Jan 152011

Most of the media is dodging the question of the involvement of Lockheed Martin Corp (American military) in the Canadian census.  

Many thanks to Doug: 


This is an important interview with William Hartung, author of “Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex“.   

Your assistance in getting wide distribution for this interview is appreciated.  

Too Big to Fail: Lockheed Martin’s “Got Their Fingers Everywhere”, Says Author

Posted Jan 04, 2011 09:05am EST by Stacy Curtin     Too big to fail?

That’s been the key question asked of Wall Street’s biggest banks since the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, which sent shock waves through the global financial system and led to the worst recession this country has seen since the Great Depression.

But, there is another firm far from the circles of Wall Street for which that same question should be asked, says William Hartung, author of the new book Prophets of War. The subtitle of his book says it all: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.

With $40 billion in annual revenue, Lockheed Martin is the single largest recipient of U.S. tax dollars. The company receives about $36 billion in government contracts per year.   In 2008, $29 billion of that was for U.S. military contracts – a dollar figure 25% higher than its competitors Boeing Co. and Northrop Grumman.

What does that mean for you, the U.S. taxpayer? According to Hartung, each taxpaying household contributes $260 to Lockheed’s coffers each year!

All evidence enough that the company is “too big to fail”, as Hartung tells Aaron in the accompanying clip.

A prime example of Washington looking out for Lockheed happened just last year when debate ensued over whether to continue the company’s grossly expensive F-22 stealth fighter program, says Hartung, who has covered the defense industry for years and is also the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation.

The Pentagon eventually did suspend funds terminating Lockheed’s development of the F-22 Raptor, which has been the most costly fighter plane ever.  But, at the same time the U.S. Defense Department cut off funds for the F-22, it added an additional $4 billion to the Lockheed’s F-35 fighter plane program. The government “basically took with one hand and gave back [to Lockheed] with the other,” says Hartung of a company that is the only major contractor of fighter planes for the U.S. Airforce.

Warning from the past

Two weeks from now marks the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s famous “military-industrial complex” speech cautioning against “undue influence” from large and politically powerful defense companies. According to Hartung, Lockheed Martin epitomizes the exact threat Eisenhower warned about.

By now you might be wondering where the defense contractor’s remaining $7 billion in government contract goes. “They have got their fingers everywhere now,” Hartung tells Aaron. As outlined in his book, Lockheed does way more than produce military aircraft and weaponry. From the U.S. Census Bureau to the U.S. Postal Service to the Internal Revenue Service, “pretty much name a government agency and they are involved,” he says.

Despite Lockheed sheer size, its stronghold on so many government agencies is evidence enough that the company is “too big to fail.” “If the government becomes so dependent on [Lockheed], for many different activities it will be hard to hold them accountable if they underperform or if there is some sort of whiff of scandal.”

Bigger may not be better, but it’s working

Hartung’s scathing criticism of Lockheed Martin comes from his belief that “they have not done the job well, often enough,” pointing to decades of cost overruns, a corporate history littered with corruption scandals and the fact that the company was one of the first ever to receive a federal bailout back in the 1970s.

When it comes down to it, Lockheed’s dominance – even with what some might call a checkered past – has much to do with the company’s ability to influence those in power, says Hartung.  In 2009, it spent nearly $15 million on campaign contributions and lobbying fees — the second highest amount for defense contractors.

Another key factor that has helped the defense contractor secure the most U.S. military contracts is the company’s ability to exploit the revolving door between Washington, the industry and itself, says Hartung.  Not only has this led to the company having strong influence over those who hold the U.S. government’s purse stings, many who are former Lockheed employees or board members, it has allowed the company to influence foreign policy decisions like pressing for war with Iraq.

In the publicity notes for the book, Hartung claims “Lockheed Martin has also funded right-wing think tanks that have done everything from press for war with Iraq to lobby for the “Star Wars” missile defense program.” He tells Aaron that they are using these think tanks to make the points that are “embarrassing to make themselves.”

Hartung acknowledges that “we need companies like Lockheed Martin to defend the country,” but he says that a lot more can be done to regulate the industry by setting “stricter accountability rules.”

  2 Responses to “2011-01-15 Census: Important interview with Hartung, author of “Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex””

  1. 2011-01-18 Editorial Reviews: Prophets of War:

    Editorial Reviews: Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex by William D. Hartung

    From Publishers Weekly

    Corporate clout, military innovation, and political influence make an uneasy mix in this smart and thorough corporate history of Lockheed Martin’s emergence as the nation’s largest weapons contractor. Hartung (And Weapons for All) traces the company’s rise from unimpressive military aircraft manufacturer in WWI through its emergence as a major supplier of fighters and bombers for the Allies in WWII to corporate behemoth and power player in setting American foreign policy. The author explores how deeply Lockheed’s tentacles have penetrated American economic and political life, pulling the curtain back on decades of unsavory dealings: Lockheed’s decision to sell airplanes to Japan in the late 1930s (they were later converted to military use); reports of widespread bribery of foreign executives and politicians; and vengeful retribution against Pentagon whistleblowers. Hartung reveals how the company’s adaptability has helped it survive–and expand–even as its reputation became tarnished, and echoes President Eisenhower’s argument that the only way to ensure against “military-industrial” abuses is to have “an alert and engaged citizenry.” This book is a fine step in that direction. (Jan.)
    (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

    From Booklist
    Hartung, a frequent commentator on the relationship between government and military contractors, takes readers through the history of Lockheed Martin, a company that began humbly in 1916 and has become a “mega-firm” whose ties to the U.S. government are, at least as presented here, at best ominous and at worst downright frightening. The author, who directs the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Initiative, sounds like he has a whole arsenal of axes to grind. In his view, the story of Lockheed Martin is a story of shady foreign deals, influence peddling, massive cost overruns, price irregularities, conspiracy, bribery, and shoddy workmanship. He has very little that is approving to say about the company (which, to be sure, is a highly influential and powerful weapons maker), and some readers might wonder if there is perhaps more to the story—a more balanced version—that Hartung isn’t telling. But he argues his case forcefully, and while the book is clearly written from a specific political point of view, it undeniably provides much food for thought. –David Pitt

    Enthralling and explosive, Prophets of War is an exposé of America’s largest military contractor, Lockheed Martin. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his famous warning about the dangers of the military industrial complex, he never would have dreamed that a company could accumulate the kind of power and influence now wielded by this behemoth company.

    As a full-service weapons maker, Lockheed Martin receives over $25 billion per year in Pentagon contracts. From aircraft and munitions, to the abysmal Star Wars missile defense program, to the spy satellites that the NSA has used to monitor Americans’ phone calls without their knowledge, Lockheed Martin’s reaches into all areas of US defense and American life. William Hartung’s meticulously researched history follows the company’s meteoric growth and explains how this arms industry giant has shaped US foreign policy for decades.

    About the Author
    William Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation and has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. He lives in New York City.

  2. Hartung did a good job of describing what Lockheed Martin does as a manufacturer of the weapons of war. But must question his statement that ” We need companies like Lockheed Martin to defend the country.” It seem that they have just as much,–or more to do with offence than defence. It’s a vicious circle.

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