The Defense officials appointed by Barack Obama are the authors of the worst crimes and embezzlements carried out under previous administrations. In terms of change, only the rhetoric is new; the practices remain the same. What is most startling is the lack of interest elicited by the closure of the investigation into the missing 3.4 trillion dollars and the upgrading of those responsible for the most monumental swindle in history.
- Vice-President Joe Biden (left), Defense Secretary Robert Gates (extreme right) and other high-ranking military officials listening to Barack Obama at the Pentagon. (January 2009)
Obama’s retention of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense makes Gates the first appointment from an outgoing administration of opposing party to be kept in the position. Over the last two years of the previous administration, Gates was a key implementer of Bush’s Iraq War “surge”—after he replaced Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who had opposed the escalation.
Obama’s appointees to the Department of Defense and National Intelligence embody many of the worst elements of US national security policy over the past three decades, including responsibility for what Obama himself has fingered as chief concerns, “politicized intelligence” and “lack of transparency.” The valued “decades of experience” these leaders bring with them are filled with ethical breeches, lies to Congress, and deep conflicts of interest and revolving doors within the US military industrial complex. Although Obama promised to keep lobbyists out of top government posts, many of those he appointmented are former lobbyists or former board members of companies directly doing business with the Pentagon.
Robert Gates, whose career has reflected and implemented neoconservative positions, also decried Obama’s plan for a phased withdrawal of US troops. Gates’s history as a career intelligence officer began under Nixon. But, as Robert Parry chronicles , it was as a senior CIA official in the 1980s under Reagan that Gates broke the back of the CIA analytical division’s commitment to objective intelligence.
In a recent book, Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA, former CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman identifies Gates as “the chief action officer for the Reagan administration’s drive to tailor intelligence reporting to White House political desires.” As chief analyst under CIA director William Casey, Gates “guided the first institutionalized ‘cooking of the books’ at the CIA in the 1980s, with a particular emphasis on tailoring intelligence dealing with the Soviet Union, Central America, and Southwest Asia,” says Goodman, in order to justify increased US military spending and US support for bloody brushfire wars —central elements of Reagan’s foreign policy.
Gates’s 1991 confirmation hearing for George H.W. Bush’s CIA director marked an extraordinary outpouring of career CIA officers going public with inside stories about how Gates had corrupted the intelligence product. There also were concerns about Gates’s role in misleading Congress regarding the secret Iran-Contra operations in the mid-1980s, an obstacle that had prevented Gates from getting the top CIA job when Casey died in 1987. Gates funneled support to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war, covertly supplying chemical weapons, arms and equipment.
Gates served on the board of directors of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), which reported $7.5 billion earnings in 2005. SAIC is involved in everything from intelligence gathering to Iraq reconstruction for the Pentagon.
Corruption at the Pentagon
On January 21, 2009, Obama signed an executive order that issued more stringent ethics rules, prohibiting lobbyists from serving in agencies they have lobbied in the previous two years. Just two days later, on January 23, the White House announced that its tough new ethics rules wouldn’t apply to the nominee for Deputy Defense Secretary, William Lynn. Lynn was senior vice president for government operations and strategy at the defense giant Raytheon, and a registered Raytheon lobbyist until July 2008.
Raytheon, the fifth largest defense company, sells $18 billion worth of missiles radars, sensors, munitions, space systems and other technology to the military and other government agencies annually.  Republican Senator for Iowa, Charles Grassley, forcefully objected to the appointment of Lynn on the basis of “very questionable accounting practices that were obviously not in the public interest” while in the position of Pentagon Comptroller during the Clinton administration.
In fiscal year 1999, the Department of Defense reported that it was missing $2.3 trillion. In fiscal year 2000 the Department reported missing another $1.1 trillion. In total, that’s $3.4 trillion in “missing” taxpayer money. This happened under the watchful eye of the same William Lynn that now passes through the revolving door between the Department of Defense and the Defense industry .
As the Defense Department’s chief financial officer, Lynn was responsible for all budgetary administration and reporting. He was also responsible for the publication of audited financial statements, which he failed to do during his tenure and which have not been published since.
