T Nation

U.S. Lawmakers Invested in Wars

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=41893

FINANCE:
U.S. Lawmakers Invested in Iraq, Afghanistan Wars
Abid Aslam

WASHINGTON, Apr 7 (IPS) - U.S. lawmakers have a financial interest in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a review of their accounts has revealed.
Members of Congress invested nearly 196 million dollars of their own money in companies that receive hundreds of millions of dollars a day from Pentagon contracts to provide goods and services to U.S. armed forces, say nonpartisan watchdog groups.

David Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Iraq, is to brief the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees on Tuesday and Wednesday. The latest findings are unlikely to have a significant impact on this week’s proceedings but could stoke anti-incumbent sentiment in this year of presidential and legislative elections.

Lawmakers charged with overseeing Pentagon contractors hold stock in those very firms, as do vocal critics of the war in Iraq, says the Centre for Responsive Politics (CRP).

Senator John Kerry, the Democrat from Massachusetts who staked his 2004 presidential bid in part on his opposition to the war, tops the list of investors. His holdings in firms with Pentagon contracts of at least five million dollars stood at between 28.9 million dollars and 38.2 million dollars as of Dec. 31, 2006. Kerry sits on the Senate foreign relations panel.

Members of Congress are required to report their personal finances every year but only need to state their assets in broad ranges.

Other top investors include Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican with holdings of 12.1 million - 49.1 million dollars; Rep. Robin Hayes, a North Carolina Republican (9.2 million - 37.1 million dollars); Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin (5.2 million - 7.6 million dollars); and Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat (2.7 million - 6.3 million dollars).

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Democrat and former governor of West Virginia who chairs the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, invested some 2.0 million dollars in Pentagon contractors, CRP says.

Other panel chiefs who invested in defence firms include Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut Independent who presides over the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Rep. Howard Berman, the California Democrat who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In all, 151 current members of Congress – more than one-fourth of the total – have invested between 78.7 million dollars and 195.5 million dollars in companies that received defence contracts of at least 5.0 million dollars, according to CRP.

These companies received more than 275.6 billion dollars from the government in 2006, or 755 million dollars per day, says budget watchdog group OMB Watch.

The investments yielded lawmakers 15.8 million - 62 million dollars in dividend income, capital gains, royalties, and interest from 2004 through 2006, says CRP.

Not all the firms deal in arms or military equipment. Some make soft drinks or medical supplies and military contracts represent a small fraction of their revenues. Many are leaders in their industries and, as such, feature in the investment portfolios of millions of ordinary people who invest at least a portion of their savings in mutual funds, which in turn hold stocks in up to hundreds of companies.

“Giant corporations outside of the defence sector, such as Pepsico, IBM, Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson, have received defence contracts and are all popular investments for both members of Congress and the general public,” says CRP.

“So common are these companies, both as personal investments and as defence contractors, it would appear difficult to build a diverse blue-chip stock portfolio without at least some of them,” the group acknowledges.

If some of the stocks appear innocent, aides say legislators also are. Some did not buy the stocks in question but inherited them. Many hold them in blind trusts, so called because the investments are handled by independent entities, at least theoretically without the politicians’ knowledge of how their assets are being managed.

Even so, according to CRP, owning stock in companies under contract with the Pentagon could prove “problematic for members of Congress who sit on committees that oversee defence policy and budgeting.”

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees held 3.0 million - 5.1 million dollars in companies specialising in weapons and other exclusively military goods and services, it added.

Critics have assailed President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney for their ties to companies seen as benefiting from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Bush was characterised as pushing conflict in the interest of the oil fraternity whence he hailed.

Before becoming vice president, Cheney headed Halliburton, a major player in the oil services industry and the object of controversies involving political connections, government contracts, and business ethics.

Halliburton’s subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, was given multi-billion-dollar contracts to provide construction, hospitality, and other services to the U.S. military following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The contracts drew fire because of Cheney’s history and then-ongoing financial relationship with the firm, and because the company did not have to compete for the Pentagon’s business. The firm was renamed KBR Inc. after Halliburton spun it off last year.

