of "unwarranted influence,
whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,"
he could never have dreamed that one for-profit weapons outfit would
so fully insinuate itself into so many aspects of American life. 
Lockheed Martin has helped turn Eisenhower’s dismal mid-twentieth-century
vision into a for-profit military-industrial-surveillance complex
fit for the twenty-first century, one in which no governmental activity
is now beyond its reach.

I feel safer
already.

January
12, 2011

Tom
Engelhardt [send him mail]
co-founder
of the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com, is the co-founder of
the American Empire
Project
. His book, The
End of Victory Culture
, has recently been updated in a newly
issued edition. He edited, and his work appears in, the first best
of TomDispatch book, The
World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire

(Verso), an alternative history of the mad Bush years. His new book
is The
American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's
. William
D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at
the New America Foundation and the author of Prophets
of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial
Complex
(Nation Books, January 2011).  To listen to
Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast audio interview in which Hartung
discusses the unsettling reach of Lockheed Martin, click
here
 or, to download it to your iPod, here.

The
Best of Tom Engelhardt

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