Also newly appointed, Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller), Robert Hale, served as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force in the role of Financial Comptroller from 1994 to 2001. He was also responsible, along with Lynn, for the management of Defense Department funds. Hale is also a Certified Defense Financial Manager with acquisition specialty. This is his particular connection to the Military Industrial Complex.
Author Andrew Hughes points out that, “Between these two appointees, they have lost enough taxpayer money to pay for Obama’s stimulus plan four times over and are now, again, responsible for overseeing how the Department of Defense manages its appropriations.”
- The 9/11 Pentagon attack did not aim the Defense Secretary’s office. It targeted the opposite wing of the building. The detonation destroyed the account books and killed the auditors seeking to uncover the beneficiaries of the largest embezzlement in history.
Deception at Congress
Admiral Dennis Blair, Obama’s pick to head National Intelligence, which oversees all sixteen intelligence agencies, was the Commander of Military Forces in the Pacific under Clinton  . As such he played a critical role in the backing of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor after the US-backed dictator Suharto fell in 1998.
In 1999, when the Indonesian military terrorized the population to thwart democratic reform, Blair was sent by Clinton and the US State Department to demand that Indonesian General Wiranto stop the massacres. Instead, Admiral Blair falsely informed the general of unwavering US support. Government-sponsored atrocities escalated. Blair then lied to Congress, claiming that only small unit violence was involved, when in fact the top echelons of the Indonesian military were carrying out kidnapping, massacres and torture. Blair essentially sided with General Wiranto in the mass killing of Indonesian civilians, against US Congress’s orders and knowledge.
Blair is a member of the Trilateral Commission (see story # 22). He was on the board of the Earl Dodge Osborne (EDO) Corporation, which is the subcontractor for the F-22 raptor program. He also served on the board of Tyco International, which manufactures small electronic components used by F-22 subcontractors and other parts for the military, and Tridium, a satellite company. In 2006 Blair had to step down as president of the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) because of conflicts of interests. The IDA was evaluating the F-22 program for the Pentagon.
Serving under Blair, former four star General James L. Jones has been appointed head of the National Security Agency. Jones is not only the former NATO commander and Commandant of the Marine Corps, he is also a member of the Trilateral Commission. Jones served on the boards of directors of Chevron, Boeing, and Invacare Corp (which produces medical equipment for the Pentagon) until December 2008 . He served as a consultant to Cross Match technologies, a biometrics company that works with the Pentagon and FBI until January 2009. He also served on the board of advisors to M.I.C. Industries, which developed the Ultimate Building Machine- a mobile construction device used exclusively in Iraq and Afghanistan to rapidly deploy steel structures for military objectives. Jones was most recently employed as president of the US Chamber of Commerce’s “Institute for 21st Century Energy.”
Update by Robert Parry, of ConsortiumNews.com
As for the significance of “The Danger of Keeping Robert Gates,” that early decision by President-elect Obama was the first clear indication that he would not diverge dramatically from President Bush’s national security policies. It also revealed that Obama had no intention of challenging Washington’s false narrative of the preceding Republican-dominated decades, since Gates had been a key figure in many of those scandals, including Iran-Contra and politicization of CIA intelligence, both important precursors to Bush’s disastrous decisions this decade. Instead, by retaining Gates, Obama made clear that he would avoid the kinds of conflicts that might have put the United States on a dramatically different course. He was, in effect, bowing to the status quo.
Since the story, Obama’s intentions have only become clearer. While he has rhetorically shifted away from Bush’s bellicose style, Obama has kept much of the substance, with Gates and other holdovers slowing the pace of US withdrawal from Iraq and building up US forces in Afghanistan. Obama also has opposed any accountability for Gates’s old superiors, much as President Clinton swept under the rug the earlier scandals that implicated Gates and the Reagan-Bush administrations.
Gates personifies the see-no-evil of the Washington Establishment—at least toward its own—so naturally the Washington news media had little interest in following up any evidence of Gates’s wrongdoing, past or present. Gates was a favorite of Official Washington during his Reagan-Bush days and he remains so now.
