Last Saturday, BBC world news reported that authorities in Saudi Arabia have launched a search for a missing American contractor working in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. A photocopy of the business card of Paul M. Johnson Jr, a 49 year old Apache Helicopter engineer working for Lockheed Martin, was released by suspected Al Qaida members as proof that they had kidnapped him.
“Our fighters of the Fallujah Brigade in the Arabian peninsula have kidnapped an American, a Christian, Paul M. Johnson Jr, born in 1955 and working as an aeronautics engineer,” said the statement signed “al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula”. The statement threatened to treat Johnson as detainees in Guantanamo Bay Cuba and Abu Ghraib prison have been treated – or perhaps better said Tortured – by American troops.
The most recent statement by the US state department urges all American citizens to leave Saudi Arabia. Thousands of engineers, weapons designers, and military trainers reside in this oil-rich country – and it is in light of these murders, that we need to do what the American Mainstream media has refused to do: and that is analyze the work being done by these contractors in the Middle east. Are these men innocent victims of terrorism? or does their work – as designers of bombs and weapons systems for US corporations – make them legitimate targets for revenge? These men were clearly singled out because of their participation in the development of machines that have already killed and are killing and terrorizing civilians all over the world.
The Apache Helicopter
Lockheed Martin’s Apache Helicopter is essentially a flying tank. It is designed to survive heavy attack but it’s main purpose is to inflict massive damage and death. The Apache is the primary attack helicopter in the U.S. arsenal. The US Defense Department has identified the Apache, first designed in the 1970s, as the most lethal helicopter ever created. The helicopter’s main rotor spins four 20 foot blades as it is powered by twin General Electric 701C turboshaft engines. General Electric, it should be noted, is one of the world’s top three producers of jet engines, supplying Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other military aircraft makers for the powering of airplanes and helicopters.
The Apache’s main function is to destroy heavily armored ground targets – such as tanks and bunkers. It is equipped with advanced day and nightvision equipment, but it is the deadly weaponry that is the Apache’s main function. The main weapon used on the Apache is the Hellfire Missile, which itself is a miniature aircraft complete with its own guidance system, steering control, and propultion system.
Apaches always come with rocket launchers and an automatic cannon attached, as well as a 30mm automatic Boeing M230 Chain Gun that fires 625 rounds per minute at “soft targets” – what the DoD refers to human beings as. In 2003, the cost to US taxpayers for each Apache Helicopter was 56 million dollars.
Paul Johnson’s work as systems developer for the Apache helicopter in Saudi Arabia perpetuated violence and unrest in an already war torn region. The US supplies the Israeli army, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates – with over 1000 US made and exported Apaches currently in service in these countries. The Apache was used by the US in both Gulf Wars, the war on Afghanistan, as well as in operations in Turkey, Bosnia, Kosovo, and South Korea. It is also famously known for its use by the Israeli army in the murder of Palestinians.
The Vinnell Corporation: A Northrop Grumman Subsidiary
Johnson’s kidnapping follows the death of Robert Jacobs, a 63 year old employee of the Vinnell Corporation, a Northrop Grumman subsidiary, who’s 1400 American Saudi based employees are responsible for the training and arming of the Saudi National Guard. Jacobs was shot at his home in the capital city’s neighborhood of Al-khaleej, a province predominantly used to house westerners.
Northrop Grumman Mission System’s president Don Winter issued a press release on June 8 th regarding Jacob’s death. The press release, available on Vinnell.com said “As you know, Northrop Grumman provides training services to the Saudi Arabian National Guard through Vinnell Arabia under a contract to the U.S. Army. Please remember the family of this employee and all of our employees in Saudi Arabia in your thoughts and prayers. ”
Interesting that Winter doesn’t send his thoughts and prayers to the other victims of Vinnell’s services. The Vinnell Corporation is a different kind of military contrator – a leader in the field of a whole new type of defense corporations: privatized Military Firms.
Peter Singer, author of Corporate Warriors: The rise of the privatized military industry, describes these entities as “business organizations that trade in professional services intricately linked to warfare. They are corporate bodies that specialize in the provision of military skills, including combat operations, strategic planning, intelligence, risk assessment, operational support, training and technical skills. By their very fact of their function, they break down what has long been seen as the traditional responsibilities of government.”.
Northrop Grumman’s Vinnell Corporation is just one of a slew of these Privatized Military firms. Founded in 1975, Vinnell currently employs 1400 personel in the middle east, the majority of whom are ex-US special forces, working to train the 75,000 strong Saudi Arabian National Guard. Over the past 22 years Vinnell employees have become an integral part of the Guard, who’s primary mission is to protect the Saudi Royal Family during internal political unrest. Vinnell supplies the arms, the personell, and the training.