Those guys should only be allowed to have stock investments in blind trusts.

Wouldn’t this situation be considered inside trading?

[quote]on edge wrote:
Wouldn’t this situation be considered inside trading?[/quote]

Interesting question. Technically, I suppose it is. But they probably have immunity of some sort.

From the point of view of rich and powerful people, war has many positives: it keeps the populace from complaining since money is ‘for the troops’, money that might better be left in the hands of taxpayers or used for building new roads, schools, hospitals can be expropriated under this guise, and it eventually bankrupts the middle class, making them dependent on government.

Only one question: what are the people who initiate this stuff forgetting? There’s one vital and essential piece of the puzzle that they’ve neglected. Anyone care to guess what it is?

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
From the point of view of rich and powerful people, war has many positives: it keeps the populace from complaining since money is ‘for the troops’, money that might better be left in the hands of taxpayers or used for building new roads, schools, hospitals can be expropriated under this guise, and it eventually bankrupts the middle class, making them dependent on government.

Only one question: what are the people who initiate this stuff forgetting? There’s one vital and essential piece of the puzzle that they’ve neglected. Anyone care to guess what it is?[/quote]

Clearly it must be that Muslims are birthed for target practice alone.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
Only one question: what are the people who initiate this stuff forgetting? There’s one vital and essential piece of the puzzle that they’ve neglected. Anyone care to guess what it is?[/quote]

Not a thing.

By the time any of it blows back, the cabinets are extremely likely to have changed. As for the long term costs, future generations haven’t figured out a way to have access to the ballots just yet.

[quote]lixy wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
Only one question: what are the people who initiate this stuff forgetting? There’s one vital and essential piece of the puzzle that they’ve neglected. Anyone care to guess what it is?

Not a thing.

By the time any of it blows back, the cabinets are extremely likely to have changed. As for the long term costs, future generations haven’t figured out a way to have access to the ballots just yet.[/quote]

I thought you, of all people, would have the answer by now.

Most people think linearly. They expect conditions to continue pretty much as they are now and in the recent past. This conflicts with the dynamic of a capitalist system. Capitalism is a chaos-sytem, while (in the grand tradition ushered in by Newton) our rulers and intelligentia think linearly, just like a good old Newtonian ‘continuous function’ type thinking led them to.

Why do you think they created vast military systems meant to fight a WWII style battle? They anticipated huge armies, not rag-tag bands of terrorists with IEDs. They seek to impose linearity on a non-linear system.

They assumed that the world is linear. Is it?

[quote]on edge wrote:
Those guys should only be allowed to have stock investments in blind trusts.[/quote]

I’d go further to say that they should be required to sell all of their investments in return for a special class of high-yield government bonds reserved to lawmakers.

That way there is no economic conflict of interest between their commitment to the People and their commitment to their retirement fund.

ElbowStrike

From the actual article itself:

[i]“So common are these companies, both as personal investments and as defence contractors, it would appear difficult to build a diverse blue-chip stock portfolio without at least some of them,” the group acknowledges.

If some of the stocks appear innocent, aides say legislators also are. Some did not buy the stocks in question but inherited them. Many hold them in blind trusts, so called because the investments are handled by independent entities, at least theoretically without the politicians’ knowledge of how their assets are being managed.[/i]

And, if the article was right about its insinuations of nefarious self-dealing, it wouldn’t apply just to defense contracts - it would apply to everything regulated by the government to some extent…railroads, foods, cosmetic products…essentially anything in the stream of interstate commerce.

So, by that rationale, lawmakers shouldn’t own any investments, because any piece of legislation they work on might impact one of their holdings.

The title of this thread might as well read “U.S. Lawmakers Invested in Foreign Cheeses”.

