DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
5 November 1996

IT'S A GOOD DEAL, IF YOU CAN GET IT

In 1994, Defense Secretary William Perry, a charter member of the Military Industrial Congressional Complex (MICC), paid defense contractor Martin Marietta $350 million of your tax dollars to cover costs in restructuring when Martin Marietta purchased General Electric's Aerospace Division and General Dynamic's Space Systems Division.

Perry gave an already bloated defense contractor big dough to buy another chunk of the defense welfare system, guaranteeing at least twenty percent profit on everything built --and not built. In 1991 for example, the Pentagon canceled the Navy's A-12 bomber because the program cost buckets more than the contractors had estimated and was simply the Navy's version of the Air Force's B-2 Stealth bomber. Though $3 billion was spent and not a single flying machine built, it looks like we taxpayers will be slugged with $1.5 billion more for breech of contract.

The $350 million payoff deal to Martin Marietta smells like a barnyard because Perry had long-term business links with Martin Marietta, which was a client of his consulting firm, Technology Strategy & Alliances--Perry's cash machine when the Democrats weren't running the Pentagon.

Perry became the Pentagon's number one man after the late Secretary of Defense Les Aspin got sacked for failing to send tanks to our Ranger Task Force in Somalia. In this musical chairs exercise, John Deutch became the number two man and Paul Kamininski became number three. Kamininski is also a long term MICC player; he'd replaced Perry as CEO of Technology Strategies & Alliances. Deutch, a MICC charter member like Perry, had been a player on the Martin Marietta advisory board, receiving $42,500 dollars in consulting fees the year before the cozy deal was done.

So by the end of 1994, the three top civilians in the Pentagon were all former defense consultants with deep ties to each other, to Martin Marietta and to other top defense contractors. All three belong to the MICC millionaire's club, thanks to your hard-earned tax dollars.

Nice scam if you can get away with it. Norman Augustine, Martin Marietta's head man, served on the Defense Science Board together with Perry and Deutch, and Augustine worked closely with Deutch at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory, a long term MICC suckling, while Deutch ran MIT.

You'd have thought this kind of back room deal would violate Clinton's ethics regulations and that even the slime inside the beltway would have screamed: "How could the top three Pentagon civilians cut such a sweet deal with their former client?"

Easy. Congress--our watchdog--just scarfed up its share of the scam in PAC dollars and looked the other way.

Playing Pentagon monopoly the way Perry, Deutch and Kamininski did is nothing new. Over 20,000 employees checked out of the Pentagon and cashed in with defense contractors between 1975 and 1985. Over a fifth of these modern day carpetbaggers went to work in the defense industry on the very same projects they'd worked on in the Pentagon. Because like Perry and friends, they're all in bed with one another -- and Congress -- while you-the-taxpayer keep getting screwed.

A lot of these Pentagon brass end up on the boards of big defense contractors, too. Former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird and retired Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General John Vessey served on the board of Martin Marietta. When Laird and Vessey retired after the restructuring, Martin Marietta paid them almost a half a million dollars each. In all, Martin Marietta paid out almost $2 million to retiring board members, including $236,000 to Republican presidential candidate Lamar Alexander.

Of course, the dumb old taxpayer picked up the tab for the Martin Marietta scam, including an $8.2 million wet kiss for Martin Marietta's CEO Norman Augustine. Oh, and don't fret about Perry; he's set to retire to Fat City come 1997. His replacement, current CIA director Deutch, has the nod from his pal Bill Clinton. . . so the Pentagon revolving door will spin again.

Meanwhile, it's the old story: no dough to spare for our grunts. Once again our kids will go into battle with second-hand gear that is third-rate compared to what's toted by many of our potential foes.