Why was Vinnell employee Robert Jacobs a target? Perhaps it was Vinnell’s newest conquest that has put the company’s employees in jeapordy. Last summer, following the so-called “end” of the war in Iraq, Vinnell won a one-year contract to train 9 battalions of 1000 men each for the new Iraqi army. For decades, army green berets were assigned to that work. Vinnell’s 48 million dollar Pentagon contract came just days after it came to the public’s attention that Vice President dick Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, was over charging the pentagon for these services and not accomplishing any of their stated goals.
The attacks are not new, however. A Saudi apartment complex housing Vinnell workers was attacked two years ago killing 35 people. It is not simply the US invasion of Iraq that has created a stigma for US contractors working in the area. It is much larger than that.
Privatized Military firms are not present only the Middle East. Their global presence is felt in Angola, Sierra Leone, and the Congo – as firms like Military Professional Resources Incorporated work to secure corporate and government interest in the DeBeer’s monopolized diamond mines. MPRI advertises itself as possessing “the greatest corporate military enterprise in the world.”
The presence of MPRI, Vinnell, DynCorp, and Executive Outcomes, have an advantage in South America, Asia, and Europe. At least seven US Based military companies are active in the ongoing conflict in Colombia, supposedly to aid the US in the drug war. DynCorp, perhaps the most famous mercenaries for hire, just recently received the contract to train the new Haitian National Police Force. According to Peter Singer, “Dyncorp even maintains an “on call” list of Spanish-speaking personnel, in case the firm is ever hired to staff a mission in post-Castro Cuba.”
Government Military Spending. Case Study: Lockheed Martin
In 2003 congress passed an astronomical 401 billion dollar defense budget for 2004. Not including money for the war in Iraq. Of these billions and billions of dollars of our money, a huge chunk of it is dished out to companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Electric, and Raytheon to build the us arsenal’s newest generation of weapons technology.
In 2003, Lockheed martin, America’s number one defense contractor in contracts awarded as well as sales abroad, won 21.9 billion dollars from the pentagon. That is the equivalent of 105 dollars straight out of the pocket of each taxpayer in this country. Lockheed is not only America’s top weapons contractor, but in terms of sales, is the number one exporter – of anything – in this country.
In 2001, Lockheed Martin was awarded the world’s largest weapons contract ever, a 200 billion dollar deal to build the Joint Strike Fighter – a “next generation” combat jet that will eventually replace all aircraft used by the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.
The Defense Department’s Joint Strike Fighter webpage – which can be found at www.jsf.mil – describes the plane as follows: “The multi mission, supersonic Lockheed Martin JSF meets the requirements of all services with enhanced lethality, survivability and reduced vulnerability.
Vance Coffman is Lockheed Martin’s CEO. As top dog of the nation’s largest weapons manufacturer, he just could be the nation’s #1 war profiteer. Last year, Coffman’s salary was 25.3 million dollars. In contrast, an Army private in Iraq earns, including extra combat pay, about $19,600 a year. It would take a G.I. 1,293 years of combat just to earn Coffman’s 2003 wages. Even the commander in chief, who earns $400,000 a year, would need 63 years in office to match Mr. Coffman’s 2003 compensation.
Less Lethal Weapons
Weapons companies like Lockheed Martin are no longer interested in producing weapons to be used on populations of poor impoverished people outside of the US. Lockheed recently acquired a new type of subsidiary: one that develops weapons to be used on people here at home – people taking to the streets in protest to unjust wars and war profiteers.
Battles in the streets with cops are getting more and more dangerous. Anyone who has been to a peaceful protest in the streets in the past year, knows of the increased use of force by police on the generally unarmed protesters. Just last week, a friend of mine was beaten and arrested for blocking an intersection at 5 th and Market in San Francisco while protesting the biotech industry conference. While cops stuck with the usual batons this time, we’ve seen a whole slew of new technologies emerge. One of the companies bringing the cops their new toys is the Jaycor Corporation, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin.
Government Connections and the Weapons Lobby
How do these companies get such kickbacks from the Government? The revolving door between the Pentagon, policy- makers, and weapons corporations has perhaps never been more apparent than it is under the Bush Administration. 32 – just under one third- of the 100 members of Bush’s cabinet were once either lobbyists for the weapons industry, Exectutives or board members of a military -industrial contractor.
There are currently seven thousand five hundred of the lobbyists on capitol hill. It’s no wonder why the only industry that has grown since bush took office is the weapons industry. Every other part of the economy has been on a downward spiral throughout his presidency.
It’s pretty amazing to think of the connections between our government and these lobbyists. But not if you understand that the government are the lobbyists. Positions just get rotated every several years.
A prime example of the incestuous relationship between government, military, and the corporate world is Haley Barbour. Barbour was elected Governor of Mississippi on November 4, 2003. Throughout the 80s, Haley served as an advisor to President Ronald Reagan as Director of the White House Office of Political Affairs.