More trash from the great dumbing down of journalism. These days, it seems like mainstream media and “independent” media are having a race to the bottom of idiocy.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
lixy wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
Only one question: what are the people who initiate this stuff forgetting? There’s one vital and essential piece of the puzzle that they’ve neglected. Anyone care to guess what it is?

Not a thing.

By the time any of it blows back, the cabinets are extremely likely to have changed. As for the long term costs, future generations haven’t figured out a way to have access to the ballots just yet.

I thought you, of all people, would have the answer by now.

Most people think linearly. They expect conditions to continue pretty much as they are now and in the recent past. This conflicts with the dynamic of a capitalist system. Capitalism is a chaos-sytem, while (in the grand tradition ushered in by Newton) our rulers and intelligentia think linearly, just like a good old Newtonian ‘continuous function’ type thinking led them to.

Why do you think they created vast military systems meant to fight a WWII style battle? They anticipated huge armies, not rag-tag bands of terrorists with IEDs. They seek to impose linearity on a non-linear system.

They assumed that the world is linear. Is it? [/quote]

I’m not following your logic. Modern terrorism sure is a bitch, but it poses no threat whatsoever to the sovereignty, integrity or any of the essential things that constitute a nation.

And what the crap do you mean by “linear”? As opposed to what? Exponential?

You’re not making much sense. The people “who initiate this stuff” as you put it, don’t have your best interest at heart. They want to line their pockets and that’s exactly what is happening.

While kids shed their blood for what they cleverly marketed as a nationalist cause (it’s quite a feat when you take the time to think about it) and you hand them money, they’re profiting from your fears and manufactured threats hand over fist.

They haven’t “neglected” anything and saying that they did is just wishful thinking on your part.

http://opensecrets.org/pres08/sectors.asp?sec=D

2008 Pres. Candidates’ contributions from the Defense Industry.

[quote]lixy wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
lixy wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
Only one question: what are the people who initiate this stuff forgetting? There’s one vital and essential piece of the puzzle that they’ve neglected. Anyone care to guess what it is?

Not a thing.

By the time any of it blows back, the cabinets are extremely likely to have changed. As for the long term costs, future generations haven’t figured out a way to have access to the ballots just yet.

I thought you, of all people, would have the answer by now.

Most people think linearly. They expect conditions to continue pretty much as they are now and in the recent past. This conflicts with the dynamic of a capitalist system. Capitalism is a chaos-sytem, while (in the grand tradition ushered in by Newton) our rulers and intelligentia think linearly, just like a good old Newtonian ‘continuous function’ type thinking led them to.

Why do you think they created vast military systems meant to fight a WWII style battle? They anticipated huge armies, not rag-tag bands of terrorists with IEDs. They seek to impose linearity on a non-linear system.

They assumed that the world is linear. Is it?

I’m not following your logic. Modern terrorism sure is a bitch, but it poses no threat whatsoever to the sovereignty, integrity or any of the essential things that constitute a nation.

And what the crap do you mean by “linear”? As opposed to what? Exponential?

You’re not making much sense. The people “who initiate this stuff” as you put it, don’t have your best interest at heart. They want to line their pockets and that’s exactly what is happening.

While kids shed their blood for what they cleverly marketed as a nationalist cause (it’s quite a feat when you take the time to think about it) and you hand them money, they’re profiting from your fears and manufactured threats hand over fist.

They haven’t “neglected” anything and saying that they did is just wishful thinking on your part.[/quote]

Humans, as you know, plan for the future by studying their past. They project into the future based upon previous/current models. Hence the large and outdated military machine we have.

Ever see the movie War Games? Humans try to plan for everything, then some kid discovers a hidden ‘back door’ into NORAD and almost starts WWIII.

And that’s what they are forgetting: life is not controllable. Life is chaotic. You can have all the plans in all the world, and a butterfly flapping its wings in Beijing changes everything.

You won’t be able to change the world, Lixy, until you understand how it works, its dynamic. Most of what happens is a result of humans attempting to impose a planned system upon that which is unplannable (at least until chaos theory can be incorporated in computer modelling, along with AI.)