When Gates was named Defense Secretary by G.W. Bush in November 2006, the mainstream press completely misinterpreted the significance. The conventional wisdom was that Gate’s appointment indicated that Bush would bow to the Iraq Study Group’s plan to wind down the war. In reality, Gates was far more of a hawk than Donald Rumsfeld.
But the big-name journalists never corrected their mistake. They just went on viewing Gates through the same rose-colored glasses. When CBS’s 60 Minutes did a recent profile of Gates, it was all puffery about Gates’s deep personal concern for the troops, even though his earlier government work set the stage for the G.W. Bush wars (especially the corrupting of the CIA analytical division) and his unqualified support for the Iraq surge had sent more than 1,000 more US soldiers to their deaths.
The critical reporting on Gates continues to come mostly from former CIA officials who worked with Gates in his early years and know him as the consummate careerist. For instance, former CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman devotes a large part of his book, Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA to Gates’s role in ending the CIA’s tradition of providing “bark-on” intelligence to US policymakers. During Gates’s dominion over the analytical division in the 1980s, the bark came off and the intelligence was polished just the way the Reagan-era ideologues wanted it.
Update by Andrew Hughes, of Global Research
Since the original article was published in February 2009, not one single line in the mainstream media has been written to address this enormous theft of public money. In reality it has been overshadowed by the equally grievous theft of public money masquerading as “Solving the credit crisis.” The figure in the latter swindle is almost five times the $3.4 trillion stolen by the Department of Defense. The two appointees, William Lynn and Robert Hale, unveiled the proposed 2010 Defense budget on 7 May that will increase Defense spending by 4 percent to $663.8 billion. This comes at a time when the population is being impoverished through rising unemployment, shrinking State and Federal program,s and the transfer of wealth from American households to the Wall Street banking cartel. The issue highlighted in the original article was not just the missing $3.4 trillion from the Dept. of Defense but the fact that this was business as usual for an out of control government that, even with a change in the White House residency, continues to steal from its own citizens.
When listening to Obama’s campaign speeches last year in which he emphasized the importance of Afghanistan as the new front in the “War on Terror,” that elusive, never-ending and unwinnable war, it was obvious that behind all the stage-managed speeches and media deification the agenda laid out by Zbigniew Brezinski and the Project for a New American Century was in simply repackaged in a persona who represented “change we can believe in.”
The developments since my story was originally published have only emphasized the lack of commitment to any solid accounting of the public coffers. No investigation has been commissioned to look into the missing trillions, Donald Rumsfeld; William Lynn and Robert Hale have not been subject to questions regarding this crime; Department of Defense spending has been increased; the war in Afghanistan has been escalated; Pakistan is being destabilized by US proxies in the region; Obama has been responsible for the murder of hundreds of Pakistani civilians by Predator Drones flown by CIA operatives; and the promises to end the Iraq war have been cynically ignored, obfuscated and recycled into political doublespeak.
This all speaks to the fact that the governmental-military-industrial organism is a symbiotic union of self interest, greed, and lust for power on a level never before seen in human history. It is important to take a bird’s eye view of the corruption that has been highlighted in this article to see its true nature and how it forms the fabric that holds the system together. This system has been growing steadily over the decades and has insured itself against any real investigation or consequence by co-opting the mainstream media through defense contractor corporate news company acquisitions and the placing of Department of Defense employees and CIA personnel into these same news companies. But the quintessential achievement of this system is the fact that Donald Rumsfeld could announce at a public press conference on September 10, 2001, without any fear of prosecution or public backlash, that trillions of dollars were missing, that there would be no investigation and that nobody would be held accountable. We have seen exactly the same arrogance with regard to the torture scandal, the banker bailout scandal, the Iraq war scandal, and the advancing police state grid being established by the Department of Homeland Security to label anyone who disagrees with government policy or who believes in the US constitution as “terrorists.”
An investigation into the missing Dept. of Defense trillions needs to be initiated as a matter of urgency, and as a precursor to further investigations of gross corruption perpetrated by the US government. It will only be achieved through an awakening to reality, a refusal to be lied to by mainstream media, and an understanding of the depth of the corruption and how it will destroy what remains of the Constitution, public trust and real freedom.
Student Researcher: Chris McManus
Faculty Evaluator: Diana Grant, PhD
Sonoma State University