From 1993 to January 1997, Haley served two terms as Chairman of the Republican National Committee. During his chairmanship, the number of Republican governors rose from seventeen to thirty-two.
Prior to winning the Governor ship of Mississippi, Haley Barbour spent a few years working as a lobbyist for – guess who – Lockheed Martin.
Barbour founded Barbour Griffith and Rogers, a DC law firm that describes themselves as “a company of lawyers, policy specialists and other professionals based in Washington, D.C. Our firm is actively involved in the shaping of public policy issues that dominate the American political and corporate agenda. We serve as advocates in federal government relations, a vital link to state governments, and an ally in business development anywhere in the U.S. and in markets around the world.”
Barbour Griffith and Rogers is a principal investor of New Bridge Strategies – America’s newest war profiteer. Created and managed by several of Bush’s closest buddies and seasoned profiteers of corporate imperialism, NBS calls itself “a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.” What they do is take money from industrial, development, and investment corporations that wish to win big governmental contracts in the “post-war” reconstruction of Iraq. These companies pay NBS to fill out the forms, advise them of strategies involving bidding for contracts, and steer them toward certain regions of the Middle Eastern country depending upon the particular firm’s mission.
On their website, New Bridge explains that they “seek to expedite the creation of free and fair markets and new economic growth in Iraq, consistent with the policies of the Bush Administration.” The website also features an interactive map that displays “areas of opportunity in the post-war rebuilding effort for specific industries.” Located out of Washington DC, NBS is not competing for a slice of the 20 billion dollars for reconstruction that congress just approved but is aiming to receive it nonetheless. These friends of the Bush administration are funneling money through such corporations as Halliburton or Bechtel into their own already overflowing pockets in the form of “advising fees” and “services.”
I highly recommend a visit to Governor Barbour’s website, by the way – it’s complete with a fucking confederate flag.
Unlikely War Profitteers
Clearly it’s easier to boycott Coca-Cola than Lockheed martin. Having the information is just one part of the battle, right? How do we use this information in our daily life? I am a proponent of voting with your dollar. I don’t support anything that I don’t know where the money’s going. And just as I won’t by sweatshop made clothes, union busting groceries, or environmentally destructively packed products, I must make sure that I am not supporting the military industrial complex.
So how does that work with weapons contractors? Boeing doesn’t have stores in the mall and Lockheed’s not out selling their bombs in the grocery store. Or are they? In today’s times, these companies have their hands in all kinds of cookie jars, including the natural foods industry, the computer industry, clothing manufacturing, and the creation of household appliances. Some of our major weapons contractors are also controlling the media. When we come back, a discussion about Dell Computers and General Electric two prime examples of everyday household companies marching off to the drumbeat of war .
True, most computer companies are doing work for the US military. The computer itself was born out of military technology. The only computer company that I know for sure that does not do military research is Apple. But Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Computers definitely takes the cake as a friend of military.
Dell is one of the largest personal computers distributors in the country, and its founder and CEO is a bigtime supporter of George Bush and the US military. Dell has shown his loyalty to Bush by steering his company in a direction to help the military with their warfighting endeavors . Bush, in turn, has handed out dozens of contracts to his Austin neighbor. Much of Dell’s 35 Billion dollar business is supported by contracts from the DoD and America’s largest defense contractors. According to Forbes Magazine, Dell was the highest paid CEO in 2003, with an 82.3 million dollar salary.
Look at your toaster. Or your refrigerator. Perhaps its your washing machine, juicer, or coffee maker but I would bet you’ve got something in your kitchen with that two cursive capital letters scrawled on them; a G and an E.
General Electric is most famously know for making household appliances. They do much more than thought, though, manufacturing plastics, water treatment systems, lighting, medical equipment, and commercial financial services.
This friendly household name also makes aircraft engines and nuclear reactors missile propolusion systems and delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. GE is good at making a nice clean name for itself, though, as are they they good at keeping criticism at bay with its ownership of media giants NBC, CNBC, Telemundo, Bravo, and, in partnership with Microsoft, msnbc.com.
General Electric is one of the world’s top three producers of jet engines, supplying Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other military aircraft makers for the powering of airplanes and helicopters. GE has designed 91 nuclear power plants in 11 countries,
In the 1940s-1960s the company ran experiments on humans with radiation, including irradiating the reproductive organs of prison inmates in Walla Walla, Washington, without warning them of the risk of cancer. Other tests were run on the elderly and hospital patients. General Electric intentionally released large amounts of radiation into the air from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland, in order to see the distance it would travel.
General Electric is currently attempting to overturn the US Superfund Law of 1980, which allows the government to hold polluters responsible for cleaning up their toxic chemicals. GE argues that it is “unconstitutional” for the Environmental Protection Agency to force the company to pay $500 million for the cleanup of the Hudson River, where GE dumped carcinogenic PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, over three decades.
06/15/2004 Emily Hell, corporateswine.net